Apple Processing Day

Our backyard apple tree produced 14 pounds of usable fruit this year. It took two of us, with the ladder and some careful contortioning, to harvest nearly all of it. I don’t do anything to protect the fruit from the rest of Nature, no spraying and no little fruit socks. (I bought a package of fruit socks one year, and the process of getting one sock on one apple while I was still standing on the ground was challenging enough that I’ve never been inspired to try to do it from the top of a ladder.) The resulting fruit is …

Taffy Pulling, Because Science!

It started with an idle comment. It ended up a many-houred end-of-school-year sugar-coated event. This goopy stuff is homemade salt water taffy. An exploration of sugar, chemistry, and the relative strength of various arms. I gave the kids (Caitlyn and some homeschool friends) a short lecture about atomic structure, molecular bonds, solutions (and why it’s not a reaction), and what it means to be supersaturated. I’m never really sure how these little talks land with the kids; Caitlyn always says very positive things but the others are often so quiet I’m not at all certain anything sticks. I’ve decided to …

A Morning Visitor

Wasabi was on a bit more of a tear than usual this morning, which made total sense once we realized we had a visitor: We spent the rest of breakfast watching her clamber around in the cherry tree, rather systematically eating all the cherries. Good thing I don’t expect harvestable fruit from that tree! She (I’m assuming it’s female based on this site which says that while commonly nocturnal, raccoons can be active during the day, especially if there are kits back in the den.  Raccoon kits typically arrive in April and May, and Mama tends to stay with them …

What I did with my December

I always seem to go a bit off the grid in December. I’m a far cry from the 80 pounds of candy Grandpa made one year, but I do seem to get lost in the kitchen just the same. Nuts to chop, sugar to caramelize, chocolate to melt. This was the year I learned to temper chocolate. Also, silicone molds are better for shaping ganache centers for truffles. Turtles should be made with two pecans instead of three, only 24 turtles fit on a tray and I probably should have made at least 30. Dipping is much easier with an …

Harvest Time: Onions

How long do red onions keep? I suppose I could have left them in the drawer in the fridge to find out, but then I wouldn’t have this: Red Onion Marmalade! Actually, there’s only a very tiny amount of citrus in this at all, so I’m not sure it’s really a marmalade. But that’s what the recipe called it, so there you have it. It’s amazing with creamy, spreadable cheeses, layered on bread. I think we almost ate a whole jar in just one of our last farmers’ market picnics. Slightly tangy, slightly oniony, definitely sweet. Even the kids ate …

Harvest Time: Apples, part 2

The second picking from our apple tree did indeed fill the box again. As predicted, the apples were a bit bigger the second time, too. What to do with them all? I mean, I’ve already done apple preserves and there’s still plenty of applesauce in the pantry. I’ve already baked more apple things beyond what we can eat, although I suppose a couple more batches of apple muffins tossed in the freezer would have been ok. I borrowed a juicer (thanks, Erin!) and we drank lots of homegrown apple juice. While tasty, I don’t think I’m going to pursue this …