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Mulled Apple Cider Jelly


I have been making jam on my own for probably close to 13 or more years. As such, I’ve finally developed the confidence to experiment with flavors and such in my recipes. I opened the cupboard the other day and pulled out the last jar of cherry jam that I made earlier this summer. It was a sad day. I loved that jam, made with local cherries even. But, I knew that I needed more jam, and as much as I love the jam made by the lady who sells at the local farmers market, at $4 a jar it’s just not economically feasible. Especially when my family eats about a half pint of jam a week (give or take). We go through an equally large amount of peanut butter. There are worse things we could be eating I’m sure.

Knowing that we are not in peak growing season for many of the fruits that I usually use to make my jam, I decided to take a trip down the local juice aisle at the grocery store. I’d thought that I might make cranberry jelly and pomegranate jelly, both of which I knew I could find in 100% juice, something that is required when I’m making jam (or jelly). But as I was walking through the grocery store, the fresh pressed apple cider caught my attention.

It’s apple season, there’s bushels of apples at every farmers market stall, and the varieties are truly stunning. But my favorite part of the season is the cider that is cold pressed usually at the same orchards that grow the fruit. I knew that I had to take advantage of the fresh juice (and on sell for less than $6 a gallon!) and make some cider jelly. The only problem was, that I couldn’t find a ready made recipe that seemed to hit the spot for me. So, I decided to make my own.

I’ve never made my “own” jam before, I’ve always followed tired and true recipes, either from the box of pectin or off a trusted website. But this time I figured I could do it on my own. I modified the basic apply jelly recipe found in my box of pectin and man did it turn out great!

Only problem I had was that my biggest pot wasn’t big enough to actually hold the whole recipe at a full rolling boil. I ended up having to take it off the heat early and loosing over a cup of jelly to the underbelly of my stove. Truly a sad thing, but not too sad, I still ended up with over 10 cups of jelly (or syrup because, again, it didn’t cook long enough and didn’t quite set up). I’m going to give the basic directions for jam/jelly making here, but if you want to know how to “properly” process your jam in a boiling water bath, you can read up on them here.

Mulled Apple Cider Jelly

6 1/2 cups cold pressed fresh apple cider
1/2 cup not from concentrate orange juice
1 box regular pectin
2 teaspoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
7 cups regular granulated sugar
2 cups packed brown sugar

Mix juice, spices, and pectin in a large pot on the stove. Measure out the sugar into a separate container. Prepare your jars, lids, and rings. Heat the juice mixture over high heat stirring constantly until mixture reaches a full rolling boil. Add the sugar all at once and continue stirring until mixture again reaches a full rolling boil. Cook for one minute stirring constantly and the remove from heat. Ladle into prepared jars and process as desired.

I recommend eating this warm with warm fresh bread and a little butter. But then, that’s the way I think you should eat all fresh jam. Also good on pancakes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.


Thankful Tuesday



It’s a new year! And what a wonderful year I’m sure it’s going to be. I’m participating in a “wellness challenge” at work. Part of the challenge is to do a wellness journal. So, I thought I’d post some of them here. A while back (and we’re talking years) on my “religious” blog I did a small run of “thankful Tuesday” posts, but I thought I’d share them here this time around.

  1. A house to live in-I have never truly been homeless. I’ve had times when I was sleeping on floors, but I’ve always had a roof over my head.
  2. A job-I’ve been unemployed before. It is NOT a good position to be in. Really puts the house to live in thing in jeopardy. But, I have a job right not. Might not be my ideal job, but it is a good job nonetheless.
  3. Heat-It’s cold in the winter. And I have affordable access to a reliable, healthy means of heat. I don’t have to worry about air quality, or fuel. I do really have it good
  4. A good car-I have, in the not too distant past, had cars (more than one) that I wouldn’t trust to drive across town, let alone an hour to work every day. But I have a good car now. Gets about 30 miles to the gallon. And it’s a very pretty shade of blue (and it came with a trunk liner). I love it.
  5. Family-What sort of thankful list would it be if I didn’t say I was thankful for my family. My fiance and my children are the three most important people in my life.

