Growin’ Stuff

Daily expected (and unplanned) hectic-ness on the farm, launch of our non-profit organisation and its projects, development of my new venture providing workshops on personal development, and Nils' family visiting have kept us just a leeeettle bit busy, and erratic internet connections have made my "I must blog more consistently" conviction wane. If you're not following us on Facebook (where we post quickie updates via iPhone), you haven't seen us for quite awhile.

In an effort toward being a better blogger, through the month of April, I'll be trying to blog every day (except Sundays) as part of AtoZChallenge. For 26 days, we blog on different subjects following the letters of the alphabet. 

Today's posting is brought to you by the letter A

When I said I was going to post on this subject, several people said,

"Don't Post That!" 

"Don't give away this secret. You could make a business out of this.", "I'd be happy to buy this. You could make a lot of money.", "Delicious! Make this professionally. I'd sell this at my shop!", "Don't just give it away … except to me, of course."

Only one person said, "Do it!" She strongly believes in the Abundance Mindset, that there are sufficient resources and success to share with others. I'm simply delighted when something I make or create brings joy, and passing it onward is a true win-win. Others might just say, "The more you give, the more you receive." Any and all of these scenarios work for me! 

Besides, what I have is really no secret. If you grew up on the East Coast of the United States, you might even have your own. Though, those from elsewhere, especially from other countries, could be unfamiliar with it, and may even find it — as did friends and acquaintances here in South Africa — exotic. 

Today, A is for Apple Butter

For those to whom this is new, according to Wikipedia, Apple Butter dates back to colonial America. As I know it from visits to Pennsylvania Dutch country, I would hazard to guess it (or something similar) was brought over to America by the Germans (the Deutsch).

Contrary to what its name suggests, apple butter does not contain butter. "Butter" refers to the thick, smooth, buttery texture.

According to all who have tasted mine, I've concocted a great recipe here. Great chefs of the world will, no doubt, turn their noses up. I'm a believer in K.I.S.S. and as long as it doesn't impact taste or texture, I WILL cut corners to Keep It Simply Simple!

Easiest, Awesome-est Apple Butter (Slow Cooker Style)

Makes approximately 4 pints or 2 litres 
Recommend you start this in the evening and let it cook through the night.
INGREDIENTS
  • 6 pounds (3 kilos) apples* – peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (220 g) light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (or you can also use 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS

1.  Place the apples in a slow cooker.

2.  Add the two sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom (or cloves) and salt.

3.  Cook on low for about 10 hours (or longer, if you want to sleep in), stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and evenly dark brown.

4.  Stir in vanilla.

5.  Continue cooking uncovered (to thicken) on low for another 2 hours (or so, this is NOT a recipe that requires precision).

6.  Puree the apple butter with a stick blender or regular stationary blender until consistently smooth.

7.  Spoon into sterile containers.

8.  or, spread and eat immediately!

9.  Refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze.

* I used our own harvest of apples, and frankly I'm not sure what type they are except tart! I prefer using these or similar like Granny Smith, Winesap, Rome, or Johnathan that have a bit of a bite, but any apples will do. Keep in mind, if you use sweeter apples like Delicious or Gala you may want to cut back on the sugar.
 
So there. There's my "secret." 

I hope you enjoy, and please pass it forward if you do.

Rainy day on the dam

It's rainy season here in the Drakensberg Mountains and lemme tell ya, it's pretty darn gray and depressing.
 

Even the dogs are looking depressed these days.

 
But nature compensates for everything and this is no exception at Chrysalis Farm. 
  1. Since I can't do all the outdoor things I need to do, I can actually write this very, very overdue blog posting, and 
  2. with all this rain (102 mm in November according to Nils, my precise German engineer), our porcini are starting to pop up all over the place!!

And here we have …

... our first harvest this year.

 
Nils and I (and a few friends online) imagined some elaborate recipes for our "firsts", but our stomachs and greed took over. "Let's do something good and fast!"
 
Porcini mushrooms have a fairly strong and very distinct taste of their own. We saw no reason to distract our tastebuds, so decided to do something simple that would do justice to our first harvest.
 

I sautéed an onion and garlic in olive oil.

 

And added the roughly sliced porcini.

 

We served it up over pasta, and Nils grated some fresh parmesan on top.

 
And soon we had 
 

THIS!

 
But before that we had

THAT!

 
Okay, perhaps it's not the most colorful of dishes — rather beige on a gray day, huh? But its flavors and aroma were vibrant and intense. It helped make up for the rainy day.
 
#1 rule of thumb: if you have good ingredients, keep it simple so the true flavors shine through.  (scroll down for the recipe!)
 

 

 

RECIPE

PORCINI PASTA
Servings: 2 
 
Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cups roughly cut Porcini mushrooms*
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped (we're garlic lovers and aren't socializing today, so we used 3)
  • 1/3 cup good quality olive oil
  • 2 cups of fusilli (corkscrew) pasta (approx. 230 grams or 8 oz)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Fresh grated Parmesan
*If using dried porcini, combine about 1 ounce (30 g) of mushrooms with 3/4 cup of warm water. Let stand for approximately 30 minutes or until mushrooms soften. Squeeze excess liquid from mushrooms before using. (do not throw out the liquid, save it and/or freeze it for another sauce or soup)
 
Instructions:
  1. Brush clean your porcini with a paper towel or soft mushroom brush, cut off tough parts of the stem, and cut out any yellow spore sections under the cap (only found if the porcini are very large). Note: never wash your mushrooms in water, it will "water down" the taste and destroy the texture. The "great chefs" will probably tell you not to use the stems, but I don't believe in wasting such precious delectables.
  2. Roughly chop one large onion and 2 garlic cloves.
  3. Heat water to a rolling boil. 
  4. Add pasta to water and cook according to instructions on your package (unless you make your own pasta and if so, you get my respect big time!)
  5. Heat pan and add olive oil (or if using a non-stick coated or ceramic pan, add oil first and then heat).
  6. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic. 
  7. Stir and heat until onions "glisten" and the garlic turns golden.
  8. Add porcini and saute and turn for another 2 minutes or so.
  9. Add salt and ground pepper to taste.
  10. Spoon "sauce" over your pasta. 
  11. Grate fresh parmesan on top.
  12. Enjoy this simple pleasure of life.

 

 

Nils has started building raised beds for the vegetable garden.

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From The Tao of Pooh, "Through working in harmony with life's circumstances, Taoist understanding changes what others may perceive as negative into something positive."

Our newly-adopted dog, Solo, has quickly become "family". We couldn't ask for a more loving, intelligent, loyal, or playful dog. He's perfect in nearly every way. 
 
Nearly. 

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Sawubona*


Hi! I'm Corinne.
After many years of meeting challenges of the corporate world as a (moderately) Type-A city gal, I embark with my DH, Nils, on a completely different adventure in living.

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*Sawubona means "Hello" in Zulu.
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