Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give a Jam

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jam

I had a strawberry dilemma. Too many strawberries for us to eat. They were on sale, how could I resist that? I had already frozen plenty for smoothies and still had a ton left over. I decided to try something that’s been at the back of my mind. A longing you might say. For what you ask? Jam, crock pot jam. On Pinterest there are many recipes for this glorious breakfast treat. Most require pectin. I was out of pectin and you should know by now I won’t go the store just to pick up one item. I did find one pin that used apples in place of pectin. I just so happened to have an apple handy. As a matter of fact I was going to munch on it while cruising Pinterest. Thankfully I hadn’t taken a bite before finding that pin.

Here is the Crock Pot Strawberry Jam pin.

Here’s the recipe and if you continue reading past that you can read my little strawberry jam session.

Crock Pot Strawberry Jam
Ingredients:
2lbs fresh strawberries, sliced
4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-1.75 oz box pectin or peeled and slice medium size apple

Directions:
Spray crock pot with non stick cooking spray or line with crock pot liner/parchment paper. Add ingredients into a bowl. Smash/mix until combined well. Add into crock pot. Cover and cook on low for approx 8 hours or high for 4 hours, once strawberries are soft. Pour into your containers. It will thicken as it cools.

My jam session. I halved the recipe, if things went bad with the jam I had only ruined one pound of strawberries. I just threw everything into the crock pot. I like my jam chunky so there was no smashing going on. As I was tossing everything into the pot I was singing, loudly, “we be jamming, we be jamming” This lasted only a minute before I heard my husband shout from the living room, “Shut the hell up my ears are bleeding!” My singing is bad, so so bad. So I laughed at the hubby before continuing with the noise I call singing.
I let the strawberry concoction cook overnight, cooked it on low for nine hours. I planned on eight hours but I overslept the next morning.

sugar berriessugar apple berry

 

When I checked it that morning the ‘jelly’ was more like strawberry juice. It will thicken as it cools but it should have thickened some in the pot. So I turned the pot up to high and let the jam cook for another hour without the lid on. I don’t know if that caused it to thicken I just know that it did thicken up slightly. I poured the mixture into three small canning jars, put the lids on then let the jam cool. It did ‘set’ after it cooled. It wasn’t a hard set like some store bought jams.

 

That night for dinner I made breakfast just so we could try the strawberry jam. As I was spreading it on my bread, my bread whispered, “Oh yeah, spread it just like that. Ahh nice.” Most store bought jams don’t spread so easily and often tear the bread. But not this stuff, it spread so easy.

How did it taste? Amazing. I will never use store bought again. Ever. I put some in the freezer so it would stay good for awhile. Yeah, it was gone in four days. Do yourself a favor and try this crock pot jam thing.

There will be more strawberry recipes coming this summer. Just one mile from my house is a strawberry farm. You can go pick them yourself or get a big ole basket of freshly picked. Actually the strawberry patch is my back up plan. The hubby and I built a wooden strawberry planter late last summer and this year I shall plant my own strawberries. It’s my first time growing them so if it is a disaster the strawberry patch will save the day.

So I’m actually killing two pins with one post. The next pin was once again just a pin with a photo, no instructions. But for this the photo was enough. First before I reveal this pin you must promise to not tell anyone I did this. I am known for my dark soullessness if this gets out my reputation is ruined. I would no longer be able to face the creatures of the night with my head held high.

Since I can’t make you sign something in blood I am going to assume you will keep my undark side a secret. Here is what I did. I made… heart shaped pancakes. Yes I know, I’m as shocked as you are.

This is how to heart your pancakes. Make you batter thinner than you normally do. Pour into a squirt bottle, the kind that restaurants put ketchup and other sauces in. Use that to draw a heart outline then just fill in with more batter from the bottle. Easy as that. This is so easy you will no longer use the phrase easy as pie instead you will be saying, “Well that was easy as heart shaped pancakes.”

heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

I heart pancakes

I heart pancakes

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to share another secret, this one is okay if you want to share it. I am known for my pancakes. People have came to visit just to get me to make them pancakes.

Gotha’s Somewhat Famous Pancakes
You will need:
A store brand (name brands don’t do as well) complete pancake mix.
1 or 2 eggs, depending on how much batter you plan to make.
Water.
Ground cinnamon.
A little sugar.
Vanilla extract.

