Epic Failure – Epic Success!

So, remember the sourdough starter that wanted to take over the world?  I ended up making a second batch from it in order to bake my very first sourdough bread loaf!  Everything went according to plan and I got a beautiful loaf of bread, plus a pan of biscuits as well.

bread loaf 1Looks great doesn’t it!

After baking for 45 minutes or so I got a beautiful golden brown loaf.  See how yummy it looks!

bread loaf 2

While it may look yummy, the reality was dense and brick-like.  Bleh!  Not yummy at all!  Obviously I need to find a different recipe.  The one I used was called a “no knead” recipe.  Sourdough obviously needs to be kneaded and allowed to rise, again and again.  The rolls (sorry, didn’t take a picture) turned out okay because I let them rise for an hour while the bread was baking.  They would have been better and fluffier if I’d punched them down and let them rise again.  {Sigh} Lesson learned.

I needed a boost, cooking-wise, so I decided to make apple butter.  It is apple season and all of the stores are carrying apples for $.99/lb.  No, I didn’t get the organic apples (shame on me).  I found an amazingly easy apple butter recipe using my crockpot.  Just pile as many peeled, cored, and cubed apples as will fit in my large crockpot, add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 T cinnamon, 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/4 t ground cloves, and 1/4 t salt.

apple day 6

Set the crockpot for 10 hours.  Cook (in my case, while sleeping).  Stir down, add 1 t vanilla.  Cook another 2 hours (I set the lid on crooked so the steam could escape and the apples would cook down to a nice thick consistency).  Blend with immersion blender.  Put in prepared pint or half-pint jars and process in water bath for 10 minutes.  Super easy and super yummy.  Just be sure and cook the apple butter down to the consistency you prefer.  Some like it very thick.  Some like it a little runny.  The taste is the same though.  This recipe is a keeper.  Guess what friends and family are getting in a Christmas basket this year?

Buoyed by a big success with apple butter the logical thing to do is make more apple stuff!  I called in the troops again (mom and sister), bought more apples (we ended up buying about 50 pounds total of green and assorted red apples) and spent nearly two days in the kitchen making…………

12 quarts apples for baking

5 quarts apple sauce (no sugar added.  We did add 4 very soft pears to sweeten things up a bit)

9 pints and 8 half-pints apple butter (the first batch went so well we made two more!)

1 pint and 9 half-pints apple-tomato chutney (so amazingly yummy! – recipe from Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving)

5 pints and 9 half-pints spiced apple peel jelly  (yep, that’s using the cores and peels.  No waste in my kitchen!)

Want to see the finished product?

apple day 1

From epic failure with the sourdough brick (I mean bread) to epic success with all things apples I’m feeling pretty good right about now!

If you did the math, and I’m sure you did, you will notice that we spent over $50 for the apples and new jars.  However, if you were to go to the store and purchase all of the quarts and pints listed it would cost much more than $50.  Plus, I know exactly what is in my jars of apple loveliness AND I can pronounce all of it!

I love walking into my pantry and seeing all of the food stuffs that I canned myself.  To date I have cherry preserves (only one jar left.  No more strawberry or blueberry preserves), dill pickles, chicken stock, beef stock, and all of the apple butter, jelly, chutney, sauce, and pie apples that I kept.  I’d say that’s a good start on my desire to learn to can what I grow or buy locally.  Some day I will have a garden and all of my new found knowledge will come in handy.

I’ll continue to work on bread making.  I think my next goal is to learn to dry herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes as well as for tea.  I love herb tea in the evening.  I have a peppermint plant that I’m trying not to kill.  I’m hoping to be able to have plenty of peppermint tea all Fall and Winter.

So there you have it!  Anyone out there have any canning or cooking stories or any goals to acquire new skills in the kitchen?

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