The Apple Butter Mystery Has Been Solved!

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In 2011, I posted my Apple Pie Butter recipe. In the connected post, I whined about my inability to find Musselman’s Apple Butter when I first moved to New York. And though that apple butter was good, it wasn’t Musselman’s. Or my version of it.

Over the years, I kind of set aside my quest, settling instead for applesauce. But this year, the desire for homemade apple butter returned. Big time! So I tried again. And by George, I think I’ve got it!!! At least a version of it.

Two things I wanted: 1. To be able to cook the apples in a slow cooker, and 2. Not too sweet. The former seems to be a preferred manner of cooking applesauce and apple butter, but I was late to the party. No big surprise there. As for the second, that’s one of the best things about making your own. You can make it as sweet or not sweet as you like. Well, that and knowing what’s in it.

Just like when I make applesauce, I used a mixture of apples. I used Gala, Mcintosh, Paula Reds, and Granny Smith apples in equal numbers. Use what you like and have on hand. I like the Granny Smith because they help cut the sweetness. The Paula Reds are new to me this year. I picked some up at a local orchard and love them.

I washed and cored the apples, and then I cut them into chunks. No, I didn’t peel. But if you prefer to peel them, do. I filled my 2-quart slow cooker almost full. I added about a third of a cup of water. You could, of course, add apple juice instead.

Once tender, I sent the apples spinning in the Vitamix until they reached the consistency I wanted. If you cut them small enough, they may break down enough that is not needed. Back into the slow cooker they went, along with the spices I used: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. I added my choice of sweeteners–raw cane sugar and brown sugar. And then I let them cook until thick and gorgeous, about 3 hours. I propped the lid open with a wooden spoon for the last 2 hours or so to encourage it to get its thickest and best.

So how do you know it’s done? Well, it should mound on a spoon. And if you put some on a plate, liquid won’t start running away from the butter.

When done, I stirred in lemon juice. Now, at this point, you can put it in an airtight container, let cool, and refrigerate. You can also let it cool and freeze it. Me? I canned it.

I am very pleased with this apple butter. Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a tweak here and there. That’s the fun part of cooking.

Here’s my recipe for apple butter.

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It’s September, and You Know What That Means

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Ah, yes. September. One of my favorite months and definitely the beginning of my favorite season. Fall or autumn, whatever you call, it, it’s my favorite season. It has been since I was a kid, and it meant going back to school. Seriously. I couldn’t wait for the first day of school. It still means back to school for many. It also means cooler weather and changing leaves–at least in some parts of the country. And for the past several years, it has meant something else. Yes, pumpkin spice flavored everything.

I have to confess something. That is probably my least favorite thing about September. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE PUMPKIN SPICE FLAVOR, but not in everything. For example, I love pumpkin bread. Seriously love it. And if you have a low-carb recipe for it, please let me know. I know a lot of people who live for the first day Starbucks has pumpkin-spice coffees. Not me. First . . . no Starbucks. And second, I don’t really care for flavored coffee of any kind.

I’ve been making a lot of jams and fruit butters this summer. And I decided I wanted to try a pumpkin butter. After all, I had a couple cans of pumpkin. I knew I wanted to use pretty much the same flavor profile as I do for my pumpkin bread. And I also wanted to cook it in the slow cooker. Oh, and I wanted to can it. But then I learned you aren’t supposed to anymore. But there are alternatives.

First, the recipe. After an Internet search, I decided to base my version on this recipe. Both recipes call for a 15-ounce can of pumpkin. Make sure it’s just pumpkin and not pie filling. Of course, you can use fresh pumpkin as well.


One of the best things about making things yourself, of course, is being able to flavor it as you’d like. I like my pumpkin pie/custard/pumpkin bread on the spicy side. So you’ll see that while my spices are the same as his, some of the amounts vary.

Don’t read the following sentence. I wanted to can it, and I do like some sweetness, so I had to add some kind of sugar. Okay, you can resume reading. My original plan was to go with the white and brown sugar, which is pretty standard. But I seem to have accumulated a couple of bottles of maple syrup. So I used a combo of cane sugar and maple syrup. Turned out to be a pretty tasty combo.

You’ll see I added lemon juice for a couple of reasons. First, to cut the sweetness; I really don’t like really sweet things. Then, okay, don’t read, I was planning to water bath it, so I’d need the acid.

I let it cook in the slow cooker. I let it go for about an hour on low. Then I put a couple of chopsticks under the lid and let it cook another hour. Finally, I took the lid off and cooked on high until it was the thickness I wanted. Be sure to stir occasionally throughout. You’ll probably want to stir more often once you put it on high.

