Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Before the Feast
ADDIE & ELI MAKE APPLESAUCE
November is a busy time for us--sometimes we like to can fruits and make applesauce. I like to get the kitchen ready for lots of holiday cooking and activities with the kids. The counters, which have been piled for months with "stuff" get cleared off and polished.
We have a tried and true method for APPLESAUCE: cut and quarter a mixture of different varieties of apples, put in a large kettle, add about an inch of water and cook on LOW until mushy (stir occasionally). When cooked, pour mixture into Foley food mill and press out all of the mush. You don't need to peel or core the apples because the seeds and skin do not get pressed out. Retaining the skins on the apples will render a lovely blush color to your applesauce. Add sugar or cinnamon to taste (we never use sugar in it). It's the only kind of applesauce my kids will eat and it helps when they make it, too. [This easy method was the one my mother taught me, but hers, somehow, is always sweeter.] Freeze or can (in sterlized jars in a hot water bath for 20 minutes) and enjoy! This year, my husband Temple gathered a mixture of heirloom varieties from Gould Hill so the blend is truly its own and likely could not be replicated twice.
A SMALL LE CREUSET POT IS JUST RIGHT FOR MAKING A BATCH OF CRABAPPLE JAM
I also tried something new this year: CHESTNUT CRABAPPLE JAM. I was able to Google up (you see, I'm a regular) several crabapple jam recipes, as I didn't want to fuss with jelly as I only had a few hours to make it. I found several and used the most basic: 9 1/4 cups cut up crabapples, made into sauce (using the above method) and 8 cups of sugar added to that mixture, boiled for 20 minutes and then canned in jars. I decided to add about 6 cinnamon sticks to the mixture, too, while cooking it and that gave it just enough spice.
SOME FRUITS OF OUR LABOR
The amazing thing about chestnut crabs is that they are small apples, not the cherry-sized variety of crabapples (which truly make divine jelly). And, after tasting the jam, there is a subtle nutty taste with the sweetness--perhaps where it gets its name? They are also great for decorations and would be good in Christmas Della Robbia wreaths or table arrangements (I believe they are also called Lady Apples, but I could be wrong about that.)
HENRY & FRIENDS ENJOYED OUR NOVEMBER WOODPILE AT HIS BIRTHDAY PARTY
Henry had his 9th birthday in the middle of the month, the kids had their Thanksgiving pageant, and we got in several cords of wood onto the porch. Between putting food by for the winter, stocking the freezers and pantries, and getting supplemental fireplace wood, it always feels like a cozy time of year.