Sunday, August 29, 2010

Homemade Grape Juice

One of the most exciting thing  that I learned to do, when I moved to the country was to make, and can my own concord grape juice. It's a lot easier than it sounds. We have a 40 year old grape vine which still produces concord grapes.

canning 2 quart jars
rings to fit over jars
large canner
Pick only the dark grapes, pull off the stems, place in the bucket to wash.
Make sure to wash jars with soap, and water place into the oven at 200 degrees for 30 minutes to sterilize.

My grapes are sweet, so I only use 1/2 cup of sugar, pour into jars.
Fill jars half way up with the concord grapes.
Heat up lids on stove , the rings rubber will soften.
Pour water in the jars 2 inches from the top head space.
Wet the top of jar with clean paper towel, then dry with another clean paper towel. This is to make sure there isn't any particle trapped between the jar,  and the lid preventing a perfect seal.
Place sterilized lid on jar, and ring over the lid to seal. Tighten normal. Do not over tighten or the jars won't seal properly.
Place jars in caner, place lid, bring to a boil. Lower heat to continue steady boiling. After boiling begins time for 30 minutes. The grapes will rise to the top, settling down after the juice cools. The vacuum is created when the jar contents start to cool it can take up to 10 minutes to hear that beautiful ping sound, some times the lids seal with out making a sound. Enjoy this juice after the season is over, lovely at Christmas time.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Homemade Apple Pie

During apple picking season ,I  put up canned apple pie filling for later in the year when apples are not in season.  There is something very satisfying about eating some thing you canned earlier in the year.This is the fresh version of this recipe. With these few ingredients it packs a bunch of flavor.. The perfect pie crust  flaky, crispy, the apples tart yet sweet. Topped off with ice cream it can't be beat. This recipe makes 2 pies.

apples cored and cut into bit sized pieces 6 cups
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
3 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 nutmeg
1/4 cup instant clear gel
3/4 cup water
pinch of salt

I have a combination of granny smith, and yellow delicious. Peel core, and slice apples place in bowl. To make the sauce. Place cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, salt, lemon juice, instant clear gel, and water into a blender, whip at high speed. The instant clear gel turn liquids into a sauce with out cooking. It is wonderful stuff.

Pour into apples. Set to the side while making pie crust.

Ingredients for pie crust:
2 cups shortening
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vinegar

Place shortening, flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl, with dough hook mix till dough resembles small peas. Add egg yolk, vinegar, to a 1 cup measuring cup, fill the cup 3/4 full. Beat before pouring into flour mixture. Pour slowly into flour mixture, folding flour mixture into water. Dough will start coming together. Do not over mix or dough will be tough. Compress into 5 balls, each ball make one pie crust.
Compress dough into 5 balls let rest for a minute.
Roll out dough on a floured board, or flour cloth

. Fold dough in half to be able to fit into pie pan.
Open all the way trim extra long edges.

Fill the pie shell with apple filling. Dot with butter.

Wet the dough on the edges before placing the 2 pie crust on top, this will help it seal.

The angle I took this picture makes my hand look really big and the pie very small, but I assure you it's a normal size pie. Anyway cut a vent hole in the middle of the pie crust. pierce the crust with a fork all around.
Place in a preheated oven. 400 degrees for 30 minutes, lower the oven to 350 for 30 more minutes. I cook my pies for an hour I like the apples tender, I don't like to bit a hard apple.  Make sure it's an apple that can stand up to longer cooking periods. Dust the pie crust with sugar, and cinnamon before cooking.
Now that's a perfect apple pie. Enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Moussaka Eggplant Dish

Moussaka is one of my favorite Greek dishes, it is made with eggplant. I saw these beautiful eggplants at the
Mountain Meadow Farm and Craft Shop calling my name. Of course Moussaka was the second word that popped into my mind. It a very rich tasting lasagna like food. It is time consuming to make, but well worth the effort.

eggplants 2
olive oil 
salt with salt shaker
spaghetti sauce 1 jar 16 oz
 1 package Italian sausage fried and drained of grease 
1 lb ball mozzarella cheese

The first thing I have to explain is that the eggplant needs to by sliced at 1/4 inch slices, and salted. This will cause the eggplant to sweat. Place in large bowl with water, push eggplant slices to the bottom, this will release any bitterness the eggplant may have, you will notice the water will change to a dark color.
Using a heavy bottomed pan, fry the slices in very little olive oil.(eggplant soaks up oil in a hurry)just enough so the eggplant won't stick.
The eggplant should look like dry leather, when done. This is the part that takes time. Be patient it will make the difference.
Stack fried eggplant into a small baking dish.
Spread spaghetti sauce teaspoon at a time on top of eggplant. Spread grated mozzarella cheese.
Top with Italian sausage, and repeat layers till it reaches the top. Top off with cheese. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 45minutes. Enjoy!

Meadows of Dan 6th annual Folk Fair

Meadows of Dan had it's 6th annual Folk Fair, it's an exciting time of the year for us here at the Meadows, the weather is starting to chill a bit, some of the trees are starting to change.
When I was a kid I used to dream of living in Andy's Mayberry, and I found it here. Where folks all knew each other.I do believe this is God's country, It's not only the scenery, but it's also the people. This is the only place I know where people that don't know you, will wave  as they drive by.

