If you have an apple tree or two, you know how easy it can be to wind up with an abundance of apples! But there is no such thing as an over-abundance or even a "bad crop of apples"; once you learn the beauty of preserves. (And, actually, especially so if you have a bunch that are going soft or are otherwise scabby or bruised.) After you have given away some apples to neighbours and friends, made apple pies, apple chutney, apple butter, apple muffins, apple cider and apple you-name-it ... and even eaten your "apple a day", if you find yourself with left-over apples, don't discount making up a great big batch of applesauce - even if you can't see yourself eating it! Because here are some of the many uses for applesauce ...
Easy to thaw! Simply remove from freezer the night before and defrost in fridge. Or, place jar in a bowl of warm water until thawed enough to remove. You will probably need to stir your applesauce before serving. Not enough sugar? Simply reheat your applesauce with a little extra bit of sugar to taste.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2019
I hate to throw out food. It has just gotten too dear to fool around with!
Before Christmas and New Year's we purchase all kinds of groceries and goodies. We bake and cook - sometimes a little too much in anticipation of guests (Note: 2020-not this year of course!), and just in the spirit of abundance that the Yule Season represents. Hopefully, you have been freezing all your leftovers along the way - especially those best cuts of turkey.
I recommend taking a good look inside your fridge ... and now! Because that food is going to spoil if you don't get to it very soon. It's too easy to forget about something you bought and didn't use and that is now buried in the fridge, which is overly-stuffed with bits and pieces and leftovers. So do a proper clean-out to make sure you are saving as much of that food as possible.
What's in your fridge?
Take a good look on each and every shelf. Push everything aside so you know what is really in there. Remove all spoiled food and compost it, wrap up for the "green bin" (if your city provides that kind of recycling service) or toss out. Don't forget to reuse all those plastic, glass or metal containers ... if you haven't been using your very own covered dishes that is!
Now take a look at what is left and prioritize. Do you have extra cheeses, vegetables and sauces? Make them part of the next few nights dinner plans so they don't go to waste, with these ideas:
~ Post-Christmas Dinner Plans ~
Various kinds of cheeses from cheese platters, sour cream, homemade dips =
"Put-It-All-Together" Macaroni & Cheese
Find the recipe here: february-when-theres-snow-on-the-snowdrops.html
Cherry tomatoes from finger food veg platters =
Spaghetti sauce or addition to salads. Or preserve and freeze to use as tomato sauce later on in the year.
Instructions here: january-make-even-more-of-the-food-you-buy-by-reincarnating-it.html
Left-over root vegetables like turnips, parsnips, carrots and potatoes =
Roast and serve as a side dish with meatloaf or fish dish.
Left-over vegetables like brussel sprouts, broccoli, carrots, celery and peppers =
Stir fries, soups, omelets or cut up for snacking with hummus.
Left-over tortilla chips, salsa, sour cream and cheeses =
Left-over (or soft) mandarin oranges = Orange Slush
This is the absolute best! DO NOT throw out soft or wrinkled mandarin oranges. Wash, cut in half and juice. Pour the juice into a blender together with desired amount of sugar and some crushed ice. Blend and pour into glasses. Sooooo sweet!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2019 / edited 2020
Like cranberries with your turkey but dislike that "stuff in a can"? There is still just enough time to make your own for Christmas dinner!
Set the bag of frozen cranberries on the counter to thaw. Peel and coarsely chop the apples and lemon. Try and chop the raisins a little bit too! Then put apples, lemon and cranberries into food processor / chopper, a few at a time, until coarsely chopped. Remove and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped raisins. Then add all the sugar and mix thoroughly until completely mixed. Let stand for 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan, mix water, brandy and pectin. Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour over the fruit and sugar. Continue stirring for another 3 minutes until well mixed but don't worry if a few fruit pectin crystals remain.
Pour into sterilized jars and seal tightly. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Will store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or freeze to keep longer.
It's Christmas Eve and I know you have lots to do ... but since you are probably in the kitchen anyway, you might have just enough time to whip up a batch of fresh Cranberry Apple Chutney to accompany the Christmas turkey this year .. and impress the heck out of folks!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018
So many apples! We've made Apple Pies, Apple Cider, Apple Sauce, Apple Muffins, given apples away, each eaten the recommended "apple a day" and ... here is the latest batch of goodies - Apple Chutney!
Last year, our apple trees didn't produce too much, so I didn't put up any chutney. This year I was delighted to be able to make a large batch. I thought I followed the recipe I used two years ago, but I guess I looked at a different version ... in a different cookbook! (Meadow Sweet Grove has quite a few cookbooks ... some inherited, some rescued). This time, a happy mistake was made! I thought the chutney looked a very deep red, I thought it smelled a little different; but I couldn't figure out the difference.
