Saturday, October 24, 2015

Apple Butter Recipe

To everything there is a season and right now it's apple season!  I try my best to eat seasonally as much as possible when various fruits and vegetables are at their peak.  Here in southern California it might be hard to notice the seasonal changes by looking outside but you can always tell the seasons by a trip to your local market. And right now the markets are full of  bright, colorful squash and gourds and lots and lots of apples.  And my favorite of all are the honey crisp apples which are not only delicious for snacking but also perfect for seasonal treats such as apple sauce or apple butter.

I first tasted apple butter when I visited Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana which gives visitors a glimpse into a unique way of life and what was once a three generation working farm adhering to the principles of life before modern conveniences, which is an integral part of their traditional christian beliefs. And that taste of apple butter encapsulates for me a simpler time when life was sweet enough just by savoring the goodness of what the land produced.  I hope this recipe gives you a taste of that sweetness and captures your imagination and appreciation for a way of life that once flourished in our land.

Apple Butter Recipe ~
- yield 2 cups -


2 lbs. honey crisp apples (roughly 5 large apples) pealed, cored and roughly chopped
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar (or fresh lemon juice if you have it)
3/4 teaspoon ceylon soft cinnamon sticks (pounded with mortar and pestle)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch ground cloves


1.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Combine apples, apple cider, brown sugar and salt in non-stick stove top/oven safe pan.   On stove top bring mixture to simmer, cover and cook until apples are soft, approximately 20 minutes.

2.  Remove from heat and stir in white vinegar (or lemon juice), cinnamon, vanilla and cloves.  Blend using an immersion blender until smooth.

3.  Place mixture in oven and bake uncovered for approximately 2.5 to 3 hours (stirring every 30 minutes) or until mixture thickens and is a deep amber color.

4.  Remove from oven and let cool complete.  Place in airtight container and refrigerate for 5 days.

Recipe adapted from the Food Network Kitchen's Homemade Apple Butter recipe.

Enjoy apple butter spread on your morning toast as I do (over my homemade sourdough bread); swirled into your oatmeal with cinnamon and chopped walnuts; or as a topping on vanilla ice cream!

Until next time be well, love well, and savor the flavors that the fall harvest celebrates.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fairy Garden Throw and Pumpkin Scones Recipe ~

When I saw the Yarn Fairies in my Garden Mystery KAL I couldn't resist joining along in this whimsical journey.  After all you never know what fairies might be hiding in your garden that you can entice out to play!

And making a throw blanket is right in keeping with my new mind set, namely, to enjoy my home more and appreciate the simple comforts that something small but special can impart, whether it's using a favorite mug, cuddling under a special blanket or finding a quiet place to sit and read a book.

There's simply too much racing about for most people.  And even when we are at home there's always something we can or should be doing.  But you must resist.  Otherwise you will find yourself a slave to activity like I was. I'm not saying it's not important to be diligent and productive with your time. What I am saying is that there is no need to stand in the kitchen gobbling down a quick bite when you can take 15 minutes to sit outside and enjoy your breakfast in the garden, or take a break in the afternoon for a short nap or read a book.  You'll feel better and be more productive when you have discreet breaks rather than not taking a break and yet frittering away time at your desk or playing games on your computer.  Whether at home or an office there are always places to step away and be alone and it's important to do so.

This throw might not be a project for everyone (it takes 2,200 yards of sock yarn) but I couldn't be happier that I made it.  The project was a collaboration between two talented fiber ladies Wendy McConnell known for her fanciful yarn dyeing and Donna Druchunas a well known lace designer with each contributing their special talent.  Wendy dyed up this special sunflower colorway after I mentioned I'd like to wrap myself in a sunflower (rather than a columbine or any of the other flowers being offered) and it was Donna who did the designing with several intricate and beautiful Estonian lace stitches to illustrate the flowers and butterflies found in a garden. Along with fairies of course. That goes without saying.  It really is a special piece that Steve and I'll enjoy for many years to come. Let's hope we don't squabble over who gets to use it ;)

Particulars: Yarn Fairy's In My Garden (Ravelry pattern link) designed by Donna Druchunas (of Sheep to Shawl fame); 2,205 yards gradient Fairy Sock Yarn custom dyed by Wendy (of Wendy's Ramblings) the fabulous host of numerous mystery Fairy KALs; US 4 circular needles; relaxed post blocking dimensions: 60"x 60" square.  This pattern includes several Estonian lace stitches and Donna has made some fabulous instructional videos to help.  You might recall that last Winter I participated in Wendy's Victorian Christmas Mystery KAL and I'm looking forward to enjoy that shawl again this holiday season!

Pumpkin Scone Recipe ~

These pumpkin scones have a rich spice flavor and nice "cake like" interior complimented by a maple glaze.  I originally saw a recipe similar to these late last Fall, but alas it was too late in the season to try them.  But as soon as I saw pie pumpkins in the stores this Fall I had to make some. This recipe is a combination of several that I looked at incorporating and changing the ingredients to best suit my tastes.  I absolutely love them and have made them numerous times already and hope you will too. Should you not have on hand the ingredients I've used (freshly roasted pumpkin, pastry flour, whole wheat flour, cardamon, etc.) there is a highly rated Starbucks Pumpkin Scones Copycat Recipe you might want to try instead. Whichever recipe you use I'm sure it will become a Fall favorite!


1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 dark brown sugar (I use organic)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon (or ground cloves if you don't have cardamon)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
6 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup fresh pumpkin puree
5 Tbs whole milk
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract


1 cup confectioners sugar (shifted)
3 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs whole milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Pumpkin Puree:

1 fresh pie pumpkin (Trader Joe's has the best price on these that I've seen)
1 tsp. olive oil
Scant sprinkling of sea salt


1.  Make Pumpkin Puree (I make this the day before I'm going to bake the scones).  Preheat oven to 400 Degrees.  Wash pumpkin thoroughly and cut into 4 pieces scrapping out all seeds.  Lightly brush flesh with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.  Roast approximately 35-40 minutes or until flesh is soft - then remove from rind and refrigerate until ready to use.  Since you will only be using a small amount I like to use the leftovers as a soup thickener, etc.

2.  Make scone dough.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3.  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl (pastry flour, wholewheat flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon cardamon, ginger, and nutmeg) stir to combine.  Cut in cold butter until coarse crumbs form.

4.  Combine pumpkin, milk, egg and vanilla in a small blender and blend until smooth.  Pour blended wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon.  A wet dough will form.

5.  Measure 1/8th cup all purpose flour and set aside on your work surface (I like to sue a wooden bread board).  Sprinkle some of your flour on the work surface and coat hands with flour.  Gently kneed dough a few times to incorporate enough flour to prevent excessive sticking to hands.  Don't overwork the dough and add no more flour than necessary (at most 1/8th cup or maybe a tablespoon more).  With your hands flatted dough into a round disk approximately 1/2 inch thick and 10 inches round and using a pastry cutter slice into 8 to 10 scones as shown in the pictures.  I use a bench knife to cut and transfer scones to parchment (or silpat lined) baking sheet.

6.  Bake scones for 10 to 12 minutes or until cake tester comes away clean. They should puff up and crack on top and be fairly firm to touch.  Remove to wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

7.  Make Maple Glaze.  Using a spoon combine confection sugar, maple syrup, and milk in a small bowl.  Drizzle over cooled scones and allow to set before serving.  Freeze leftovers and defrost at room temperature before eating.

Until next time be well, love well, and enjoy your home and all the special moments of comfort and companionship this season brings, whether it's sharing scones over a cup of tea or just snuggling up together with a book and a favorite blanket ~