Monday, October 31, 2016

That One Time I Got 80 lbs of Apples for $16

Last week my friend asking on Facebook if anyone was interested in getting apples for 20 cents/pound.  Uhhhhhh you better believe I want in on that.  We are down to 2 jars of applesauce and this was the perfect chance to stock back up.  This wonderful friend went and picked up apples for me and a few other people cause she's awesome like that.  Here's my 80 pound stash:
I went on pinterest and searched all sorts of canning recipes for ideas on what to make.  Applesauce was a given.  I also decide to do apple pie filling this time around.  I've never had apple butter, but I've heard good things.  Please someone tell me - WHAT is apple butter and how do you use it?  One random recipe that intrigued me was making syrup using the peels and cores of the apples.  Since I'd be discarding those things anyways I decided to give it a try.  I am happy with the results, so I'm gonna share what I did :)

Homemade Applesauce

The first thing you need to do is sanitize your jars.  I did this in my dishwasher since it has a sanitize cycle, but you can also put them in water and boil for 10 minutes.
Next cup your apples into chunks.  I eighthed mine.  No need to worry about removing stickers or peeling!  It doesn't matter what kind of apples you use.  I did a combination of Granny Smith, Fuji and Golden Delicious.
 Put 1/2 inch of water in a pot and add your apples.  Bring water to a boil and cover for about 20 minutes or until apples are soft and mushy but not muuuuuushy.  Make sure to stir your apples several times throughout the 20 minutes to help them get cooked evenly.
 Next run your apples (I don't include the liquid cause I don't want super runny applesauce) through this fancy contraption.  This is my friend's strainer, but I ordered one for myself because it's THAT amazing.  Here's a link to the strainer I ordered.
Taste your applesauce and decide if it needs anything added (sweetener or cinnamon).  I personally like just plain apples for my applesauce.  Then start filling your jars.
Use a plastic or wooden tool to remove air bubbles.
Use a clean rag to wipe off the top of your jar.
Make sure not to touch the sides or bottom of your lids.  Get yourself a little canning kit and it'll come with a handy dandy magnetic tool to pick up your lids.
Put your jars into a large water bath pot.  I got mine at Goodwill for $5.99 WIN!  Use water the same temperature as your jars and fill it until the water is 1 inch ABOVE the jars.  Cover the pot, bring water to a boil and then set your timer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let the jars sit for 5 minutes.
 Remove your jars and set them on a towel to cool.  Leave them here for 24 hours.  Then check the tops of the lids to make sure they have all sealed.  Any jars that didn't seal, put in your fridge to be used soon.

Step back and admire your beautiful jars of delicious applesauce.  Make sure to put the date on  your lids.  From my research I've read that canned applesauce will last anywhere from 1-3 years in your pantry.

Apple Pie Filling

I used My Country Blog of This and That's recipe for my apple pie filling.  The only thing I did differently is I didn't use Clear Jel.  It's not easy to find and I didn't want to wait for Amazon to deliver it.  Through my research I learned that it is NOT safe to use cornstarch or flour in your canning recipes, but you CAN add those ingredients to help thicken your sauce when you open your jar to use the filling.  So that's my plan.   

Does anyone else have memories of eating "slinky apples" as a child?  I LOVED using the Johnny Apple Peeler when I was little.  Well I like using it as an adult too :)  
 My kids appreciated the sections that didn't get peeled.
 I thought I was cramming the apple slices into the jars, but as you can see I have plenty of extra space to seriously CRAM those apples in there!

Homemade Apple Syrup

Last but not least, I'm gonna tell you how I made my Apple Syrup.  I found one random post about this on Pinterest from Little House Living, but I changed the recipe up a bit.

Here's what you'll need:
- Apple cores and peels
- Water
- White Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Strainer
- Cheesecloth
- Candy Thermometer
- Jars & Lids
- Water Bath Canning Equipment

For my syrup I used the peels and cores left over from the Granny Smith apples used in my apple pie filling.  Put your apple scraps in a large pot and fill with water until the apples are covered (the apples may float a bit so use your best judgement on the water needed).  Cover and bring water to a boil.  Cook apples until the cores are squishy (about 20 minutes).
Pour the water from your pot through a double layer of cheesecloth and a strainer to make sure you're left with just water.
Thank you cheesecloth for making my syrup not chunky.
 Add sugar to your water.  For every 10 cups of water, I added 3 cups white sugar and 2 cups brown sugar.  Now here's where things got tricky and it took some fiddling around to get it right.  On the recipe I was following it said the sugar water mixture needed to be brought up to 218 degrees fahrenheit in order to thicken into a syrup.

