Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gardening and Apple Sauce

It has been a nice slow, cold Sunday evening in our household. We went on a long walk, made some chicken salad for sandwiches tomorrow (and chicken stock consequently), apple sauce and we've been watching Star Wars, because who can resist a Star Wars marathon! Anyhow, Dan thought it was customary to make Remi into a Jedi....

this is Remi the Jedi Knight's contemplative look...

Earlier in the day I had my first gardening class at The Phantom Gardener. If you missed my previous post about such (for shame) I've decided to take classes at a local gardening center to learn how to build and keep an organic vegetable garden this season.

My parents had a small garden when I was in elementary school, but since I was never responsible for its development, I have no clue how to start. Also, my parent's aren't into organic gardening yet; they are on some level, but for what I ultimately want to do I needed more expert advice.

This first class discussed soil; how to compost, soil PH, seeding, the works on how to get started. The instructor (who is the owner of the garden center) also gave us many resources to use for independent study.

I found several books of interest from the stack of recommended reading; the ones that interested me most were those on how to build and establish a good compost pile. I'll let you know if I find any helpful (or easy to understand for a novice!) I am rather curious about the concept of compost and all of the benefits of keeping such, both for a garden and for the overall environment. It seems like such an easy concept--use the materials God has given us to create new materials.

I cannot start a good pile until probably summer when materials are more readily available, so as far as the rest of the day. When Dan was growing up his mom's two main side dishes were garlic egg noodles (egg noodles with minced garlic, carrots, scallion and olive oil), and apple sauce.

I've been on a "make it from scratch" kick. Apple sauce is one of those things that is super easy to make so I figured why not when Dan asked for apple sauce with dinner. In our area, many of the local farmers still have apples in cold storage from their prime (and as an added bonus, making this makes your house smell delicious!)

Aunt Peggy's Apple Sauce (slightly adapted)

--8(ish) apples (roughly 3 pounds); I use a mix of what I have on hand
--1 cup water or apple juice
--1/2 sugar (this is to taste depending on the sweetness of your apples)
--1 cinnamon stick
--dash of cinnamon

1. Cube apples; if you plan on using a food mill or ricer there is no need to peel the apples (though red ones will tint your liquid a bit pink.) Bring apples and cinnamon stick to boil in water or apple juice and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender.

2. Put apples through a food mill or ricer (the ricer will give the sauce a chunkier texture.) Add sugar and cinnamon to taste (you can add some lemon zest or a squirt of lemon/orange juice, a dash of allspice...get creative!) Serve warm/room temp or chill in the fridge.

Note: I boil in apple juice when I have it on hand and then I keep the liquid and use it for warm apple cider. The sauce will keep in the fridge 5-7 days (if it lasts that long) or properly can in a water bath if you wish to keep longer.

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