Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall is Here!

The calendar may say there are a few days of summer left, but as far as I'm concerned, it's fall!  The weather has cooled off, my house is decorated inside and out, harvest is in full swing all around, and I made a delicious batch of crock pot applesauce.  The weather was beautiful here in the heart of the midwest all weekend and I was able to get a lot of work done outside. 

The front of my house looked so pretty at the beginning of the summer with all the blooming plants.  However, the extreme heat and drought really took a toll later on.  I watered regularly but the plants still looked a little scraggly. 

Now, it's covered in beautiful fall colors!

Fall is without a doubt my favorite season!  I love everything about it, except for hubby having to work long hours. :(  It is a little hard to put many decorations outside though because the wind can be pretty fierce out here.  I spend a lot of time straightening the corn up after a windy day.  I've had corn, straw, and pumpkins outside every year since I can remember though. 
One other thing I love about fall?  Apples!  As you know by now, I'm not a baker. However, I do like to make a couple of apple dishes (like crisp or cobbler) each fall.  This year, I saw a recipe for Crock Pot Applesauce on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try.  It looked simple.  Here's the recipe as it appears on the website:
Crock Pot Applesacue
8 medium apples (Use a combination of Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala, etc.) (I filled the crockpot, using about 20 small apples)
1 strip of lemon peel - use a vegetable peeler
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 inch cinnamon stick
5 tsp light brown sugar (unpacked) - or agave
1.  Peel, core and chop the apples.
2.  Add the sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and cinnamon stick.
3.  Set crock pot to low and cook for 6 hours. Stir apples occasionally, apples will slowly become a delicious applesauce. Remove cinnamon stick and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth or if you prefer a chunky sauce, leave sauce intact. (I used a whisk, which gave the sauce a nice chunky consistency.)
4.  Can and process as you would other recipes or keep refrigerated up to 3 weeks.
I followed the recipe pretty closely with only a couple of additions.  I used a combination of Johnathan, Fuji, and Gala apples.  The combination gave the appleasauce a nice flavor. 
I also added a couple more teaspoons of brown sugar than called for because I like it sweeter.  I used dark brown sugar (didn't have light brown) and it was fine.  That probably made the applesauce a little darker in color, but I don't think it affected the taste. 
Ready to cook:
Looks delicious already!  This is after cooking for about 4 hours.  I stirred it every hour or so.  

After cooking for about 6 hours, I took out the lemon peel and cinnamon stick and added about 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.  Next, I mashed it with a potato masher.  This worked very well since we like chunky applesauce.  The added cinnamon also made the applesauce a little darker.  It kind of looks liks salsa in the picture below!  I assure you though, it's applesauce. :)  Lance and I both think it was pretty delicious.  Next time, I will only add about 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon though.  

Another fall favorite around here is soup!  I love soups of all kinds!  My next blog post will be a family favorite:  Lasagna Soup. Mmmmmmmm......

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