Apples & Change

An exercise in changing your perspective

One of my favorite quotes has always been the simple saying: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” The more I have thought about these words, the more they seemed to change for me, and I marveled at the depth of such a simple statement.

So this article is about change and renewal. Change and renewal for each of us. Simply take something that is important to you, and change the way you look at it. Bring a new perspective, shed a new light, fabricate a new pulse, and create a new vision from an old idea, re-new energy. For something you already know… dust it off and shuffle it around, until you come up with a fresh, new vision… It can be as simple as re-arranging the furniture and adding a new set of slip covers, getting down on your knees and looking your child in the eye, laying in the grass and looking up at the clouds… or adding a new spice to an apple pie.

A New Taste for Apple Pie
The next time you make your favorite apple pie, try throwing in a handful of cranberries, and a bit of orange zest.

Adjust Your Focus
One time I was invited in to view a beautiful home that I had always admired. The hostess ushered me to a beautiful and spacious living room. It was summer and she had arranged her furniture to face outward, toward a beautiful lake-front view. In the winter, she turns the furniture back to focus on a cozy fireplace and the beautiful objects of her interior. I thought that was such a great idea… changing what she looked at and when, according to the seasons.

A Spin on Baked Apples
Add some raisins or “craisins” (dried cranberries) to the butter/sugar filling you put in the apples. Serve the baked apples warm in deep bowls, with half-and-half cream to pour over them.

Take a trip… really close by
Do you have a guest room?  Have you ever slept in it?  Check it out. Sometime, just for the fun of it, treat yourself to a night spent “as a guest” in your very own home… Pamper yourself with all the amenities you save for your guests. Wake up in the morning to a different view! Just another way to get a different perspective… granted, you still have to get up in the morning and get your own coffee, but I bet you’ll feel like you’ve been on a mini vacation!

How to Change an Apple
With it being back to school time I thought an apple would be a simple way to explore “changing how we look at something.”

Add  Zing to Your Favorite Apple Crisp
The next time you make an apple crisp, add a handful of RedHots® (hot, cinnamon candies) to the recipe.

A Fresh Look: The Versatile Apple

Think of as many craft projects as you can, involving apples:

  • They can be cut and carved and used as stencils, to make mono prints (one-of-a-kind prints) using inks on fabrics, or paper, or note cards.
  • They can be covered with peanut butter, dredged in birdseed, and hung outside for the birds and squirrels.
  • They can be simmered with spices on the back of the stove for instant potpourri.
  • They can be shined up and put in a pretty bowl for an edible centerpiece.
  • Hollow out the tops of the apples, to the size of votive candles, and plunk some in. Or use them as bases for taller-taper candles. Or you could even make floating candles.
  • Live in the woods? “Deer Apples” (bruised, overly ripe or deformed apples) can be put out for the deer to feast on. (Right now we have a doe and her fawn, and a yearling cutting through our backyard on their evening sojourn.)
  • Make apple butter! (See the recipe below)

As you can see…even with the apple there is more than meets the eye! Remember: If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!

Old Fashioned Apple Butter

There is no better time to make apple butter than in the fall, when we have so many tart, crisp apples at our disposal.  Contrary to its name, Apple Butter has no “butter” in it…the name comes from its smooth, buttery consistency, after being simmered and simmered and simmered and reduced and reduced and reduced some more until thick and brown and buttery. Served on buttered toast, it is an absolute delight.

Since I am the “Rush Hour Cook” and I have no idea how to make apple butter (I just buy it in the jar, finding the best brand I can)…. I asked my Mom for help. My Mom can remember her mother-in-law and her great aunt, making apple butter…diligently standing over the stove for hours, stirring and stirring, until they could ladle the thickened result into sterilized jars.

I took a peek on the internet, and there are many new, revised, relatively-quick ways to make this wonderful treat…however, my mother suggests the following, old fashioned recipe, designed to be made in a slow-cooker-crockery-pot (which is just the ticket for this long-cooking recipe).

How to Sterilize Jars:

  • Lay a clean towel out on the kitchen counter. On top of the stove bring an inch or so of water to a boil in a shallow 9 X 13 metal pan.
  • While water is coming to a boil, initially hand-wash and rinse the jars and lids, etc.
  • Then place the clean jars, mouth side down, in the boiling water.
  • Nestle in the lids and any utensils you are going to use (like tongs and metal ladle, etc). You will notice that the water will “suck up” into the jars.
  • After about 10 minutes, using your long handled tongs (that have been sterilized also) gently remove each jar from the water and place, mouth side up, on the towel. Any moisture-droplets, steam, etc will evaporate out of the jars.
You are then ready to fill your jars, with whatever you are making. Fill jars only up to their “shoulder” and with a paper towel, wipe any spills or drips from the rim (as they will prevent the jars from sealing properly).

Some people go on to add a layer of melted paraffin over the mixture in each jar, before putting on the lids–however I don’t feel that this is any longer necessary, since we have such wonderful, one-time-use-self-sealing lids. Most grocery stores or hardware stores will carry all the Mason® brand jars and lids, etc that you will need.

Let Jars Set
Right after you have filled the jars and cleaned any drips from their rims, put on the one-time-use, self-sealing lids and tighten. Let jars sit and cool, undisturbed until you hear the lids “popping” when they indent. The indented, or now concave, lids show you that you have a perfect seal on each jar. Store in a dark, cool pantry or cupboard.  Once opened, store in the refrigerator.

Label & Date

Be sure to label and date your precious contents!

Give it a try!

I think this sounds like fun…and a good “family project” for a rainy day or a leisurely autumn Saturday.  From start to finish there are a lot of different steps each member of the family could partake in…ending with an old fashioned product and a sense of what our generations went through before us to “put up” food for the long winter.

Mother’s Apple Butter

  • 4 to 5 pounds of tart, cooking apples, peeled, cored and seeds removed, finely cut up
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 3 cups sugar (some people use less)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons cinnamon (or to taste; some recipes call for cloves and allspice in  small amounts also; this is totally up to your taste buds)
  • Pinch of salt
  • *Sterilized, small (jam size) mason jars for storage (see directions above)

Put the cut-up apples in the slow-cooker. Add the cider, sugar and spices. Don’t forget a pinch of salt. Stir to blend.

Cover with lid and cook on high setting for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to low setting, slightly vent the cover with a toothpick, and continue cooking for 10 to as much as 15 more hours, or until mixture reduces to a very thick, dark brown “jam” (the pectin inherent in the apples will do its automatic “thickening trick”). Stir occasionally, while cooking and then replace lid, slightly vented each time.  cooking times may vary with brand and style of slow cooker.

(The slow-cooker is a wonderful appliance to use, rather than stove top cooking, as there is less chance of scorching the delicate butter.)  Ladle hot apple butter into *sterilized jars. Immediately screw the sterilized lids on the filled jars and leave undisturbed on the counter to cool, until you hear the lids “pop” and indent, forming a vacuum. Your Apple Butter is now set to enjoy, and even give as gifts—decorating the jars to your liking.

–recipe furnished by my awesome Mom,
“The Un-Rushed Rush Hour Cook”


Comments

Apples & Change — 2 Comments

  1. What a wonderful idea, looking at things from different angles. Maybe even looking at situations from an other’s point of view. All enlarge my range of vision and expand my horizons.

  2. Beautiful idea, I think today when I drive home I will take and entirely different route just to change things up 😀

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