My parents are in town and we are having so much fun. Almost a month has gone by and I seriously couldn't be happier. We have picked Italian plums, Niagara grapes, apples, and pears from the yard and processed them into yummy canning goodness! Jams have been made along with multiple variations of apple butter, and fruit sauces to drizzle over ice-cream. The house has been either buzzing with canning activity or sleepy calm with reading books. We play games in the evening, usually Rummikub, and chat until the wee hours of the night. I took them up Pike's Peak (driving this time;)) where we noshed on chocolate covered eclairs we purchased at the French bakery "La Baguette" (their french onion soup is deee-vine!!!).
Best Kiss Ever.
Making Niagara Grape Jam: Our jam went from disgustingly green prior to cooking to a deep maroon fruit spread! The guys even joined us and we all had some great family time discussions.
This is what happens when I'm put "on call" from work. Jam right! No time is wasted!
My parents are still wetting their pants laughing after this one. These are my "onion chopping goggles". Seriously, they work. I pulled them out when the scalding Orange-Plum jam started splattering like crazy when adding Grand Marnier right before canning. You can laugh, it's alright.
Apple time! We were taking a mini break with 100% fruit popsicles. As my mom said, "Canning isn't work when you're doing it with others."
That's 24lbs of apples cut up right there. And we still have 2 more bins full! What is awesome is ALL canned fruit mentioned in the blog is 100% off the land. Nothing store bought.
After a terrible episode trying to use my KA strainer attachment with the grapes (later I read slip-skin type grapes are not to be used with this attachment, oops), I was hesitant to experiment with the apples. I psyched myself up then chunked up 18lbs of apples: uncored & unpeeled. When I cooked them with a little water until soft then ran them through the KA it was like magic just happened. Right there in front of me. Just happened. It was truly beautiful. Easy-Peasy. The apples got fed into the hopper at top (with added extra large tray), pushed down lightly with the plunger and out came the pureed apples on one end and the other end spit out the core, seeds, and skins. Fabulous!!! The applesauce went into two crock pots to simmer for the day and the next day we canned Spiced Maple-Apple Butter and Honey-Ginger Apple Butter.
We also took my parents to our local LDS canning facility and let them have fun canning a bunch of rolled oats, wheat, and sugar! Over the years I have shared our knowledge of food storage and they are really understanding the fun and benefit of it. The other day Cowboy made them some cream of wheat after grinding some fresh wheat on our mill. The looks on their faces were priceless as they said, "this tastes just like Ralston growing up and we can't find this stuff anywhere!". We are already in the negotiation phase of grinding them up a bunch to take back home.
And in other wonderful news: Martha, our "Miss Personality" Americauna, laid our very first egg yesterday! It was such an exciting moment for the entire family. Mom came running in the house from hanging clothes on the line, exclaiming the good find and wouldn't allow anyone else out of the house to witness it until we all were downstairs together as a group. We cheered and whistled and gave Martha a few extra treats in celebration. It was a small little blue-green egg but we were as proud as if she just laid the notorious golden egg!
Blue-green and speckled
Martha's egg among the "dairy farm" eggs. She's tiny but a mighty flavor bomb!
Martha's vibrant orange yolk on left.
Nom Nom Nom!
That night I sat on the living room floor and read sections of my chicken book to re-familiarize myself with the whole laying process. The book stated that although it takes 25hrs for an egg to be formed, it could take 3-4 days for the "new-laying" chicken to lay another egg. Surprise, surprise Martha laid a second one today! 1.8oz and just as pretty blue-green pastel as the previous one.
Life couldn't be better!
Life couldn't be better!