Monday, July 18, 2011

Sometimes I say I'll go to bed Early...

But then, I do not. Sure, I'll bemoan the fact that I'm pooped the next day, and whine to myself about how I should've gone to bed sooner, but I can't help it...I'm easily distracted! Usually, I can blame my kids for that distraction; someone needs a boo-boo kissed, someone's picking on her brother, someone wants playdough/a snack/a nuk/a cup of juice/a hug NOW, and I gladly welcome those distractions. I wouldn't trade them for the world. But at 9:30 p.m., I'm most vulnerable to those 'other' distractions; sometimes, it's a show I've been waiting to see, usually it is a book, sometimes it is a long running baseball game on tv, and most often...food is involved as a major distractor.

Tonight's problem? I had six pounds of granny smith apples from a nearby farm just waiting to be used in my produce drawer. I'd made a pie crust a few days ago, but I just haven't felt in the 'pie' spirit. I don't particularly care for an all Granny Smith apple pie, and the only other produce we had in the house, save the frozen items, was some rhubarb, some lettuce, and carrots. Not an appetizing dessert pie, not in the slightest. So, I let the apples sit. And sit. And sit. I kept shooing the kids away from them because, "Mama's going to make something with them...", and after the Preschooler countered that statement with, "What are you going to make, Mama? You keep saying that...", I decided it was time to make something, anything out of them. After reading a new canning cookbook tonight, I figured out just what that something is: apple butter!

Nerd alert: I love to can. But canning is cool! It isn't some archaic pastime that hermits and old ladies partake in. Canning and preserving your own food is an awesome way to take control of your family's diet. In our home, we try to avoid MSG as much as possible (okay, I do...the rest of them, they're on their own if they choose to consume the stuff). You can control the amount of sugar and salt that goes into your food. You can pick your own strawberries, apples, oranges, vegetables, etc., to turn into jams, jellies, butters, chutneys, pickles, and more.  You can even make wine jelly. Trust me...I've done it, and it was amazing.

But, I wax poetic. I tend to do that in regards to food.  Back to the topic at hand...apple butter.

I love apple butter. It is just so, well, quintessentially Wisconsin. We do tend to like our apples here, and since many of us have a glut of them arrive on our doorstep in mid summer to late autumn, those of us 'food preservationists' rejoice at the bounty of apples to turn into apple sauce, cinnamon apple rings, apple pie filling, and apple butter. I can't imagine not having it in my home at any one given moment. Not to mention, my husband attended Gettysburg college and fell in love with apple butter in Pennsylvania, thanks to the large Pennsylvania Dutch influence on food out in that part of the country.

Tonight, I tried a new recipe: instead of boiling the apples, mashing them by hand, and then stirring, and stirring, and stirring, and stirring...well, you get the point. That old way to make apple butter is ridiculous. I have two children under the age of 4, and I'd like to go to bed before 2 a.m, since I was silly and started this project at 9:30 at night. In reading the book, the author, Liana Krissoff, suggests a few tweaks to the old methodology: use an immersion blender to mash the apples (why didn't I  think of that!?) and to slow cook the apple puree so that it takes on the butter-like consistency without the risk of burning in a pot on the stove, or worse, wasting precious time stirring a pot when you'd rather be playing with the kids. Or in my case, sleeping.


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