growing grace farm’s cinnamon honey applesauce

You know Mother Nature, she is bountiful one season then rests the next.  Last year, we had not a one appleapples2 on any of the trees on our family property.  This year, however, we were able to gather three cloth grocery bags full in 20 minutes, and that’s only the low hanging fruit (plus, a few good tugs on the branches to “encourage” the larger apples up top to fall).    Needless to say, while I complete other tasks after work this week, I will be keeping both the crock pot and the big soup pot busy!  Seemed appropriate to repost this recipe~enjoy!

 

Two years ago, we had an apple bumper crop.  I harvested buckets full of apples at my parents’ cabin and started making my own version of applesauce.  I’m not a fan of white sugar and fully appreciate the healing properties of honey so I decided to substitute.  A little cinnamon later, and I’d created something that tasted great to me but would probably not be sweet enough for anyone else. 

Well, I was wrong.

After a few jars visited the homes of friends with children, I discovered that honey was the trick.  Kids loved the flavor and texture, and parents were happy they weren’t eating so much sugar.  Every summer, children have their parents ask me when I’ll start making my applesauce.  Well, let the season begin!

Growing Grace Farm’s Honey Cinnamon Applesauce

Ingredients:

15 small apples (or the equivalent), cored, chopped and peeled

1 cup of honey, divided (or less honey if so desired)

juice of half an orange

Cinnamon

Preparation:

1.  In a slow cooker, place all the chopped apples.

2.  Sprinkle with juice and pour in half cup of honey.  Stir.

3.  Sprinkle cinnamon to taste (I put approximately 1 tsp).  Stir.

4.  Cover and cook in slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours.  It will be a nice light brown color, and that’s ok.

5.  It should be bubbling if you want to can it. (If you decide to can, squeeze the juice of one lemon in the applesauce).

6.  Before storing or canning, add the second half cup of honey and shake some more cinnamon in.  Stir.

7.  Store in containers in refrigerator up to 2 weeks or can.

8.  For canning, I do a boiling water bath for 10 minutes with cans, make sure the applesauce is bubbling, put in jars, then place in clean boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Do not forget the lemon juice.

Do not be surprised how much the apples “cook down.”  Sadly, I’d hoped to get several jars out of this number of apples today, but I ended up with 32 oz.  The upside is how easy it is to make so there will be more jars on our shelf (or on friends’ tables) by the end of the week!

lessons learned: putting the gardens to bed

Yesterday, my daughter and I updated our kitchen calendar with events for the next couple of months.  In the corner, I noted some projects I have planned for us to complete over Labor Day weekend–paint the bathrooms, steam clean the upstairs, and put the gardens to bed.

“‘Put the gardens to bed,'” my daughter exclaimed, “isn’t there a more technical term for that?”  (For someone who’d rather pick up a cell phone than a hoe, who was she to be so persnickety?!)

“Well, many gardeners use that term,” I noted nonchalantly, and with that I snapped the top on the marker and walked away.

As I spent time homesteading in the kitchen that afternoon, I meditated on why I like the phrase “put the gardens to bed.”  Perhaps, it connects me to the earth in a way that feels good–like a parent who gently tucks in her child each night before sleep comes.  Maybe, it symbolizes the way I nurture my gardens as I carefully tend to them in preparation for winter.

Either way, I believe the phrase reminds me of what Autumn brings with her–a time for slowing down, a season of preparation.

Putting the gardens to bed in September removes any parts of the summer that may pull energy out of the soil.  It also includes nourishing the dirt with organic amendments or mulch that will enrich the earth over the winter.

But most importantly, it creates the opportunity for Nature to “just be” with the Creator.

Sometimes, we forget the importance of preparing for rest–transitioning from an active life to a quiet one.  If you have ever cared for little children, you know they cannot come right in from playing outside and head straight for a nap.  They need to slow down first, prepare their little bodies for sleep, then head to bed.

It is the same for us as adults.  Putting the gardens to bed reminds us to be intentional about resting in God on our journey.

