Where to even begin! We have been so very busy, between a birthday, the fair, and our garden harvest, I barely have time for sleep! Not to mention school is right around the corner, and I have been planning, ordering, and cleaning out the school room in preparation for the coming school year, and just today, baby kittens! Wow, when I write it out on paper, I feel even more overwhelmed :)
So here is a quick overview of the month of August. Our sweet, spunky, baby girl of the family celebrated her 7th birthday, which happened to be the same week as the County fair. We had a great week at the fair, with many blue ribbons and even a best of show. We squeezed a birthday party into our week, and it was small, special and very festive. We all had a great time celebrating one very smart, special girl!
I have been busy with apples around here. We headed to the orchard yesteday and purchased 3 bushels for half price. "Apple Tom" even threw in an extra bushel for free because he remembered me from last year, and was appreciative of all the apples we buy from him. I some day, hope and (dream) of having enough apples from my own orchard, but for now I enjoy supporting the local, small town apple orchards.
I made a few apple pies. Now, I am not a pie person and they never turn out looking like they should be on a magazine cover, but it's apple pie.. how can you go wrong? They always taste delicious. I have found, that since I don't do well with crust, I like to make a crumb top apple pie or an apple tart. My family loves them and that's all that counts!
I do however LOVE making applesauce and conquered my fears this year and started canning. It was my goal to learn to can, and summer is almost over, so well, I did it! I canned 24 quarts and still have a bushel in the fridge for fresh eating. If we start to slow down on eating them fresh, I may can up some apple pie filling. A few years ago I found a slow cooker applesauce recipe from Gooseberry Patch and have been using it ever since, and sharing it with all my friends. It's amazing, delicious and makes the house smell heavenly. I like to mix it all up in the crockpot, in the evening and slowcook it all night. In the morning we wake up to warm applesauce and again, the house smells divine! This year I tried something new and used a roaster as well as a crockpot, because it cooks down so much, there isn't much left after seven people are served. I recommend cooking with the roaster during the day because it cooks the apples in half the time and you don't want to burn them. I was able to make 10 quarts using my roaster. Here is the recipe:
Gooseberry Patch Slow-Cooker Applesauce
3-4 lbs of sauce apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 c. sugar
2 T brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon (I always double or triple the cinnamon)
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 c water
Fill your slow cooker with apple to about 2 inches from top. Stir together sugars and spices in small bowl; mix into apples and add water. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 hours, or until apples are tender. Drain; mash apples with potato masher to desired consistency. Store in refrigerator.
A few things I do differently, then the recipe: I don't drain or mash the apples. We like our sauce more chunky and I have never found enough extra juice to drain. When I have cooked the applesauce for 8 hours, I mix and stir until desired consistency. Also, if you don't want to use all that sugar, you may substitute with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of honey and 1 tbsp of pure maple syrup (recipe compliments from a friend). If I am not canning the applesauce, I prefer to make it with the honey and maple syrup.
Apples also freeze very well, so in years past, I have mixed up the apples with the spices and froze them in gallon size freezer bags. I pulled them out on a cold winter day and put in the crockpot. Just add a little water as they will be juicy from being in the freezer. There is nothing better then the smell of applesauce slow cooking all day, on a cold winter's day.