Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Check me out, it is FALL and I rock

Apples, before I brutally slaughtered them into
a delicious dessert.
Have you ever heard of apple butter?  I sure hadn't.  Prior to the Beans destroying all that is good about dessert by developing allergies to the worlds greatest food combo -- peanut butter and chocolate -- I had no reason to branch out.  Then he ruined everything and I had all but given up on anything good, sweet and fattening.  Oddly enough I wasn't loosing any weight, a fact I can't explain and which is entirely off topic ...

But, then came apple butter.

Its like applesauce, but not at all good for you and way creamier.

My parents wound up buying a place with a ton of apple trees, so we needed to use them ... my kitchen (and waistline) will never be the same.

In the interest of complete transparency -- it is time consuming and messy as heck, but it is easy.  Slap on a good podcast, movie, or some music and go to town!

You can search Pintercrack for much more thorough or serious sounding recipes.  Or you can hang out here.
Me picking the apples.
I should have Linda Hamilton Terminator arms by now.
I started by mixing cheap wine and Sprite.  No, seriously.  It doesn't actually go into the apple butter, but I find that it makes the process more enjoyable.  Why mix?  Because I will be singing show tunes before the apples are even halfway done if I drink the cheap wine straight.  I am not much of a sipper, more of a gulper.

So I mixed my Mommy Juice, snapped my iPod in because I could hear Handy (with his whiny assed tools) Manny in the background still.  And got to work.

My apples are small, and the skin is really thin so I don't peal them.  If you are getting store bought apples you may need to peel them and won't need as many because they are probably bigger.  Don't get horribly hung up on what kind of apples to use because by the time you are done cooking them with all the spices they will all be delicious.  Just know that if you want tang, pick a tangier apple, tart or sweet same deal.

For this round of apple butter I am using ... well, I am not entirely sure what kind of apples they are.  Here is a visual of the four main "types" but I think one and four may be the same kind:

I have googled them and come up with a couple different names, but I would love to hear what you think they are.

Now to the actual instructions.  Brace yourself for my thorough, foodie level instruction giving skillz:

Step one: Wash the bird shit and bug shit off.  Seriously, why they gotta poo on my food?

Step Two: Core and slice the muthahs.  And since my apple core-er sucks, I do this with a knife.

*insert possible brief intermission for ER visit here*

Step Three: Re-fill your drink, undoubtedly it is time.  Then toss the slices of apples into your food processor.  Process until they are in small chunks, smaller they are the faster they cook.

Step Four: Dump the chunky, wet apple matter into the CrockPot.

Blurry pictures happen when someone's hands are slippery.

Step Five: Spices.  Don't ask me to measure, I don't really do that and I am already a full drink in (my cup is 32 oz) by this point so my already low standards are dipping.  I eyeball it.  If I had to guess, for a full pot I use at least a full cup of brown sugar and then coat the top of the apples with cinnamon and allspice (so like 2 to 3 teaspoons each).  Here, I offer pictures to those of you who know what you are doing ...

It is a lot more spices than I have ever seen in another recipe, but to be honest I have never heard anyone complain LOL

Step Six: Set your Crock Pot on long and low.  For mine this is the 8 hour setting.  I try to do this as early in the morning as possible because you really do want the apples cooking for 8 to ten hours.  It makes for creamier apple butter in the end.

Step Seven: Try to not eat it through out the day and feel very Martha Stewart-ey because your house smells like fall and you seem to know what you are doing.  Stir occasionally, but really, you don't want to do much.

Step Eight: When the apples are plenty squishy, start shoveling them into a blender, food processor, or be uber fancy and have an immersion blender.  I know it is a huge surprise, but I am not uber fancy and lack an immersion blender.  I blend this bad boy until it gets creamy.

Once we have blended the snot out of the apples, we are technically done.  You can eat it straight, mix it in something, jar it, or even ice cube it like this:

I do that because then the Meatball can drop an apple cube in his oatmeal and it both flavors AND cools it.

I know, you are in awe of my general bad ass glory here, aren't you?

Anyway, it does freeze well, so jar it up and store it for later so you can have apple butter year round.  One full CrockPot made 6 full pint jars.

In a few weeks I will be cute-i-fying the jars somehow in order to give them away, so I will share that later.


Saturday, November 2, 2013


"Its my Daddy and my Gramps!"

That is what the Beans had to say upon seeing this.

Now my dad has always had a beard, as far back as I remember, and Paul Bunyan has had some variation on facial hair since the day we met.  However, recently it has been a bit like a ZZTop concert round here.

