Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Puffy Oven Pancakes


    People call these pancakes all sorts of things: Dutch Babies, Poor Man's Pudding, German Pancakes ... but our family calls them Puffy Oven Pancakes because that's what Dad called them in his family and he's the one who inroduced them into our family.

    The first step is to preheat your oven and get you butter or coconut oil melting. Every time we makes these we make a pan with butter and a pan with oil for my lactose intolerant brother. He sure loves these, and appreciates it when we don't forget about his milk allergy -- because it has happened before (oops).

    The batter has to be super smooth so we use the blender.
    This recipe is great for getting rid of those little cubes of butter that haunt the doors of our fridge, but it also eats up a whole carton of eggs -- so that's the only thing that keeps us from having it every week. Maybe when we have our own layers ...

After the butter is melted, pour in the batter and put back in the oven for 20 minutes.

Now can you see why we call them Puffy Oven Pancakes?

    And there they are. Buttery yumminess drizzled with a bit of honey or homemade jam. Mm-MM!
    I love how Mom and Dad brought their favorite recipes into the family and us kids get to take what we like into our marriages. It's like a pedigree made of flour and eggs.

    6 TB Butter / Margerine / Coconut Oil
    6 Eggs
    1 Cup Milk
    1 Cup Flour
    1/4 tsp salt

    Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Melt butter/margarine/coconut oil in a 9x11 baking dish. Melting the butter/etc. in the oven also warms the 9x11 pan which is important. Blend together the eggs, milk, flour and salt in a blender until smooth. As soon as the butter/etc. is melted, pour the batter into the pan and return to the oven for 20 min.
   Remove from the heat and eat warm with honey or jam.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Last Sixty Degree Day for a While

    Oh My -- I thought days like this were long gone. I think it's ironic that the last post I did was about our first snow day :). I thought we'd have a white Thanksgiving for sure, but it looks like we'll have mud. Mud or not -- I'll take a day like this anytime!

      We sure used our last few warm hours as well as we possibly could. We had just a few things left to can up: pinto beans, white beans, potatoes, and butternut squash. We had out three caners buzzing all day -- but we're finished. No more canning until 2015.
    But there's still a lot of weeding and pruning to do ... 

    During lunch it started to rain a little bit and my brother, sister and I decided to go out and play it in. Unfortunately, the rain stopped just as we stepped out, but the tramp was still wet so we did get a little damp at least. 

Wet Trampolines are the best!   
 Sometimes in the summer we put the sprinkler underneath and get really wet.

    Good bye warm weather and GOOD-BYE CANNING! I know we'll see you again very soon, but I'm sure we'll enjoy the snow and the school work in your absence.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Our First Snow Day -- Giants and Martians

    It's been a long time since we've seen snow before Thanksgiving, but it happened today. The kids hurried through chores and breakfast and sprinted outside just as soon as family scripture study was over. They romped and rolled and sledded. 
    I didn't join them, but i did watch from the house and took a few pictures (obviously)

    This was out puppy's first snow and he didn't quite know what to do about all of it. He hopped around as if the snow would bite his paws and ran after every snowball that my brothers threw his way. I stepped out onto the porch (in my bare feet ... ya) to take a few pictures, but that didn't last long because the boys started to throw snowballs my way. I was hurrying back inside when they hit me :)

How big can a snowball get? 
Well the world's largest man-made snowball was 32.94 feet high.
But I think my sister's came in at a close second :)

Why make a snowMAN when you can make a snowMARTIAN?
    Oh ... Leave it to my brother to be creative -- or has he just been reading too much Calvin & Hobbes Comics? This guy has teeth, tentacles, angry eyebrows, multiple fingers and a gaping mouth ready to swallow someone whole.

Why make a snowMAN when you can make a snowGIANT?

    This guy really was gigantic. My brother (the tall one) was the only one who could put the head on. This snowman could have sung "Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes" because he had eyes, ears, mouth and nose -- (well okay ... you can argue that his toes are buried in the snow :)

    Later that day my brother asked my sister if they could shoot off the snowman's ears with their BB Gun and she said yes so they had a hay day. I'm sure this giant of a snowman is going to be the last thing to melt in the yard.

    And yes ... I was there too. 
    The only problem with being a photographer and a blogger is that there are never any pictures of you. That's why selfies were invented I guess. Here is my sister and me (and my brother doing a balnacing act in the background).
    What a fun bunch!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Apple Muffins -- Perfect for the Season

    It's apple season! That means apple pie, apple cider, and apple sauce.It's got to be my favorite time of year because I'm home, the family is busy together and everything smells so good. Let me share this family recipe with you ... one that just adds to the good smells of the season.
    Apple muffins is our traditional cider-day breakfast/lunch and they just add to the good smells. We make a large batch and take them along to the press to keep our hands and bellies warm.

    The two most important ingredients in this recipe are nutmeg and applesauce. The two together are magnificent. You can use grated apple instead of apple sauce, but I don't remember ever trying it that way. maybe I should just so I can say I have.

    Grease the muffin pan before putting the batter in. We use coconut oil to grease our pans, but you can use PAM, Crisco, butter, etc. of course.  Fill each muffin cup about halfway before sliding the pan into the oven and cooking it or about 20 minutes.
    While it's cooking, get out the butter to thaw ... try making your own butter sometime!

I liked this photo! Muffins behind bars :)
We have three stackable cooling racks and they provided me with this cool shot

    And there they are: light, steamy and oh so good. I put the recipe for the 1x batch and the 6x batch below, because if you're anything like our family the 6x batch doesn't even last until lunch.
    Happy Baking!

