Thursday, September 30, 2010

Apple Recipes

It's apple season! And that means lots of apples.

Around here, we usually don't get our bulk purchase of apples until a little later in the season, sometime in October, but this year we were blessed with the opportunity to buy a large amount of apples at a great price just last week. The apples were second-class - meaning they weren't "perfect" enough to be sent to the store, but they were great for preserving! We did have a few bad spots to cut around, but all-in-all it was a great deal! Thank You, Lord, for Your gifts!

We got 3.5 bushels of some sort of yellowish apple - we didn't pick the type, and we're not sure what they were, but they looked and tasted like golden delicious apples. They were nice and sweet, but not too soft.

3.5 bushels may not sound like a lot to some of you, but we've never put up that many apples before, so it seemed like a lot to us. For those of you who need a picture in your minds; imagine a box the size of one of those toilet-paper packages that holds 12 rolls (hey, I'm creative, okay?). Now imagine that box filled to the brim and heaped up to overflowing with luscious apples. That's 1/2 a bushel. We got 7 of those.

We made lots and lots of applesauce (SO easy!), some pie filling, and some apple dumplings the first day. We spent just about all of Tuesday in the kitchen. On Wednesday, it only took the morning to finish the remaining apples; we shredded or sliced them, and froze them for use in recipes later on.

When you're dealing with that many apples, even the piles of skin and cores can look huge:
My younger sisters, Tiffany and Lezely worked hard alongside Mom and I. Tiffany was really good at running the apple peeler/corer (we have the kind that you crank, and it does it all at once.) I think Tiffany peeled and cored almost 3 bushels by herself! Mom worked on the pie filling, and I did the apple dumplings. Lezley was here and there, doing whatever we asked her to do, whether it was washing the apples, loading pans with sliced apples, or helping Tiffany peel apples.

I thought you might like some apple recipes, since it's apple season in many places right now. :)

(I don't have the time to share the pie filling recipe right now, but it's definitely worth making. Store apple pie filling tastes like cinnamon-flavored Vaseline, in my humble opinion.)

Have you ever had homemade applesauce? If you haven't, you're missing out. It puts the store stuff to shame. It's so sweet. So chunky. So warm and hearty, if you eat it out of the pan. :)

It's also the easiest thing in the world to make. I'll give you the recipe. Ready?

#1: Peel, core, and slice a bunch of apples.
#2: Sprinkle them with lemon juice - just a tad, to keep them from going brown.
#3: Place apples in a slow cooker. Fill it up!
#4: Add a few cups of water - 2-4, depending on the size of your cooker.
#5: Cover, and cook on high for a few hours, until the apples are soft.
#6: Mash the apples right in the slow cooker, with the water. Leave some chunks if you like it that way! Add some sugar if you want - I think it's just right without it.
#7: Eat warm if at all possible!

See? I told you it was easy! I like to add cinnamon and peanut butter to my bowl of warm apple sauce. It's all up to you. But do add the cinnamon. It's just the perfect touch!

Speaking of perfect, let me share a scrumptious dessert with you; Apple Dumplings. So yummy! Everybody's heard of apple dumplings, but surprisingly few have ever made them. That's sad, considering how easy they are to make. We had never even eaten apple dumplings until last year, but once we got our first bite, we knew we had to make them again!

Here's how you can make your own:

Apple Dumplings

~ First, make up some pie crust. Use your favorite, tried-and-true recipe. For me, that's Tammy's Foul-proof Pie Crust. It always works. She uses all butter in her recipe, which I love, but for a big batch of dough like this, I substitute shortening for about 1/3 of the butter, just to cut down on the cost. I doubled the recipe, which is about the amount for 6 pie crusts. That gave me 3 dozen dumplings, so your ratio is pretty much 6 dumplings for every one pie you could have made...but I roll my dough pretty thin, so you'll have to see what your exact ratio is for your kitchen.

~ Peel, core, and slice your apples. (It takes about 12 to fill up a 9"X13" pan.) If you have an apple peeler like ours, that's easy. If you do it by hand, don't bother to slice your apple. You want it to stay intact. Our apple peeler slices the apple very thinly as it peels, and it will all stay nicely stacked up for us.

~ Grab a chunk of dough that's slightly larger than a golf ball, and roll it out to be about the size of a saucer - smaller or larger, depending on your apple sizes. I use lots of flour and roll my crust fairly thin. I don't have much trouble with holes or crust sticking to the table....but, then again, I've had lots of practice with crusts. If you make fewer dumplings, with thicker crust, it will be positively yummy that way, too! In fact, I like thicker crust - I'm just too cheap to make it that way. :)

Is this recipe getting too wordy for you?

~ Set your peeled and cored apple right in the middle of the dough. Bring the dough up and around it, wrapping the apple completely in dough. Give it some good pats to seal it in there, check that there are no holes in the bottom of the dough, and set the dumpling in an un-greased glass baking dish.

~ At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the dumplings (more info on that in a second) or bake them. Before baking, however, you want to make up a sauce to pour over the dumplings. That goes like this: (The amount is for a 9"x13" pan, or 12 dumplings)

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
2-4 TBS of butter
A HEAPING TBS of cinnamon

Combine everything except for the butter and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in butter. Once the butter has melted and been stirred in, pour the sauce over the dumplings.

~ Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until apples are soft and smell wonderful.

~ Eat as-is, or with whipped cream on top. Or, if you are like the family who introduced us to apple dumplings, put one in a bowl, drown with milk, and eat with a spoon!

Although we could easily eat 3 dozen dumplings in a week, we decided to save 2 dozen in the freezer for later use. To do that, simply wrap the dumplings individually in handy wrap, and set in the freezer until solid. Then put them in freezer bags, (still wrapped) and - wala! - you're done!

Here's part of what we made on the first day. The apple dumplings are in the bags. Apple sauce and pie filling are in the jars and plastic containers. This all went in the freezer.
I must run for now, but I wish you all a very happy apple season!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Happy fall everyone!

I'm going to celebrate the occasion by spending the morning baking with my sisters.

I dreamed last night that I was making pumpkin pie. Hmm.

The leaves around here aren't really starting to color very much yet.

My grandparents are coming into town today, for their fall tradition of celebrating my Grandpa's birthday here with us. :) :)

I can't wait for the yearly apple festivals that take place here. The mountian foothills just 30-40 minutes from us, are filled with apple orchards. This year our music group, The King's Strings, has been asked to play at my favorite festival! :)

....Aaaand I'm late on what I'm supposed to be doing this morning. Lots to keep me busy. Gotta run!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I'm sitting here, frustrated by my slow internet speed.

The only two pages working are my blog and "google reader."

Maybe that's a good thing - when 50% of my internet choices are "blog," the chances that I'll pick "blog" rise that much more.

I'm sitting here, wondering why I've been so snappy today. My younger sisters deserve better than that.

This internet is still bugging me. How long can those "loading" circles go 'round and 'round like that?

I'm sitting here craving cinnamon rolls. I've been in the mood for cinnamon rolls for about a week now. I think of them almost every night, wishing we could have them for breakfast tomorrow. But I never think of it when I could make them. (I suppose I could start them at 8:00 at night, or even 10:00 at night....but...)

I'm sitting here thinking about puppies, and bunnies, and cute little things. My two younger sisters just got baby bunnies. My older sister just got a puppy. I want a puppy someday! ...Or maybe a house rabbit. A nice, friendly, big one.

Why are these two pages the only things loading? Is my computer insane?

I'm sitting here wondering about people. What does your favorite food say about you? If your favorite foods are soda, chips, pop tarts, and pizza, what does that mean? If your favorite foods are cheese, pie, fries, and ham, what's that mean? If you love tacos, ice tea, and chicken, what does that mean? What does it mean if I love granola, nuts, raisins, peaches, and chocolate?

What about your dislikes? Am I weird if I can't stand hard candy, soda, and pop tarts? Am I strange if I don't get excited about soups and goulash? What if I LOOOOVE sweet potatoes, broccoli, and eggs? (Separately, of course.)

Enough food talk. You'd think I hadn't had supper yet, but I did. I had a very good supper of shepherd's pie and green beans, with ice cream for dessert. I also had a very nice lunch...which was too short...because we were rushed...but I won't go into that.

Those pages better load soon, before I start typing too much crazy stuff on here.

I'm sitting here sorta-kinda working on a sewing order. THIRTEEN pairs of mens' dress pants, to be altered. Buttons sewn on. Clasps moved. Hems done. All that stuff. I have 4 completely done, 4 ready for machine work, 4 still needing hand-work done, and one in-progress. I don't like this job - I keep putting it off. I'm proud of myself, for working on it today.

Why can't Daddy fix this? Can't daddies fix everything?

I'm sitting here wondering if I should share my latest recipe -

Wait. I wasn't going to talk about food, right?


I'm not hungry - really. I promise. I'm not the slightest bit hungry. Why am I thinking about food so much?

Must be stress. I think of food when I'm stressed. If you see a picture of me, someday, where I look like a small blimp (or even a big blimp), you can assume I got into a very stressful situation and didn't get out of it for several months.

Even minor stress - like computers mal-functioning - is stress.

Wait. Whoever said computers misbehaving is minor stress never met my computer. My laptop is infamous in my house (and I mean infamous) for its strange and slow behavior. It's gotten to the point where everyone cheers when I tell them my computer logged on in under five minutes. I've been known to shout at my computer, cry at it, scream at it, and literally pull my hair because it won't load things fast enough. And, no, we don't have dial-up. And, yes, I consider myself pretty a point.

What do you do when you're stressed? I'm very familiar with stress - we've had many chats. My body reacts very violently to even slight stress; my face breaks out, my eyes get blood-shot, I can't sleep, my muscles won't relax, and I get tension head-aches. I also notice myself eating even when I'm not hungry, refusing to go to bed even when I'm tired, and withdrawing from reality by doing things like reading a book or watching a movie.

Does suffering from stress mean I'm a bad Christian? I've often wondered that. It seems that someone who knows the secret of "casting all their care upon Him," would never be stressed for a moment.

