Apple Butter

 

Peel, core, and chop as many apples as will fit in a crockpot.

Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to your taste preference (I use a tablespoon of each), and equal parts white and brown sugar to taste (I use 1/2 cup each).

Set the crockpot on low for ten hours. Stir occasionally. Leave as is if you like it a little chunky. Use a hand mixer if you like it smooth.

I prefer Granny Smith. I like the tartness, it keeps the apple flavor without being overpowered by the cinnamon.

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from Amanda, aka SweetTeaBandit

 

 

Watermelon Pickle

 


Watermelon rind pickle isn’t a tradition in my family.  I’d heard of it but didn’t taste it until I was an adult.  To my surprise, they are very much like my Nanny’s sweet cucumber pickles. I have a friend who remembered them fondly from her childhood.  But they were made by her aunt’s friend and she never got to see how they were actually prepared.  We decided to see if we could figure it out.  She collected rind from friends so that we didn’t have to wait for me to get around to eating a watermelon and I started playing in the kitchen.

The internet was only slightly helpful.  Everybody does it differently.  I tried to determine common denominators (they are few) and went from there.  What you see above is what Diane and I decided is our preference.  I am putting the experiments here to share what I tried and know to be tasty or a really, really  bad idea.  Save yourself a couple of failures.

Each experimental batch used about 2 c of watermelon rind with the pink and the skin trimmed off (unless otherwise indicated). This gave me a pint and a half to taste.

1) Brined overnight, 1/4 c salt to 1L water.
Solution:
4 c. sugar
2 c. vinegar
1.5 Tbsp pickling spice

1 hour at medium heat/simmer.

Rind did not get clear and I got tired of waiting for that to happen.  Got incredibly sweet raisins. Threw the whole thing out. Water appears to be necessary.

2) Brined overnight, 1/4 c salt to 1L water.
Solution:
2 c sugar
1 c vinegar
1 c water
1.5 Tbsp pickling spice
30 minutes on medium/simmer

These were good but not clear.

3) No brine. Parboiled. After an hour and a half, the strong white was gone and I was tired of messing with it.
Solution:
2 c sugar
1 c vinegar
1 c water
1 Tbsp pickling spice
1/2 tsp salt

Bring to a boil, add rind, bring to a second boil, rest for 30 minutes, jar up.

4) Didn’t take off all the pink. Didn’t parboil. Didn’t brine. (This is the Alton Brown variation.)
Solution:
2 c. sugar
1 1/4 c vinegar
1 1/4 c water
2 Tbsp pickling spice

Bring soln to a boil, add rind, bring a second boil, let sit for 30 minutes, jar up.

This is spicier than the others and less sweet.  Diane doesn’t actually like watermelon, just the pickles and thought it was nasty because she could taste the watermelon.

5) All pink removed, parboiled for 45 minutes.
Solution:
2 c sugar
1 c vinegar
1 c water
1/2 Tbsp pickling spice
1/2 tsp salt

Bring to a boil, add rind, bring to a second boil, rest for 30 minutes, jar up.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

25 minutes, 4 servings. Allow 20 minutes extra if making this recipe from start to finish in one day.

Ingredients
4 c butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into large dice, and steamed (1.25 lbs)
8 oz Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into large dice and steamed
4 oz kale, shredded (4 cups)
16 oz pasta farfalle
1/4 c nutritional yeast
3 c vegetable broth
1 t garlic powder
1 t paprika
1/4 t black pepper
sea salt
1. Peel, seed, and cut butternut squash. Scrub and cut potatoes. Shred kale.
2. Steam butternut squash and potatoes in a steamer insert set over boiling water, covered, until tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
3. Cook pasta according to package instructions, Drain well.
4. Combine steamed squash and potatoes, nutritional yeast, broth, garlic, paprika, and pepper in a food processor or blender; season with salt to taste. Puree until thick and creamy
5. Add kale to sauce. Toss with pasta and serve warm.

From Ann Beardsley who said “We did this, but wanted more spice–a little red pepper, or something to jazz it up.”

Pizza!

My friend, Tiffany, shared this.

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 teaspoon white sugar (or Splenda®)
• 1-and-a-half cups warm water (about 110° F)
• 1 tablespoon/packet active dry yeast
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups whole wheat flour
• 1-and-a-half cups all-purpose flour
• one-half cup of cornmeal (My personal tweak — makes the crust better!)

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top and let stand for 10 minutes until foamy.

Stir olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the flour and cornmeal until dough starts to come together. Tip dough onto floured surface and knead until all the flour has been absorbed and the ball of dough becomes smooth. Place dough in an oiled bowl (I coat the sides of the mixing bowl I used, rather than dirty another bowl), cover with a kitchen towel, and let stand in a warm place until the dough doubles in size (about one hour).

Tip dough back out onto floured surface and divide into 2 halves for thin crust pizza, or leave whole for a deep-dish style pizza. Form into tight ball(s) and let rise for 45 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both fists and gently pull edges outward while slowly rotating the dough. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well-oiled pizza pan or screen. Spoon your favorite sauce (I make my own from canned tomato sauce, minced garlic, chopped onions, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper) onto the crust, then add toppings (meats, veggies, cheeses). I use cheese with 2% milk fat, for less saturated fat; it’s healthier, and better for one’s cholesterol numbers.

Bake for 15 – 25 minutes (depending on thickness, how fast your oven cooks, and how crispy you want your crust). Ideally, the crust should be crisp and golden at the edges, and cheeses should be nicely melted on top.

Enjoy!

(Blue)Berry Muffins

Recipe adapted from Food.com’s Sweetest Blueberry Muffins.

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temp
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 212 cups fresh or frozen blueberries 

Cream butter, add sugar, then eggs. When fluffy add vanilla, baking powder and salt. Alternate flour and milk. Fold in berries.

Bake in buttered muffin tins at 375ºF for 15-20 minutes.  Makes 24 medium sized muffins.

We think any firm bits would work nicely, raspberries, strawberries, chocolate chips…

Marcia’s Mango Butter

4.5 lbs ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 c. fresh lime juice
1 c. granulated sugar
2 cinnamon sticks

Puree mangoes and lime juice. Strain into large cooking pot (to remove any stray bits of seed.) Add sugar and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a simmer over medium heat to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and cook 60-75 minutes until very thick. (Holds shape when mounded on a spoon.) Stir every 10 to 15 minutes to prevent scorching. Fill and cap jars. Process in canning kettle for 15 minutes.

My friend found this in Canning for Dummies.