The only problem I have with this recipe is the sweetness. It’s a little too sweet for me. Next time, I’ll probably cut back a bit on the sugar. As for the spice blend, it hits the spot–for me. Be sure to spice according to your preferences. If you’re thinking about giving as a gift, you may want to go a bit lighter on the spices.

This pumpkin butter can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer or fridge.


Okay, this section is not for the faint of heart.

You can, can it.

I followed the instructions in the site posted earlier. My recipe got me 3 half-pints for my pantry.

You can read again now.

Of all the things I’ve made lately, this has got to be one of my favorites. It’s probably a good thing I used smaller jars because I could very easily sit there and eat an entire jar.

You can find my version here.

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It’s Hummus Time

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Hummus in one of my favorite quick lunches. Well, it can be quick if you have a package of it or a can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas). If you’ve home-canned them, using the soak method it can be pretty quick, too.

Then there’s me.

I never think to plan to have hummus. It’s always a spur of the moment thing. I do have some commercially canned garbanzos, though who knows how long they’ve been sitting in the cupboard. I think they moved here with me. And heaven knows I don’t want to spend the money on a little package of hummus. I don’t care how good it’s supposed to be.

Enter Facebook. Someone in an FB canning group I belong to posted information about Hummus in a Jar. It looked really good and seemed to solve all my issues. Plus, I had a bag of garbanzos and everything else I needed. So, of course, I had to give it a go.


My Hummus to Be, fresh out of the canner.

There are no exotic ingredients. All you need are dried garbanzo beans, toasted sesame seeds, garlic cloves, and lemon juice. That’s it. If you don’t have these things in your cabinet, they’re available in most markets–even my small village market.

You do need to plan, though. The beans need to be sorted and washed. Then let them soak for 12 to 18 hours. The next day, drain and rinse the beans. Put in a large pot, cover with water (with 2 inches to spare), and bring to a rolling boil.

Garlic and sesame seeds go into each pint jar. Then, using a slotted spoon, add the beans, followed by lemon juice cooking liquid. Be sure to leave an inch headspace. Pressure can at 10 pounds of pressure (adjust for your altitude) for 75 minutes. And there you have it–hummus on demand.

When you decide to use it, drain the contents, retaining the liquid. Add oil (I used grapeseed, but many use olive oil) and other flavorings if desired. If it’s too thick, add some of the retained liquid. Send for a happy whir in the food processor or blender.

The first time, I had my hummus with flatbread, spinach and  tomatoes. The next time, it was with delicious crackers from Triple Green Jade Farm that I got at the farmers’ market. (The tomatoes came from the farmers’ market, too.)

I didn’t have the amount of sesame seeds called for in the recipe. So I added tahini, which I had on hand. Even if I had the right amount, I’m not sure it would have the flavor I want, so I’ll likely just add tahini when I’m using it. Also, I like a little more lemon flavor, so I added more. And when it came to draining the beans, there really wasn’t anything to drain. The beans seem to have absorbed it.

You can find the recipe here. But I highly recommend getting the book, Not Your Mama’s Canning Book, by Rebecca Lindamood. My friend Karen Bergland got it for me as an early birthday present, and I couldn’t wait to dive in. I’ve already made several of the things she shares, and there are others I’d like to try. Besides the recipes and instructions for canning, she includes items that don’t have to be canned (like extracts) as well as recipes for using what you’ve made. By the way, the Honey Mustard recipe is amazing.


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Let’s Talk about Cold Ketchup

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And no, I’m not talking about the argument about whether it’s preferable to keep ketchup in the fridge or on the counter once opened. No, I’m talking about something my mother made tons of when we were kids. It was the highlight of the summer canning season. We always had lots of tomatoes, and most of them went into a simple delicacy called cold ketchup.

I love to can and have canned a lot of jams, jellies, and fruit butters. I’ve even canned meat for the first time this year. But in all the years I’ve canned, I’ve never done cold ketchup. Why? Simple reason. My mom says she doesn’t remember what goes in it. I confess, I wasn’t sure she was being completely honest about that. But when I talked to her yesterday, well . . . let’s just say I really believe her now. And all I can say is, “Crap!”

Now before you say, “But she had to get the reccipe from someone. Ask that person.” The simple fact is that anyone she would have gotten it from is dead. In most cases for a long time. And though I helped her with them (peeled a lot of tomatoes for those jobs), well, I was really young, and I have no real recollection of what when in them–except for tomatoes. It couldn’t be anything too exotic, even back then. We were never a very adventurous family when it came to food. Heck, we didn’t have pizza at home until I was in my teens.