...Of course, if you're in the middle of being stressed, the thought that you're a bad Christian doesn't help much. If anything, it adds to the downward spiral.

But does it mean you're a bad Christian? I've really wanted to know.

I think I know a little bit of the answer, now. It's come from going through a lot of stress, listening to a lot of godly people, and doing a lot of reading in God's Word.

I know almost everybody accepts stress, and we say "everyone has it!" but I'm going to be different and say that I don't think God intended Christians to live a stressful life, any more than He intended us to live a sinful life. Do we have stress? Yes. Do we sin? Yes. But we don't have to live a stressful life any more than we have to life a sinful life.

So, what causes stress?


Gasp! She said it! She called stress a sin! You're not supposed to blame stressed people - you're supposed to have pity on them!

I know. But listen - what causes stress? Impatience. Anger. Worry.

Like right now - I'm sitting here, impatient at my computer. I'm angry that it won't work, and I'm worried it won't work before it's time for bed, and I won't get any of the things I wanted to do done.

If I'm stressed about the mountain of things on my "To Do" list, I'm worried about what will happen if I don't finish it in time. I'm angry at people or circumstances who keep me from getting things done.

Worry. Anger. Aren't those things sins?

Now, I do think we should have pity on stressed people. (Oh boy, do I believe that, when it's me who's stressed!) Lots of stress is caused by worry, and worried people often don't even realize that worry is wrong. But it is.

We have a Father who loves us. He's promised to take care of us. What am I saying? He's ALREADY taken care of us! We know that everything He puts into our lives is for our good and His glory. ...But do we act like we believe that, in the nitty-gritty details of life?

Oh boy.

I am soooooo convicting myself. Why do I have to be blogging this conversation with my conscience?

Long lines at the store are in His plan.
Traffic jams didn't catch Him by surprise.
Unexpected chores were put into our schedules by His hand.
He knows about those responsibilities we said we'd do because we believe God wants us to do them.
Younger sisters asking us for help are often His voice, telling us to serve freely.
Computers that run slow are His hand directing our time.

Yikes. This is hard.

You know why it's hard?

I'm forgetting how much He loves me. Why am I worried about the future when I know Who holds the future? Why am I worried about failing when I know Who will love me anyway? Why am I worried about the time when I know Who plans my schedule?

This is a hard blog post to write. ....Because I know it's true, but I'm not sure I can live it out. I'm still working on this spot in my life. I need to surrender it, but it sure is hard to let go. It's hard not to want my own way.

But His wondrous love keeps coming back to mind. His faithfulness. He's always been worthy of my trust. The thought that He cherishes me just about breaks my heart.

I don't know why I want so much to hold on to stress - such an ugly, painful thing. I don't know why I want to be stressed. To let go and trust sounds so nice and relaxing, but it's so awful hard to do! So unnatural. It's mine, this stress I feel. I want to hold onto it with childish hands and say "no! mine!" I want to scream at my computer. I want to be angry that I can't do what I planned to do with my evening.

But He picked this.

I know He controls the winds and waves - computers are a small thing in His sight. And He could easily make mine behave.

But, for some unexplained reason, my blog page is working, and my "fun" pages aren't.

He picked this.

And He loves me.

He loves me.

He loves.

How can I stress?

Monday, September 13, 2010

A look at reality

You asked for pictures of my new room, and discussions on my latest sewing projects.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of my new room loaded on my computer, and my sewing projects are either awaiting completion, or have been finished and given to clients.

Of course, I could take pictures of my room right now....only I don't feel like doing that today. I woke up with a fever and just don't feel I could give a tour worthy of my lovely little paradise.

I could tell you about my sewing projects, but that's always pretty boring without pictures.

So here's something to look at - maybe laugh at, too. It's a picture my sister, Tiffany, snapped of me a few weeks ago. I saved it because it shows exactly how I work on a lot of my sewing projects. I love to do two things at once.

In fact, this is exactly where I am right now - minus the sewing project. In the above picture, I'm sitting on my bed in my new room. See the quilt? And the pillow? I made I guess I'm showing off some projects after all. :) :)

This is how I usually sit when I'm on the computer; my back to the wall, laptop propped on my lap, and quite often some sort of busy work in my hands. This works great when I'm reading something, or watching something, or listening to something. It doesn't work so well for writing something. I'm still working on figuring out a way to type and sew at the same time. Maybe if I used my mouth.....?


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Um, hello there....I'm Amber

I just want to let you know that I am still alive.

Blogging has not been a priority for me, lately. When I get on the computer, there's just so much I'd rather be doing. And - believe it or not - writing has not been flowing easily for me lately.

I wrote 901 words in my manuscript today, so maybe a turn-around is around the corner for me. I hope so, because theoretically I have lots to blog and write about.

But I thought that maybe you could help me get back into blogging. What do you want to hear about? Sewing - my latest projects? Cooking - new recipes? Fashion - the basics of assembling a new wardrobe for fall? Relationships - what I've been learning lately? Interior design - pictures of the new bedroom I've helped my younger sisters put together? If you let me know, it will help me focus on what to write.

This isn't the greatest post I've ever written. I feel very out of practice.

But it's a start.

So there's hope. :)