This redhead can say she has award-winning apple butter

All of that apple and canning work actually paid off this year! I won a grand total of $1.25 and a third-place ribbon, but hey, I won!

I entered a pint of apple butter, a pint of bread and butter pickles, and a quart of green beans into our county fair this year. The fair opened last Friday and will close Thursday. This is the first time I’ve entered anything I’ve canned in our fair (Roberta, my hen, made her debut in the photography category three years ago), so I was a little nervous. I was so excited when I saw that my apple butter took third place!

My apple butter is on the bottom shelf with the white ribbon.

My apple butter is on the bottom shelf with the white ribbon.

Unfortunately, my beans and pickles didn’t place in the top three. However, I did get a chuckle when I realized my bread and butter pickle recipe was the only one with onions in it. (Sorry, not sorry judge!)

My pickles are in the jar on the top shelf on the left. At least my  jar was placed next to the first-place winner, right?

My pickles are in the jar on the top shelf on the left. At least my jar was placed next to the first-place winner, right?

The apple butter recipe is from my maternal grandmother and the pickles are a recipe that’s a family favorite from my paternal grandmother. We like our bread and butter pickles with a ton of onions in them, so I pack them in the jar. Makes for better pickle sandwiches that way!

I canned more apple products than anything this year thanks to Ohio’s bumper apple crops. About 30 pint jars went to apple butter, which I plan to give as Christmas gifts this year. Now I can joke that the recipients are getting award-winning apple butter!

Recipe – Cheddar bacon potato soup

This weekend put me into full fall mode. It was chilly, we hosted a bonfire for my two bro-in-laws’ birthdays, and I’ve busted out the hoodies and sweatpants. The walnuts and hickory nuts are starting to fall from the trees.

And when it’s autumn, I want soup.

This cheddar bacon potato soup is a recipe I adapted from a ham soup recipe that was featured in a local senior living magazine. (Don’t ask why I had a senior living magazine.) It’s a favorite with my husband, family and friends. I’m often asked for the recipe.

Give it a try and let me know how you liked it!

Cheddar bacon potato soup

  • 3 1/2 cups diced potatoes (I cheat and use frozen Southern-style hash browns sometimes)
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup diced onion or leek
  • 3/4 cup cooked bacon
  • 2 Tbsps. or 2 cubes of chicken bouillon
  • 3 1/4 cup water (or use chicken broth and skip the bouillon)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, optional
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 Tbsps. melted butter
  • 5 Tbsps. flour
  • Cheddar cheese to taste (I usually toss in one to two cups.)

Combine all but the last four ingredients and the meat in a stock pot on the stove and cook until veggies are tender. When veggies are tender, turn down the heat and add the milk and meat, stirring frequently. Melt the butter in a small dish in the microwave. Stir the flour into the melted butter with a fork. When the butter/flour mixture has been well blended, add to the soup. Continue cooking until soup has thickened and heated through. Add cheese just before serving.

Since this is a milk-based soup, you want to avoid bringing it to a boil so the milk won’t scald. Cook it on low to medium heat and stir frequently.

If you’re feeling fancy, top the soup with chives.

Comparing apples to apples

So my friendly neighborhood apple guy sent this beast of fruit home with my husband last night:

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That’s a normal, lunchbox-size gala on top and the monster apple on the bottom.

That monster apple in the bottom of the photo that’s dwarfing the gala is a Wolf River apple. This is a new apple variety to me, but according to Orange Pippin, it’s a baking variety that was named after the Wolf River in Wisconsin. It’s been cultivated since the 1870s.

Just to give you another visual comparison, here’s how the apple stands up to a pint jar:

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Whoa, right?

I’ve been told that Wolf River apples make darn good dumplings. Are any of you familiar with this apple variety, and how have you used them?

A hand-me-down Hoosier cabinet

A few weeks ago my paternal grandmother asked me if I was interested in an old cabinet she purchased years ago that was now in possession of my great-great-aunt, her mother’s sister. At first I wasn’t sure if I had room for it in my tiny kitchen, but after some mental rearranging I told her I would take it. With the exception of our bed and our love seat, every piece of furniture I own either was a gift or a hand-me-down, which suits me just fine.

From her description, I knew it was a large cabinet with lots of storage space, which is something I always need for the food I buy in bulk or for kitchen knickknacks.

Here’s what I inherited:

My wonderful, new-to-me cabinet!

My wonderful, new-to-me cabinet!

After some research, I discovered that this cabinet is generally known as a Hoosier cabinet. Cabinets like these were manufactured by several companies in Indiana (hence Hoosier) and were used in kitchens before built-in cabinets were around. There aren’t any markings on this cabinet, but based on online pictures from the Amish Acres Historic Farm & Heritage Resort, I think this is a Coppes Napanee cabinet from the mid-1920s.

My grandmother bought this in the mid-1950s and she told me it was an antique then. She used it in her farmhouse kitchen for a few years until her built-in kitchen cabinets were put in, then it was passed to my late great-grandmother. My great-great-aunt got it in the 1970s and has had it ever since. My great-great-aunt is in her late 90s now and is downsizing, so she wanted to pass it back to my grandmother since she was the original purchaser. My grandmother passed it to me.

I think it’s in pretty good shape for its age, don’t you? I’ve washed it off and given it a good polish, but it still needs a little TLC. The tambour door needs repaired and the bread board needs reglued, but everything else seems to be OK. The porcelain enameled top still slides out for extra counter space and the bottom right drawer is the old tin bread box.

This cabinet came with the part of the old flour bin that fits in the left cabinet on the top. It’s missing the sifter and the glass window on it and it’s also pretty rusted. I’m trying to find a replacement online because I would love to use a bin, but I’m only finding bins that are for decorative purposes and not for food use. Can anyone guide me on that?

I know it’s an antique and probably is worth something, but I don’t care about that. I’m proud that I’m the fourth generation to use this cabinet and I hope it serves me for years to come!

Summer’s winding down and the canner’s heating up

I feel like August has been nothing but a food preserving marathon!

I’m just finishing up today’s pickle palooza. I keep forgetting how many pickles just a small amount of cucumbers can produce! One paper grocery bag full gave me four quarts and 14 pints of bread and butter pickles and nine half-pints of sweet relish, with leftovers. I’ve only gone through 10 pounds of sugar today. Whew!

I find that I have a few must-do every summer canning recipes: apple butter, apple pie filling and some sort of pickle. Do you have those in your recipe box as well? What are your staples?