Monday, October 31, 2011

In Which I Divulge My Grandmother's Secret Recipe to the Interwebs

Rocky Ridge Apple OrchardsImage by NixBC via Flickr

Every fall my paternal grandmother Bessie Allen Gray, made apple butter.  It was amazing and she was famous for it.  If we were lucky, when she came to visit us she would bring a box of jars filled with the rich, cinnamon-y apple goodness.  It never lasted very long.  She was so famous for her apple butter that at her funeral in 1994, the preacher actually announced where the family could get it (i.e. from me) now that she was gone!  I'm not kidding.  That really happened.  Even now, at any gathering of my extended family you can expect the inevitable question..."hey did anybody learn how to make Grandma's apple butter?" This has made me very popular in the family.  Popular like a drug dealer popular.

Anyway, sometime around 1983, I decided to pay Grandma a visit and learn how to make apple butter from the master herself.  Here is how she did it.  First she cored and sliced the apples and cooked them in a big pan on the stovetop.  When they were cooked down, she ran them through a colander-type contraption called a ricer to make a smooth applesauce.  (The ricer step made peeling the apples before cooking unnecessary.  The apple sauce squished through the holes in the ricer leaving the peels behind.  You did have to stop every once in awhile to dump out the peels.)

 
This is a ricer.
 If all you wanted was applesauce, you could stop here.  But who wants to stop here. She then put the sauce into a huge metal pan, stirred in about 6 c. of sugar and baked it in the oven for several hours.  Then came her "secret" ingredient...oil of cinnamon.  It didn't take much, just 4 or 5 drops for the whole pan.  She also might add a 1/2 bag of red hots to give the apple butter a darker color.  After adding the oil of cinnamon she cooked it for another hour or so until it was thick and reddish brown and smelled like heaven.  While it was still hot she poured it into clean canning jars, screwed on the lids and waited for the seal to pop.  This is now totally against canning "rules".  Nowadays you must process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 min or someone will die a horrible death and you will go to jail.

This is the way I made my apple butter the for the many years. Minus the jail part.  Then I started experimenting  meddling.

First to go were the apple peels.  I'm totally paranoid about the amount of pesticides used on apples so I began peeling the apples before cooking them.  It really wasn't that much more time consuming, especially with one of these apple peeling gadgets and a husband who just loves playing with the aforementioned gadget.
My husband- peeling out.


Then there was the ricer.  While its a good job for the kids, I don't have kids at home anymore.  What I do have is a food processor.  Much faster than the kids.  Not nearly as cute though.

The next modification was the oven.  There was a reason for cooking apple butter in the fall, besides the obvious reason that you had to wait for apple season.  Having the oven going for several hours at a time heats up your house big time ....not a task for summertime.  Then one day I realized I had a crock pot.  Actually I have two crock pots.  And it would be a heck of a lot easier to cook the apple butter in the crock pot than in a big heavy metal dish pan that had to be put in and out of the oven while hopefully not dropping any of the hot apple butter (not to mention the hot pan itself) on your toes.  I found it much safer and easier using the crock pot and the apple butter tasted just as good.  Go me.

Finally, I decided to play it safe and actually can the apple butter in a boiling water bath.  It doesn't take that long and I feel a lot better about giving it away to people I like and do not want to poison.  People I don't like on the other hand......

Next:  My not-so-secret recipe for apple butter a la Grandma.






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Friday, October 28, 2011

(very) Early Christmas!





Christmas came early this week when I was selected for the Simple Gifts Blog Hop sponsored by Flip-Pal™  and Thomas MacEntee of High Definition Genealogy! The good folks at Flip-Pal have provided me with one of their amazing scanners and I will be blogging about my experiences using it to create crafts and gifts for my family.  I have some ideas for Christmas gifts and as we are also expecting a new grandson around Christmas, I'll be thinking about how to use it for baby gifts as well. 

