Month: September 2013

Apples of Opportunity

This weekend past was Heartsong, which is one of my favorite festivals of the year.

The campground that holds it was an apple orchard at one point of its history and there’s dozens of old growth trees dotting the property. This time of year, the trees are so heavy with fruit that they’re just spilling all over the place and rotting. The bees buzz around like they’re drunk.

In between events I asked if I could pick a couple of bags of apples. I spent part of the afternoon wandering the property, weaving in and out of trees and chasing away the weirdly half-drunk bees.

I will probably be processing apples for a week-but I’m looking forward to a winter of apple sauce and butter.

Also, I’m mildly obsessed with cyser which is unfortunate. I’m not sure you can get it readily as a commercial product.

Please stop and link up to this week’s round of Fall Into the Holidays-now with photo thumbnails!

Linked to-

a pinch of joy

momnivore’s dilemma

the prairie homestead

Fall Into the Holidays #2

fallholidays1 New! I’ll be pinning all entries linked up to the Fall Into the Holidays board-please let me know if you want to be removed.

Even more news! This blog hop has been text only for a long times. Starting next week Fall Into the Holidays will have a photo link up option.

It’s that time of year again! Time to start thinking autumn, holidays, and changing seasons! Feel free to share your seasonal recipes, diy, crafts, and other related material! Please link to entries, and not your blog main page. Click around the list and leave a few comments!

Please remember to link back to this party on your entry and have fun! Please click the icon below. The link up loads in a new page.

If you want to link up with the new thumbnail option- you can do so below!

Haunted Western New York-Burrville Cider Mill (Fort Drum)

photo via morguefile

photo via morguefile

This column is wandering around here there and everywhere. I thought that it may be cute (ahem) to look at a haunted cider mill while I’m knee deep in apples. Don’t worry, I don’t plan on being quite so twee with this column in the long term.

(The video’s not the best quality but I do like videos for these entries.)

The Burrville Cider Mill was built in 1801 and was originally used as a gristmill and a sawmill. At the time the site was known as Burr’s Mill. The property was purchased by Captain John Burr, a man rumored to be a pirate-and to still be haunting the site. Records indicate that the site has had a cider press going back well over 100 years.

There’s been first hand reports of doors opening and closing, as well as photos taken of full apparitions. Lights flicker and objects will move around the gift shop. At least one spirit is accused of smoking cigars in the kitchen. The two ‘named’ ghosts are Captain John Burr, already mentioned, and Homer Rebb, who owned the mill in the 1940s.


Burville Cider Mill

Our Visit to a Haunted Cider Mill

Northern New York offers haunts for ghost seekers

Canning Tips-Seconds, Softs, and Uglies

I love pretty, perfect apples for canning as much as the next person. They’re a joy to look at, and there’s something idyllic about turning something so nice into something just as nice, that’s going to stay that way on your shelves right through winter.

What’s even nicer? Paying less for a product that’s going to be just as effective. A lot of producers will sell the bumpy, ugly fruit (or end of bushels that may be going soft) at a steep discount just to be able to get some profit off of it. Since most people will want ‘pretty’ fruit-the stuff that looks like it was found in the grocery store-they’ll mark down the less pretty fruit just to move it.

While I do understand the appeal of using Grade A fruit, there’s really no reason to not use softs and uglies for things like applesauce, fruit butters, and jams since you’re cooking the fruit down past the point where it’s going to be recognized as its self anyway. Sauces and butters especially are a great way to salvage less than optimal fruit; just make sure to discard any fruit that’s brown or molding.

You may be able to strike a deal with a smaller grocery store for seconds but the best places to look for them are at farmer’s markets and other small venues. I can get ugly apples from my favorite orchard for $1/8 apples every so often, and they often have soft baskets. You can ask directly and tell them that you want it for canning-most sellers seem to understand what you want it for.

Please, stop by Fall Into the Holidays and link up!