So what do I remember.Tomatoes. Mom has a vague recollection that there were onions. Oh, and the tomatoes were not prepped a lot. When we opened the jars and poured out the cold ketchup, we often got a plop of an almost whole tomato–seeds and all. I thought maybe peppers, but she has no memory of putting peppers in there. I’m pretty sure there was vinegar in there, but there wasn’t an overpowering vinegar taste. And there was probably salt. Other than that, I’m not sure.

Now, before you think I’m describing salsa, perhaps in a way. But salsa wasn’t popular (at least not where I grew up in Iowa) at the time.

What to do? What to do? I’m not ready–or willing–to give up cold ketchup. So I’m on a mission to find that recipe. I’m hoping one of my readers know about it and perhaps has a recipe to share. (And please, it has nothing to do with sex with dead people; Interested? Google it.) And, of course, I’ll be experimenting. I don’t have enough of my own tomatoes. I hoped to get some “seconds” or “canning” tomatoes, but I’m not sure that’s going to be feasible. So I may have to use commercially canned. But one thing is for certain: I will not be deterred. Though I may end up with several marginal versions of ketchup. Good thing I like it.


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Powder Your Food

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It’s been a busy summer, but I cleared the schedule to finally write a post.

My original plan was to only plant a few herbs. I really want to move, and I didn’t want to leave my crops behind. But the closer season came, the more obvious it became that I wasn’t moving anytime soon. So I planted the herbs–and other things. I even have a tomato plant forest leading to my door.

There are lots of flowers and tomatoes on them. And I’ve already picked and eaten three.

I also planted jalapeños, but nothing yet. Well, I have plants, but that’s it. So, when I saw a YouTube post on Suttons Daze ( for jalapeño powder, I knew I had to make it. After all, you know how much I love my food powders. But unless I wanted to wait, I’d have to get jalapeños and dehydrate them first. Unless . .

I already had dehydrated peppers. Thanks to My Spice Sage, I did. I had forgotten that I ordered hopped peppers. So I pulled them out and made jalapeño powder. Why would you want it in the first place? There are things  you might like to have the heat and flavor but not necessarily the pieces. It works great in soups and breads. Mix some into the vegan cheese powder I posted about. Or, do what I did, and mix it into ketchup. But first things first. What exacty is it?

My jalapeño powder consists of two ingredients: equal parts dehydrated peppers and onion powder. Some people add an equal amount of garlic. Some add a bit of salt. Me? I’m a peppers and onion type of gal.

A word of caution. After grinding the peppers, let the “dust” settle back into the grinder before opening. And don’t stick your nose right over it. Trust me on this, okay? And if you’re grinding peppers you’ve dehydrated, I recommend putting back into the dehydrator for a couple of hours after powdering to make sure it’s dry.

So what about the ketchup. Add a wee bit of the powder to kick up your ketchup. It works in homemade ketchup, like I use, or even store bought.

Besides using as ketchup for ketchup’s sake, use it as a base for salad dressing or even seafood sauce. It’s something different to your repertoire.

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Joining the Cauli-Rice Bandwagon

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Like probably most of you, I seem to see posts about cauliflower rice on practically every social media platform I’m on. I don’t eat rice of any kind these days, and I really don’t miss it. The one time I do notice the lack is when I have stir fry, which is often. Anyway, it’s something I planned to try, but since I’m not a huge cauliflower fan (except raw), it has been one of those someday things.

Until last Monday. I happened to catch a live chat on the Suttons Daze YouTube channel. Leisa happened to mention she had some videos about it. So this morning, I checked it out. I was really drawn to the one using a Lebanese spice mix, especially since I have a blend I keep on hand. So cauli-rice was what was for dinner tonight.

Lebanese Spice Blend

Most recipes I’ve seen for cauli-rice call for fresh cauliflower. I didn’t have any, but I did have bags of frozen cauliflower in the freezer. I took one out and let it thaw in the sink. The next step is to send it pulsing in the food processor. Be sure to pulse, not just let it run. Now, you know how much I love my VitaMix and wonder why I didn’t use it. Well, I have the bare bones version, which means my options are high/low, on/off. I wanted to use something that gave me more control. Ergo, my food processor.

I decided I wanted to add some of my dehydrated red peppers, green peppers, and some sun-dried tomatoes. So about an hour before I was ready to make dinner, I reconstituted them.

I heated about a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and let it heat. In the meantime, I used a paper towel to dry off some of the moisture in the cauli-rice. When I pan was hot, I added the rice, my Lebanese Spice Blend (you can find the recipe here), and the reconstituted peppers and sun-dried tomatoes.

