Monday, September 30, 2013

Making Apple butter at home...

Ten pounds of apple was curing in my kitchen, if there is such thing as curing for apples after picking. One of the planned project for me this weekend was to make apple butter. I am not a person, usually make these kind of preserves. I faintly remember my mother attempting to make sauces and chutneys but never paid enough attention. Again, my mother has taken classes in cooking so she knew exactly what she was cooking. I am on the other hand reading blogs and attempting to make preserves was a huge success at least for me. Keep in mind along the way I make my own twists to the recipe!

15 medium sized apples (4-5 lbs.)
1.5 quarts sweet cider ( 6 cups)
1.5 lbs sugar (3 cups)
1 tsp each: cinnamon, allspice & cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg.
1/3 cup of apple vodka ( I do not know why I decided to add this) It really intensified the flavor. Yes... yes... that is the only reason I add this ingredient!

Select firm, tart cooking apples. Wash and slice; do not remove core, seed or peel.  Add cider and boil 15 minutes or until apples are soft.  Press through sieve.  (You should have about 3 quarts pulp.)  Gently boil the pulp 1 hour or until it begins to thicken, stirring occasionally.  To save time, you can use commercial applesauce instead of making your own apple puree.  Stir in sugar and spices and continue cooking slowly 3 hours or until thickened, stirring frequently.Add Vodka at this time. Pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space to seal. Makes 3-5 pints. I did 10 half pints. I used this recipe from here and twisted a bit. 

I am loaded with preserve this year. If we were hit by a random snow storm, I can feed my entire street!

As the clouds were rolling in, I knew I could not do much other than making apple butter. The whole house smelled delectable! I am happy to see my investment in canning utensils were well paid off! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

saturday lunch

After the art festival we went to Panera to have a quick lunch. It was not a quick lunch. I forget that Nicolette does not eat as much the appetite that she shows towards the food.   She still eat from her eyes, I still wanted her to have a girl’s out day. She had fun from morning till dinner,  this little girl could dine out an entire day. 

We will be cooking a lot on Sunday for the week just to catch up alll the food we consumed on Saturday. Including Sunday meals as well. No more eating out. 

I had a chocolate pastry, french onion soup, pasta with pesto, and a green tea.I love the portions, they were small but not ity bity portions.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Art Festival at Mansfield Commons

This local event in town, was worth waking up early on a Saturday morning. There was this feeling of excitment was taking over me, and  after a long time because, I was looking forward to go to this festival. I have been secretly planning to attain this eventfor past few weeks. It was a bonus that guys were out of the house because this was my kind of FUN activity. 

Nicolette was excited to see the moon bounce even though she did not get to participate because we were super early. Vendors were getting their morning coffee and setting their booths while catching up with fellow vendors, chit chatting, and greeting the early morning visitors. 

Ironically we were in the early morning crowd. I guess it was pure excitement. We peeked into some of the booths, pet few dogs, we were greeted by people who were setting the whole exhibition. 

I love the children’s art work and I secretly wished for my son to participate in the exhibition but, I know this is not his cup of tea at least for right now but who knows. I was  tingled to walk among the middle school and high school entries not many but there were few that took my breath away!

I did like the adult entry’s, it was a nice mixture from photography, acrylic paintings, and water colors. The music was good to listen. I assumed they were high schoolers but they performed neat songs! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

weekend activity...

I woke up on Saturday knowing Nicolette and myself will be going to spend a lot of time together as the boys have left home for activities. Niegel was gone camping and hubby was gone for a class. I try to sleep in and that did not work because I woke up as hubby was getting ready to go to class. I needed to get the grocery, and had a long list of errands to get done. This lead to not a chance to get back to sleep.  

I could not resist Nicolette’s urge to get donuts for breakfast and feed the ducks. First thing first, we decided to head towards the pond to feed the ducks. She was happy to run along the road to feed the ducks. We both stroll along the sidewalk to feed the ducks! It was a fun event! 

Duck population have grown from my last visit to the pond. We fed them two loafs of bread. Nicolette practice her throwing skills as well. I was afraid that the ducks would attack us to get access to the brown bag. 

No matter how far we threw the bread pieces ducks, worked really hard to get closer to the brown bag. I was afraid that ducks might peck us too see if we were edible. I guess that may be the duck's nature to get closer to the food source. On our way back we could not help notice some of the later summer blooms.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Welcome home flowers...

I have posted before that I am a bit crazy when it comes to creating entryway containers. Fall is quietly sneaking upon on us. Last weekend with all schedule activities I was able to buy some mums to add a new containers to our front and back tiny porch. They are simple but it does welcome me home after a long day of work and school. 

This year I selected a bit of purple, because, I can add this to my yard at the end of the season. I do not know about the grass in this containers but looks very neat! It did not says if it is a perennial or an annual. I do like the end product "welcome home flowers". 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fall blooms...

Do you have plants which blooms during Fall. I know for sure I have a few that reminds me to take a walk to snap the last bit of our garden. This weekend plan is just doing that. Three nights at school is a bit of a challenge but it is not too bad since I get home Mondays and Wednesday around 6:30 pm comparing to Tuesday/ night which is a long haul but I love the class!

These are few picture that I snap whenever I step outside. Do you plant during fall if so what do you plan... Love to hear your garden plans for Fall!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Green Tomatoes...

Getting back to work, keeping up with my own children, and entertaining them intellectually while taking care of five loads of laundry was pushing boundaries to limits. This was indeed a balancing act for me this past weekend. This busy schedule did not held back my interest to wonder off in our yard. Surprising, I could not help noticing the abundance of green tomatoes. 