There will be more to come. I am sure. But for now, this is what I pulled together quickly.



At this point, I feel that I am pretty well versed in the concept of white privilege. Not that I’m perfect, or think that because I know about it I am no longer bound by it. No, I know that when I get pulled over by the cops I’m less likely to get a ticket. I know that I’m less likely to get pulled over at all. I’ve been riding around with a burned out headlight for over a month at this point, and despite having driven by many a cop-at night-during that time, I’ve yet to be pulled over. I can’t pretend it’s not because I’m white. It’s not fair, but I don’t know what to do about it. I suppose this is one of the worst sorts of knowledge of white privilege. being aware that it is there, but feeling powerless to stop it.

The thing about privilege is that we often don’t think of it. That’s what makes is a privilege. You hear a lot about white privilege, like I mentioned above, and that’s a real thing, but sitting in my car tonight a different kind of privilege occurred to me.


photo by Justin Main on

Growing up in San Diego it was a given that you could take the bus or trolley to get around almost anywhere you needed to go. I didn’t drive until I was 19, and with rare occasion I would get around where I needed to. I just took that for granted. I’m sitting here not waiting for my boyfriend to get off work, and I realized that people in small towns are really in a worse state than in the cities. Especially teens and low income individuals. Without access to transportation, options for work and school are limited. Without work you can’t  get a car, without a car you can’t get a better job that might be further away from where you are currently located.

I feel as though I should have known this before I was 33 years old, but I didn’t. And it’s distressing. I, and others I’m sure, just take for granted that I can take a car, or a bus to get places. But for those who can’t…the future is not as bright.

Economic Theory in Liturature?


Good old Terry Pratchett. The local library near me now has an abysmal selection of his books, mainly because they categorize them as young adult and therefore only buy the ones that aren’t going to scare the parents. He was a wise man and will be missed. Another old post that I’m pushing through.

I do love a good book, as evidenced by the number of book reviews that I’ve posted here. One of my favorite authors is Terry Pratchett. He’s a crack up. His books, while technically fantasy and set on some sort of odd parallel universe where the world is flat and on the back of four elephants standing on the back of giant sea turtle, is mostly social commentary. Usually it’s just good for a laugh, but in one of his books I was reading the other day (Men At Arms) a particular passage stuck out to me:

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thing that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of social-economic unfairness.

Vimes is, in this book, Captain of the Night Watch, basically the night shift of the city cops. He is not a stupid man. He gets how things work. Such as the boot theory. And I have to agree. Think about it. If you can afford to buy you, or your child, a air of tennis shoes for $100 that will last all year, or longer, then you are in better shape than the person down at Wal-Mart putting down $20 every three months for a new pair because the soles wear out, or because the toes get holes. Same goes for everything.

Pasta With Sausage and Broccoli


This is another post from ages ago that has been languishing in my drafts box. This pasta was amazing, it needs to see the light of day, even if it doesn’t have a picture of my completed meal.

I’m an avid Martha Stewart fan and subscribe to a couple of her magazines. I love to think about doing all the great ideas for food and decorating that she had in them. Not that I have the time, energy or guts to do most of them, but I like to think about it. When the March issue of “Everyday Food” came in my mail box I was instantly hit with the desire to make the cover dish. As luck would have it it was actually the family friendly Emeril recipe “Rigatoni with Sausage and Broccoli“.

When I first told my boyfriend that I was going to make it and showed it to him he announced that there was no way that my children would eat it and that it looked disgusting. What he was forgetting was that my children love broccoli. In fact, when given the option at restaurants, my son will often pick broccoli over french fries. When I told him that the recipe called for anchovies he almost gagged.

