Apple Season – Crockpot Applesauce

20141027_104820I enjoy pumpkin season, but I LOVE apple season. Right now my diet is limited, but my guys still need to eat.  And they like applesauce.

Applesauce is so easy to make.  You don’t need any special equipment or ingredients.  The very minimum you need is apples, a knife, and a large pot.  Even easier…you can use a crockpot.  Tastes so much better than the stuff you buy from the store, and it is much cheaper as well.

To make the applesauce, start with your favorite apples.  Courtland apples are one of my favorites for applesauce and available here locally in bulk.  You can use Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp or you can use a mix of what you have available.

Peel, core, and quarter your apples.  Use as few or as many as you like, but you can start with about a dozen.  As you cut, drop your apple quarters in a bowl of cold water with a couple tablespoons of lemon juice to keep them from browning.  Drain the apples and place into crockpot with about a half cup of water.  Cook on high for three to four hours or on low seven to eight hours (or overnight) until apples are very soft.  Stir apples with fork until desired consistency.  Serve warm or store in a sealed container in your refrigerator and serve cold.  You can put the applesauce into individual containers and they are great for lunches.

You can add sugar and/or cinnamon or other spices to your apples as they cook if you choose, but I find the apples are usually naturally sweet on their own especially if you use the sweeter apples (Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala, Braeburn).

I hope you will trying making your own applesauce.  Once you see how easy it is, how good it tastes and how frugal it is, I know you’ll want to make more.  I’d love to hear how it turned out.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

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Frugal Friday – Pumpkin Puree

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Fall 2010

We may not celebrate Halloween, but I do love pumpkins. I like to decorate the house for fall with them and then use them to make puree. I think fresh pumpkin tastes much better than canned…and it isn’t hard to make. I think once you try making and using fresh puree, it’ll be hard to go back to canned.

First you need a sugar pumpkin…or two. They are the smaller, darker orange pumpkins. You can use the bigger carving pumpkins, but they are more stringy instead of meaty. I’ve used carving pumpkins to make pumpkin bread and it tasted just fine but if you want to make a pie it is better to use a sugar pumpkin. A 4 pound pumpkin will give you about 1 1/2 cups of puree.

2014-10-08pumpkinsaWash your pumpkin, cut the top off and cut your pumpkin in half, then clean the guts and seeds out. Save the seeds as they make a yummy snack too! I choose to bake the pumpkin instead of boiling it. I think it retains more flavor and nutritional value. They contain Vitamin A, B and potassium. Pumpkins are also a source of protein, dietary fiber and Vitamin E. So bake it cut side down in a 375F oven with about a cup of water for about 1 1/2 hours or until soft. Cool, then scoop the pumpkin from the skin and mash it by hand or use a food processor.

Because pumpkins are 90 percent water, the puree will be watery. You will want to drain it in cheese cloth overnight before you use/store it. It can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days or frozen for up to six months (but I used some that was in longer and it was fine).

Now that you have your puree, you can use it to make all sorts of pumpkin yummies.  Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe to share?  Feel free to post it or the link to your recipe in the comment section.  Here are a few of mine:

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Seeds

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Prepper? Homesteader? Survivalist? Other?

2016Aug25Chickens“You’re NOT a homesteader!!”

Yes, I’ve heard that and no, I’m not.  I don’t fit into the homesteader mold nor do I fit the prepper or survivalist molds either.

While many things I do are popular in these lifestyles, I don’t really fit the mold.  I have a totally different philosophy and goal than most others.

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Making slippers for Christmas gifts,  just like mama did.

I’ve always been on the frugal side.  Sometimes more frugal, sometimes less.  Much of what I do is just what I had learned growing up.  I’ve always been interested in the outdoors, gardening, camping, hiking, farming etc.  Growing up in the city didn’t give me many opportunities for them, but I really enjoyed any chance to be outside with nature and camping/hiking became and still is one of my favorite activities.

