November 27, 2013

Dehydrated apples

This time of year I go a bit nuts with making things; Baking cookies, making meals to freeze, dehydrating fruits and berries, and even making Christmas gifts.  My will to keep making seems to run strong until well after the first of the year.  Of course my making seems to save us a ton of money in the long run though, and it helps use up most of the items in the fridge or cabinet before they expire too.  One of the main things I love making is dehydrated apples.  


The great thing about Oregon is that apples come into season in late July and stay in season until late November, so for a good four months apples are a great go-to snack in our house.  When fall rolls around, I love dehydrating what's left in order to eat clear through the winter months.  We actually got lucky with our son, in the fact that he would rather have a bowl of dehydrated apples, or berries over candy.  And they are a great snack with those sugar cravings hit!

Here is a simple, yet delicious dehydrated apples recipe that can be used on all varieties of apples.  

Start with good quality apples.  I like to use Fuji apples, or Granny Smith, but any variety can be used depending on your taste.  Red Delicious I have found does brown a lot when they are dehydrated, and don't seem to hold their taste once dried, but other varieties work great!  For this recipe we used all Fuji apples.


Once the apples are gathered, they need to be washed well.  I peel the skin off of the apples, but you can leave it on.  I have found that the skin isn't all that tasty and loses a lot of its appeal once dried though.

To wash the apples and remove the food-grade wax completely, combine one part baking soda to one part lemon juice.  Depending on how many apples you have.  I can clean about eight apples with a 1 tbs. to 1 tbs. mixture.  Just fill your kitchen sink with about one gallon of warm water, add in your baking soda, and lemon juice.  Allow the apples to sit for about 20 minutes, then use a small vegetable brush, or nail brush (that's used for only food) and brush the apples well.  Rinse the apples in warm water to remove any wax sitting on the surface.  The water in your sink should be a nice, waxy, gross color now.  Blah!

Once your apples are rinsed it's time to gather the rest of your supplies.  For one, you will need an apple corer.  I use a manual, hand corer, but I have my heart set on this one here.  You will also need a food peeler, a measuring cup, a medium-sized bowl, one-quart of lemon juice, one-quart of water, a knife, a cutting board, and a food dehydrator.  (If you don't own a food dehydrator, you can do the dehydrating in your oven)  

Although the manual corer works very well, it would be nice to have one that did the entire motion with just a crank of the hand.  The manual corer pictured here is Progressive brand and comes with a plunger to help remove the core bits after they are gathered.  You can pick one up for under $6 here.

We cored about 24 apples.  Skylar helped by popping out the core and handing me the apples to peel.  It was great teamwork.


Then peeled them, which took about 45 minutes.  So as you can see the automatic one would be nice.  

The apple peels are going to a nice addition to my compost pile.



Once the apples are cored and peeled, add one quart of lemon juice and one quart of water to a large bowl or pitcher.  Place the apples into the mixture to sit for about five minutes before cutting.


Next, slice the apples into rings and place back into the lemon/water mixture for another five minutes.

Place the apple rings in your dehydrator in a single layer and dehydrate on 135 degrees for six to eight hours.  I use a Nesco dehydrator and it takes about six hours to get the apples rings to where we like them. 

After dehydrating I immediately place them in Ball jars with tight-fitting lids and store in our cold storage (not the refrigerator).  A cold storage can be anything from a room under your home to your garage.  If it stays cold throughout the winter months, then use it to your advantage.  


You can even jar these up, place a nice tag on them, and give them as gifts this year.  Or just eat them right out of the jar!

Enjoy!


Eco-Tip:  To learn about ways you can have food on hand no matter what time of year it is from D-Day Prep.  Learn about other foods you can dehydrate as well.  The best way to be prepared is to create a food storage of endless possibilities inside your own home.  For this and other tips on going green visit, The Earth and Me:  Go Green.

November 26, 2013

A twist on the No-Bake Oatmeal/Peanut Butter Cookies

This past week Skylar and I sat down and made us some cookies.  Not just any cookies though, we made no-bake cookies!    We should have made more than two dozen because these yummy cookies were gone by the end of the next day.  Here is our twist on the no-bake oatmeal cookies.


What you'll need:

• Medium sauce pan
• Large mixing bowl
• Wooden spoon
• Cookie sheet
• Wax paper/Plastic wrap

Ingredients:

• 1/4 cup 1% milk
• 1 cup of sugar (we like to use organic sugar)
• 4 tablespoons of butter
• 4 tablespoons cocoa
• 1/4 chunky peanut butter
• 1/4 cup Nutella butter
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 2-3 cups uncooked rolled oats


1.  Line a cookie sheet, cutting board, or large plate with wax paper, or plastic wrap.  

2.  In a medium sauce pan heat the milk, add the sugar, butter, and cocoa.  Bring to a low boil and dissolve the sugar completely.  Reduce the heat and add in the peanut butter, Nutella, and vanilla. 

3.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for five minutes.  Add the mixture to the rolled oats in a large bowl and mix to combine.  

