Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Cost Is Worth The Loss

So recently the hubs and I have been coworkers on getting stuff done (no he does not do the laundry, dishes, cleaning, and vacuuming. However he is handy at writing the checks for me to put in the mail).
This has been super for me. I love just sitting down and discussing our plan of attack.
However,  it gets to be to much sometimes. The cost of just living sends people to live paycheck to paycheck. So to save some Money Honey, we have taken the plunge and are cutting off our dish service. I mean, really, the price alone is ridiculous. Then factor in that we have TONS O MOVIES to watch. There's always the red box, the library, and not to mention entire seasons of shows you can purchase at places like Amazon for cheap (I have recently started Vampire Diaries, and Downton Abbey. Both bought cheaply at Amazon)
What do the kids think of this recent development? They're okay with it. They're busy with school, homework, eating the last days of fun in the sun up (as we live in the south, after school is still very nice out), and of course being kids and playing. 
There's tons of entertainment all around our house.  Baby chicks, chickens, Angel (our dog), Alice (our cat), the trampoline, and BOOKS. You know those ancient things mum and dad hold in their hands. We can knit. We can sew. We can go for a walk (put one leg in front of the other, instead of sitting on the couch). Go to grandmas (this will probably be a big hit since that's where they can really run around). 
So, the cost of dish? Definitely worth the loss! 
More money in our pockets. Less tv time for all. A good movie every Friday night (this is our appointed "Family Night") with the kids gone all week, it's our chill out time with the monkeys.

I also have news on those monkeys... The younger two in school have been chosen as class ambassadors! They will serve a 9 week "term" and will represent their classes! I am so proud of Vanessa and Vincent!

                             

Right now I am canning some pears we harvested over at Mum inlaws house. It is going to be a tasty fall!

Make yourself a Fall Bucket List. It's fun, and it gets you moving and encouraged to do things (yes,gong along with my get off the couch theme ;) )
This is on my fall bucket list. I have gone apple picking (and pear hitting down out of the tree). I'll have to print it all out and post it for you....but this for sure is on it....

                   

And before I go check on my pears, here's a random funny.  Of course it says "please stop blogging this" so of course I must!  Meet the Rad Dad, who happens to be a bit of a smart a**!

           
Hahaha. I love it!

So what have we covered? More money for me, canning pears, proud of kids, smart a** dad.
That about sums it up!
Until next time,
And as always,
Welcome to my crazy house.

-Keesers

Ps,

Okay, okay. I admit I will miss the DVR. 
Say bye, bye :(




   




Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Apple Butter Is Better Then Butter

I have had more then one request for this recipe.  Are you ready? Pay attention, because its super duper hard (*insert sarcasm here*)

First you need apples.  I picked mine up from Aunty Jeans tree. I don't know how many pounds, but I'd say I used a good 4-6 LBS

                                  
So there they are.

Next, my cooking unit

                                   

Yes, my favorite piece of equipment.

So now that we have these two main things lets move on.....

Preparing the apples is this simple. You cut, you core, and drop them in the crockpot (yes, peels and all.....I am that lazy.....or just think the peel is an essential part of the apple and find it a huge waste to discard)

                                     

                                     

                                     

So there is the basic start to your butter (or sauce, but we'll discuss that later)
So next I'd like to point out very important facts ... #1) we are not making pie filling so your apples do not have to be pretty, or perfect (trust me, after making 3 different types of apple preserves in the last two weeks I'd much rather do something simple like this then waste so much trying to make it "pretty") and #2) you are not cutting these apples up to serve to your toddler, it's okay to put bruises in the pot, they are not going to effect the taste ;)

See the top here? That is where the apple fell to the ground 
                              

Look at the bruise, doesn't matter, still putting it in...

                               

Follow this, just cutting out the REALLY bad spots and tossing the good stuff into your crockpot until full (fill to your comfort level, you will be stirring this up along the way)

Here's my pot, and I have extra apples! So I guess more work for mum tomorrow ;)

(Ps, for those of you worried about Tiny Man, he had the whole day with daddy, and he came to Aunty Jeans to pick apples with me, he was well taken care of)

                                
Now here's a decision....I know these apples have great taste, I know mum inlaw does not add sugar to her apple sauce. Therefore I do not put a lot of sugar in mine. I put.....

      
1 cup sugar 
1 tsp cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 Tsp salt

Most 4 LBS of apples call for 2 cups sugar, so it's up to you.  Same with the spices, it's your taste buds not mine, do it to your liking. Just remember, You can always add more its harder to take away.

So add it all in...

     

Now for a bit of "not in the recipe". Being this was a request and I didn't want to stay up all night I cranked this sucker up to high....if you do this keep an eye on it.  I was scared it would start to scorch on the sides, so I added liquid.....

                                     
Yup, good 'ol cider (or apple juice whatever you have) 
Remember to stir it every now and then. On high stir often.

On high it cooked in less then 4 hours.
Cooking on low, it will take up to 8 hours
It's whatever you would like to do. You are wanting a cooked (not necessarily pulverized cooked) apple, when you pierce it with a fork it gives way.