My fellow blog hoppers (kind of makes us sound like rabbits doesn't it?) are:


Sheri Fenley - The Educated Genealogist - http://sherifenley.blogspot.com

Drusilla Pair - Find Your Folks - http://www.findyourfolks.blogspot.com


Marian Pierre-Louis - Roots and Rambles - http://rootsandrambles.blogspot.com


Caroline Pointer - For Your Family Story - http://www.4yourfamilystory.com/blog.html


Heather Wilkinson Rojo - Nutfield Genealogy - http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com


Julie Cahill Tarr -  GenBlog http://genblogjulie.blogspot.com



I can't wait to see what cool stuff everyone comes up with!  The Simple Gifts blog hop runs from Friday, November 4, 2011 through Friday, November 25, 2011.  Hmm...maybe I'll even get some gifts done BEFORE Christmas Eve.  


Disclosure statement:  Couragent, Inc. has provided me with an evalution unit Flip-Pal scanner for purposes of providing a review. I received the scanner at no charge to me and I am under no obligation to return the product but can keep it for me own personal use.  So there.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New iPhone App

Recently, I have been having fun on the new-to-me website 1000memories.com ever since I first heard about it on a Geneabloggers Radio show.   Now I just heard that they have come out with a brand new iPhone app called Shoebox.  You can "scan" photos with the camera on your iPhone (or iPod Touch in my case) and then crop, rotate, straighten all within the app!  You can also record the stories behind the photos as well as tag them. Pretty slick!  Can't wait to play with it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guest Post by My Dad





In my family we are rabid, unapologetic, orange bleedin' Okla. State Cowboys.  It all started with my dad.  Homecoming is coming up at OSU and on their website they asked former students to write about their experiences.  I sent the link to Dad and told him he HAD to write something for this.  Because I'm just bossy that way.  Anyway, I loved his story and with his permission, I am posting it here.


          My story began in September 1945 in a Model A Ford named Pluto. At 35 miles an hour the journey had taken all day but finally the Fire Station Tower was visible on the horizon and then gradually the rest of the campus of Oklahoma A. and M. I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been to Stillwater or Oklahoma. No member of my family had ever been to college. I was going to have to make my own way and it was more than a little scary.
          But A. & M. turned out to be a pleasant place. Enrollment was about 5,000, mostly young ladies, many waiting for their Johnny to come marching home from World War II. There were no fast food places, no Student Union, no Eskimo Joes. There was no school mascot. Pistol Pete was still alive. I guess no one thought to ask him about it. Parking was no problem. Tuition was 75 dollars a semester. Since I was from out of state I paid 120 dollars. It seemed like a lot.
          Out at Stillwater airport hundreds of fighters and bombers were being systematically beaten back into plowshares or refrigerators or something else useful. Someone said it was one of the largest air forces in the world . . . for a while.
          The football team went undefeated that year including a Sugar Bowl win and beat OU so bad they fired their coach and went out and acquired a whole new team It was a mistake to embarrass that rich bunch like that. Decades of defeat would pass before we beat them again.
          Semester finals weren’t held until after Christmas in those days so there was time for decorating trees and Christmas dances and parties and girls in long dresses.
          It all came to a screeching crash in January though, when hundreds of veterans hit campus. I heard enrollment doubled overnight. You couldn’t find a place to live or even get a cup of coffee without standing in line. The second semester enrollment process was a disaster. It took a while to sort the whole mess out but that was the beginning of OSU’s future . . . and mine, too.

Gene Allen
Class of 1950
BS Business Administration
          

Friday, October 7, 2011

Just for Genie-Techie's

Check out Caroline Pointer's new newsletter for us tech-obsessed genealogists.  Should be a great read......She definitely knows whereof she speaks!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - John L. Haworth

John Leonard Haworth
14 Aug 1848 - 4 Feb 1907
Civil War Veteran- Union
3rd Tennessee Infantry, Co. K
Mt. Vernon, MO Cemetery


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