Well as it turns out this sugar water bubbles CRAZY high and any time I'd get to around 210 degrees the bubbles were ready to spill over the side of the pot and I was whisking like a mad woman trying to prevent it from bubbling over.  I seriously stood whisking for at least 10 minutes and NEVER got the temp above 215.  I think my electric stovetop may have had something to do with this.  So I re-evaluated and decided to do it in small batches.  So instead of doing 2 pots of 10 cups each, I dumped all of my liquid into one pot and then focused on 2 cup batches.  I was FINALLY able to get the temp up to where it needed to be.  Yay!
 Here's what I learned.  Whisking sometimes made it bubble more and would reduce the temp, so I only whisked if the bubbles started to get super out of control (which only happened once or twice).

Here's the REAL trick.  All of a sudden the bubbles would be low and turn dark.  THAT's when I knew it was ready.  As soon as it hit that point, I took it off the burner and set it aside to cool down before adding it to the jars.
 I used mostly jelly jars since I don't need a crazy amount of syrup at once.
 Follow the same canning/water bath instructions I mentioned for the applesauce. You'll once again boil these for 20 minutes.

 We tried the syrup on waffles with cinnamon and sugar apples and some homemade whipped cream.  It was tasty!  When I first opened the jar, I needed to stir it around a bit to get it to a nice even texture.

After you open the jar, refrigerate it.  If it it's a little too thick, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds at a time and stir.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My Random Thoughts - Charging Phones

I'm curious, at what point do normal people look at their phone and think, I should plug this in to charge?  I think I'm a bit OCD about my phones battery. At about 40% is when I start to think about charging it. I know, I know I'm weird right?  Anything between 20-40% and I'm thinking of the next chance I can plug it in. Once I drop below 20% and hit the "low power mode", I get anxious.  My phone has only been below 10% maybe 2-3 times over this past year.  I think it stems from having the old phones where you could have 20% left, take one picture and the phone would die.

Also, when I see a screenshot from someone with 4% battery on their phone I immediately get anxiety FOR them haha.   Is anyone else weird like me or am I just a "battery half empty" kinda person?

Oddly enough, my Ipad battery can go well below 20% without me even thinking about plugging it in.

Monday, October 24, 2016


Welcome to my new blog!  I don't know how many people even read blogs anymore.  I know I went through that phase and then life got crazy busy and I no longer had time to just sit and read blogs everyday, but I've had enough requests from friends to start up a blog that I decided to jump on the blog train again.

I've had two mommy blogs in the past, but there came time that I needed to re-evaluate my life and actually be a good mom rather than just writing like I was one.  The purpose of this blog is going to be a bit different.  It's not going to stick to one theme.  It'll bounce between recipes (my long time love of good food), woodworking projects (my new found hobby), random thoughts, crafting and whatever else I feel like posting about.  So it's gonna be a jumble of topics. Sorry for those super organized people that like just one theme to read about - that's not how my brain works (hence the name of the blog) and I have more than one interest to write about.

Let me introduce myself a bit.  My name is Madelyn and I am the mom of three, soon to be four crazy kiddies.  Baby #4 is due the end of January.  It seems that creating is ingrained in me and has been since I was little.  I remember making my own nail polish with friend.  The ingredients? Elmer's glue, water and food coloring - NAILED it!  Sorry, I don't remember the ratios so I'm not gonna share that "recipe" with you ;)

At the age of 12 I started getting into photography.  My dad had it as a hobby and I joined in on the fun.  I stuck with it over the years and started my own business about 8 years ago.

You know the 5 love languages?  Well it turns out there's a 6th one - FOOD.  My love language is quite literally food.  My husband laughs, but it's so true.  I have a love for good food and look for opportunities to share it with those I care about.  If I'm having a bad day, all it takes is a sonic cherry limeade slush, a date to a yummy restaurant, or someone dropping off a random goodie to turn my frown upside down.  I also really enjoy cooking/baking and have collected quite a few delicious recipes which I'll share with you.

I am not a great artist, but I enjoy trying to be one.  Turns out painting is a lot harder than Bob Ross makes it look.  I have managed to pull off a couple of paintings that I am pleased with though.

My new hobby is woodworking.  So expect simple, but totally doable projects for beginners as I'm a newbie myself.

Can we just take a moment to thank pinterest for existing.  Sure it fuels my craziness, but it's also inspired many, MANY things to create and when I'm creating, I'm happy.

I'm excited to start this journey with you and if you have any special requests on things you'd like me to post about, let me know!