Linked to-

Tasty Traditions     My Humble Kitchen

Frugally Sustainable     Sunny Simple Life

The Girl Creative

flamingo toes

nifty thrifty things

our heritage of health

the self sufficient home acre

pickled okra

the backyard farming connection

Apple Season, Day 2-Spiked Apple Butter

I have couple tips for you when attempting to buy alcohol for canning projects.

1. Know what you want going in, because there’s a chance that your store may not have any idea what it is that you’re looking to do. You’re also going to avoid getting home with a bottle of white wine and thinking, oh, what was it that I thought was such a great idea again?

2. Don’t pay only half attention, wear your letters for a frat you haven’t been active in close to a decade and then wonder why they’re looking at you side-eyed. That confession is probably enough to get me stripped of my letters but then again, not active in close to decade. So. As one of my fellow brothers put it, to be fair, I could have been standing on my head and balancing a ball on my nose and they really shouldn’t have cared.

Anywho, my mythical bottomless bottle of Fireball hit bottom this weekend. It was a grand time making it happen-and there were many people involved in that act, don’t worry. But that left me suddenly wanting to spike apple butter with whiskey. Because I love spiking winter fruit with whiskey. And because you only want what you know longer have.

I have to admit that what I brought home from my adventurous trip to the liquor store was some small brand Canadian whiskey that I’ve never heard of before. I ask at the store for a reason. This project was pretty straight forward-a batch of crockpot apple butter with a couple solid glugs [the scientific measurement] of whiskey, some water, a shake or two of pumpkin pie spice and some sugar.

*What the store said about the whiskey-you can actually go pretty cheap on this one because you want to play up the apples, not OMG whiskey and oh yeah apples. Don’t go with the cheapest brand in the house but something that’s slightly rough will probably actually work better than the good stuff.

Crockpot Apple Butter with Whiskey


3/4 cup sugar



pumpkin pie spice

One of the beautiful things about apple butter-or fruit butters in general-is that they’re so elastic. There’s very little measurement involved but it also means that you may have problems if you want to know exactly how much product you’re getting in the end.

I peeled, cored, and very rough chopped apples for about 15 minutes (or as long as I could stand). I placed them in my large crockpot along with a half pint jar of water and two glugs of whiskey.

I cooked them on high, covered, for half an hour then on low overnight. Once I got up I propped the crockpot open with a chopstick and stirred in 3/4 cup white sugar (I’m running low on raw) and a couple good shakes of pumpkin pie spice. I let it cook on high propped open while I prepped and sterlized half pint and quarter pint jars.

I processed the butter for 15 minutes. This batch gave me just over 2 1/2 pints butter.

Taste: mildly spicy with a kick of whiskey and acid on the backside. I probably would have upped the sugar just slightly but I think this will be nice with cheese and bread for fall and winter entertaining.

Remember to stop by and link up at Fall Into the Holidays!

Linked to-

The Girl Creative     Flamingo Toes     The Chicken Chick

Sunny Simple Life     nifty thrifty things     Create With Joy

I am addicted to recipes     Call Me PMC     Michelle’s Tasty Creations

On My Bookshelf

Trust me my Kindle’s not sitting around gathering dust. Mid commented recently that he would have bought me a reader months ago if he realized how much reading I’d actually be doing with it.

I use the Erie County Library’s online e-book service all the time for books. I’m going through files at what’s probably an alarming rate-but all of my wait time feels so much easier now.

The Devil in Silver-Victor LaValle

Easily one of the creepiest and most compelling books I’ve read all year. Horror in the way that terrible things are horrible but not horror in a ghost and ghoulies sort of way, though the question does arise: was the devil really living in a ward of the New Hyde hospital? A lot of the negative reviews seem to think that the book should have been more straight forward than it was. Perhaps spending as much time as I do immersed in a genre known for its lack of straight edges has made me find fairly convoluted story lines less complicated than for others.