I never measure. I’ve been making these over 20 years I have no need to measure at this point. The eggs, if you are making pancakes for two people 1 egg is plenty. More than that 2 eggs will do. Cinnamon, I like cinnamon, a lot. I use a good bit. For most people, a teaspoon should be plenty. For the sugar I just use a spoonful. (What’s a spoonful? Whatever spoon I’m going to use to mix the pancake batter with). Vanilla extract, a cap full. Or just a quick pour from the bottle like I do. Use enough water to make the batter just a tad thicker than thin. Kind of like a cake batter. If it’s like a brownie mix that is way too thick.
That’s it.

Two pins, a pancake recipe and some out of tune singing. It’s all in a days work in the Pinteresting life of Gotha Stewart.

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Dark Days Ahead

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Words to live by: IT IS NEVER TOO EARLY TO PREP FOR HALLOWEEN

With that being said let me share a little photo from my garden this past Fall. This is one of my all time favorite photos. When I see it pop up as my computer background my normally non-beating heart gives a little jump. I love Halloween, every aspect of it from the whimsical to the horrifying. The hubby and I are renters so I am unable to go all out on my gardening or my Halloween decorations. My landlords are very religious so I must respect their beliefs while celebrating my favorite holiday. In a neighborhood of thirty plus homes my house is the ONLY one decorated for Halloween. Which has all the neighborhood kids coming to look at the yard all October long. Most are young kids so between my landlords and little children I tone down my scary outside decorations. I’m okay with that, the scary is inside my house year round. Just ask my cable guy. He says when he sees my address pop up on the days rotation he is so excited he tells everyone he is going to the “Zombie House”.  Sad that I have so much trouble with my cable that he has to visit regularly. Okay now that I’m done rambling here is the photo.

My Happy Place

My Happy Place

Oh Halloween, how I miss you so.

Back to what today’s blog is about: Halloween prepping. Even though it is only March I use this time to stalk Pinterest for Halloween pins. Costumes, decorating ideas, projects, food, etc. Today I searched Halloween treats. Bite size candy apples caught my attention. There were several pins, I looked at them all. One common theme: everyone was having trouble with the candy coating not sticking to the bites. Seems it would just slip off the apple bites. If I would have had all the ingredients handy I would have tried it anyway. I think maybe caramel would stick better, sadly the only caramel I had was caramel sauce for ice cream. Yes I could have broomed it down to the store to buy what I needed but that would require me to change out of my spooky cupcake pajamas. Wasn’t going to happen.

Now I did have chocolate candy coating items on hand. Apples and chocolate? I have never tried it but I like apples and I adore chocolate. Why not?

What you need:

Apples (I used Granny Smith)

Lollipop sticks

Chocolate for melting (I used Wilton light cocoa candy coating)

Melon ball scoop

Tiny cupcake/candy liners (optional)

Sprinkles (optional)

Wax paper

Here we go:

Wash and dry your apples

Lay out your wax paper on counter.

Use what ever chocolate melting method you prefer. I used the double boiler method. Pot of simmering water with a glass bowl sitting on it.

double boiler method

double boiler method

As the water is heating go ahead and scoop you out some apple balls. Put peel side down, stick in lollipop sticks.

Scoop those apples

Scoop those apples

Once chocolate is melted, get to dipping.

After dipping I put some of the apple bites into the cupcake liners. A few I just sat out on the wax paper and tossed on some sprinkles before the chocolate set.

I was also working on another pin project that required the caramel sauce (holy giant pumpkin that pin turned out awesome).
For the photos I took one of the apple bites in a liner and covered it with caramel sauce. Looked nice for the photos, trying to eat that one caused a major caramel sauce incident. Which resulted in me having to change out of my spooky pajamas and into something not covered in caramel sauce.

Yummy apple bites

Yummy apple bites

Gooey goodness

Gooey goodness

One of the original pins: Candy apple bites

I must say that now having tried apples and chocolate together, I am a fan. I will be adding this to my Halloween line up. I would tell you what the hubby thought of the apple bites but my dad came by and we ate them all before hubby came home from work.

Candy apple bites are not something you should make a day ahead. I would make them a couple hours before any haunted events.

I think I will make these for the family trip to the pumpkin patch this year. I’m sure my little devils would enjoy them as a snack.

So this Pinteresting project turned out very well, very well indeed. I do plan on trying the apple bites with candy apple coating and the caramel coating. I will share that Pinteresting adventure with you.

I will be doing more Halloween prepping pins throughout the next few months. I also have a Halloween pin project from last Halloween to share. See you soon, same Pin time, same Pin channel. (Sorry had a flashback to my young days of watching Batman after school).