As I walked into the kitchen this morning, I noticed the list again.  I began making a mental checklist of all that I wanted to accomplish prior to Winter’s rest.

I smiled when I realized that I wasn’t focusing on Growing Grace Farm but about my own spirit.

 

 

let’s hear it for the girls: raising girls who know how to homestead

In the past two weeks my 15-year-old has made me so proud as a homesteading mama.  On a weekend afternoon, she decided she was going to put together our unfinished wood chairs.  From there, she sanded them down then picked out the stain she plans to use to finish them up this weekend.  One afternoon, I came home to our newly remodeled den with a beautiful curtain rod hanging perfectly straight over our 109″ wide french doors.  When I asked her if she’d installed them on her own, she answered, “Well, yeah, with a drill of course.”

As I basked in the glow of her self-confidence and pride, I remembered this post I had written a couple of years ago.  What a delight to re-read it and appreciate that I was practicing what I preached, even during a time when moms and teenage daughters may have little in common.  Tonight, I am reposting it in honor of my daughter and her most recent achievements.  Keep on homesteadin’, my sweet child.

 

Today, my 13-year-old daughter and I worked finished her extreme bedroom makeover.  Yep, 3 months after we started it, we committed to finishing it.  We both agreed we would commit to the following:

  • no whining
  • lots of humor and laughter to ward off frustration
  • no longing to be outside
  • a commitment to working until we finished
  • sharing the responsibilities whether they included screwdrivers, drills, hammers, or paintbrushes

Now, I realize as I type this post, you are probably asking yourself, “Where is this going?  What does cleaning a teen bedroom have anything to do with gardening, farming or homesteading?!?”

I’ll tell you.

I am raising a girl who will eventually become a woman. I am nurturing her, tending to her, raising her.  Just as my parents did for me, I am teaching her skills she’ll need to be independent and self-sufficient whether she follows in my footsteps as a farmer and homesteader or not.

I am amazed that in this time and day that stereotypes still exist about what girls can and can’t do.  For example, did you know that girls can hang a picture and drill a hole, but that we need a pink tool kit to do it.  Seriously?!

So how do we raise girls to become women who can not only bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, but can also launder it, build it, hang it, drill it, hoe it, nail it, rake it, plant it, and on and on and on?  Well, here’s what I’m doing:

  • Model it–I don’t just fix things on my own, I let my daughter get involved.  I show her how to do it first then give them the opportunity to try it herself.  My daughter wanted to put all the door knobs on our doors when we started converting our home to a little farmhouse.  At 10-years-old, she learned how to accomplish this task.  Even if we still have to tighten them time and again, her sense of pride when she was done is worth it.
  • Share it–I tell girls about my successes, mistakes, and dreams.  I let them know they can do anything.  Mistakes are ok, successes are many, and dreams are always attainable.
  • Try it–Girls of a certain age have a tendency to feel insecure about their abilities.  I show them first then teach them  how to do it for themselves. I offer a lot of encouragement as they complete a task.
  • Be it–I don’t expect my daughter to pick up skills from tv, magazines, cell phones, and computers.  She needs to see me cook, garden, plant, fix, build, etc.
  • Talk it–As I “be it,” I also “talk it.”  She needs to hear the step-by-step process by which I complete my homesteading/farming/gardening tasks.  If she doesn’t participate, I also tell her how much I love being outside, canning jams, fixing things around the house,etc.  She may not think they are “cool” now, but I’m planting seeds for the future.

    now, that’s a tool box that’s been put to work

Most importantly, enjoy it!  It doesn’t have to be “work.”  Make it engaging and interesting.  Needless to say, sometimes, teens and tweens don’t necessarily want to do those boring or hard jobs they see us do as adults.   It is our attitude and approach, however, that determine if our girls grow into women who can, as Beyonce so fondly sings, “rule the world.”

As for my daughter and me, we may not be running the world today, but we sure did install a ceiling fan, hang box shelves, and patch holes in the wall.  For today, that is enough.