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!

PSL PSA: A Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

Fall is unofficially here, which means it’s time for all things pumpkin spice. Last year, I came across a recipe for a pumpkin spice chai latte. It was yummy, but I’m more of a coffee drinker, so I swapped the tea for coffee. With one or two other tweaks, I had a pumpkin spice latte made with mostly healthy ingredients for pennies.

Recipe:
1 and ¼ cup brewed coffee (or tea)
1 tablespoon of pumpkin puree
2-3 tablespoons of milk (original recipe called for coconut. I usually use almond milk or whole milk)
1/3-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Optional: a dash to 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric
Maple syrup, sugar or honey to taste. I like maple syrup.

To make: Blend all ingredients together. Top with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg. Enjoy. Repeat. 🙂

I’ve also used this basic recipe to make a pumpkin spice smoothie. All you do is swap out the coffee for the milk of your choice and add a frozen banana or a fresh banana and some ice. I also like to add an extra spoonful of pumpkin to up the vitamin content, as well as some chia or flax seeds. You could easily leave those out, though.

Have a happy Pumpkin Spice season!

Five minute jogging stroller rain shield

I’m really hoping Friday marked the beginning of a nice, rainy fall. I love rain, but hate driving to pick Finn up from school. The car line is almost impossible to deal with, so I always park nearby and walk up. With the time it takes to get Beckett in and out of the car at home and at the school, finding a place to park and then fighting the traffic to get in and out, I’m almost positive walking is quicker. It’s certainly more pleasant. So, I decided to make a rain cover for the stroller. I don’t mind a little rain, but Beckett hates it. Weirdo.

I went the incredibly quick, made with stuff on hand route. I may upgrade it in the future, but for now I’m sure it will do. First, I took some clear vinyl material that has been sitting in my stash for years now and draped it over the stroller where I wanted it and trimmed of the excess length. Then I measured the sides from the edge of the vinyl to the frame of the stroller (14 inches for each side in my case). That part I planned to do in some sort of breathable fabric.

IMG_4530

To attach it to the frame, I planned to use elastic around the edge. That idea came one day last week when I thought I might have to walk in the rain and discovered that a fitted crib sheet almost fit perfectly in place over the stroller. I have some thrifted sheets, so I found a fitted twin and cut the 14 inches off ends with the elastic. I used the serger to attach the cut sides of the sheet to the long sides of the vinyl. (Note to self: vinyl goes on TOP near the foot, not on bottom.) Once I figured out proper material placement, constructing it took maybe three minutes.

It’s still not snuggly fitted, but with a couple of binder clips to tighten the top edge it would have worked for Friday if I hadn’t chickened out due to the possibility of thunderstorms. Rain I can handle, but dodging lightening is a bit much. I will probably add a few darts or snaps to snug it up some if I think it will be used a lot.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I’m cooking for my little clan this year, and I love it. As much as I enjoy getting together with family, when it’s just us, there’s no pressure. I still do all the important (to me) foods and in the same quantity as if we had a full house. The best part? Cooking a lot at once is really not much different than cooking a scaled down version of the same stuff. Then you have leftovers. Yummy Thanksgiving leftovers that could potentially eliminate the need to cook much of anything for the next week. You could even make a few turkey pies with just a little effort and freeze them ahead for a few nights of not cooking down the road. It’s like a little present to myself.

Last year we went elsewhere for Thanksgiving day, and I ended up cooking a whole Thanksgiving dinner at home a few days later because not having leftovers was sad. (I was also pregnant and hungry. That may or may not have had anything to do with it.)

I got a little crazy this year with the turkey. Normally I just season it with random herbs and oil or butter it before roasting. This year…

Beckett’s only got a pound on this bird.

I’ve always thought bacon would help keep the breast meat moist and extra yummy, but I’ve never tried it. All the lattice woven bacon birds on Pinterest gave me the nudge to try it, sans bacon weaving. As added insurance, I shot the bird full of butter marinade. If this isn’t the yummiest, juiciest turkey ever, I probably don’t deserve to cook turkey.

Have a great day!

Quick Takes Friday, 3rd edition

— 1 —

I’ve decided I need to move someplace that has one month of winter, one month of summer and fall the rest of the year. I’m getting tired of sweating one day and freezing the next, or, better yet, freezing in the morning, sweating in the afternoon and switching back to freezing around 2am.

— 2 —

With Beckett trying to spend as much time on his own two feet as possible, I am fighting the urge to bubble wrap everything, including our hardwood floors. I get the easy clean-up and less allergens, but I want carpet. Wall-to-wall carpet, not just area rugs. It makes crawling around on the floor chasing after babies easier and it’s a lot softer for babies who fall down 5,872 times a day.

— 3 —

New home builders should start including an extra room in their floor plans designed for the sole purpose of storing outgrown children’s clothing and baby gear. It should have deep wall to wall shelves on one side, enough built in drawers to hold about five years worth of clothing and special hooks/cubbies to accommodate all the big items.

— 4 —

I actually enjoy good political discussions and debates, so election years are fun for me. What really bugs me, though, are the nicknames people give to The Other Candidate or The Other Party. It bothers me whether they are doing it to My Candidate or The Other Candidate. To me, it makes me discount everything the person is saying if they can’t make their point without being rude. I fully support people making use of their right to free speech however they choose. If they really want me to take them seriously, though, they’ll make their point using respectful language that would make nice old ladies proud.

— 5 —

My earlier style post has me wondering what exactly are “mom jeans”? When I was younger, mom jeans were high-waisted, tapered-to-the-ankle jeans. Sometimes pleats were involved. Boot cut jeans were considered universally flattering and makeover shows everywhere convinced women to ditch their “mom jeans” in favor of boot cuts, regardless of whether you even owned a pair of boots. Now I’m hearing boot cut jeans being labeled “mom jeans”.  So, what are the current “mom jeans”, or possibly more important, what aren’t? If my only non-mom jean options are low rise or skinny, I’m screwed.

— 6 —

At least 95% of my posts are typed one handed with either a wiggly or sleeping Beckett on my lap. Sometimes this results in typos or poorly phrased sentences. The me who needs to do something semi-creative even if it isn’t perfect and the former grammar police editor me are constantly at odds over this current fact of life.

— 7 —

I still need to make Beckett’s Halloween costume. I think I have decided on the Stay-Puft marshmallow man. I don’t think he’ll hate me too much. I suppose if I don’t get his costume worked out, I could just dress him in normal baby clothes and say he is Stormageddon. Either way.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!