apples

5. Bake an Apple Pie

breakfast

We are finally sleeping at the new place. We’re not fully moved out of the old apartment, but we have officially started living in my new home.

The shininess of it all is still shiny enough that I feel special and sort of woo woo positive about setting up new housing and home based rituals. I have not had a formal kitchen table since I had an on-campus apartment in grad school so I’m still enjoying the ability to actually set a table and eat at a table. We made a rule based on both an attempt to keep our new furniture as nice as possible for as long as possible, and the summer of bugs, that we wouldn’t eat in the living room. We have a small space built into the kitchen that’s big enough for a small table to act like a separate dining space.

I needed a break from packing last night, plus it was raining and already dark by the time I got out of work [I’m one of those people who work four ten hour shifts between Wednesday and Saturday]. I hadn’t tested the oven yet and decided it was time for a pie.

pie

I don’t scratch my pies, not really. Pie crust is one of the products I fully admit to buying in a box. Mine are terrible, on a level where the amount of years necessary to improve them daunts me and I just find it easier to buy a box of crusts. I don’t peel my apples unless I’m really bored or looking for ways of filling time. I normally toss them with sugar, flour, and pumpkin spice but I just went with cinnamon this time [better quality cinnamon than I normally have in the house, however]. A little bit of butter.

It came out of the oven around 11 last night, and I went straight to bed. This morning I got up before Mid, set up his plate for breakfast, made his coffee. Wandered off to do whatever.

When I came back into the front of the apartment he was sprawled in front of Star Trek, on the couch. With the pie.

Our plan of not eating in the living room made it a full 24 hours.

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Apple Spice Kitchen Simmer

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I’m slowly starting to do [seriously Memory Month was the best thing I’ve done for this blog yet] [spoiler: do is 2016’s Word of the Year. More on that later] again. It’s not a happy thing. It’s a fighting against the current thing, a I really don’t want to be doing this thing. But I know that it’s like exercise-I might hate it when I’m doing it, but eventually I’ll be glad that I did.

Speaking of which, I took myself on a wander yesterday, which is why I finally got around to trying a kitchen simmer. I got in the habit of taking myself out on dates when I was going to SUNY Oswego. The idea was that I am an introverted, impatient thing, and if no one was going to take me, I would take myself. I haven’t done it in years but there has been oddities in trying to plan Thanksgiving this year and it sent me into a minor tailspin. I went and got myself a new lipstick, took myself on a lunch date, and wandered through Kenmore enjoying the cold. There’s about three days a fall where I like the cold and then I remember it’s Buffalo and it’s going to be cold for six months…

I came home and made a pie. Which left me with cores (and a recipe to go up later this week). And led to finally trying a kitchen simmer. My building is decently old, and even when it’s freshly cleaned it smells a little musty from the basement. It gets worse in the winter. I want my home to smell good, but Mid can’t handle candles.

This is a very simple project, and it will appeal to the idea of using as much as you can for as long as you can. You can simmer it for a couple of days, adding more water as you go. You’re not eating it so letting it sit overnight isn’t an issue but that’s about as far as I would let it go.

Apple Spice Kitchen Simmer

To a medium sauce pot, add either several apple cores and peels, or two chopped apples, cinnamon sticks, and a good sized dash of pumpkin spice. Let simmer slowly.

You can add cranberries, oranges, or vanilla for variety.

Roasted Applesauce (AKA The Best Applesauce Ever)

Yep. My cutting boards are actually used to cut things. I mean I guess I could buy a prop board...but I would end up chopping carrots on it.

Yep. My cutting boards are actually used to cut things. I mean I guess I could buy a prop board…but I would end up chopping carrots on it.

I can’t eat hot apples.

I can eat apples that have been cooked, I just can’t eat them hot. So I’m not sure why I got stuck this weekend on the idea of roasted applesauce-instead of my normal boiled down type.

I’m not even sure why I thought that it would be different-but different, indeed, it is.

We went on an apple hunt this weekend-I ran completely out of canned apple products last week and I had been putting off getting more apples. I decided I was never going to get them if I didn’t just make the plunge, I would keep putting it off, so I went off to my favorite vendor at the North Tonawanda farmer’s market. I came home with a Top’s paper bag full of Golden Blushes for $3.

After some basic Internet searches just to verify that this was even worth attempting, I was off. And sweet Pomona, this stuff is amazing. After blending it takes on this weird rubbery texture (look, it’s a good thing, I just don’t know how to describe it but trust me here) that you don’t get with boiled sauces. It’s more like apple pudding. Amazing, amazing apple pudding.

[I sometimes get asked this, so here’s my stance-I’m not picky when it comes to apples for saucing. If I can get my hands on it, I’ll use it. That means everything from free range wild to Aldis to heirlooms. If I can get it into a jar, I’m not a snob. The trick is trying the apple and seeing roughly how sweet it is and adjusting the sugar added to the sauce that way.]

Notes:

This, like all applesauces, is most of a structure than a firm recipe. You can adjust this as you go. I did add my sugar beforehand, and would recommend adding at least a little to help draw out moisture as it bakes. You can add a little more when it comes out of the oven if you feel like it needs more sugar.

You can roast other fruits in there with the apples at the same time for mixed fruit sauces.

I didn’t peel, I don’t peel my apples for sauce, but you can if you would like.

I froze this batch but I can’t think of a reason why this couldn’t be canned to be shelf stable. Follow the instructions for canning applesauce in the Ball Blue Book.

