This past Sunday, we spent the day in the warmth of our kitchen’s arms, making Italian antipasto with my husband’s grandmother.  There were a lot of veggies, and even more chopping, but the best part of our afternoon was spending time with Grandma.  These are the moments that I hope my girls carry with them throughout their lives.  Moments when they are home.  Surrounded by family.  Learning lessons passed down from one generation to the next.

Apple Sauce

A sure fire sign that fall is upon us is when we start to find apples popping up here and there at the farmers’ markets.  Last week, we found our very favorite farming family at market with their tables loaded down with the most beautiful apples.  There were Cortlands, Jonathans, Honey Crisps, and Crimson Crisps.  Each more delicious than the next.

With all of this goodness to choose from, the girls and I decided it was high time to start making apple sauce.  So yesterday, with much fanfare and hullabaloo, we began our apple-sauce-making soiree.

The girls did all the work, while I took pictures and drunk in the sounds of 2Cellos on the IPad.  They used our very favorite apple peeler/corere/slicer to do the majority of labor, and then took turns adding some yummy local honey and spicy cinnamon to the mix.  We make our apple sauce in our slow cooker, so we just set it and forget it 🙂

A few hours later, once the aroma of the sweet and tangy apples, floral honey and spiced cinnamon fill the air, we have the perfect apple sauce for our family’s liking.  Fall is here.

Our Weekend

This past weekend we opted to stay close to home because many of us in our little household of four were getting over the lovely beginning-of-the-school-year sniffles. It always seems so odd to me to have a cold in the middle of a ninety degree heat wave, yet that was our particular situation this weekend.  So with lemon tea and honey in hand, we set to having a fun-filled weekend none the less.

The first pumpkins of the season made an appearance at Friday’s market, so we had to buy just a couple.  The girls worked hard all of Saturday morning, digging out the seeds and preparing for some roasted goodness.

While the girls worked hard on the pumpkins, I got busy making my homemade granola. We were able to purchase some delicious home-grown oats from Hazard Free Farms, which helped to make the granola extra yummy.

I also tried another treasure from Grandpa Dit’s recipe box: piccalilli.  I must say, standing in the kitchen over a giant pot of boiling veggies on a ninety-seven degree day was not one of my brightest ideas, but the final result was quite tasty.

And I chopped the day away, getting food ready to put by in the freezer for the winter months.  Andrea Hazzard, from Hazzard Free Farm, gave us a great suggestion for preserving watermelon.  Pour boiling water over a bit of honey, making honey water.  After cooling down the honey water, pour it over diced watermelon until all watermelon is covered.  Then freeze it for enjoyment in the winter months.

Rajah enjoyed finding a new hiding spot.  Oh my.

And Tyler enjoyed some brewing time.  He concocted a batch of caramel creme ale.  Yummy.

I have also been hard at work in the backyard, continuing with our garden expansion.  I am so excited to bring you the finished product in tomorrow’s post.  Hooray!  See you then.

Putting Food By: Black Raspberry Jam

Is there anything better than homemade bread smothered in freshly made jam?  I really cannot think of a single thing that sounds better than that at this moment.

I have been eating freezer jam from as far back as I can remember.  Each and every time I went to visit my Grandma and Grandpa Dietmeier, I could be assured that there would be a fresh jar of homemade jam in the fridge just waiting for me to dig in.  My all time favorite treat was when my Grandpa Dit would give me a scoop of butter pecan ice cream with homemade jam on top.  Oh my.  My mouth is watering right now at the simple thought of it!

I want to be sure my girls have these same fond memories of delicious home-preserved food as I do, so I have been making freezer jam for the past four years.  I normally make my jam from strawberries I buy at the farmers market, but this year I whipped up a batch with the black raspberries we picked this past weekend.  It seemed to make the entire process so much more invigorating to know that we picked all of the berries with our own hands, and then made the jam as well.  Yummy!

Another first this year is that I switched away from the pectin I was using in years past and moved to Pomona’s Universal Pectin.  And let me tell you, I loved it!  I ended up using 6 cups less sugar than I would have to make the same amount of jam with the other pectin!  The taste was amazing because you could taste the tartness of the berries so much more than you could when all of that sugar is in there to cover up the natural flavor of the fruit.  I would recommend Pomona’s to anyone thinking of making jam this year.