Other than hiking around in dramatically colored forests, Miss Chef's other chief interest in our mountain getaway was apples. I had always taken apples for granted, as I grew up sort of surrounded by apple orchards--there was even an old, overgrown patch in our own woods. I certainly never stopped to consider one variety versus another, other than knowing that Granny Smiths are good for pies.
Living with Miss Chef, though, has opened my eyes. Now I know that cameos and pink lady are my preferred out-of-hand eating apples. Miss Chef also enjoys a good honeycrisp. I even get a little nostalgic when I see Winesap and Empire apples, more common up north. So when we repeatedly passed by a roadside apple stand between our cabin and the town of Brevard, I knew we'd eventually have to make a stop.
To make a long story only somewhat long, we ended up with almost two bushels of mixed apples. Our goal: applesauce and apple butter.
|Miss Chef's hi-tech recipe card holder|
There was, of course, a little hitch to our plan. A hitch that is still nameless, but has four paws, a tiny face and a very loud mew. We found her two days after our trip, and all our plans went out the window for a while. Sleep deprivation will do that to you. Unfortunately, we don't have a cool, dark storage area big enough for two bushels, and after two weeks our apples were beginning to go bad.
Fortunately we finally managed to find the kitchen again last weekend and get some of those apples processed. We only had a half-day, so we focused on apple butter. Except that Miss Chef found a recipe for apple cider jelly, and I wanted to make some mint jelly before a freeze knocked back our mint plants. So, once again, we bit off more than we could chew. At least I did. For some reason--fatigue, stress, post-kitten depression--I found myself getting panicky and irritable that my pectin was clumping and my jelly was jelling before my jars were ready.
There's a reason Miss Chef's a chef and I'm not!
|Apple Cider Jelly|
Thankfully, she managed to calm me through my little fit--without taking over, isn't she amazing?--and we got everything cooked, jarred and processed.
|mint jelly, apple butter, apple cider jelly|
I was never a big fan of apple butter growing up (in spite of the fact we were ten minutes from the annual Apple Butter Festival in Burton), but I think I'm about to come around. I dropped a tablespoonful into my Cream of Wheat earlier this week, and gobbled it down. Yum!
We've managed to cram the remainder of our apples into our little cold cellar, so hopefully there will be some applesauce and pie filling in the near future. At the very least, I think our Thanksgiving guests can count on at least one fresh apple pie!