This is what mine looked like at this stage (bruised pieces will cook faster and pulverize, IT'S OK)

                                     
Oh, I added vanilla (if you have some rum on hand it would taste great in this) 

                                     
No measurement just tossed some in.

Now. Lets see. Do you have an emersion blender? You could use that. Or a food processor? You can use that. I use my blender. Just scoop your apples in small batches and whirl away....

                                    

                                    
*SAFTEY* crack top to let steam escape. Otherwise, the pressure build up can pop the top and send scolding hot sauce all over you!

                                     

                                     

Now pour it back into you crock pot.

                                     

Oops, I am Such a mess! Trying to pour while trying to snap a pic with an iPad is harder then it looks!

                                     
                                     
So there is the sauce. So you can do a few things now....
1) Taste. It may need more spice or sugar.
2) check consistency. If you'd like it more like apple sauce can it now.  Or if its thick enough can it now.  If you'd like it thicker read on (ps, canning info will be further down)..

So mine was not thick enough to be called "butter" that's really the only difference between sauce and butter here. 
They say to take a spoonful of apple butter and tap it on a plate.  If it holds its shape you're good to go.  

Well, mine wasn't just right.  So I left it in the crockpot on low for a few more hours, checking and stirring it (in all honestly I had to run to town, so I turned it to the "keep warm" setting and back to low when I got back)

So, I've told you about what "they say" with the spoon and all...I say sorry to "they", I already have a dirty spoon, I'm going to use it. And when mine can stick like this and not fall....

      

It is time.

Get your jars ready. Wash and hot water bath.


Get your lids ready in a pot of boiling water (when it starts to boil just turn it down, the water will stay hot)

     

Now I couldn't hold the jar, hold the spoon, and hold the iPad to take pictures. So fill your jars up, leaving 1/2" to the top for head space. It will get a little messy, unless you have a wide mouth funnel tool (which I don't)

Here's the rim looking all messified 

                              
So take a paper towel, or clean kitchen rag and clean that up, or it won't seal properly.

So after cleaning your rim, you are ready to add the lid.  They are now in boiling water. This is a nifty little tool that has a magnet on the end to help you pick them up (make sure you also have a cleaned and ready ring)

  

Place on top of your jar and add a clean ring. Tighten as tight as your hands allow. You will be using just a water bath, so there will be no pressure to ensure the ring gets a proper seal. 


Place in to a FLAT bottom pot (I used a pressure cooker With an insert that allows for a flat bottom)

Cover your jars with water, just clearing the tops. But make sure they are indeed covered.

                              

Bring water to a boil. Time for 10 minutes uncovered.

Make sure you can safely remove from the hot water bath after the ten minutes is up.

And, voila.

You have just made Apple Butter and canned it. 

                               


It really is simple, I just wanted to make all the steps clear. Give it a go! You won't be sorry, and neither will your belly!

Now on Face Book there is a great little page run by Miss Tina.  She has drawings, and to enter couldn't be simpler! Go like her page

https://www.facebook.com/handnhomemade
 She has a daily drawing, and will let you know how to enter each day! So much fun. She loves fall and is having a special "Fall Giveaway" many business's have donated fun little items for this! I am donating these Fun Fall accessories 

                     
So stop on by, give her a like, and enter for a chance to win some rad prizes!


*side note* 
Children did help, homework was done, trip to town successful, late dinner with their cousin Toby in tow, Vincent said blessing and thanked god for letting Toby come visit.

And one more thing to say before goodnight.  It is Bikes Blues And Barbecues (BB&B) in Northwest Arkansas this weekend.  I know and love many riding. So be kind. Be courteous. Be safe.  Look twice and save a life.

As always.
Welcome to my Crazy house!
-Keesers  





 






 






   


 


  


    





Friday, September 13, 2013

Finally Friday!

Well, how are you? It has been quite the week here (never been happier that we have zero sports to attend!) 
We started out of the gates running on Monday and never stopped, or slowed down.  School, homework, canning, baking, doctors appts (bad news for the hubs, they have found another spot in his back that needs pulling out, imagine a mid evil torture device pulling him from either side about sums it up) so he will not be better anytime soon, run to town forgot what I needed it took 3 trips to town then to the "big" town then back to town (that was a day!), Virl forgot his agenda book go out to bus stop and wait for it to come down the hill, Vanessa ran with her breakfast in her hands it spilled all over her that was another wait at the bus stop this time with a bag of wet ones and new shirt.

I've gone through Okra, Tomatoes, and a few pints of apple pie filling (it's no good at all ;) ) I have really enjoyed getting this stuff put up. Next I have okra to pickle, and we went apple picking at Aunty Jeans today.....

                              

                              

                              

                             
It was a quick trip, but the kids had fun and got to see their Great Aunty Jean :) 

                               
So that is one thing off my fall bucket list! Do you have one? I looked on Pinterest and found one, but it needs some tweaking to adjust it for us, but apple picking was on it, and we've done it!