I gave a sample to the"top taster" here at the Grove, and was told it had a "delicious heat" and tasted just like Red Pepper Jelly! So I consulted my recipe from last year:
Apple Chutney Recipe: its-apple-harvest-time.html
... and have ascertained the difference!
I had doubled up on the red peppers, practically eliminated the yellow pepper (I'm a big fan of using what you have on hand ... and I only had a small portion of a yellow pepper available). I used regular old white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar. And the last "mistake" is a little habit of mine (sometimes not always appreciated) - I upped the spice - in this case, cayenne pepper ... just a smidge you understand.
The result is fantastic!
Enjoy with crackers and a sharp white cheddar.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018
Summer is almost over. Did I just say that? No worries - capture the essence and feeling of summer by making rose petal jam!
This jam is really easy to make. I am continually astounded by how much our small city garden gives in the Grove. Our roses have been really abundant this year and I discovered that there are many recipes with which you can use or include rose petals such as: rose petal jam or jelly, garnishments for salads, rose vinegar dressing and more!
Collect rose petals and make some jam now with this simple recipe!
You will need:
- equal parts rose petals and berry sugar
- juice of one lemon
- canning jars
... and a little pectin (if required)
Step 1: Collect the rose petals
Pick petals from your loveliest roses and choose only those free from blemish. For this recipe, I used approximately 250g / 8 ounces of petals.
Step 2: Wash rose petals, dust with sugar and chill
Rinse the rose petals with cool water, discarding any with blemish. Drain well and crush lightly in your hands with a bit of berry sugar, making sure to bruise each petal slightly. Place in bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Step 3: Making the jam
Pour 1/2 litre of water into a saucepan, together with 250 g berry sugar and the juice of one lemon. Bring to a boil, stirring all the time. Add the crushed rose petals, reduce heat, and continue at medium heat, stirring constantly until jam consistency and setting point is reached. Add 1/2 package of powdered pectin if necessary.
Step 4: Preparing the jam for storage
Properly sterilize your canning equipment. I usually achieve this by boiling jars, rims, seals and any utensils I will be using. Spoon the jam into jars and seal tightly. Store as appropriate for the canning method you use. Enjoy with toast, croissants or scones on a rainy day when you are dreaming of summer ...
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018
It's been hot all day and now the house is stifling! But you need to serve dinner. It's too hot to light the stove! But you need to serve dinner. It's too hot to eat food that is even warm, let alone hot! But you need to serve dinner. Ploughman's Lunch to the rescue! Not just for lunch ....
This is without a doubt, the best meal to serve on a hot summer's day. It is so simple, most everyone loves a good sandwich and they can assemble to suit their taste - and best of all - no cooking required!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018
Time to Go Thrifting
Many people may have made a New Year's Resolution this January 1st to "clear the clutter" and get organized. When taking those unwanted items in for donation to your local thrift store or charity stop - do make sure you check inside the store to see what's on offer.
Many people donate unwanted Christmas presents in January or donate the items that those gifts replaced. Sometimes they donate better quality items than the new replacements they received!
For example, someone might donate their "out-dated" English bone china dishes or funky 70s Japanese stoneware. For the lover of antique, retro, quality or just plain eclectic dishware -- your local thrift store becomes a treasure trove!
Charity shops often have promotions too, like any other retailer, at this time of the year, to make up for low sales - so make a note of those dates and bring your donations in on those discount days.
Some Thrifty Tips
January is also a time of year when many people are cutting back on their expenses. For some, there is more tax deducted off the pay cheque starting in January. Others overspent at Christmas, or feel the need to take a holiday somewhere warm. Whatever the reason for a light wallet in January - there are many thrifty ways to stretch your dollars.
~ Reuse food containers in your kitchen ~
Isn't it silly that we buy containers to freeze or store our food in - when we throw perfectly good containers into the recycling bin every day? Containers that are already bought and paid for. Recent news has led me to believe that many of the items we faithfully recycle are not being recycled at all - but shipped to other countries for disposal in their landfills and even oceans. This, of course, defeats the purpose of recycling which is to keep the items out of Mother Nature's belly!
Here's a number of re-uses for those many containers that make their way into your home:
The best! Use for dry beans and lentils, pasta, popcorn and rice. Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water and freeze homemade applesauce and crushed tomatoes (make sure you leave a good inch or so at the top for expansion). Use for non-food items like: nails, screws, tacks, beads, paper clips, seed pods and any other small items that need organization.