4.  Drop large tablespoons of the mixture onto the lined cookie sheet and allow to dry for about two-four hours.  24 hours is best to solidify the cookies completely.



Skylar had the idea to add white chocolate chips to the batch too!  We will be trying that one next!

Enjoy!


Eco-Tip:  A green way to get rid of stubborn stains in the shower, or kitchen sink use lemon juice and baking soda.  Sprinkle baking soda on the stubborn area and then add a bit of lemon juice.  Let sit until the bubbling stops and then scrub with sponge until clean.  This method also works on clothing with stains.  A bit of elbow grease and it's gone.  For this and other tips on going green visit, The Earth and Me:  Go Green.

November 22, 2013

Five on Friday: Spark of Loves this Week

"TGIF" Thank Goodness It's Friday.  Happy Friday.  It's the weekend. YAY!



1.  This Day.
Because Sundays are the best days to be lazy and this Sunday last week was the best!  While being lazy we also baked some Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits and they were yummy! 

2.  This Learning.


Because we've been learning to count back money in the Red Snail Classroom, and Skylar picked it up so fast!  He wants to have a mock grocery store next week and price everything to give back change.  I think it is a wonderful idea!

3.  These Cookies.

Because we all made them together, but Skylar did the most work.  He was so proud to say he made some cookies.  

4.  These Apples.
Because they tasted wonderful after being dehydrated.  We are making more this weekend, A LOT MORE, and are going to add them to our stash of prep foods we are building.

5.  This Moment.


Because when Skylar reads to me, we both learn from each other.  And to be honest with you, nothing is better than hearing what a great personality you child has.

We are in the middle of winter here already.  Last night I had to bring in a lot of my plants because it got as low as 20 degrees!  I hope with it getting this cold already, we get a little of the white powder during December or January.



Eco-Tip:  Instead of throwing out something you don't want anymore, consider posting it on Freecycle.  Freecycle is a nonprofit organization that allows people in your area to post items for free.  You can find items that are used, but still in working order, as well.  Go to The Freecycle Network and sign up for free.  For this and other tips on going green visit, The Earth and Me:  Go Green.

November 20, 2013

What's Cooking Wednesday? A Series of Unfortunate Events-Puttanesca Sauce

Recently, in our Red Snail Classroom, we finished reading the first book in the series by Lemony Snicket; "A Series of Unfortunate Events."  In the book the Baudelaire children are asked demanded to make dinner for Count Olaf's theater troupe.  The children had been raised in privilege and had no idea what to make, but after hunting through several cookbooks they stopped on Puttanesca Sauce.  The sauce is a tasty version of spaghetti sauce and is served the same way as spaghetti.  So with the finishing of the book, we decided to celebrate by recreating the scene of the children making the sauce and serving it to the theater troupe. 


 Although we didn't have a theater troupe, we did have the three of us to serve it to instead.  Here is how we made our version of the Baudelaire children's Puttanesca Sauce.

What you'll need:

• A sauce pan
• Dutch oven


1.  Linguine or angel hair pasta.
2.  Kalamata Olives 
3.  Capers 
4.  Whole tomatoes (Smashed by hand)
5.  Olive oil
6.  Garlic (Chopped)  I used garlic in a jar, but fresh is always best.
7.  Parsley (Chopped)
8.  10-12 cherry tomatoes (Halved)
9.  Small white onion (Chopped)
10.  Garlic French Bread (Optional)

You can also have the book!  You can buy your own copy here, and start reading this wonderful series too!

1.  Cook the Linguine according to the package directions.  Drain and place in a glass bowl.  Top the Linguine with a tablespoon of butter.

2.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the sauce pan and heat over medium high heat.  Add two cloves of chopped garlic, and chopped onion to the sauce pan and sauté until golden brown. 

3.  Add the smashed whole, canned tomatoes with their juices, and the cherry tomato halves to the sauce pan.  Skylar loves this step because I let him smash the canned tomatoes with his hands.  Be sure and cut the tomatoes in half first before smashing.

4.  Increase the heat, and add in the capers, Kalamata olives, and 10 springs of chopped parsley, with the stems.


5.  Stir the ingredients together and allow to boil slightly for about eight minutes.  Reduce the heat to low.

6.  Dish up your pasta into individual serving dishes and add the Puttanesca sauce on top of the pasta.

7.  Finish the dish off with a few sprigs of chopped parsley, and a little drizzling of olive oil.

This is such a great way to incorporate reading with cooking.  It teaches two things at once.

We have started reading "Book the Second":  The Reptile Room.  We are so excited to see if the Baudelaire children will finally find their good luck in this book.  


Eco-Tip:  The best way to travel, learn a new hobby, or even become someone else for a short time, is to read.  There are so many books up for grabs at your local library just waiting for you to hold them.  One of the greenest ways to discover something new and to give back to yourself, and your community is the local library.  See what's happening at your local library today!  For this and other tips on going green visit, The Earth and Me:  Go Green.
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