Dad was growing his for the Red Sox, which I have NO grudge against because I again wept as my team made it three in my life time and won the Series.  But my husband, no matter how hard I tried to lie to myself and say it was for Boston, was not growing his beard for Papi and crew.

No, he just really is embracing the whole Paul Bunyan redneck thing.

He thinks Duck Dynasty is hilarious.  I watched it the first time and had an epiphany ... my husband is Jase.

Don't get me wrong, there are worse things, by far to be married to.  When Bunyan ain't looking, I laugh at and even with Jase, I don't particularly mind him.  But it is part of our loving banter for me to be annoyed.  There are definitely limits to my acceptance.  Like camo "bibs" on an adult man, that would be one big merther fracken limit of mine.  But the beard was okay ... it was getting a little, um, shall we say, unruly though and I might have suggested he trim it or something.

Well, I wasn't trying to be funny!  I was merely suggesting that you trim it up a little, because, well, it won't hurt you to ...

That isn't true, there are men who don't have beards, but I wasn't suggesting that you have NO beard, just maybe LESS beard ...

Well that isn't constructive at all.  I was just saying that maybe a little trim would be a good thing.  

I could go on with fake meme replies.  There are no shortage of Jase-isms that sound particularly Bunyan-like.  Many of which I agree with.

Some I find alarmingly close to the mentality he has sometimes.

Bunyan's beard isn't that long yet, but I think that is the end goal in mind and he is getting close.  He mentioned the other day that he may need beard wax or something like that, to help "control" it.  

Uh, I am not even sure what to say to THAT.

All things considered, there are worse things my husband could decide to do in order to annoy me or assert himself on.  While he may be a pain in the butt sometimes, he is my soul mate and partner in crime.  Besides, while I leave you with a quote from the "wrong" Robertson brother, we have similar parenting philosophies ...

LOL on that note, I bid you a farewell for today!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween & Food Allergies

Food allergies suck.  No two ways about it, allergies in general suck.  It was really easy to get totally overwhelmed in the beginning with the Beans' diagnoses, and my own for that matter, to just be like "dude, we ain't goin' anywhere!" because the world is impossible to control.  When it is you, when you could die because of something that is invisible and common to everyone else, that totally stinks.

When it is your kid?  Man, I have no words to adequately explain it.

But it is critical to Bunyan and I that we teach Beans and Meatball (who has food sensitivities, though not allergies) how to navigate the world independently.

Then holidays like Halloween come along and its like someone punted you between the legs.

Too graphic?

Okay, how bout this, Halloween comes along and just fucks it all up?  No, still too strong?  Well my point is that we have a lot of food related holidays and celebrations in our society and it really does a number on my "don't want to face it!" head-in-the-sand wishes.

We navigated Easter, but Halloween is a doozey.

Or is it?

I was so anxious leading up to Halloween ... and I am not sure why exactly.  Maybe this year was just stupidly easy and I got lucky?

We did not buy any candy.  That was the first relief.  It sucked too, because it meant I had none to steal, but I supposed that may be a blessing in disguise.

Since we weren't handing out candy, I hit the dollar store for these bad boys:

Glow bracelets!  Seriously, we were quite the popular house!  No one was like "where's the candy?" Everyone, parents AND kids alike, loved the glow bracelets.

Meatball also dressed up as a haphazard scarecrow and scared the crap out of soccer moms who were escorting their kids.

Seriously, he scared more parents than he did children.

But that brings me to the second awesome point -- we didn't take anyone trick or treating this year.  Meatball was old enough to like scaring people and Beans has no idea it is even an option.

So I lucked out there, but I already have some planning in for next year if my luck runs out by then.  Since Meatball knew he was being denied candy overall, I promised him an exchange.  Net year we will actually swap any candy that is obtained if either kid trick or treats with a toy or small gift of some kind.  This year both boys picked Legos and were plenty happy with that.

Also, I plan to make use of this if we get candy and need to offload it in a good way.  How cool is that, our house stays safe and troops get some goodies?  Deal!

Overall, I think I am still new enough to the allergy world to panic when events crop up.  The holidays are a real witch to deal with, but for every frustrating situation I encounter there are another 10 supportive people who want to help and accommodate us if possible.  If I could tell the panicky me taht was convinced my child would be doomed to rice cakes and celery for life anything, I would certainly start with "chill, it will be okay.  Normal is relative, you will discover a new normal."

Our "normal" is glow bracelets and that just isn't so terrible.