There is a lot to see in the mountains of Virginia, we are right off from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fall is just around the corner, I will put up pictures of the leaves changing soon.

 We had the privilege of setting up our pottery at the Meadow's Edge Knife Shop, and Antique's front porch.  Here is my husband Toby doing what he does best.

On the other side was Paula Melton local artist who's original water color
picture won 1st prize celebrating the Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Anniversary this year.
Here is Paula Melton painting.
Here are some of her original pictures.

On the other side of us is the Greenberry House the place to come and learn everything you wanted to know about yarn, and spinning. The lovey Leslie Shelor demonstrating how to make yarn from scratch.

She carries the softest, silkiest yarns, you'd ever want to touch. She has a knitting and crocheting group, on Thursday nights where I am learning how to knit ,and even better yet how to read those patterns.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Homemade Rice Pudding

Doesn't this picture just speak comfort food to you? My grandma use to make us what we called atole, translation rice pudding. We got it when we had tummy aches. She served it warm, but now I prefer it cold as a dessert.

Jasmine rice 1 cup
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup sweeten condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
1 teaspoon butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 sticks of cinnamon

In a rice pot cook 1 cup rice, 1 1/2 cups water,and lemon rind, and 1/8
teaspoon salt.

After rice is cooked. Add 4 cups of milk, vanilla, raisins,sweeten condensed milk, and 4 sticks of cinnamon to simmer on low heat with cover on for 1 hour. Rice will look dryer milk will thicken and evaporate. Serve either hot, or cold. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pico De Gallo

Pico de gallo is a fresh salsa that is not canned or cooked. The words translate to rooster beak, pico is also the word for pecked like a chicken pecking you. I guess it's cause the salsa has a bite, or a hot stinging sensation. All I know is that it is mighty tasty.

fresh tomatoes chopped 4 cups drain excess juice
2 limes squeezed
1/2 cup cut chives
1 medium onion chopped finely
5  fresh jalapeno peppers chopped very small
1 sprig of fresh cilantro chopped fine
1 teaspoon salt
Gather all ingredients, chop finely, place in large bowl. Depending on how hot the peppers are your pico de gallo might be very hot to mild. This will fit in a quart jar. It can be frozen also for later use, to get the fresh taste of summer in the winter, and fall months.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mexican Food Homemade Flour Tortillas

There is something really satisfying about the feel, and taste of a fresh homemade tortilla. There are such fresh one's made by Carmelita's in Phoenix, Arizona, but what do you do when your 2000 miles away, you settle for homemade ones.

A heavy bottom flat frying pan (a must)
rolling pin
2 cups flour, all purpose
1/2 cup shortening
1  teaspoon salt
3/4 cups warm water

Place flour, and salt in medium size bowl, mix well. Add shortening using a dough hook mash together till the dough resembles small peas. Pour water a little at a time, using a butter knife to fold the water into the flour mixture. kneed the dough for 5 minutes.
Squeeze dough breaking off 2 inch size ball. Let rest for 10 minutes. In the mean time place the heavy frying pan to heat on medium high heat, the pan must be hot for the tortillas to cook properly.
Flour the counter, I use a flour cloth. The flour cloth is great for rolling out crust, and dough of any kind that tend to stick to the counter. Roll out dough very thin 16th of an inch.
Place in hot frying pan, dough should immediately start to bubble and rise.
Flip over when browned, flip over again if needed.  I like to eat them with butter. Enjoy!

Delicious Peach Dessert

This delicious peach dessert , is one of my family's favorite. It's flavor is similar to peach cheese cake, with a short bread crust. This recipe came from my Mennonite sister-in-law Maggie, one of the best cook I personally know. She taught me how to make pie crust from scratch, which I will be eternally grateful for.

  Ingredients for pie crust:
1 1/2 cups flour all purpose.
1/2 cup pecans
1 stick butter cold
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Ingredients for filling:
1-8 oz cream cheese filling
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz tub cool whip
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for topping:
10 fresh peaches peeled, and cut
1 cup v8 mango peach splash juice
1 -3 oz packet apricot jello
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water 
1 tablespoon instant clear jell

Making the crust. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place flour, butter,and powdered sugar in medium bowl, with dough hook work dough till it resembles small peas.

Add pecans to dough. Press cookie dough into a 9x13 glass pan. Bake 20 minutes at 325 degrees, or till the crust starts to brown slightly.

Set aside to cool, begin the [peach  topping. Place 1 cup water, and packet of jello in medium sauce pan. Bring to a simmer stirring jello till it dissolves. Add juice, instant clear jell, and sugar, after it thickens add the fresh peaches. 
The alternative  to making the gel for the peaches, is finding the peach gel in the grocery store, which I sometimes find, and sometimes not. In the winter time I have also used canned peach pie filling. It works at the sacrifice of some of the flavor. Set aside.

Making the filling. Place cream cheese, and powdered sugar in mixing bowl, mix till it comes together. Add 1 teaspoon almond flavor, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Blend again with mixer. Add the cool whip blend again. 

Spread filling on top of cookie crust. 

Spread peach topping on top of filling. Place in ice box to chill for a couple of hours before serving. Enjoy!