Odd Thomas-Dean Kootz

I’m honestly not far enough into this one to tell if it’s worth continuing or not. I don’t need an author to be a literary powerhouse to interest me but this series may be a little too pop for my tastes in the end. I read until the 25% point of each novel before I decide to keep going though so perhaps this one will pull through.

The Iron Fey series-Julie Kagawa

I have a very, very intense love/hate relationship with the Meredith Gentry series. And if you’ve read more than say, 10 pages of one of those novels I think you’ll understand what I mean when I say that they have a habit of being a little too…one dimensional in a way that goes on for oh. Five or six chapters at a time? A little balance is good for everyone, is what I’m saying. The long and rambling road I’m going down is leading to this idea: the Iron Fey series, since it’s technically late YA fiction, is pretty much my stop-gap for my issues with the Gentry series. As in a similar but wildly different plotline with halfway believable characters. I’m actually finding myself reading a lot of YA fiction right now.

Lizzie (2012)

The Lizzie Borden story is prime horror material because of the ambiguity surrounding the case. Did Lizzie Borden ax her family in 1892? A trial of her peers didn’t think so, but rumors and conspiracy theories abound-in part because Lizzie was a woman on trial for murder in 1892. Some things don’t really change; Americans don’t like to see a woman on trial.

Gender issues aside, there have been suggestions that Lizzie could have been framed-or that she was mentally ill and therefore was not aware of the ramifications of her actions. Regardless of what may or may not have happened that day, Borden was acquitted in the space of a hour and a half. The evidence was said to have been spotty and similar murders had taken place in the region prior to the death of her parents.

It leaves a lot of wriggle room for speculation in horror-especially because in horror lore, ax murders are prime material for hauntings. Lizzie is one of those films that I think could have been pretty solid…but falls painfully short of where it could be. When a woman named Lizzie moves back to Lizzie Borden’s haunting grounds (no pun intended), she begins to experience a series of odd events. Eventually, she becomes convinced that she’s seeing the murders play out-and is been attacked by the ghost of the murderess (?) herself.

The acting really drags this movie done. Often cardboard, sometimes stilted, and occasionally overblown it’s sort of like watching someone throw a temper tantrum for an hour and a half. One of the minor characters tells Lizzie (Amanda Baker) that she’s stupid, and while I know (and really want to not) that it’s not playing nice, Baker’s acting leaves it hard to disagree. It’s hard to care much about this cast. Even the effects are flat-and I’m not sure why the movie seems to think that they’re particularly original for a movie released in 2012.

I like subpar horror, it’s actually sort of my thing. But Lizzie just underperforms so completely that it’s hard to take it seriously.

Cat Sith


I spent a large chunk of Saturday night being haunted by a certain white cat. Who seemed to have a thing for bath tubs.

Not that there’s anything wrong with having a thing for bath tubs, it just somehow seemed appropriate for the type of night I was having (truly, I love how I can be -so- worked up for a holiday and then manage to -forget- that said holiday was Saturday night).

Being that I was haunted by this white cat, how about looking at the cat sith for this round of Myths and Memes?

The British were pretty good for making just about anything into a fairy. I say this without any disrespect, but the Islands were full of just about every spirit imaginable. In a lot of cases I would sort of just roll my eyes…but with cats I can see the appeal of applying the supernatural.

The cat sith was not just any cat-turned-fairy; as with demon dogs the cat has functions and plans. It is said that the cat is either a faery or a witch who’s capable of turning into a cat for a set number of times. The cat is said to steal souls, but a cat sith that’s fed on Samhain blessed the house with good harvests and lots of milk for the rest of the year.

One story involving the cat sith said that a man came back from a trip to tell his wife and cat that he saw a procession of nine black cats with spots on their chests (the most common appearance of the cat sith) carrying a coffin with a crown. The cats told him to tell Tell Tom Tildrum that Tim Toldrum is dead. His cat jumped up immediately, yelled, by the Gods I’m the king of the cats! and disappeared up the chimney.

Cat Sith