Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Never a Good Thing.

It can't be a good thing when you step out your back door to hear your kids screaming, jumping up and down and pointing skyward at this:
That's right Buzzards, or Vultures, though in Virginia we only call them Vultures if you're talking about Turkey Vultures, which these aren' we'll go with Buzzards. (I'm still impressed with my new camera, especially after being able to zoom in on these creepy birds)
They circled overhead like this for some time. What, oh what, could they have been circling behind my house? *Gulp* I don't want to even imagine how big the 'dead something' had to have been in order to attract his many Buzzards. Ewwwwwwwwwwww.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September Fun.

Am I the only one that feels like it should still be August? There are only a few days left in September and I'm wondering how fast time will keep slipping by.

Here's how the kids and I spent some of our September.

Play Dough and dragons were almost a daily playtime.

The two younger kids were properly introduce to creek play.
Cotton Candy was shared at Cousin Connor's football games.
Mackenzie's hair is still short from her last hair cut and I'm so proud that you can still see both of her eyes, even if she is a little heavy with the eye makeup. :)

We had many impromptu picnics inside the house, set up by Evan Grace and enjoyed by all
Coins were collected and separated into 2 different piggy banks, which seemed to take forever to finish.
Mackenzie got involved in spirit week at her High School. She decked herself out for Nerd Day (left) and Crazy Day (right).

All these fun activities in between school lessons, housework, cooking, canning and spending time with grandparents and family. It was a good September, just way to short.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin Butter!!!

Since the Apple Butter turned out so well I was itching to get my hands on something else to can. I came across a canning recipe for pumpkin butter. I admit, I was curious. I dove in and picked up 10 Pie Pumpkins to give it a whirl. Pie Pumpkins are the smaller pumpkins you can find in the market, it's a better texture to eat than the big pumpkins you use for Jack O Lanterns. (not sure why I only took a picture of 4 of the pumpkins...huh)
Cut each pumpkin in half, remove the stem.
Then scrap out all the seeds and stringy insides. Evan Grace, of course, wanted to help, though she complained of how sticky the insides were the entire time.
Once everything is all cleaned out, pour a few inches of water into a microwavable bowl and cover with a lid. Microwave for 15 minutes and test with a fork to see if the insides are soft. Test it like you would a baked potato. If 15 minutes doesn't do the job then pop it back in the microwave for another 5 minutes at a time until it is soft.

Be careful removing this hot bowl from the microwave or you'll end up with a broken microwave plate like I did....sigh.....I had cooked every single pumpkin without incident and then last one I pull out of the microwave I do this.

Carefully remove the pumpkin from the hot water, and peel the skin off. If the skin is stubborn or really hard like a few of my pumpkins were, then just scoop the insides out with a spoon and place them in a separate bowl.

Use a nifty hand blender or whatever you my have to puree the pumpkin until smooth. Repeat with all your pumpkins until you've got 7 quarts of pumpkin puree. I decided to put back a quart and a half of pumpkin puree for a Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie. I can taste it already.

Next add 5 quarts of your pumpkin puree to a large slow cooker. Add in
2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of allspice
4 cups sugar (yes, I did say 4 cups of sugar)

Mix it all well, and then put the lid half on the slow cooker, or you can use the same knife trick I used with the Apple Butter. The steam has to escape in order for the Pumpkin Butter to thicken up.  Let this cook 6-12 hours or overnight. I let mine go overnight. The next morning give everything a good stir and then add in 2-3 more quarts of pumpkin puree (whatever you have left from the night before) and 2 more cups of sugar.
Let everything cook another hour or two to make sure all the flavors mix and then you're ready to ladle to store your Pumpkin Butter. Since pumpkins aren't an acidic food it's not recommended to can Pumpkin Butter. But you can let this cool down and then spoon it into freezer bags or if you've got any nifty freezer plastic like I do, just spoon it in, leaving about an inch of head space between the top of the butter and your lid and then freeze.

