Monday, September 27, 2010

Crab Apple Jelly

My friend Amelia came over to make Crab Apple Jelly with us the other day.
The girls are showing you all the crab apples they picked. They couldn't reach many off the tree, but Amelia and I would shake the tree and crab apples would come raining down for the girls to pick up. Then Amelia and I would keep picking all we could reach from standing on the crate and chair.The girls did all the washing:

Amelia and I cut them in half and removed the stems.

Then we cooked them (2 c water to each lb of apple) and removed the pulp, leaving just the juice.

Add sugar (lots!), cook it until reduced by half, and there's your Crab Apple Jelly! Pour it into jars, give it a hot water bath for 5 minutes (at our elevation I do 15), and let it sit on the shelf until it thickens up.
Crab apples are high in pectin so you don't need to add anything to thicken it up.
In our neighborhood the sidewalks are littered with crab apples this time of year. I love finding a use for something that otherwise would just go to waste. Crab apples, if you've ever tried one, tend to be pretty tart and not very good to eat plain. But made into jelly it can't get tastier!

'Tis the Season

Fall is the season of plenty around here. Local food grown on local family farms, food from our own garden and surrounding trees, everything coming ripe and ready all at once, so much fresh goodness on our table!
Carrot Tomato Soup for dinner, from pounds and pounds of fresh tomatoes and carrots picked that day (recipe found here on SouleMama's Blog). I'd never actually made Tomato Soup from fresh tomatoes before, but after coming home from Miller Farms today with 20 lbs of tomatoes (along with 16 other sacks full of the Fall harvest), I knew this was the day. The girls loved it. Who wouldn't love a creamy tomato soup with fresh basil in it? My cupboards and closets are stocked! I finished canning about 50 lbs of peaches today, along with 10 pint's of Grandma Jo's Special Sauce, aka Blender Ketchup (that's what I did with the rest of the 20 lbs of tomatoes that I didn't turn into soup).The smell of Grandma Jo's Special Sauce filled the house for two days while it cooked down. Mmm mmm mmm! It brought back so many memories of my own childhood. Isn't it amazing how many good feelings can be evoked just by a certain smell? Grandma Jo's Special Sauce is special indeed. If you're wondering what to do with your Fall harvest abundance of tomatoes, give this recipe a shot:
Grandma Jo's Special Sauce, aka Blender Ketchup
8 lbs tomatoes, washed, peeled* and stemmed
2 red bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
4 onions
3 c white vinegar
3 c sugar
3 T salt
1/2 tsp allspice
3 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp hot red pepper
De seed and cut peppers in strips. Skin and quarter onions. Blend tomatoes, peppers and onion in blender. Bring to a boil in a large stockpot along with vinegar and sugar. Place other ingredients in a cheesecloth bag and add to pot. Simmer uncovered till reduced by half, about 24 hours.
Directions and times for canning blender ketchup can be found here.
*To peel tomatoes: dip them in a boiling water bath for about a minute and the skins will slide right off.
We are loving this Sauce in our house right now!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Exploring Wildness

Come on a walk with us!We live so close to spaces that are wild.

These girls love to see, with fresh eyes, the incredible intricacy of the beauty that is around us.

They love to walk through it, be surrounded by it.

Explore it freely.

Feel it under their feet.

Hug it.
Learn the balance of their body.

Embrace the wildness around them with all of who they are.

Can you see where our house is?

So close, and yet we felt so far from the environment of sidewalks, mown grass and playground equipment that actually surrounds our home. All fun in their own time, but important to leave, as well.

What do you hear, Anna? What do you see?

Where will this trail lead? Let's find out!

Run across the bridge! What do you see in the water flowing beneath your feet?

Ruthie, the fearless leader.

We're in a fort made of trees! That one is the chimney!

Look at where we are! Three fearsome mountain lions, stopping along the trail.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's Always so Nice...

...when 3 little girls sleep in a bit.Then I was joined by this little one.

And that was pretty nice, too.

Ooooh, I do love my snuggles.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


What an end of summer whirlwind, and its Fall already! Time has felt like it is passing in leaps and bounds, each day melting into the next with hardly a breath between. That could seem stressful, I suppose, but for the most part it hasn't been. Lots of time with friends, lots of shared meals, late summer harvests from the garden on our plate. Little girls growing up so fast. Ruthie, especially, has been growing and changing so much lately. Talking up a storm, running fast after her sisters trying to keep up with their antics. People keep calling her Josie lately because she got so big so fast. She seems more like a little girl and less like a toddler everyday.

She's my little helper in the kitchen-helping me roll out pie crust for a pot pie.
Nora and Ruthie sharing a book together.
Josie reading to Ruthie.
Josie is a little mother. If you need a room picked up and all the toys put away ask Anna. Don't ask Josie unless you're ready to put in some parenting time guiding her through the task. But if you need help taking care of a little one, ask Josie. She'll take their hand and guide them through a task, entertain them while you cook or eat, read to them, bring you a clean diaper or a sippy cup. Such a sweet, patient spirit. They each have their strengths and weaknesses.

Here's one last picture I have to share with you before I head off to bed.
This is Lars, who has hung out with us a lot lately since his Mama was on bed rest, pregnant with his little brother (now two weeks old, doing great, the tiniest little being I think I have ever held). We have had so much fun with this little guy. Anna and Josie don't really like to wrestle. I keep waiting for wrestling matches to break out in our house, but those two are never both in the mood at the same time. Ruthie, on the other hand, being the youngest and always getting tackled both accidentally and on purpose, loves to wrestle. It has been so much fun for her to have Lars around to laugh with, to good-naturedly wrestle with, dance with, and have a playmate of her own to hang out with when her sisters want to do big girl things. Lars, for his part, fits right into our little family, and brings a lot of laughter along with him. Here's an action shot of the little guy jumping off the coffee table. I think we taught him a few bad habits:) The coffee table is our favorite indoor launch pad. We loved having you around, Lars.

I have missed being in this space, sharing our life with you. Time flying by can do that, so can a computer that is incredibly slow and never gets to the next web page or accomplishes the tasks that you are asking it to do. Frustrating, to say the least. But we have a new computer in our home now (with a webcam, we can skype!), so my words can flow out again and not get bottled up in the frustration of a computer that isn't moving.