The Spectacular Ms. Luna

November 7, 2014

Steider Studios.Full Moon 11.6.14

Wasn’t she beautiful?!!  The clouds parted in the Columbia River Gorge and presented the spectacular Ms. Luna.

Steider Studios.deer in garden 10.30.14

Guess who was back in my garden this morning?!!  Yep, you guessed it.  OK you cute little critter, you can have my garden for now.  But come next spring I’ll chase you out again.

Wait. Its Autumn?

October 29, 2013


Steider Studios:  Flying Flicker in Fall

I know autumn has arrived, but It still feels like summer in the Pacific Northwest.  We’re enjoying sunny days close to 70º, calm with no wind or rain.  I will not like saying good-bye to my daily hikes in the Columbia River Gorge where I live and work as these lovely days finally come to an end.

Steider Studios:  Pileated Woodpecker in Flight

The photos in this post are from my daily bird sightings in the forest behind my garden and along the Columbia River.  Many birds have migrated south but many remain here through the winter.  Above, a Pileated woodpecker flies overhead.

Steider Studios:  Eagle in Flight at Rowland Lake

On the wings of change…eagles have returned to the Columbia River while osprey have left.

Steider Studios:  Heron Dancing

Herons are more easily found along many of our rivers right now.  I don’t know if this heron was dancing for joy because he caught a fish…or looking for a mate.

Steider Studios:  Red Breasted Sapsucker

I’ve enjoyed the challenge of photographing a pair of Red-breasted sap suckers all summer in addition to several woodpeckers….

Steider Studios:  Lewis's Woodpecker

…like this Lewis’s Woodpecker – an exciting first sighting for me.

Steider Studios:  Townsend's Solitaire

Another first sighting this summer for me was a Townsend’s Solitaire that I saw in September.

Steider Studios:  Flicker.9.21.13

I managed to catch up to this flicker before he flew off – the top photo shows him flying away.

Steider Studios:  Western Bluebird Pair

I think the western bluebirds may be gone now, but for awhile they were plentiful.

I’ve fallen behind in my garden blog but I’ll catch up – when dreary weather forces me back indoors.

Thanks for stopping by!

Life is crazy busy here with fall art shows coming up, my little abode getting a much needed facelift and the arrival of fall!  This has been a spectacularly colorful fall following a long Indian Summer and it has put me in the mood to preserve all it’s bounty.  Starting with A for Apples.  Apples from McCurdyFarms in Hood River.  A family owned farm with beautiful and flavorful fruit and knowledgable farmers!

I bought a box of Golden Delicious for my applesauce and fresh apple juice.  Thought I’d use them for pies, but it turns out my favorite apple, Fuji is a better choice for pies.  Wish I hadn’t already eaten all the Fuji apples I bought!

I process about a dozen apples at a time – makes it easier for me to not focus on how daunting a task my big box of apples really is.  I quarter them, scoop out the core with a sharp knife, then peel each quarter.  If I had kids at home, I’d have them do this task, using one of those apple peelers, then an apple slicer.

As I toss each quarter into my big stainless pot, I further cut it into chunks to make the cooking go a bit faster.  Doesn’t this look yummy already?  The apples give my pot a golden glow!  Once the apples are all sliced & diced I add 1/2 cup of water, which makes a thick sauce.  You can add more water for a runnier sauce; or less water and cook it longer to make apple butter.

Golden Delicious apples really don’t need much sugar.  I’ve seen recipes that add 3 cups of sugar for 4 cups of apples!  That is way too much.  For 12 to 14 large apples, I used 3/4 cup organic evaporated cane juice sugar and one tablespoon of cinnamon.  Yes.  One tablespoon.  I love cinnamon!  Mixed together and tossed into the pot.

Cook slowly over medium low heat, covered until bubbly, then turn the heat down & continue stirring every 15 or 20 minutes.  It takes several hours, so while it’s cooking I ready the glass jars for canning, take the peels out to my compost pile, and busy myself with tasks until there are none left.  Then I play Words with Friends.  And stir every 15 to 20 minutes.

Alternatively I use a crock pot and let the applesauce cook overnight without the need to stir or even watch it.  My crock pot is older and smallish, so I can only fit 10 to 12 largish apples in it.  I pack it full, so the lid doesn’t quite fit snugly and it yields 3 pints of applesauce.  It’s easier if you have a large bowl to toss the sugar/cinnamon mixture with the apples before placing them in the crock.  I used to have 2 crock pots, which was perfect for canning 6 to 7 jars of sauce, but I needed one in my studio for melting wax.

Now the serious fun starts.  My glass jars are ready (washed in my dishwasher).  Lids and Rings washed and dry.  Giant old enamel canner filled with water and boiling.

Timing is everything here.  As the applesauce finishes cooking, I heat the jars in my microwave for 2 minutes so they’re piping hot.  I then place them on a towel on my counter and fill with hot applesauce.  If you have a canning funnel it’s easier to fill the jars with less mess.  Wipe any spilled sauce from the rim of the jar and top with a fresh lid that will seal.  Then put the ring (also called band) on and close tightly.  Repeat until your pan or crock of sauce is empty and your jars are full.

Carefully place the hot jars into your canning rack that’s resting just above the boiling water.  When all your jars are loaded in the rack, lower it carefully into the boiling water.  Use potholders.  Make sure the water level is a good 2″ over your jars.  Once the water returns to a rolling boil, set a timer for 20 minutes.  I know, I should’ve taken pictures of this part!

At the end of 20 minutes, using potholders, lift the rack out of the boiling water and remove the jars carefully onto a towel-covered cookie rack to cool.  There’s a tool for this, called a jar lifter!  You’ll hear the sweet sound of lids popping closed, which lets you know your sauce is sealed in the jar and safe to store and eat later in the year.

I leave the canner filled with water sitting on my stove until it cools unless I need to use it again.  When it’s cool I can easier lift it and pour the cooled water into the sink.

Although I’m grateful for everything in my life all year, November seems a suitable month to espouse my gratitude.  In a Facebook post today I spoke of all the mothers in my life who taught me life skills like this one that I’m grateful to have and want to pass along to all my daughters.  Thus a post about canning!  Thanks for stopping by, I’m always grateful to see you here!!

 

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