Yogurt, margarine, sour cream, cream cheese, and those funky plastic take-away/delivery containers - anything that is packaged in an opaque plastic tub can be re-used. Use them to freeze left-overs, extra tomato sauce and chicken broth. Keep them handy to send guests home with left-overs, children to school with cut veggies, cookies and cupcakes for school parties and for numerous other non-food uses like: crayons, craft/painting supplies, pet food - just don't get the two mixed up!
Bread Bags & Cereal Boxes
Those many bread bags basically replace plastic wraps! Okay, they don't "cling", but many food items we wrap up don't need that feature. Use them to wrap cheese and to freeze extra portions of raw meat like ground beef and chicken. Cut them in half and use them to wrap sandwiches and snacks for lunches. Collect dry seed pods in the summer or fall and shake the bag. All the seeds will collect beautifully in the bottom of the bag (I learned this trick from a wonderful old Yorkshireman). Talk about thrifty! He even cut up his empty cereal boxes for a re-use as shopping lists.
~ Join a Local "Buy Nothing" or "Gifting" Group ~
If you are on Facebook, do a search for a "buy nothing" or "gifting" group in your local area. The premise is usually that everyone posts pictures of items that they are willing to give away for free. Read the rules carefully as each group is different, but usually, you are required to post a picture and short description of an item you no longer need. People express interest by commenting on the post and you pick a recipient and leave the item on your doorstep for them to collect at a pre-arranged time. You likewise comment on posts of items that others are gifting in the hopes that you will be the lucky winner. I have met some wonderful people this way and have received many amazing household items ... and helped to de-clutter my own home in the bargain!
One man's trash is another man's treasure.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018 / edited 2019 & 2023
~ Never throw food out ~
Save Vegetable Peelings/Cuttings & Leftover Bits of Chicken
Chicken broth is relatively inexpensive at the store and available in tins or tetra packs. But why pay for anything that is so easy to make and for which you already have the ingredients? You do have the time if you remember your freezer. Just keep a bread bag in the freezer closed with a twist tie. Next time you are chopping or peeling vegetables (especially carrots, onions, broccoli and celery), toss all the good bits that you would ordinarily throw away, into that bag and keep them frozen. Wrap up any leftover bits of cooked chicken and freeze separately. Now, and at your leisure, you may make up a batch of chicken stock whenever you choose. Simply tip the various little bags of frozen veg and chicken into a large pot. Add black pepper, parsley and a bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer. When ready, pour over a strainer into ceramic bowls. Use immediately or transfer, when tepid, into plastic containers for freezing. And if you are lucky enough to have a left-over chicken carcass, you can immediately add the frozen veg directly into the pan to make your broth. Don't forget to check the bottom of your crisper bins in the fridge! Often there are some veg "on the way out" that can be easily added to the broth.
Save Soft Tomatoes
Tomatoes starting to soften in the refrigerator? Bad on one side? Put them in a large metal mixing bowl, boil a kettle and pour over top. When cool enough to touch, make a slight cut -- the skins should peel off easily. Slightly chop, discarding any spoiled pieces, and place the remainder in a medium pot. Reduce to mush over medium to low heat. Ladle into sterilized mason jars (just boil jars and lids rapidly for a couple of minutes in a large pot of water), add a small squirt of lemon and sprinkle of rock salt on top and seal jars. Freeze when they reach room temperature. Now you have some wonderful crushed tomatoes for your next spaghetti, lasagna or other pasta dish!
If you are in a hurry, simply wash the whole tomatoes in cool water, dry and freeze in a bread bag. You can then add the frozen tomatoes directly to any pasta sauce or soup you are making at a later date - just takes a little longer to break them down.
Save Bits & Pieces of Cheese / Odds & Ends of Bread
Cheese is so incredibly expensive ... at least in Meadow Sweet Grove. The fairies in Britain often come to visit their little cousins in the Grove and are shocked at the price of cheese! So, every time you slice cheese for snacking, or grate cheese for a meal, make sure you save the little leftover bits, wrapped up tight in the refrigerator. Start a bread bag in the fridge for left-over bread - that last slice no one seems to eat, the broken crust, etc. Also, don't throw out that last bit of sour cream, cottage cheese or unflavoured yogurt - unless it truly is off of course!
Banana Bread of course! A tasty snack anytime and perfect for kid's lunchboxes.
These are just a few ways to save food that you might otherwise have thrown out. Once you get used to the idea, you will discover many, many more ways to use up food that you thought had no life left in it, or was too small to save - and start saving lots on that shocking grocery bill!
Next week for you: Two recipes -
"Pull-It-All-Together Macaroni & Cheese" & Delicious Banana Bread
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017
© Meadow Sweet Grove / V. Buchanan, 2016 edited 2021
Meadow Sweet Grove © Vicki Buchanan, 2016
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