Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Apple Cider Making Day

Apple Cider Day is a more recent family tradition. My dad recalls having an old press when he was growing up on their small family farm. A few years ago, I mentioned that I had been reading up on making apple cider and it got him all excited about it again. For the extended family Christmas present that year, he bought a cider press with the plans that we could all get together at harvest time in the Fall to make fresh cider. He has a few apple trees on his property and it is not uncommon to pick 20+ bushels each year. This year, we picked 8 bushels off just his golden delicious tree alone! (For those of you unfamiliar with how much a  bushel of apples is, they weigh about 48lbs.) This means we picked nearly 400 lbs of apples from just one tree! We make some into applesauce and pie filling and all the rest we make into cider.

Cider is an all day event -

Washing the apples is only the beginning.

Here is the crew of cousins who are chopping the apples into quarters.

We have a set-up that uses a new sink disposal to chop the apples to bits. Here is my dad shoving the apples into the disposal unit.

Here is the apple pulp that comes out.

We collect it in buckets while it waits for the press.

These two are helping to man the press.

They hold the fabric pieces open so the apple pulp can be scooped in.

The fabric piece is twisted tight and layed between plastic disks. (We purchased the plastic parts as a cider press making kit and then added the required wood pieces to build our own press.)

We layer three pieces of this apple-filled fabric in between plastic disks.

Then the pressing begins - with the help of a car jack.

Here is a closer shot of the jack. As it is tightened down, the cider is pressed out of the apples. 

Here is a picture of the entire press.

You can see the fresh cider dripping into the pan at the bottom.

Once collected, the cider is then pasturized on the stove.

We seal it in 2 quart canning jars for enjoyment in months to come.

By the end of the day, we all feel the need for a cozy place to sleep. I slipped downstairs at my parent's home when it was time to head home and found my two youngest asleep on the couch. They had had a fun-filled day with cousins and were worn out. Were't we all! There is nothing like a work project as a family though - it builds great memories! We pressed over 50 gallons of cider!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Free Holiday Roll Making Class

Food 2 Store is a local preparedness store located on Fairview just west of Eagle Rd. between Denny's Restaurant and Seagull Book. Hope you can come - (Disclaimer: I don't work for the store. I teach classes on a volunteer only basis.)

Wednesday, November 7th 1:00 p.m.

Holiday Roll and Bread Making

Every holiday meal is better with homemade rolls! This class will cover the art of roll making. I will also share a few recipes and techniques for making other "fancy" holiday breads. Set a goal to WOW your friends and family this holiday season. You'll be excited to learn just how easy it really is. Space is limited so call or email Food 2 Store to reserve your place.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Canning Spaghetti Sauce

We now have 35 quarts of home-canned spaghetti sauce from our garden. It was my first year making sauce. Because I chose to pressure can it instead of using a boiling water bath, I had more freedom in the recipe I used. This recipe is not safe for the water bath canning process because it is not acidic enough.

Wash and cut your tomatoes in half. Place in a large glass bowl and cook in the microwave to release much of their juice. This saves you from having to simmer your pot down for hours on the stove- a huge plus for me! When done, strain the tomatoes from the juice. Reserve the juice just in case.

Puree the tomatoes in the food processor - peels and all.

Chop other vegetables in the food processor as well.

Here's my cute little helper. She is my only one home in the mornings this year so she has become my number one "helper." Those of you with young children know that it slows you down to have such a "helper," but I know I'm teaching her important principles so I try to be patient through it all. Her favorite job is to push the buttons on the food processor. Thank goodness mine has a lock function so it won't turn on until the lid is locked in place or I would have a giant mess!

Mix everything together. Add spices to taste. It takes more basil and oregano than you think. I buy my spices in bulk at our local grocery store. Stir in tomato paste until it is as thick as you like. You can also chop fresh herbs if you have them. I ended up adding the tomato juice back in and using a little more tomato paste so I could have a larger batch.

Fill jars. Then pressure can at 12 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes.

I ended up with about 9 quarts of sauce with this recipe. If you don't want to pressure can it, you can freeze this recipes with perfect results.

Home-Canned Spaghetti Sauce
18 cups tomato puree
3 large green peppers, chopped
3 medium onions, chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
10 carrots, chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
3-4 cups tomato paste - enough to make it as thick as you like
Reserved tomato juice, if needed
Dried oregano, basil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste

Wash and cut tomatoes in half. Place in a large glass bowl. Microwave for 12-15 minutes. This allows the tomatoes to release a lot of their juice. Strain the tomatoes from the juice, but reserve the juice in case it is needed later. Chop the tomatoes in a food processor. Chop peppers, onions, zucchini, and carrots in a food processor. Mix all the ingredients together. Use some of the reserved juice, if needed, depending on how much tomato paste you added. Fill jars and pressure can at 12 lbs of pressure for 20 minutes.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

I had my cub scout troop coming over to work on earning the nutrition belt loop. I wanted to provide them with a healthy snack. So, after reading a few recipes, I came up with this one. They turned out delicious! They are very low in fat and high in protein with the yogurt and the whole wheat flour. The whole wheat flour and old-fashioned oats also add a lot of fiber. The boys told me that if "healthy" could always taste this good, they would love it! The bars froze well so don't hesitate to make a large batch and save them in the freezer for school lunches or a quick breakfast on the run. They are much less expensive to make than the store bought breakfast or protein bars and really don't take that long to put together.

Note: If you've tried this great recipe and you feel ready to try  an alternative, egg-free option try out banana oatmeal breakfast bars. It's very similar to this original recipe but has the distinct flavor of bananas. We love it!

Mix wet ingredients.

Add dry ingredients.

Mix well.

I added the oatmeal in a separate step, but you don't have to.

I made a double batch so I divided it into two 9x13 pans before adding the dried fruit.

I put raisins in one batch and chocolate chips in the other. Mix together well.

Press into greased pans. It doesn't look like much, but they rise to nearly double in size.


Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup dried fruit or chocolate chips

Mix brown sugar, yogurt, egg, vanilla and oil. Add dry ingredients and mix well. If mixture looks too dry, add 1-2 Tbsp milk. (The need for milk will depend on how thick your yogurt is. My homemade yogurt is thinner than store bought so I did not need to add any milk.) Add dried fruit or chocolate chips very last. Press into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 min. or until golden brown.Cut into bars. These freeze very well. Allow the bars to cool completely before placing in freezer bags or containers.