Fruit and Nuts

We have eleven pecan trees, so along with the leaves, pecans cover our yard this time of year. We already had about ten pounds collected just from our front yard, so this weekend we took them to the farmer’s market to have them cracked. Even though we still have to separate the shell from the meat, it’s so much faster than doing it all by hand that it is totally worth it. 

Cracked pecans

While we were there, Thadd discovered a big box full of bruised apples for five dollars, so I bought those, too. Thanks to my apple peeler-slicer-corer contraption, I was able to quickly get them ready to freeze for later. Here’s a similar apple peeler to the one I use:

Johnny Apple Peeler by VICTORIO VKP1010, Cast Iron, Suction Base

Some of the apples went straight to the stove with cinnamon and sugar to have as a sweet side and baked oatmeal topping.

Apples!

I’m looking for more recipes to use the apples and pecans that aren’t overly sugary. So far, I’ve found a recipe for apple cider vinegar that makes use of the saved peels. 

In the meantime, I made my favorite pecan dessert that is the opposite of not sugary: pecan pralines. (That’s puh-cahn prah-leans, y’all.) They are dangerously easy, especially when you have a ton of pecans on hand and the rest of the ingredients are kitchen staples. 

Pecan Pralines
Still too hot…

Here’s the recipe I use:

Pecan Pralines

3/4 cup each of brown sugar and granulated sugar

1/2 cup of milk

1 cup of pecans

1 tablespoon of butter

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Combine the sugars and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until it reaches the soft ball stage. (That’s when you can put a drop in cold water and it holds together in a ball shape but flattens on your finger when you take it out of the water.) I stir it pretty constantly and check it when it starts to look a little thicker.

Once it is at the soft ball stage, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla and pecans until it’s well mixed. Drop the mixture by the spoonful onto waxed paper. If it gets too hard to spoon out, warm it back up for a bit on the stove. It’s best to have the waxed paper ready and work quickly, though. That way you don’t risk burning it and the resulting sadness.  

Resist the temptation to try the yumminess immediately and let it cool. Seriously, let it cool. Hot melty sugar burns! The pralines will be more frosty opaque than glossy and easy to peel off the waxed paper when they are ready. 

I usually get about sixteen pralines from one batch, but it will vary depending on how big you make them.

Enjoy!

Grocery Shopping with Children

If you have ever gone grocery shopping with young children, then you know what a treat it is to go shopping alone. On a recent shopping day, the whole family went to Aldi. Even with Chris there as backup, that trip resulted in my giving Instacart* a try. (Actual conversation with Instacart delivery guy: Him: Have a good day! Me: It’s a great day! I didn’t have to take my three kids shopping!!!!)

Beckett shopping
One of my little hooligans.

Aldi is awesome, but there’s always a few things I can’t get there, so on the way home we stopped at Kroger. Chris stayed in the car with the hooligans while I ran in to get the last few things we needed.

In the store, I occasionally ended up on the same aisle as a father with his three lovely daughters. I’m guessing they were all around elementary school age. What caught my attention about this family, was the fact that the father was experiencing his own version of the Aldi trip I had just survived. I never know if a smile or kind word in such situations will be seen as sincere or smug in such situations, so I politely ignored the chaos to finish my shopping.

At the checkout line, who should end up behind me, but the father and the three young ladies. If he was put there to remind me that all parents have those kinds of days, then I appreciate the reminder, but torturing another human being really was not necessary.

I continued with my plan of polite indifference to the humorous to everyone but the father scene that was taking place behind me. I’m pretty sure I failed to not smile when I heard such phrases as, “What have you done to the tortillias? Don’t put your mouth on that!”and the exasperated, “What is wrong with you?!?!???”

Hopefully it has been long enough that, should the father see and recognize this, he will be able to find the humor that is totally lacking when you are in the moment. Regardless, you have my empathy for that and every other similar shopping trip, as that is usually me. Also, Instacart* delivers to your door, if you need some time to recover.

He had a shirt on when we went in, I promise.

*Neither Instacart or Aldi offered any compensation for this post. After that particular Aldi trip, though, Aldi should consider offering me free Instacart delivery so I no longer have to bring my children into their store. 

The Right Tools for the Job

After many attempts at using crochet hooks to manipulate stitches on my knitting machine, I broke down and bought the tools that were missing from my thrift store knitting machine. With the right tools, I’m able to do a couple of closed cast-on and bind-offs, correct dropped stitches fairly quickly, and have even learned how to do a tuck stitch. 

Tuck-stitched wash cloth
My first tuck-stitched wash cloth

Now I need to figure out how to remember where I’m at in the tuck stitch to avoid the rows of holes I have at the top and bottom.

Bath Towel Redo

Last Christmas we received a new set of bath towels. Many of our old ones had worn through in places and were ready to be retired. I hate to throw out something that still has some life left in it, so here’s what I did:

I cut the towels to salvage the most usable material possible. Then, I serged the edge with my serger. You could also use a wide zig-zag, fold and hem, or use bias binding to finish the edges and prevent fraying.

The white towels were cut down to about half-size. This makes them perfect for wiping up big spills or as a bath mat. The green towels on the right are smaller sized for kitchen and cleaning towels. The stack of squares in the middle can be used in place of disposable cotton squares for toner, make-up remover, etc.

The small squares are also handy for DIY dryer sheets. I keep a few in a small tub on the dryer soaking in diluted white vinegar and lavender essential oil. I wring one out slightly and toss it into the dryer to add a fresh, lavender scent to our laundry.

All made from two large, worn out bath towels.

Cozy Weather

Just in time for soup weather I have introduced bowl cozies at SubEarthan Cottage.

Strawberry Bandana Red Microwaveable Soup Bowl Cozy
Strawberry Bandana Red Microwaveable Soup Bowl Cozy

My cozies are 100% cotton, so they can go in the microwave if you like.

Vegetable Print Microwaveable Soup Bowl Cozy
Vegetable Print Microwaveable Soup Bowl Cozy

There are tons of cute 100% cotton quilting fabrics available, so if you’d like one or a set customized to your tastes, let me know.