Soup for Breakfast

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I particularly love holidays because I can eat whatever I want, including potato-leek soup for breakfast. With a hint of snow on the ground this morning, it just seemed perfect to eat potato soup and knit.

This afternoon we are headed to celebrate Christmas with my family. Even though I had a few extra days to prepare, I am still feverishly trying to finish some handmade gifts!

Snow Day Ramblings

Today was our first official day of snow. I’m guessing we had about 1/2 inch on the ground which surprised me because it has been pretty warm up here, and I would have thought the ground was still too warm for anything to stick. Regardless, it was a beautiful first snow that dusted everything outside. I’m bummed though because I couldn’t get any pictures since it was practically dark when I got home from work.

I did a whole lot of knitting over the Thanksgiving holiday, but unfortunately I feel like I don’t really have anything to show for it. I did finish these baby booties for my sister to give to one of her expecting friends. I’m glad that I don’t sell these booties, because I have to confess that I really don’t like knitting them. There just seems to be way too much finishing work involved for something so small and cute. I think I’m going to find a pattern for baby socks to make for people instead.
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I also made this custom baby Christmas pixie hat for a client. I got pretty frustrated making it because I was trying to use yarn I already had, which unfortunately happened to be acrylic, and the green yarn was actually a different weight. I ended up making almost three versions before I got the hat part right, but at least it was good practice creating something myself totally from scratch. I am usually a pattern-following girl, but one day I would like to get into writing and publishing my own knitting patterns, so this was good practice.
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On another note, tonight we had what some might call a small accident but I would refer to as a crisis of epic proportions. It involved a very full glass of orange juice accidentally making its way into my knitting bag which contained approximately 8 new skeins of yarn, 1 finished project, and 3 works in progress.

That’s right. Sticky colored liquid in my yarn basket.

But don’t worry. My husband came to the rescue, and I think we got everything cleaned up. A few of the skeins and two of the works in progress were drenched in oj, so I ran then under cool water and am letting them dry. I’m not sure if that will work or not, but I thought I would give it a shot.

So, the moral of the story – its just yarn, and it can be replaced if necessary. Also, orange juice is very sticky.

Diary of a Yeast Roll

In our Thanksgiving tradition, yeast rolls are one of the most important staples. In fact, I might venture to say that they are even more important than the turkey. My grandmother Elese was a caterer, and to this day we use her recipe for yeast rolls.

I think we went through 20 cups of flour making these yeast rolls and cinnamon rolls!

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Applesauce

I finally cleaned two bushels of apples off my kitchen counter and finished making our applesauce!

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I usually make applesauce in pint sized jars, but somehow I was running low on those, so I used quarts. 14 quarts and 8 pints – I’m not sure if that is enough to last us through the year or not, so I might pick up some more apples.

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I discovered that my apron pocket made moving apples much more efficient than just using my hands!

Making and canning applesauce doesn’t necessarily take a lot of work, but it does take a significant amount of time. It took me about 4 hours one night, start to finish. I would rather do all the sauce at once instead of doing lots of small batches since so much equipment and prep work is required.

1. Peel, quarter, and core apples. One of those apple peeling, coring and slicing gadgets makes this process so much easier!
2. Cook apples with a little bit of water until they break down.
3. Put sauce through food mill.
4. Sanitize jars and lids.
5. Fill jars and hand tighten lids.
6. Process in water bath for 35 minutes (longer time because I am at a high altitude).

So for 4 hours, I had each of these steps going continuously because I had so many apples. While I was peeling, a batch was cooking, a batch had been milled and was ready to go into jars, and a batch was in the canner.

I know I’m going to be so thankful for all this applesauce when January rolls around and my sources for local fruits and veggies are hibernating for the winter.

Apples

Nothing says fall to me more than apples and knitting, and I have certainly had lots of both lately!

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I currently have two bushels of apples sitting in my kitchen waiting to be turned into applesauce! If you have never made applesauce, you should definitely give it a try. Just peel, core and chop or slice your apples, put them in a pot with enough water to keep them from sticking, and cook them, stirring frequently, on medium low until they break down. If you want it to be really smooth, you can run it through a food mill, but don’t worry if you don’t have one. It is just as delicious when it is a little chunky. Add cinnamon to taste if desired. It will last a week or two in the fridge, or you can freeze it to enjoy later!

Celebrating Fall

We have been celebrating fall this week! I was in Honduras last week, sweltering in the heat, and when I got back to the mountains, fall had arrived! Temperatures have been falling during the night, but it has been getting into the high 60s every day. The sunshine has been golden and warm, and the leaves are crunching under my feet. My favorite season has arrived, and I am thrilled.

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Homemade hot cocoa, complete with real whipped cream, a splash of baileys, and a hint of nutmeg. Perfect with friends.

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I have been loving the late afternoon sun.

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Enjoying local, heirloom apples from the Orchard at Altapass.

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Apples and caramel – has there ever been a more perfect combination?!

How have you been embracing the change in seasons?

Pears

Today I am thankful for the generosity of friends!

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I have been trying to stock up on produce while it is in season so that we will have healthy eating options during winter. I’ve discovered that once you start looking for food, you begin to see it all around you. This summer I found wild blackberries in abundance. Last year I found a black walnut tree in our backyard. Today I remembered that my friends Joy and Molly have a pear tree in their backyard that they don’t really pick from. I asked if I could pick in exchange for some pear butter, and they were happy to oblige!

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So I did what I am assuming all good gatherers do, and I went over with my laundry basket.

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And I filled it up!

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I will be making pear sauce (like applesauce) and pear butter this weekend! Thanks Joy and Molly.

Coffee

I sure am glad we spent the long, holiday weekend at the beach. The weather was warm, dry and beautiful. We drove back to cool temperatures and lots of rain. According to Ray, parts of Watauga county have gotten more than 5 inches of rain in the past two days. So today I am wearing my rain jacket and boots, remembering the sunny and warm weekend, and embracing the change in seasons.

Now, onto the real post for today.

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Did I mention that I switched to decaf coffee earlier this summer? Let me just put it out there and tell you that I’m not pregnant. I think that’s what everyone assumes when young women make the switch to decaf, but let me assure you that I am not.

I have been a coffee drinker since my high school days when Starbucks lured me in with it’s cool atmosphere and expensive vanilla lattes. Once in college, where I regularly stayed up past 4 am and still attempted to go to my 8 am classes, I became a “several cups a day, I can’t function without my coffee” drinker. I do remember trying to give up coffee for Lent one year, but I only made it 5 days. Other than the failed Lent attempt, for about 7 years, I never went more than one day without coffee. Clearly, I was addicted.

The problem however, was that I still felt tired – all the time! I never felt fully present mentally, and I had a hard time getting up most mornings. About a year ago, my friend Mary switched to decaf, and I thought she was nuts. I mean, who voluntarily switches to unleaded coffee? As the days went by, she remarked about her increased energy levels, and I thought that maybe I would give it a try sometime.

My family went camping over Memorial Day weekend, and I had some coffee, but not as much as I would normally have drunk. As we were pulling back into town, I remarked to Matt that I thought we should switch to decaf. And I did.

It wasn’t painful like I thought it would be. I didn’t have disastrous headaches. I honestly didn’t notice a difference between the decaf and the regular. Immediately I started having more energy. I quit having the horrible afternoon slump, and instead I had a more steady energy level throughout the day. I got tired earlier at night {I am a night owl and would stay up until 2 every night if I didn’t make a conscious effort to go to sleep}. I’m still not getting up much better, but I am hopeful that will soon change!