Saving for a rainy day…

We’ve got this incredible view from my window, and a huge box of golden delicious apples…

This season has a strange effect on me. It is my favorite time of year–by far, but there’s this ferocious maternal thing that happens. It presents itself in the form of an overwhelming need to freeze, can or dry whatever will stay still long enough to get it safely into a bag or jar and squeeze it shut. The cats are looking at me funny. Even though I have baby hats to make, mending to do, files to sort, and rooms to clean, those things will have to wait a bit, until I get past this need to squirrel away all the nuts and berries for winter.

I remember hearing a wise man once say, “leave no jar unfilled.” Even though at the time, I was surrounded by plenty, the impact of his advice has stayed with me. Perhaps he knew that a lot of moms get great comfort from the rainbow of bottles lining her shelves. It’s hard to describe the feeling of seeing the counter filled, with rows and rows of grape juice, jam, peaches, spaghetti sauce, jelly and applesauce. Or bags of dried pears, plums and tomatoes packed in a plastic tub. It’s kinda like sitting in a rocker in front of the fire with a cup of steaming hot cocoa, knowing the kids are all tucked away in their  beds. It’s that kind of feeling…

“…all is safely gathered in…” for that rainy day, that may come tomorrow, or maybe next week.

When it does, you’re welcome at our place. We have plenty of applesauce…

and we love the rain.

Spaghetti Sauce, etc.

I found this incredible spaghetti sauce recipe at Soule Mama and initially we only made a single batch—from the tomatoes in our garden–and had it for supper. But it was so good that we ended up leaving the noodles in the pan and sopping it up with an entire loaf of Italian bread.

Decadent…

That evening we bought another bushel of tomatoes and made enough sauce to last till January. The spices are just perfect–in fact, we had two neighbors come to the door to see what the fabulous smell was. One little pint was all we could spare… (snicker)

So at the end of the day, my daughter’s husband said, “Wow…you smell really goood…

…like pizza or something.”

Sheesh…

Note: The measurements for basil in this recipe are for FRESH basil. Please don’t add 1/2 cup of dried basil–that’s about 4 times too much.

Do you, or does anyone you know grow their own herbs? Which ones?

Forced obsession…

My son-in-law has suggested that we start a family book discussion group, and since that is one thing we all have in common—loving and being surrounded by wonderful books—we took to the idea immediately.  We are each so different in our reading styles and tastes that the possibilities are endless. For instance, Jacob reads science fiction (Orson Scott Card, Jordan), April is more into contemporary novels (Jodi Picoult, Tan), Jillian loves the classic love stories (Meyer, Alcott ), Rhen votes for the spooky reading (Shelly, Stoker–not the really freaky stuff that mom vetoes… :] ) and Lyndi and I would rather read childrens’ literature than adult any day (Catling, Hale, respectively) although we are huge Meyer fans as well. For this very reason, it was fun to imagine how this would turn out.

So first he had us each submit 3 titles: (1)-book we have read that we think others should read; (1) book we haven’t read but have wanted to; and (1) book that is totally out of our preferred genre, but might be interesting. We emailed him our choices which, he then randomly chose 3 which we voted on. Oh, and we weren’t allowed to tell each other what books we submitted….although, sometimes it was obvious.

The three we voted on were: Magnificent Obsession–by Lloyd C. Douglas

The Chocolate Touch–by Patrick Skene Catling

Ender’s Game–by Orson Scott Card

In the end Chocolate Touch won. It was a quick read–being a middle grade novel so everyone but Rhen has read it already. I guess the other two books will go back into the “pot,” and we’ll draw and vote again after we discuss this one at our official book chat on Saturday night. It is actually pretty fun to see all these different types reading a simple kids’ book—and being a good sport about it. I can’t wait to see what we are assigned in the next draw. That’s right…FORCE me to read. Ha ha…

What book have you loved and would like others to read?

What book do you plan to read next?

What book is totally not what you normally read, but might be interesting?

Crabby Apples?

We did a little research and found that the pretty–but messy–trees in the front yard are actually crab apples.

All we knew was that they have gorgeous pink blossoms in the spring and ten billion berry-type things in the fall.

Usually, we just avoid going near them at this time of year because if you happen to walk under the branches in a slight breeze—half a dozen of the Barbie apples will nail you in the head. And just walking across the lawn isn’t too pleasant either because stepping on the old ones is squishy business.

So, we did a bit more study and found that there are about  36 varieties of crab apples and the ones in our yard–we learned–were packed with natural pectin and would make wonderful jelly. So we shook them down—on purpose this time, and raked them into one big pile.

Next, The Bald Kid took the leaf blower and separated the tiny apples from the leaves and grass. It worked like a charm and was easier on the fruit than raking because these little things bruise and discolor very quickly.

We separated the good from the not so good and took them in the house to wash.

Next, we steamed them in the juicer….

…and boiled it down to…

…a beautiful and great tasting jelly, that goes perfectly with… peanut butter!

What is the most interesting jelly you’ve ever tasted?