I love it. It would have been good on its own, but I did have some ground turkey on the side. I’m really looking forward to trying other flavor combinations.

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A Nut-Free Cheesy Powder

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I’ve been looking for a vegan cheese powder I can add to bread doughs, cracker doughs, and even use on top of veggies or in soups. I found a recipe for a parm-ish one, but it was lacking in the taste department. It’s a nut-seed combo. But, I may have finally found it.

There are a few YouTube channels that I watch religiously. One of them is Wilhelms Kitchen. Christina and her family live in Canada. I especially enjoy her canning posts. But a recent one had nothing to do with canning and everything to do with my search for a vegan cheese powder.

In a recent video, Christina talked about her Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce. She made it for mac and cheese. She now dehydrated it to make cheese powder. It’s nut-free, which suited me fine since I’m out of cashews. Christina’s recipe calls for a cooked potato. Since I need to watch carbs, I don’t buy potatoes often, so I didn’t have any regular potatoes. If I’m going to use my carbs on a potato, I want the most nutrition I can get, so I do occasionally buy sweet potatoes. And since I had one on hand, I decided to swap out the regular potato for my sweet potato. The cooked carrot I could do. Plus, I saved the peelings for stock.

As for the other ingredients, I had everything except cayenne pepper, which is optional. But since I had chili pepper, I decided to add a bit of that. And, of course I added turmeric. I try to add it to everything I can. I cut down on the salt and olive oil as well. The next time I make it, I think I’ll cut back even more on the salt. Everything goes into the blender and whirred to submission. If you want to use it as sauce, add more veggie water if needed, and stop here.

But if you’re looking for the nut-free cheesy powder, it’s onto the fruit roll-up tray or silicone sheet and into the dehydrator.  Make sure to spead thinly onto the sheets. Okay, I wasn’t so good at that.

I left mine to dehydrate overnight. The next morning, I pulled it up and turned it over to dehydrate for another few hours.

When dry, send it for a trip in the spice grinder/coffee mill/food processor/blender (I used the spice grinder). Whenever I make a powder from a liquid, I put it back into the dehydrator after powdering to make sure it’s good and dry. This went back in for another hour. And the result?

Christina says it reminds her of Chees-its. Now, I confess I’ve not had them in a really long time, but it doesn’t taste like what I remember them to taste. Now that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Quite the contrary; I like the taste.

To try it out, I decided to make a small, small loaf (okay, rolls) of bread. I added 2 tablespoons of the cheesy powder.

(Bad photo. Sorry)

It wasn’t enough to change the color, but then I used a combo of rye flour and bread flour. There was a subtle cheesy flavor to the rolls. A little too subtle for me; I’ll add more the next time.

This is a huge win for me. If you want a vegan cheese but can’t do the nuts or even seeds, this is a great, healthy alternative. I think my next experiment will be making crackers with it. Hmm, wonder where I can get a fishy mold . . .

Here’s my version of Christina’s recipe.

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Maybe I Should Have Stopped When I Was Ahead

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In my last post, I took you on my dehydrating beans adventure. I’ve had the chili mix a couple of times and love it more each time. I need to make more of the basic bean soup mixture.

Encouraged by that success, I decided to try something new. Now, I know most sources say to soak your beans before cooking. In theory, it makes them easier to digest and more nutritious. I must confess that I seldom do that. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I did. So sue me.

Sometimes, though, I like to sprout the beans. Same reason as soaking, but it takes longer. Unlike an overnight soak (which is how Mom did it), it can take several days for the beans to sprout. But hey, I like sprouting things.

As I stood, staring at a bag of kidney beans, I thought, I wonder if these beans will sprout? This was just a bag of plain, ordinary kidney beans. Not organic. This often means things won’t sprout, especially if they’ve been treated. But I decided that if they didn’t, I’d just go ahead and cook and eat them.

They sprouted! There probably wasn’t anyone more surprised than I was. So I cooked them and put them in the dehydrator.

Probably should have stopped at cooking them.

Sprouted Kidney Beans

At first, I thought I’d put something else in the dehydrator, but no, these things are–perhaps “were” would be more accurate–light red kidney beans. Kind of look like popcorn.

I didn’t have this issue when I cooked and dehydrated them for the chili blend, so I have to assume it has something to do with the sprouting process. Oh, I’ll still use them, but I admit to being kind of disappointed. Live and learn, I guess.

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And Now We Dehydrate Dry Beans

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No, you didn’t read that wrong. I dehydrated dry beans. Well, kind of.