Roasted Applesauce

Heavy weight oven safe pan (honestly I baked it in a sauce pan)

apples, cored and chopped

about 1/2 cup sugar to start

nutmeg

 

Preheat oven to 400 or 425 (temperature isn’t terribly important as long as it’s in that range)

Core and chop your apples. I just chopped until the pan was filled (there are many apples in my kitchen)

Place in the pan, and cover with sugar.

Bake for 40-50 minutes. The apples will come out looking slightly dehydrated.

Very carefully-or let cool first-blend with an immersion blender or carefully add to a conventional blender and pulse till smooth. It might take a moment to get it going.

Add a little more sugar if desired and a couple of dashes of nutmeg, and stir into sauce.

Galettes (31 Days of Baking)

There’s something about galettes that makes me happy.

I don’t know if it’s the simplicity of them, or arranging the fruit, or the way that they smell while they’re baking.

I love to look at them while they’re cooling.

The fact that they’re essentially a recipe-less dessert with so many potential variations doesn’t hurt either. I like things that don’t require measuring or fiddling.

Apple Galette

1 pie crust, of your choice, rolled out to a circle

3-5 apples, cored and chopped

Turbindo sugar

Pumpkin pie spice

Preheat your oven to 350.

Place your pie crust on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Toss your apples with a little bit of sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Starting in about an inch from the edge of the crust, arrange apples in a rough spiral. This isn’t supposed to be a ‘perfect’ tart. When the apples are completely arranged, start folding the crust up over the edge of the apples.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.

 

(Fall Into the Holidays will be posted later today!)

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

apples

3/4 cup sugar

whiskey

water

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!

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Apple Season, Day 1-Deveiled and Slices

I didn’t get anything put up at all in August. I normally slow way down in August, but it’s been awhile where I’ve had a month that I didn’t even get anything into the freezer.

I’m determined not to miss apple season the way that I did with tomatoes-though tomato season wasn’t a total wash, it just wasn’t nearly as productive as I had hoped.

One of the nice things about being in an apple state is that this time of year, it’s not hard to find decent prices on fruit. I’m slowly moving through mountains of the things. While I did get a batch of apple-pear jam into the fridge (the thought of running my canner just to open the jars again within a week struck me as a little counterproductive), I’ve been playing with recipes and projects that I haven’t done before.

1. Deveiled Preserves

Apples and beer. Looking through my project lists it’s not a big secret that I love canning with alcohol. I really, really, really like what this project did taste-wise.

Similar to my spiked fruit syrup from this summer, I soaked my apples in a blend of beer and sugar. But instead of draining out the beer I cooked the whole thing down until syrupy and -tried- to get a fairly soft set. But it actually set up pretty firm and sticky. But the taste…the taste is nice.

Magic Hat describes Deveiled as ‘A rich and robust amber ale. Hiding just beyond its malty core is a crisp, clean, hoppy aura that will open your eyes to the other side.’ What it worked out to mean was a slightly boozy, lightly sweet preserves that cooked down to a strange malty chocolately brown. This is going to be a repeat project, as it cooked down into a microbatch. As in, it was pretty much all I could do not to march myself down to Tops and get more beer-it’s probably a good thing storage apples work so well for jamming because I really want to play with seasonal beers.

Deveiled Jam

4 cups chopped apples

2 cups sugar

1 to 1 1/2 cups beer (depending on if you’re counted the head)

1 table lemon juice per 2 cups apples

Allow apples to soak in beer, lemon, and sugar, stirring every so often, for at least a couple of hours.

Over medium heat, allow to cook down until the jam wants to set (20 to 25 minutes depending on altitude and how juicy the fruit is), but you may want to pull it just before you normally like your gel point. Process in a hot water canner for 10 minutes. I’m planning on serving this one with cheese. It gave me just about a pint, exactly.

2. Spiced Apple Slices Not all of my baking fruit gets canned in booze. (We’re just going to ignore the fact that I have been stocking up on my alcohol stash in order to gear up for winter canning needs.) I did can some thin sliced apples in a light syrup with a couple good sized dashes of pumpkin pie spice. These are going to be for cakes and muffins later in the season. They were processed in half pints for 15 minutes. I did not leave enough head room so there was some syphoning and one jar didn’t seal. How sad, now I have to make muffins… fallRemember to stop by and link up at Fall Into the Holidays!

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More the Merrier Monday

Harvest- Apple Butter

I have to admit that apple butter is a food that I’m not particularly familiar with. It’s never really crossed my culinary radar. We never had it growing up in the house, and it wasn’t until I got into canning that I even really heard about it.

But with apple season approaching, the thought of apple butter has been cycling through the back of my head.

Based on the sweet and chunky apple butter recipe in The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preservation, this butter is somewhere between an applesauce and a traditional apple butter. I’m hoping to gift some and use some in baking.

There’s no real recipe for this one- if you wanted to make a batch, all I did was add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to my applesauce recipe halfway through cooking and added 20 minutes the cooking time. It probably could have stood for more cooking but it was starting to look like it wanted to start sticking to the pan.

I processed it in a water bath for 15 minutes. The one thing I was surprised with however is that there’s a fair amount of air space in the butter- even with using a chopstick to remove air bubbles. The seals seem to be okay and those will be the jars used first. I got three quarter pints; half of the batch was pulled out for applesauce prior.

I would cut the lemon juice in about half next time. The butter’s good for baking, but not really for eating out of hand.

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