Ingredients (1x Batch):
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1 3/4 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup oil or melted butter
    1 egg
    1/4 cup milk
    1/2 cup apple sauce or grated apple

Ingredients (6x Batch):
    9 cups flour
    3 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 TB salt
    1 TB ground nutmeg
    2 cups sugar 
    2 1/2 cup oil or melted butter
    6 Eggs
    2 cups milk
    3 cups apple sauce or grated apples

    Sift the dry ingredients together before adding oil or melted butter until the mixture is fine. Add the eggs, milk and apples. Stir until consistent. Spoon into greased muffin tins and back on confection bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.

If You're Feeling Fancy:
    4 TB butter 
    1/2 cup sugar  
    1 tsp cinnamon 

Melt butter and brush over the baked muffins. Roll them in cinnamon / sugar mixture to thoroughly coat before setting on a dazzling platter and serving with a flourish.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

An Apple A Day? How about 72 Bushels?

    Apple cider season again ... wow, I can't believe that it's already been a full year since the last time we pressed. I've already done a post about how the cider pressing/canning works, so my cider pressing posts since then have been about the experience, not the process.
    Like always, this year's press was loads of fun, as you will soon see.

    Not only did we have a load of apples, but a load of friends to help us unload them. We had to take each apple out of the bins and into crates so they could be easily dumped into the chute. This little guy (sictures above)was always fishing for the big ones way down at the bottom.
    Every year we've progressively pressed more and more apples each time. This time was our largest batch yet, but it's not going to the largest ever ... not if we keep up with the pattern.

    We stacked two of the blins on top of each other so we had to unload one before unloading the other. I don't think we're going to do it that way again -- But, we all had fun being so far off the ground as we loaded up the crates.
    My knee and shoe are in the picture above -- and of course our good friends that always seem to be around when there's lots of work to do. They've helped us split wood, harvest hay, and Christmas carol.We love knowing them. They make the work easy and the play double the fun. 

The children loved to be in the thick of everything, 
but the press owners seemed to enjoy their enthusiasm

Perched atop the crate.

    All of the children wanted a turn holding the hose. Even if they were sharing it with someone else it was the hot item of the day. My mom oversaw it all very well I think. We didn't lose more than a cup. However, we did drink a bunch. The press gave us little plastic cups so we could sample our harvest. It was cold and crisp and sweet just like all cider should be ... except when it's hot and crisp and sweet :)

This little guy was the cutie of the hour ... what a helper!

Hose-Holder-Buddies ... Like I said, the hose was the hot item.

    All together, it took is about two hours and we came away with over 100 gallons of juice. Tomorrow looks nice and frigid so the cider will keep until Monday when Mom and I plan to make a day of it. Apple-Juice-Canning-Day is always a long one, but seeing the juice on the shelf makes everything worth it. 
     Thank you to everyone who helped! 
     Cider pressing wouldn't be the same without friends to do it with.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

270 Quarts of Applesauce in 4 Hours!

    This morning, we helped a family make their year supply of applesauce. They had already purchased a bin of apples so all we had to do was wash, slice, boil, strain ladle and can them ... right? I know it sounds like quite the process, but with over twenty people working together, it doesn't take all that long ... and it's double the fun.  

First Step: Wash the Apples

    The orchards try to not spray pesticide and herbicide while the apples are bearing, but of course there's no way of knowing. so we dunk them a few times in water before bringing them in to be cut. 
    The team we had for the washing had the biggest job because they kept everyone else working, but they all did a great job.

Second Step: Cut the apples in fourths or sixths

    I was a member of this team for most of the day. I enjoyed it because, as long as the washers supplied us with apples (which they did well) there was always something to do. I'm that way when I work, when I get in the groove then I don't want to be stopped until it's over.
     Here we cut the apples into fourths (or sixths if they're huge), wash them again and then pile the slices into pots. Our team got so ahead that we had to fill buckets and then when we ran out of buckets we filled tubs.

Apple Slices -- Enough to feed an army

Third Step: Boil the Apples

    I don't think there actually is a set boiling-time. We just keep them simmering until the apples are mushy. The more mushy the thinner the applesauce, so it's up to you. This is the step that slowed us down the most, even though we had seven different pots going at one.

Fourth Step: Strain the Apples

   We use a Victoria strainer for this step. We had two going at once even though we had four available because that's all we needed to keep up with the pots.

   Fifth Step: Ladle it Into the Jars

    We froze a few quarts of it, for applesauce slushies, and then canned the rest. We added sugar at this point, but that's an optional step of course.

Sixth (& Last) Step: Cann the Applesauce

    Altogether we made 270 quarts of sauce AND it only took four hours (not counting the hour break or lunch ... but still.) Applesause is easy to cann becuase it's just a hot water bath and can be oen with a pot or boiler rather than a pressure cooker.

   We didn't just make applesauce today either! We peeled, cored, sliced, and sweetened twelve bags of pie apples. I did a post about freezing pie apples a couple years ago. 
    Whenever there was a lull in any of the stations we would just head to the kitchen to help the pie-apple team. It was a good system. 

Me and my good friend - we share the same name :)

    We saved out a few apples to peel, core and shred for an old fashioned apple pudding that we had for lunch.  The cutting team was put in charge of those. It was great to just leave the last pot to boil while we sat down to a good lunch.
    How i love a good morning of work with friends followed by a good meal.

    And since the apple bin was empty, a couple of the children decided to turn it into a miniature diner of sorts where they ate their lunch and relaxed after a good morning of work. I love being a part of a happy, hardworking team like this and getting a load done.
    What could be better?