I have learned something very important during out first apple harvest. Collecting apples from the trees is only the first step. You have to actually do something with the apples after you pick them or they end up sitting on your front porch in red laundry baskets attracting fruit flies, deer and every neighborhood kid within a 5 mile radius…for example. I don’t mind the kids sitting on my porch eating apples. I think it’s cute. However the fruit flies have infiltrated my home and the deer decided to eat my tomato plant for dessert.
So, long story short, I decided to can apples. I did some research online, and purchased a basic canning set along with Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissof. Everyone recommended the Blue Ball canning book, which has been in existence for a million years but it just seemed so…old. I wanted to learn the basics of canning but I wanted some modern recipes and flavors. This book has everything: step-by-step details along with some gorgeous photos. I wish I could photograph like that.
For the past two weeks after the baby has gone to bed, I have spent hours, and hours…AND HOURS canning apples. I did the basic applesauce and apple butter, along with a plum pie filling. Did I mention we have plum trees? Just two, but we hardly collected anything off the trees because a hornet’s next was hanging from one of the trees and the hornets were very territorial to say the least. I usually fight for what’s mine, but in a battle between me and a hornet’s nest, I’ll wave the white flag, no questions asked. We had some leftover plum syrup, which was a gorgeous salmon pink color and will probably taste amazing on waffles.
After I grasped the basics, I started branching out and searching Pinterest for more recipes. My favorites came from the blog Our Simple Happy Life. Her Spiced Applesauce, Vanilla Rum Apple Butter, and Honey Apple Jam with Lemon Zest (OMG, was that good), were really fun to make and were a big hit with my professional taste-tester (Read: my younger sister).
Gabe ordered a massive dehydrator from Cabella’s last week and once it arrives we will start dehydrating apples. They taste good in tea and Gabe likes to snack on them. I don’t really care for dehydrated apples, but I could use a break from canning. I can’t can no more.
Oh, I included a photo of my new apple peeler that peels, cores and slices apples into this accordion thingy. I get a kick out of it every time. It reminds me of the slinky commercials where the slinky falls down the stairs.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to clear a space in my garage for approximately 531 jars of canned apples.
This summer has been overwhelming to say the least. With The Man deployed, it’s just been me running things around here. This was my first time as a “single mom,” and it has been more difficult than I ever imagined. I’m so ready for Gabe to come home. How do wives do this time after time, with multiple children, for nine or even 15-month deployments. It’s been four very long months. I’m going to weep with relief the second I lay eyes on Gabe.
I can’t WAIT to sleep in past 8:00 am.
Besides handling my daily Mom duties, I’ve also been dealing with the many disasters that have occurred during this deployment. Our sprinkler system flooded our lawn and crawl space; the same day that an AC unit flooded our rental condo. These two floodings (seriously, two floodings in one day. What are the odds?) happened two days after our caretaker left the farm unexpectedly. Four weeks later, Sam fell off the couch and broke his arm. Two weeks after that, our apple orchard matured four weeks ahead of schedule, leaving me, myself and I to gather well over a thousand pounds of apples.
Anyway, this disaster of the summer is the reason why I haven’t posted since Gabe left. I started taking photos again a few weeks ago because I wanted to make sure I captured at least some of the summer on camera before I forgot all about the good and only remembered the bad. There’s nothing like Summer in Western Washington. The farm looked beautiful after our neighbor hayed the field. (A very interesting process, haying. Much more complicated than you would think). We spent lots of weekends at my parents’ farm. Sam enjoyed the chickens. And who wouldn’t? They’re gorgeous.
We arrived home from our Hawaii vacation this weekend, and it was obvious that the sunny days Washington has been experiencing of late has done our garden good. The microgreens and spinach had sprouted and our pear tree is in full bloom. It’s a multi pear, so each branch has different blossoms. The pink blossoms are my favorite…because I’m such a girl.
While feeding Sam lunch yesterday, I noticed (for the first time) that he is starting to show a preference for certain foods. I scattered turkey meat and strawberries on his tray, and after tasting the first strawberry he began carefully picking each strawberry piece off his tray, bypassing the turkey meat. Only when he had finished his strawberries did he begin eating the turkey. I don’t know why I found it so fascinating; maybe because it was the first time I’ve ever seen him establish a clear understanding of the difference between two items…it’s not rocket science, I know, but as his mother, I feel like this makes him the next Albert Einstein. I’ve become THAT parent.