I’ve never cooked with anchovies before and I’ll tell you, I was surprised when they really did melt when I mixed them in the sauce like the cooks on TV always say. They also didn’t taste fishy at all, more earthy and nutty than anything. When I went to cook it, I thought I had everything I needed, but I was out of the rigatoni that the recipe called for, so instead I used penne. It’s similar in shape and is rigged like rigatoni, it’s just a bit thinner.

I decided that the next time I made this dish I would use half the pasts and twice the broccoli because that’s what the kids really wanted. I loved the freshness of this dish, the lemon made it seem a bit bright and tangy and the sausage added just a hint of heat. Add to that the one pot nature of this dish and it’s going in my pile of make again dishes.

Oh, and the kids loved it and loved that they got to help cook it.

Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli

1 pound tubular pasta like rigatoni or penne
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 anchovy fillets, minced
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
Parmesan, grated, for serving

  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. In last 2 minutes of cooking, add broccoli and cook until bright green and crisp-tender. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and broccoli.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice, anchovies, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • Add sausage to pot and cook over medium-high, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, return pasta and broccoli to pot, and add oil mixture. Toss well to combine, adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.



So, guess what I got for Christmas? Besides books. I got a doughnut maker! I’ve been wanting one since I first saw them. I’ll be honest, I first saw them in the middle of October, but that’s ok. I saw them, I thought they were awesome, I wanted one. I wanted one so bad I kept telling my boyfriend that I wanted one. And when his work had one on sale the day after Thanksgiving I thought for sure he would get me one…then he told me that he’d missed them and that they were out and he hadn’t gotten one. I’d just about given up hope for them, but on Christmas morning there t was, waiting for me under the tree.

This is the one I’ve got:

It’s the one made by Bella Cucina. I really like it. The donuts that it makes are really small, which I like. And there are seven donuts per batch. A good friend got a different brand, the sunbeam one, but I don’t think she’s used it yet. I don’t know how this is. I used this the day after Christmas. My kids loved it. It’s great incentive for my kids to get things done.

I’ve made a few of the recipes in the booklet that came with the donut maker, but I’ll be honest, the original is the one that I like the best. I’ve made variations on that recipe, but, to paraphrase my favorite cooking show, that’s for another post.

Bella Cucina Basic Donut Recipe

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp cooking oil

  • Plug in the doughnut maker to heat up, it doesn’t take long, but then, neither does mixing up this batter.
  • Mix together the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and mix well. Add the oil and then mix until combined.
  • Spoon the batter into a sandwiched sized zip top bag. This makes it easier to put the batter in the molds, and the sandwich sized bags aren’t that expensive. It’ll be full, but it will all fit. Cut a small corner off the bag.
  • Spray the molds very well with cooking spray. They will stick! Lots of cooking spray or oil will help with this.
  • Fill the molds to the top of the plate with batter. If you don’t then they won’t attain doughnut height and shape.
  • Cook until the indicator light goes out, or until mostly golden brown and delicious. Don’t over cook. No one likes burned doughnuts.
  • Cool, or, immediately douse in sugar or cinnamon sugar. You need the doughnuts to be warm for the dousing in granulated sugar because that’s how it sticks (think salt on hot french fries).
  • Eat and enjoy.

Park Time


Another languishing post. This one is old enough that I don’t even live in the state in which the park mentioned is. Again, no pictures, but that’s ok. Because I want to clean out the drafts box…so I can fill it up again!

My kids’ school district is attempting to get older elementary school kids up and moving. Bribery, works like a charm. If parents sign a calendar saying their kids has done 30 minutes of exercise a day than they get a prize each month. This month it’s a pedometer. I had to tell my son what a pedometer is, but he thinks it’s cool. Anything for a free “toy”, right?

So, I’m attempting to have both my kids (even though the “prize” is only for 3-5 grades) do this challenge. And I’m doing it too. As both my kdis at least walk home from school each day (ok, really to grandmas, but that’s beyond the point) I’m less concerned with them running around as I am with me.

And I’ve discovered the best park near my house. It’s got a play structure (a big one) and a sand box (which the kids love) and the best for me, a walking path. It’s gorgeous.