Other things from this week are

Vern spent time with his buddy Tommy

        

Tara is my chicken whisperer and can catch them anytime I ask (yes I have a fear of birds, no I don't want to do it myself, I have a bear ;) she does it for me) so here she is with our two young roosters

                                   


Vernon hitched a ride on the tractor

                                   


I found this app simply called "Glasses" it has a bunch of instructions for you. It records you turning left, center, right, back to center, and calibrates your face.  Then you can try on glasses, you can push them up or down, you can change the color (if it has that option),and sunglasses to! Here's one of my pics.....

                                     

Needless to say, I have been having fun with it.  Do I need glasses? Not as far as I know, but that won't stop me from trying glasses on ;)


So here is our apple haul, they will soon be canned apple pie filling.

                                   

They are as organic as you can get.

So I will be canning with Mum Inlaw this weekend, and try to get these done tonight. Plus dinner needs to be served.

Kids are outside playing with dad and I have a moment of quiet....what's that about? Oh, never mind I hear stomping up the steps.

If you don't hear from me this weekend, it's because the slave driver has me back in the kitchen ;) 

Have a safe and fun weekend y'all, and as always.......

Welcome to my crazy house!

-Keesers



 


 


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Preserve it

So it's been really busy with freezing, canning, and kids the last few days. I have barley left the kitchen.  Vern even got tired and fell asleep on the couch today. 
The bus was on time (of course if I have the kids ready early, it will be on time) I yelled about four times before Tara heard me asking if Vanessa had her glasses. They go up our hill and back down, good thing I can catch them on days they forget something (like today's journal, he who shall remain nameless.......Virl ;) )
Fed Tiny Man (that's what we call Vern), had some coffee, and headed outside. After feeding the animals and letting out the chickens we checked on dad, and took him a surprise....
                       
Yup, chilled vanilla latte, just like store bought and sooooooo easy to make....
10 cups hot coffee
1/2cup brown sugar
1/2cup sugar
1/2cup vanilla creamer
Mix,chill, and drink!
Oh and I had a surprise in the mail ....

                                      

                                     
These came from the nice gal over at Meg's Crochet And Jewels. She has tons o' stuff over at her etsy shop, go check it out at 

  http://www.etsy.com/shop/MegsCrochetJewels?ref=l2-shopheader-name

She made these special! Green Bay Packers, just for me :) 
But after all the excitement it was time to get down to business.....

                           
Okra, and lots of it! Being from the north I had never encountered this weird thing. So here's a bit of info for my Canadians.
Okra is from the mallow family (related to the hibiscus,the flowers are gorgeous)

          


And you're actually eating the seed pod of the plant. They are slimy when you cut in to them. They look weird. But, they're pretty yummy! So I had a total of 6LBS 10OZ. What to do?
Mum inlaw cuts them, flours them, and freezes them ready to fry.
I wanted to freeze them, but went about it differently, as I want to try a few dishes. So here's what I did...

                                 
                                                                    The Okra

                               
                                                              Trimmed ends

                                
                                              Blanched for 3minutes in boiling water

                             
                                    Chilled out in ice bath until cooled right down

                             
                                                            Patted them dry

                             
                                             Weighed them by the pound

                             
                                                    Two funny stories:
1)I didn't have any Saran Wrap so I used tin foil to protect them
2) notice the straw? Our food saver bit the dust so I used a straw to suck the air out of the ziplock

I finished it up, tossed it in the freezer, and can't wait to try Gumbo (yes, I've never tried gumbo and I live in the south, not the Deep South...but the south)
Gumbo....that got me thinking. I'll need tomatoes. Mum inlaw has had a bunch of garden tomatoes, and I thought I'd take a crack at canning for the first time by myself (I have canned before, but always under supervision by mum inlaw)
So Tiny Man and I packed up and headed to Mamaws to get these..

                              
                                                             TOMATOES! 
So. A long story short, this goes fairly quickly, and being by myself I could not take pictures and get the tomatoes done. So here's how it goes....
1) blanch tomatoes, DO NOT leave in more then a few seconds, you do not want to cook the tomatoes
2) straight into cool water. Make sure you have lids in water on a burner.
3) cut stem area out and peel skin off
4) 1/4 tomatoes and cut out any blemish
5) place in clean jars, I got a pic at this point.....

                      
6) tap down tomatoes until you can't press down anymore, leaving 1/4 head space.
7) in quarts place 1tsp salt, I made pints which is 1/2tsp salt.
8) wipe down jar, and make sure top is clean
9) retrieve lids out of water and place on jar
10) place on rings, and screw on tightly
11) fill up pressure cooker, and add water until its above lids, pics of this step were taken....

      

                                  
  
   
12) bring to boil
13) time for ten minutes and remove from cooker (this is just a water bath with no lid on the pressure cooker)

Sounds easy huh? It only took a few hours for ten pints!

So the kids came home. We did homework, had dinner, showers, and a bit of tv time.

                           
Yes, it was a quiet night in this household.

But hey,
Welcome to my crazy house!

-Keesers