 

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Celebrating my birthday with my great-grandmother…a homemade cake and homemade party hats.

I heartily understand the philosophy behind prepping and I agree with most of it.  I don’t feel like I need to live barricaded in militarized zone with 30 years of food and supplies put up in my hidden armored bunker.  If you do, that’s fine.  I do feel, however, that as the manager of my home I need to be as prepared as possible to care for my family in what ever situation comes our way.  We live in crazy, fragile times.  But I firmly believe that the extreme form of prepping goes against what the Bible teaches.  The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, to take care of the orphans and widows, feed the hungry, visit prisoners.  It doesn’t say only do these things when times are good and stop when “stuff” hits the fan.  I will do my best for my family, but together we serve God first.

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Canning grape jam.

There are so many ideas of what a homesteader is. To some it’s living completely off grid and to others it is simply adopting a more self sufficient lifestyle where ever you might be at.  Living off the land is hard, hard work, but can also be rewarding.  We live in a small town on a small lot, and while I do a lot of things that homesteaders do, I wouldn’t classify myself as a homesteader.  But again, a lot of these things I do I learned growing up.  For example: I learned gardening…organic gardening…from my grandfather.  In the big city.  I learned to make things by hand from my mother and great-grandmother.   I learned to be frugal from my grandmother…like using old clothing (read: underwear) to mop the floors and putting left over bread that is starting to stale in the freezer to use in the future for stuffing.  When I moved out on my own, I appreciated the farmers market that was right across the street, and I found out first hand how practical being frugal was.

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The garden goes all the way to the wood fence.

All these things became very real for our family when my husband lost his job a while back.  This area of Indiana suffered a great blow with many automotive, trailer and RV manufacturers laying people off or closing.  Hubby’s company closed and sent the work elsewhere.  Not being burdened by lots of debt and having a well stocked pantry with a garden got us through the hard times when many others were going under.  Not only were we able to keep our heads above water, but we didn’t have to rely on any assistance, food or utility programs.  And even then, we were able to help out others when they needed it.  I’m not saying it didn’t hit us hard because it did.  Only now are we starting to get caught up on things that we had to put off during that time (like getting our roof fixed, replacing appliances that stopped working etc.)  But being frugal, prepared and doing as much with our land as we could, we made it through when many others didn’t.

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Curing onions in the garage.

So I guess you can classify me under what ever category you would like.  I’m not prepping for any zombie apocalypse, but for real life circumstances for my family and those around me.  I’m not living on an off grid homestead with livestock, but we are trying to live more sustainable where we are.  If you asked me what I would call it…I guess I would call it living Proverbs 31.  I’m a homemaker.  Regardless of what circumstances arise, my main responsibility is to God first, then my family and my home, and then helping others as I can.

What about you?  Do you fit the mold or are you an outlier like me?

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Matthew 25:34-40 – Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

The Good, The Bad, and The Unpredictable

bald_man_combI saw a meme the other day that said “My luck is like a bald man who won a comb.”  That about sums it up.

My life is NOT awful at all.  I’ve been through and continue to go through lots of challenging situations, but even though some of those situations are pretty bad, my life as a whole is still good.  I have a pretty awesome husband.  We have a crazy wonderful son.  We live in a great area.  We are children of an amazing and powerful Father God.  When I lay my head down on my pillow at night, that is what counts.

The challenges are still hard.  For example, after hubby being on unemployment for a while, we were just starting to get back on our feet.  Then one by one, our appliances started breaking down.  First the stove, then the dryer and the fridge.  Also during that time…BOTH vehicles had to be replaced.  We also had to replace our roof.  The washer is now on its last legs and now our water heater needs replacing.  It feels like we are taking one step forward and two steps back.  It doesn’t feel like we’ll ever catch up.

It’s overwhelming at times especially when you see so many other people who manage their obstacles much easier. I know behind the scenes they are probably just as overwhelmed as we are.