I’ve spent a lot of time on YouTube lately. I kept finding videos about meals in jars. Now that’s nothing new, and I’ve done a few. But then I ran into some about something I’d never even considered doing. Or to be honest, never thought it was necessary. But now that I’ve dehydrated dry beans a few times, I’ll be doing it a lot more.

Let me clarify something. You take dry beans and then cook and dehydrate them. You might be wondering why anyone would do that. I know I did. The answer is a simple one: to save time. When cooking the dehydrated beans, you’re not really “cooking” them. That’s already been done. You’re just rehydrating and reheating them. Which brings up another plus, at least in areas (or houses) prone to power loss. Rather than cooking from their dry state, having dehydrated beans means all you need to do is add water.

Of course I had to try it. After all, I eat a lot of beans, and almost always in soup. So my first project was bean soup.

Bean with carrots, leeks, and kale

I already had leeks, carrots, and kale dehydrated, so all that was left were the beans. I selected Great Northern because that’s my favorite for this kind of soup. I cooked them in water and added no seasonings. I poured the cooked beans into a colander and let cool. Then onto the dehydrator trays. I let them dehydrate overnight. I’m not sure, but I think it took about 10 hours to dehydrate at 110 degrees. When cool, I put them in the jar, layered with the other soup ingredients.

In retrospect, I would have seasoned them when cooking or at least cook in stock. I could have added dry bouillon, either commercial or homemade to the jar as well as any other spices or dried herbs I might want for the soup. But the thing is, I don’t always know how I’m going to want the soup to taste before actually making it. But I have options.

When it came time to make the soup, I just dumped the entire contents of the jar into my soup pot. It took about 20 to 25 minutes for the soup to be ready after the stock came to a boil. And it was mighty tasty.


One of my favorite foods in the entire world–let alone soups–is chili. I decided to do a mixture of the beans I love in my chili. So I cooked a pot of kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans. This time, though, I added some seasoning; my O Chili Mix, of course. Like the first time, I cooked, drained, and cooled the beans before putting them in the dehydrator.

It took about the same amount of dehydrating time for these as for the Great Northerns. But as I put them in the jar, there was an additional problem. These beans make a mighty tasty snack! Nevertheless, I summoned the strength to get them in the jar, and last night, I used them to make chili. I used my usual chili recipe, such as it is, but I used some of these beans. I also used dehydrated red bell peppers, dehydrated button mushrooms, and dehydrated jalapenos. After reaching a boil, it took about 15 minutes until it was dinner, though I let it simmer longer. It was fabulous. Seriously. I’m thinking I might do a few jars of dehydrated everything I need for chili, except maybe the tomatoes.

After these successes, I did some black beans I hope to use for a salsa soup.

As for storage, I vacuum sealed them in jars. They could also be vacuum sealed in bags.

Give it a try. It’s not as weird as you might think.

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Eggplant Redux

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I love eggplant. But it seems like every time I make it, I make it the same way. Usually as a soup or stew. I was looking for something different the other day and decided to make baba ghanoush (sometimes spelled ganoush). I’ve made it a few times, but it’s been quite a while. But since I had an eggplant to use and I wanted something different, I decided there was no time like the present.

The only thing I knew for sure was that I had to start by roasting the eggplant. And, of course, tahini, lemon juice, and roasted garlic are mainstays. Other than that, I decided to do some experimenting. The first was out of necessity. I could have sworn there was tahini in the refrigerator, but when the time came to assemble my mise en place, well, it was nowhere to be found. So since I had made some Greek yogurt, I used that instead. Along with some whey. By the way, if you want to make a vegan version of baba ghanoush using yogurt, simply substitute vegan yogurt and whey.

I love roasted red pepper, so I chopped a quarter of one and added it. And red pepper flakes, too, because I love the heat. Perhaps the one ingredient you might not be familiar with is dukkah spice. Actually, it’s a blend of seven spices. If you have a favorite blend you use for dukkah, feel free to use that one. This time I used a blend of dukkah spice I got from My Spice Sage. It contains coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, thyme leaves, marjoram leaves, black peppercorns, and sesame seeds.

Baba Ghanoush

Preparation can’t be any easier. Put everything in a blender or food processor and let it rip. Add the lemon juice a little at a time, until you get the consistency you desire.

Now, my baba ghanoush is a bit darker than what you usually see. The reason is simple enough. I put my eggplant in the oven to roast and then got preoccupied. So it got a little more roasted than I’d planned. It might not be pretty, but it sure tastes good.

If you don’t think you like eggplant, try baba ghanoush. It’s great on cucumber slices and pita. Or pumpernickel. Or straight out of a dish with a fork or spoon. You can find my recipe for baba ghaoush here.

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