Waxing Domestic

OK, maybe it's the time of year, the state of disorganization in my house, or the nagging from my guys because we've been out of their favorite home preserves, but something besides thoughts of dear Martha being sprung from her iron-barred cell a while back had me turning into quite the domestic diva. (I probably shouldn't mention that the diva part possibly came from letting my happy pill Rx expire without having a refill on hand...)

Jon has diverticulitis (say that 3 times really fast!) so he isn't supposed to eat seeds (apparently his definition of seeds doesn't include those from sunflowers). Being the loving wife that I am, I make him jelly instead of jam so that none of those pesky berry seeds can get stuck in his diverticulii. This year I did 4 (yes, count them) batches. I used the frozen triple berry mix from Costco and fresh strawberries. The frozen berry mix made almost two batches, and then I had 2 of strawberry. I make freezer jam after running the fruit through the strainer. My boys have disgustingly named the leftovers (skins, seeds, etc) JAM POOP, but I suppose it is an accurate description. I used a different type of pectin - specifically for freezer jam, that only called for 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Made for some mighty tart syrup. I say syrup because it didn't set as firmly as I'd have preferred. It's more viscous than syrup, but it isn't what I'd call jam either. Grr. Jon and Carson figured out that if you mix it with butter, cream cheese, or peanut butter before you spread it, then you don't notice the irregular consistency. The strawberry stuff turned out all right because I used different pectin in those batches, but the triple berry is my favorite blend, and it's not so good.

Next in line was carmel popcorn. Think I was a bag or two short on the popcorn, becauth thith sthtuff wath thticky! (apologies to my speech pathologist cousins Mandy and Kirsten) Carson ended up bagging it up and handing it out to buddies at the bus stop. I've had requests from these buddies to make them another batch. Gotta love when the guilt trips are coming from outside the walls of your own home.

Thirdly came the applesauce. Notice that it's in quart jars - not the pints that my mom and grandma always made. My kids inhale this stuff so it's just not worth piddling with small quantities.

I have a fond story about my applesauce - go ahead and skip a few paragraphs if you're short on time. When I was pregnant 8 years ago with my dear middle son, Evan, I craved Grandma Egan's applesauce something fierce. There was just something about that craving that no store-bought brand could quench. So, I set out to find the recipe for Grandma's Applesauce. I called my mom, my aunt Nina, my grandpa, and my great-aunt Ione. When I'd tell them what I was looking for, every single one of them said, "Honey, it's just applesauce!" OK - maybe they didn't say, "honey", but play along with me. Then I got involved in discussions with 4 people who I didn't talk to often enough. Somewhere in the scheme of things, one of them mentioned that Grandma used Wealthy and Macintosh apples. Hah! A lead!

I called the remaining orchards in the Salt Lake/Kaysville/Brigham City area and found that NONE of them grow Wealthy or Macintosh apples. YIKES! Having the inquisitive mind that I do, I wanted to know why and where I could still locate a grower, so I called the USU Extension Office and my favorite nursery. They told me that Wealthy and Macintosh apples are old varieties that are not drought or disease resistant, and if orchards are still producing and haven't been taken over by housing developers (OK that last part was me - so sorry - I digress) most growers have phased them out. My kindly mother informed me that this is why my grandparents helped her plant a Wealthy tree in the back yard at our old house. Did she mention this when she moved out? NO! I'm sure I could have paid my brother and persuaded my hubby to dig the thing out and transplant it...

So, we were down to just Macintosh. my mom finally took pity on me and said that she'd get the apples. (She found a grower somewhere south of Provo) We made lots of pints of sauce that year (this was when I discovered that pints wouldn't cut it for the Hill boys) and I did indeed find out that IT WAS JUST APPLESAUCE.

Anyway. This year's crop of macintosh apples were not as red as they typically are. So, I ended up with regular looking applesauce. My niece, Courtney, will be thrilled. She won't touch my other stuff because it isn't the right color. Little does she know...

My boys couldn't wait for me to put the applesauce in jars. They had large bowls of the stuff and kept taking spoonfuls out of the bowl where I'd mixed in the sugar. They figured out that not only do they like lots of applesauce when it's eaten, they now prefer it warm. So we pop the lid on a jar and stick it in the microwave prior to sitting down for lunch or dinner or breakfast or after school snack or what can I eat until mom has something on the table for dinner snack or ....

Thinking you've completed reading about my domesticity? Take heed - I'm only about half way through the list of what I've done this fall, but I'm tiring of blogging for the day.

I'll conclude with a bullet list of the remaining adventures.
  • Pizza using Grandma Hill's dough recipe - this stuff also made yummy flavor-enhanced french bread. The boys and I rolled it out, spread on some olive oil, sprinkled on some garlic powder, and then topped it with either Italian herbs or parmesan cheese before rolling it up and putting it in the oven. Delicious!
  • Apple dip - straight from Aunt Merrilee's recipe. I love this stuff so much that I'll eat it by the spoonful without any apples! Griff thinks it's some kind of cake batter or cookie dough, so he digs in right along with me.
  • Cookies - we've made peanut butter (from Gayle Warren's recipe), chocolate chip (my friend, Kerri Hernandez's recipe), and pumpkin chocolate chip (right out of the bag from Lehi Roller Mills).
  • Today we're having homemade chicken noodle soup. It'll go nicely with the snow we woke up to this morning. We're making the noodles with the pasta maker as soon as I get out of the shower and my guys are finished with the 3rd installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that they started yesterday afternoon. It'll simmer this afternoon and be ready when we sit down for a toasty dinner.

I think the thing I enjoy most about all of this is the time I get to spend with Jon, Carson, Evan, and Griffin while I'm doing it. It's not a time to clean up or worry about what the rest of the house looks like or how much I still have to do on that next report for work. It's just time to get busy and create a smile or four.


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