Sunday, October 7, 2012

Homesteadin' in the D

Happy Sunday, friends! I love this day of the week, even though Darin has to work for most of it (fortunately, not during church!). This morning, though, we woke up really late from our night downtown! It was poppin' in Detroit from the Tigers game and we got home a bit late...

Fall is definitely going on up here already. The high has been in the 50's all weekend, and the trees are looking so good. Darin's birthday is coming up, and I start my new job tomorrow! All in all, I'd say that this season has always been my favorite for good reason!

Lately, we've been doing two things in particular: watching The Walking Dead on Netflix and making fall goodies in the kitchen. Oh em geeeee, that show is out of control. It stresses me out to no end. While we were on a Breaking Bad kick, at least I didn't really care what happened to any characters. But with The Walking Dead, they are seriously doing everything they can to give me heart attacks.

However, the fall harvest is a lot more productive and exciting! One of the many things I am loving about fall in Michigan is the apple-calypse. I hear the crop was lacking this year, but I have been picking up bag after bag of Michigan apples.

I pored over a few slow cooker applesauce recipes and decided on using about three pounds of Gala apples and two tablespoons of brown sugar, as well as half a cup of water, and then letting them cook on low for 8-ish hour, or on high for 4-ish hours. After all that time, they fell apart so much that mashing them wasn't really necessary. Stirring them hard with a wooden spoon, as well as cutting some of the skins apart -- which I left in, for vitamins and ease, and it worked great -- did all the mashing needed. And, voila! I had applesauce! It would so good hot on vanilla ice cream, or cold like we usually eat it. Darin loved it too!

The best part is that it is SO healthy! The tiniest bit of brown sugar enhances the natural sweetness of the apples. I think the slow cooker does a great job of keeping the flavor locked in as the apples break down and dissolve.

Now, today's adventure was a little beyond anything I've attempted before... apple butter! I've had it at Cracker Barrel, I've seen it at TJ Maxx, I love it. It tastes like the essence of what apple should be. And, thanks for the millionth time to Pinterest, I saw the slow cooker version that would push me to making it on my own!

This was my inspiration: Slow Cooker Naked Apple Butter at Oh She Glows. Her recommendation is adding no sugar at all, making the healthiest and most natural apple butter possible. I went out and bought a decent variety of apples, following her advice of going half tart and half sweet. I got pounds and pounds of Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, and Jonathan apples to balance out the flavors, and then chopped them up and overstuffed the slow cooker, and set it to go on high for 4 hours. I used my immersion blender to blend it to death, until it was chunk free and smooth as velvet. Even at that point it tasted amazing.

I added a tablespoon of brown sugar just for my taste, and a squirt of lemon juice and a good dash of cinnamon. I let it keep going for another hour to thicken up. 

It is the most heavenly thing I've ever cooked in my life. Even compared to my favorite mint chocolate chip cake. Sweet Lord. This is an inexpensive homemade concoction you've got to try! I can't wait to make biscuits and smother them with this stuff!

Today's try was just to see how it turned out, but next time I'm putting my new canning water bath to work! Thanks Amazon gift card! Hope y'all like apples, because these may be my gifts of choice to give from now on... Anyways, happy fall and October, friends! I know my Floridian friends aren't getting much of that yet, but for us here in Michigan, I hope you're having as much fun as I am!

Love, Lara

A snapshot of the beauty in our neighborhood. Love ya, October!