Monday, October 31, 2011

Picking Apples and Pink Applesauce

We picked apples this weekend!

Alyssa won the biggest apple award. 

Issac found an apple that a deer had sampled.  I love that he got such a kick out of that little discovery. 

We picked 75 pounds of Ida Red apples.  Ida Reds are great eating apples, good for baking and you can keep them for months if you keep them in the fridge.  But we like Ida Reds because they make perfectly pink applesauce.  Pink applesauce was the first family tradition we started when the kids came to live with us.  There were a lot of changes they did not understand when they came to live with us, but they understood food.

So, today we are making pink applesauce.  It's really easy to make.  The board of ingredients does not get any easier with three simple ingredients.  Look at those beautiful apples.  You need a lemon, some sugar and Ida Red Apples.  That funny looking thing on the board is a food mill.  I love my vintage food mill.  This was my mother-in-laws food mill and it is exactly like the one my mom had when I was a kid.  It's the best food mill ever.  Trust me.  

Core and chop the apples.  DO NOT PEEL THE APPLES!!!  The beautiful red skins is where we are going to get our beautiful pink color from. 

Into a big pot they go. 

Add a bit of water to the pot.  I would say about 1/4 of an inch in the bottom of the pot would be a good amount of water.

Add the lemon juice.

Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil.  Then reduce the heat to medium low and remove the cover.  You want the water to evaporate while the apples cook and get mushy.   Stir the apples occasionally so they do not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.  

Cook the apples until they look like this.  You want them mushy and colorful.

Set your food mill over a bowl so you can make the applesauce.

Add a few ladles of apple pulp to the food mill and start turning. 

Turn the food mill handle clock-wise until the apple pulp has been pushed though the holes in the bottom and all you have left is the apple peels. 

Spin the handle counter-clockwise to scrap the peels off the bottom.  Those can go into the compost pile.

What you get is a beautiful, pink apple pulp.  Look at that color!  No food coloring needed.

Add sugar to the apple pulp while the pulp is still hot.  You want the warm pulp to melt the sugar.  Add the sugar to taste.  Some apples are sweeter than others so an exact amount of sugar to apple pulp is nearly impossible to pre-determine.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Setting the Table for Halloween

See the bottom of the post for My Memories Giveaway details.

Today, I am showing you my Halloween tablescape.  I can't wait to show you what it looks like...but first, I am going to start by showing you how I made my quick and easy centerpiece.  I started the centerpiece with a vase of candy corn.  We LOVE candy corn and since it is the theme of the table I just thought that a little candy corn would take the whole table over the top.  I stuck a handful of birch branches into the candy.  (I got my birch branches from my favorite florist, but you can take a pair of clippers to the backyard and use what you have.)  I love the birch branches.

I cut various colors of ribbons in to six inch pieces.

I tied the ribbon to the branches in various places to make the whole thing fun and interesting.

Viola!  I just love it how it turned out.

Now for the tablescape.  A few weeks ago I ran across this fabric.  I instantly knew that it would be the inspiration for this year's Halloween tablescape.  I love it and the kids got a kick out of it too.

Orange place mats and white plates go on next. 

I also picked up this fun plaid fabric at the store to make into napkins.  I love how they turned out.  Surprisingly, I do not own Halloween inspired napkin rings.  Do you?  Anyway, I am just going to use a bit of yellow curling ribbon as my napkin ring.  Cheap and easy.  :-) 

Viola!  I love the way it turned out.  I tied the napkin off center so it did not look like a bow tie. 

My little helper added the silverware and cups.  Now it is time for a whimsical little party favor. 

I have these fun little glasses that sort of remind me of the shape of candy corn.  I also found these colorful chocolate gems in candy corn colors.

Start with a handful of white gems in the bottom of the glass. 

It's starting to look so good!

Now it's time for the centerpiece.  I am using some cute little white pumpkins along with some mini pumpkins from the farmer's market.

And finally, the centerpiece...

I always try to design a meal to go with my tablescapes.  

Our Halloween Menu:
{So delicious and the color is perfect for Halloween!}

Squid Ink Pasta, Garlic Butter and Bay Scallops
{Squid Ink Pasta is so dramatic and lovely and what would Halloween be without a bit of garlic to keep the vampires away?}
Halloween Cupcakes 

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween

Don't forget to register here for the giveaway.  This is a wonderful tool for making your own signs and customizing photos with text and embellishments for your blog even if you are not interested in scrapbooks. Good luck.

I am linking to Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps On The Porch and On The Menu Monday at Stone Gable.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Caramelized Carrots Cooking Method

Caramelized carrots is a favorite in our home. I can not make these often enough for my family.  We love our veggies in all shapes and forms, but these top the list of favorites.  I will definitely be making a big batch of them for Thanksgiving as well as making sure they are on the table as often as I can.

 This is such a simple recipe, but you must have patience.  The board of ingredients in embarrassingly simple. This is all you need to create the most wonderful carrots EVER!  I use full size carrots and peel them myself.  I suppose you could buy a bag of baby carrots and save the peeling, but I find that their small size makes them challenging to cut up.  You can do whatever you would like as long as you try this recipe. 

 Cut both ends off of the peeled carrots. 

For really thick carrots, cut them into quarters length-wise.  For thinner carrots, cut them in half length-wise.  

Cut the carrot strips into little pieces now.  I guess this would be considered dicing the carrots.  You could also cut the peeled carrots into coins on a mandolin, but I prefer this method.  When I am in a hurry, I do use a mandolin.    

Look at the pile of carrots!  I feel like I really did something.  I can't wait to eat them. 

Okay, time to cook them.  In the pan {non-stick if you have it} they go.  Season them with salt and pepper.  Add a bit of water to the pan so the carrots will steam over medium heat. 

Keep an eye on the carrots and give them an occasional stir. When the water begins to evaporate from the pan, add olive oil. You are not frying the carrots, but you must add enough olive oil to keep the carrots from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Keep an eye on the pan to adjust the oil as you go. If the pan starts looking dry, add another drizzle of oil.

Keep stirring the carrots ever so often as they cook. You want the carrots to caramelize evenly. This is exactly what you are looking for.  Salt, pepper, olive oil and carrots could not be a better combination.  Just give the carrots time to cook.  These carrots are so amazing and definitely worth the time it takes to let them caramelize.  Enjoy!      Don't forget to enter the giveaway.  Details below.

We are giving away My Memories, a digital scrapbook program.  Please enter here.