I was skeptical about Pumpkin Butter. I like pumpkin bread, and pies, and even muffins and I get all excited with Starbucks brings back their Pumpkin Spice Latte. Pumpkin Butter, though, takes the cake. It's amazing; creamy, smooth, sweet without being too sweet and I can't believe I'm saying it, but I think I'm guilty of liking it better than apple butter...gasp! If you give this a try let me know how it turns out and what side of the fence you're on. Apple Butter or Pumpkin Butter, either way you've got some tasty things canned for the rest of the year. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Apple Butter.

Remember all that tasty applesauce I made a few days back? Well if you're in the mood to make your own apple butter it all starts with good applesauce. Since we had an abundance of apple sauce, we used the majority of it to make apple butter for the first time.

Fill your slow cooked with 5.5 quarts of applesauce, or within an inch of the top of your cooker.
Add in:
2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of allspice
2 cups sugar

Stir really well. Then you can either put the lid on half way or place two case knives on the ends of your slow cooker like so.
Then place your slow cooker lid on top of the knives. This keeps the splatters from hitting the counter top and maybe the wall behind your slow cooker.

Cook on low or medium heat for 6-12 hours, or overnight. You can stir this from time to time but only if you want to or if you know your slow cooker has hot spots that might burn the butter. The apple butter will cook down about half way.

Once everything is all cooked down add the remaining 2-3 quarts of applesauce and 2 more cups of sugar. Stir everything really well again and let this cook for a few more hours. I let mine cook 4 more hours.
Right before you're ready to can your apple butter you can run a hand blender through your apple butter for a more creamy texture. Or if you already blended your applesauce to the consistency you like before making your butter you can skip this step. Fill your sterilized jars and seal immediately.

A neat tip: after sealing your jars, flip them upside down and allow the butter to cool completely before moving it someplace to store it. The heat of the contents help reinforce a good seal.
Apple butter on still warm homemade biscuits. Could anything be any better?

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Scarf Curtain

Remember this post about my vintage scarf curtain? I love this curtain, it was one of the first things I hung up when the kids and I moved into our new place in April. Gorgeous, whimsy and so me.

I've slowly been collecting more scarfs to make a somewhat matching curtain for the other window I have in my kitchen. Here are the few I have so far. The dark blue one with the white stars is one of my grandmas.
Instead of using white ribbon like the original curtain I went for stretchy lace. Just cause. :) All you have to do is cut your lace the length of your choice and place it behind one of the corners of the scarf.
Then fold it over the corner and sew everything in place. Quick, simple and a great, fun look for any window.
I'm going to add a few more scarfs as soon as I can find some that match the color story I have going on here. Now my kitchen windows have matching curtains and I'm a happy girl.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Little Plate of Heaven.

Let me introduce you to a little plate of heaven. When Boy Toy first told me about this cake recipe of his mom's I was intrigued, then flat out wanting. After months and months of hounding, begging, pleading, and promising to swap some of my great recipes with his mom he finally worked up enough nerve to ask her for the recipe.

Well ok, I didn't have to plead or promise and Boy Toy didn't have to work up nerve to get the recipe. He simple had to ask, but it took his brain awhile to remember to ask. I do have a tendency to over exaggerate.

So here's your recipe for A Little Plate of Heaven (or as Boy Toy's family calls it, Upside Down German Chocolate Cake). Be prepared to run to the market after reading this recipe, this is so what's for dessert tonight. Trust me!

Start by covered the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan with 1 cup coconut, and 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped)

Then in a separate bowl, whip up a German Chocolate cake mix that you picked up at the market earlier. Really, any kind of chocolate cake mix works; just go for your favorite!
Then pour it on top of the walnut/coconut goodness. Which I appreantly didn't take a picture of, my bad.
Next, place a stick of butter and 8oz of cream cheese in a microwavable bowl and nuke on high for 2 minutes. 

Once it's all heated, stir well and then add an entire box of powdered sugar into this and mix well. (Yes, I did say an entire box of powdered sugar, are you starting to see why this is from Heaven? I thought so.)

Take this sugar, cream cheese butter concoction and pour it right over the cake batter. Yes, right over!
Cook 35-40 minutes at 350 and enjoy. Refrigerate any leftovers.  Enjoy your Little Plate of Heaven.

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