I read a neat post what to do with green tomatoes from here and I remember to mark the page because it looks so good. It is the end of the tomato season at least for us easterners and I know they are not going to turn red anymore as we are in the brink of Summer but I do not want to give up hope. 

After my spin class on Sunday, I took the liberty to go grocery shopping for few items including couple of ingredients for green tomato recipe and hurried home only to find rest of the family went out for breakfast. I could not refused the nice invitation to join for breakfast. After breakfast I got busy making this lovely pickle. It does needs some prep time which I have been working prior to the assembly. 

I have already given couple of these guys away and heard lovely comments mainly the presentation was beautiful! I love the colors! It taste great cannot wait to try this with some bread!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Apple picking...

This year we have been picking our fruits with kids it started as blueberry picking now that we are in to Fall we are still picking. This is a new experience for us and for our kids. It was fun to use all these produce in jams and jellies and to get them involve in the process. 

One of my co- workers mentioned a farm about pick your own apples and I asked Little Nicolette if she would like to go. Her instant reply was a yes. 

After lunch we decided to head over to the farm to pick our own apples. Line to get in was way too long it has to do something  with the timing. Many families were trying to get in before they close for the day which was by four that was my feeling. 

The line was moving to the pace of a tortoise we figure out to go with the flow. Observations around the neighborhood which leads to the farm grounds was interesting to name few neighbors had chicken coops in their yards and even signs for bunnies for sale. Both our kids were fast a sleep from the ride even though it was only less than half an hour. The price for pick your own apples was a bit too high comparing to the supermarket. One from the line was complaining it was a rip off! 

However, if you work in numbers, there was no parking fees, and ten pounds for $22.00, I do not know what to say. We were not offered apple cider nor donuts. It was way too busy and too many people in the orchard. I had no idea what kind of apples we have picked but we have ten pounds of them. They are bit sour, sweet, and juicy!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Back to School

My little girl was excited to go back to school, This was her first day and she is now an afternoon kid in other words a PM Kindergarten student. Loved her first day back at school!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Late summer garden - harvest

This years’s late summer crop has been giving us a bit of a joy with the magical butternut squash harvest. We are happy to be outside and watching some of our late summer crop. We still have not yet enjoy our butter beans. Now we know that we need to get them in the ground very early. I should mark my calendar on that event. Planting beans early.

We still have an awful lot of green tomatoes my guess is hopefully they will ripe before frost if not I may have to find few recipes to work with green tomatoes. Basis keeps giving up every day more new growth I need to start my lunch pasta salad before it is all gone. 

Butternut squash have been giving its harvest. I harvested my very first butternut squash this weekend.  It is possible that I might do a whole one entry on my butternut squash one of this days. 

Speaking of it I did harvest the tips of this beautiful vine.  In Sri Lanka, some people will cook pumpkin vines with dhal as a curry. I initially tried when my aunt made it at her house. 

I am very determined to make it happen. I did had a lot in my plate this last Sunday before the full swing of back to school. I will write a post on this lovely butternut squash vine and its harvest!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cultural Influences in Sri Lankan food

I have no idea how a country that indulge many spices have this as a part of its breakfast. Well that leads to believe the other cultural influence in Sri Lankan history such as the Dutch, Portuguese, and the Colonial has made a significant influence. I may not have these in order but at least these are few I can remember with regard to invasions in Sri Lankan history. 

I remember growing up in Sri Lanka, it was a kind of a special treat for me to visit the pastry shops. some are still to this day do exists. I enjoyed having beacon and eggs with tomato sauce in other words ketchup. 

This well known pastry consist of beacon, hard boil eggs, caramelized onions, green chilies (cuban peppers) not too spicy but has a milder chili flavor in this pepper. Arrange all this in a square of a puff pastry. Then bake according to the package directions and eat with ketchup. 

I did make these for my entire family, I had mine with caramelized onions and hard boil eggs. However, some of the pictures are missing of the final product. Because it was all gone before the photo opportunity!

Yes, it was that good!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Yard Sale - scores

Past weekend was the neighborhood yard sale. As I was heading towards the Y for my yoga classes. I could not help noticing the early buzz around the block. I scored few things from our neighborhood garage/yard sale. 

A beautiful vase, which I am looking forward to place some branches this fall. A brand new small rotary cutter in its original package and not even open. Two books to keep me company whenever I get a chance to read something fun! A beautiful wire/metal basket to hold eggs, or simply the garden bounty for us. 

At work by my sink in the classroom needed a bit of a lift. I am always looking ways to keep it clean, and organized for little ones. I had few plates that had interesting art work I would like to hang them but I did not have any of those neat plate wall brackets and I was able score one from our neighborhood yard sale. Final iteam was three (small, medium, and large) palm leaf pouches to store neat iteams, which I am sure I can find plenty at my sewing table!

All this goodies end up in a grand total of only $ 4.25 not too bad on neighborhood yard sales!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A treat to come home...

I always look for bargains when I am at the grocery store. Officially, kids goes back to school this coming week. Keeping that in my mind I was looking for ways to make few things ahead crazy schedule. 

Banana bread goes well in our house at least among kids. I guess bananas that were bruised were on sale for about .99 cents. I meant only the skin, I bought two of these packages home.

We decided to make a banana cake instead of bread. cream cheese frosting with this delicious banana cake was an ultimate treat for my older one who is just getting the hang of getting back to school. 

Few roasted walnuts chopped to tiny pieces adds a bit of crunchiness to this wonderful cake. I know my older one comes home, after school and cross country practices and treat himself to a slice of this goodness. Totally worth it!