Evil Queen Apple Cobbler

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Evil Queen Apple Cobbler

So this week is zombie apocalypse week at our house. You know after a while your cabinets get overcrowded with canned and boxed foods. When that happens here at the crypt we have zombie apocalypse week. Which means we survive on what we scavenge from the cupboards. Everyone should do this every so often to keep things up to date. Canned food does have an expiration date. You don’t want to be suffering from a terrible cold one day only to discover that the only can of chicken soup you pull out of the cabinet is out of date. Been there, not fun. Not at all.

So for the rest of the week the husband and I will survive on soups, tuna, vegetables and what ever boxed meals are hiding out. Maybe use up some of the frozen meat from the freezer too. We are about to enter the danger zone: the place where too much salt intake is just one can of green beans away. It’s really not as bad as it sounds. You learn to be creative with your meals. Did you know crushed up cheez its make a great topping for pasta salad?

Tonight we dined on canned potatoes, a huge can of green beans with a hearty black bean soup. Not the best meal we have ever had but still better than a fast food burger. Dessert was an awesome apple cobbler I baked. Breakfast tomorrow will be pumpkin banana bread. So today’s tally of pantry items used: two cans of potatoes, one can of green beans, two cans of black bean soup, a can of pumpkin puree, a box of pumpkin bread mix and a half bag of unused cake mix. I’ll explain the cake mix in a minute. I also used up four apples that were on the verge of mutiny and two extremely over ripe bananas. Lunch for work tomorrow: The husband will be taking canned Ravioli and I will take pasta salad. Two more items gone. I have two jars of spaghetti sauce, so tomorrow nights dinner will be meatballs cooked in the sauce. With some canned veggies for side dishes. Followed by a nice big ole blueberry muffin. I have several boxes of those. They were on sale last month, I couldn’t resist.

I am going to share with you a secret about baking a cake from a mix. When you grease and flour you pans…..drum roll…..wait for it….use some dry cake mix instead of flour. You don’t have to worry about your baked cakes having that floury taste along the edges. I just keep a bag of mix in a baggy, using it to flour the pan whenever I’m baking cakes. Tonight’s half bag along with the four need-to-use-soon apples gave birth to this amazing cobbler recipe I’m about to share, called Evil Queen apple cobbler. Why is it called that you ask? Apples make me think of evil queens and their poisonous ways. I just adore evil queens. I think it’s because they wear so much black.
I did not have enough apples to fill up my cake pan or pie dish so I used two small bread pans. The amounts aren’t set in stone.

Evil Queen Apple Cobbler

4 apples, peeled and cut to bite size pieces. I used granny smith apples.
Butter, 8 tbsp-ish (for the filling)
Butter, 2-4 tsp for topping, softened
Cinnamon (to your taste)
2 packets of Truvia (or sugar, 2 tsp)
1 cup of white or yellow cake mix

Since I used aluminum pans I did not butter the pans. If using metal be sure to butter the bottoms of the pans. I peeled and chopped the apples. I put down a layer in each pan. Put two ‘dollops’ of butter down. Sprinkled half a packet of Truvia and sprinkled cinnamon. I like a lot of cinnamon, again use as little or as much as you prefer. Add another layer of apples, butter, Truvia and cinnamon.

Layer 1 and 2

Layer 1 and 2

Now in a bowl combine your cake mix and softened butter. Start off with 2 tsp of butter. You are making a crumble type topping. You don’t want a batter. Add more butter if needed. This should be dry enough where you can apply the topping with your hands.

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

I then popped those little pans of happiness in the 350 degree preheated oven on a baking sheet. Since the apples are fresh bake forty to forty-five minutes. Test apples with a fork to see if they are cooked through. If you are using a canned pie filling thirty minutes of cooked time should be enough. I served my cobbler in a dish with ice cream. My husband just ate his out of the pan. Again the amounts are not set in stone. If you want more sauce in your cobbler add more butter between your layers, if you want it sweeter add more Truvia or sugar.

Baked

Baked

Time to eat !

Time to eat !

Once zombie apocalypse week is done and the cabinets are bare or almost I am going to try a pin I saw about slow cooking everyday. The pin is linked to a site where your are given list and instructions to prepare a weeks worth of meals. We shall see how that turns out. I also have a pin I am dying to try out. If it works my husband will worship me till his dying day. So come on back and share in the Pinteresting life of Gotha Stewart.