The Bible tells us not to be anxious about tomorrow “…for tomorrow will worry about it’s own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34 I tend to be a worrier, especially when it seems that everything that could go wrong, has. I am TRYING to focus just on today. I’m telling myself I can’t do anything about the washer or the water heater right this moment, but I can take care of the things that I can right now…and the rest will wait in God’s capable hands. Then I will do the same tomorrow.

So that’s it. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you run a marathon? One step at a time. And man’s steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way? (Proverbs 20:24) I just have to keep repeating this to myself, reminding myself that we’ve made it through worse, and keep counting my blessings.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh to to me? Psalm 56:3-4

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

Coffee Recipes

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Enjoying my morning hot coffee with the sun streaming in the window.

I have to say first off, I’m not a fan of iced coffee. Blech. I don’t mind coffee flavor in some things (like my favorite hard to find Coffee Crisp candy bars) but in my mind when coffee is cold, you either heat it up or get a fresh, hot cup. I thought I was just old school.

 

I was going through some cookbooks looking for a certain recipe and as I was flipping through one of my older cookbooks (1977) I came across a few coffee recipes including one for iced coffee. Wow. It was a thing back then too! I thought I’d share the recipes so I could save you from spending your hard earned cash on expensive cold coffee shop coffee.  I’m sure the recipes would work just as well with your favorite dairy free milks too.  Enjoy!

Iced Coffee: For each glass of iced coffee desired, brew coffee using two level tablespoons coffee and ¾ measuring cup (6 fl. oz.) cold water. Use more or less to suit your taste. Pour hot coffee over ice cubes in tall glasses. Serve immediately with cream and sugar.

Coffee Ice Cubes: Pour about 3 cups of brewed coffee into ice cube trays. Freeze until firm, at least 5 hours. If used with cold coffee, makes enough cubes for eight 12-ounce glasses; with hot coffee, enough for five 12-ounce glasses.

Coffee Frosted: Combine two cups of chilled brewed coffee with 1 pint of vanilla, coffee or chocolate flavored ice cream in a bowl and beat until blended and thick. Serve immediately over Coffee Ice Cubes in tall glasses. Makes 3 2/3 cups or 3-4 servings.

So, do you enjoy cold or iced coffee?  How do you like your coffee best?  You can let me know in the comments below or with a link to your blog post.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Farmer’s Markets

I have always had a love for farmer’s markets since I moved into my first apartment. It was a small studio apartment that was directly across the street from the city’s farmer’s market. Not only could I see and hear the weekend busyness of this big city market from my main street windows, but all I had to do was walk yards across the street to experience it. This city girl was hooked.

Now I’m living out in farm country and I’m thinking about selling at a farmer’s market. We have small farmer’s market here locally which has a nice mix of local farmers, Amish and a few artisans. I have always thought it was interesting that in a rural area such as ours farmer’s markets are so small. The average I’ve seen at the handful of markets around us is about 15-ish local sellers and their produce selections are usually small. I think part of the reason for this may be the local flea market (which is huge but only open during the week), but even the produce sellers there are very few compared to the artisans and antiques. I think another may be local tourist markets that sell produce that is sold farm stand style but with commercial produce.

Despite that, the small local farmer’s markets do get a good bit of local traffic. I have been considering whether to join for the past year and I think I am going to do it. I plan on selling mostly greens such as lettuces and spinach, and doing some bread baking. These are two areas that I enjoy and that I don’t see a lot of people there selling. The Amish that do offer baked goods sell mostly cookies and pies. I also may take some of my crochet items like dish cloths and market bags.

I have researched our state laws and the cottage laws and I am comfortable with my plans. The farmer’s market I’m planning to join has a very reasonable yearly fee and runs two days each week. While I hope this venture will be financially profitable, I hope even more to connect with people and promote buying local.

Do you shop farmers markets? What brings you back? Are you a seller at farmers markets? What do you sell and what do you enjoy about it? I’d love to hear from you! You can answer in the comments below or post a link to a post you’ve written about it.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re