Monday, September 23, 2013

Apple Salsa

We live nestled in between several apple orchards. We planted two five-in-one dwarf apple trees three years ago. Those trees are not yet producing and in the 4 years that we have lived here now, three of those years have had late frosts that wrecked havoc on our local orchards. This year was a good year for apples, yet the prices have definitely crept up over the years - they are averaging about 30 cents more a pound now.

We have been incredibly blessed this year by my husbands coworkers, who ended up with a large surplus of plums, pears, apples and grapes that they have very, very generously shared with us.
I have been working on processing apples for several weeks and am just now nearing the end (with the mad thought to maybe get just a few more, because I am sort of in love with canning apple pie filling!)

Not having to pay a premium (or, um, at all!) for these fruits means that I have been free to experiment with things I normally would not make. I hope to share a couple of those with you over the next few days, but the one I am most excited about it is the apple salsa.

I adapted this recipe from the apple and tomato chutney in the Ball Complete Book of Preserving. I believe it to be safe since I eliminated some lower acid ingredients and increased the vinegar. Please be aware however that it is NOT a tested recipe.

Also, maybe someday I will remember to take process pictures. And also take pictures with my camera instead of phone. I was going to pull the jars up from my basement to get pictures of all of them, but I currently have a squirrel (possibly) down there while I await the return of The Menfolk to check and see if he's gone!

Apple Salsa
yields about 7 pints

2 cups white vinegar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
6 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples
8 cups peeled, cored and chopped tomatoes
1.5 cups chopped red onion
1.5 cups chopped red peppers
2 jalapenos, chopped (if you want less heat, seed and de-vein)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 cups brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

1. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar and apples. I pour the vinegar in and add the apples as they are chopped to prevent browning. Add tomatoes, brown sugar, onions, red peppers, jalapenos, garlic, salt and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently to thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.

2. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed by adding more salsa.

3. Process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

Notes: This does make a thin sauced salsa. The I removed a total of 7 cups of fruit (2 cups tomatoes, 1 cup raisins and 2 cups chopped cucumber) and increased the vinegar by a cup. I would think you could certainly safely add the 2 cups of tomatoes back in and reduce the vinegar back down by a cup if you'd like. I prefer to err on the side of caution when changing canning recipes and I don't mind the additional vinegar, I simply drained a little off at serving time.

So far I have only eaten this piled on some toasted thick sourdough bread (and untoasted, but toasted is better) but I'm excited to see how else this lovely little sweet and spicy salsa can be used. I'm thinking some cinnamon tortilla chips would be delicious!

Monday, September 9, 2013

We are the destroyers of things

Today I had planned on doing a wrap up post on the Cost of Preserving that I've neglected to follow up on (yet again). But last night the charging pin on my chromebook broke off (this has happened to a previous laptop as well). So instead I am typing gingerly on my ipad that has a shattered screen.

We break things in this house. This house that we were told was "virtually indestructible" - yeah, we are doing a pretty good job of putting in a few dents and scratches.

We break laptops and iPads and printers and wiis. We break hinges off of cabinets, baseboards clean off, crack the glass on the woodstove, put holes in walls and rip carpet. We lose garden tools to the elements, and toys and athletic nets as well. We put holes in jeans, snags in sweaters and tears in blankets and sheets. Our vehicles are crumbling, and we are on our second weed whacker and lawn mower in four years. The second lawn mower is on its second season and undergoing continuous repairs. We are good at shattering dishes, especially those of the vintage variety and on the first day of school a backpack strap snapped before the bus came.

I don't know if we are especially talented at being destroyers or if this is all just a 'pleasant' side effect of living with three boys spanning ages 2-15. The two year old may be responsible for most of the technology related incidents.

At any rate, just as I thought I'd be blogging just a little more, it may continue to be a tad sporadic until I can get some of these devices repaired or replaced. Well, repaired at least. Of course, on higher priority on the repair list would be the woodstove since winter is coming, and a trumpet that may have been waiting in the repair shop for close to three months.

Some days I get more than a little frustrated and angry at our destructive tendencies, but I also realize that many (not all) of the damages are not created out of pure neglect but out of the process of living and using. I imagine that it will often be part of our lives, since even when my boys are grown and gone, I hope to have grandchildren someday running around the house, maybe breaking a thing or two as well.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Leaving Facebook

It may have been a week ago today, or close enough I suppose, that I finally deactivated my Facebook. I've talked about doing it for a long time and finally took the plunge.

Originally my plan was to get through today. Through the rush of food preservation last weekend (some very generous friends gave us lots and lots of pears, apples and plums!). Through the beginning of school for my husband and two older children this past week. Yet here I am, when my self imposed restriction is up, and I'm thinking I just may stretch this a little longer. A few days? A week? A month? I don't know.
What I do know is that after getting though that first day (where I nearly signed on in the first hour!) I'm rather enjoying this little hiatus. 

I'd like to say I'm suddenly super productive, that all my produce is put up, I'm spending all day out doors alternating between playing with the kids and knitting or reading, that I'm offline completely - but none of that is true (clearly). 

What is happening is that in those pockets of time I spent on facebook (5 minutes over coffee that often turned into an hour, 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there, 45 minutes or more after the kids are in bed), I am doing just a little more. Picking up a sweater and knitting a row or two. Getting an extra load of laundry put away. Really participating in my day without being distracted by conversations in groups. 

Sometimes I think maybe I could just be facebook free, indefinitely. But I know that's silly. Because, the truth is I really enjoy social media. I've made some real friends over the last almost decade I've spent in online groups. There are several people I already really miss. Oddly enough, there are a few real life, close by friends that I mainly communicate with online as well. Also, my father happens to be one of 12 children and facebook as allowed us a place to all stay connected and up on each others lives and THAT has been really indescribably wonderful. So, I know that eventually I will be back. Because I do believe there is far more good than bad in social media. 

In the meantime, however long that may be, you can still find me here and there online. I am still on pinterest, instagram, tumblr, ravelry and hopefully here much more often.