Homemade Apple Butter

Well, I’ve been retired 5 1/2 months and for the first time in my blog’s 10 year duration, I missed posting for 2 months. “They” say you are busier than ever in this season of life, and I’m beginning to believe that! But I am making plans to slow down a bit and I’m not sad about that at all. I think it takes a while to figure out how to “be retired.”

So this morning I got in the kitchen, and that is one of my favorite places to be. I made homemade apple butter using the crockpot. It turned out so well, so I wanted to share exactly what I did here on my blog. First the recipe, then the pictures! I enjoyed some already on an English muffin!

CROCK POT APPLE BUTTER (This made 5 pints and a little jar for my fridge!)
*5 1/2 lbs. of apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
(1 pound of apples is approximately 4 small, or 3 medium, or 2 large apples. I used about 25 small-medium apples of mixed varieties: Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, and Gala).
*4 cups of sugar
*1 Tablespoon of cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
*1/4 teaspoon of salt

  1. Peel, core and slice the apples. I used an apple corer and then I pulsed the cored pieces in my food processor just enough so they appeared chopped.
  2. Spray your crockpot with some Pam and then place the chopped apples in the crockpot.
  3. Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a bowl and pour over the apples, stirring well.
  4. Put the lid on the crock pot and cook on high for one hour.
  5. After an hour, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 hours. I put the apples in the crockpot before I went to bed and even got up once to stir them. The apple butter will turn a dark brown, thicken and smell wonderful!
  6. This morning (after 10 hours), I took a small emulsion blender and mixed the apple butter right in the crockpot to smooth it all out. The texture was perfect!
  7. Then I put the apple butter in hot clean pint-sized mason jars (with a canning seal/lid on top) and processed the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to can them. See the pictures below or research canning if you aren’t familiar with the process. Canning the apple butter just allows you to keep it longer; otherwise, you’d have to eat it up or give it all away within a couple of weeks (or you may freeze it in freezer containers). I prefer to can the apple butter because I just love doing so!

Happy Thanksgiving week to all of you from the Morton Family Farm!

Gran Jan

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Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bread

Tomorrow is September 1st and as my friend Kim Safina in California says, we begin the wonderful, amazing “ber” months: SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, and DecemBER! They include wonderful fall (my favorite season), my sweet granddaughter Emery’s birthday, my youngest son Jonathan’s birthday, my birthday, and the beautiful Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, also my favorites. 

I made cream cheese pumpkin bread today (my pictures below) and wanted to share this delicious recipe. I have tried many recipes for pumpkin bread, but my search is now over! This one is a keeper. It had me at CREAM CHEESE! It makes 2 loaves. My husband and I had a piece with coffee this morning. I took 2 pieces next door to my parents and I took the second loaf to my friend Lanie this afternoon. 

I found this recipe while looking at one of my favorite Instagram accounts “Eunamae’s,” named after the grandmother of the IG account owner. Her name is really Amy Hannon, she is a pastor’s wife from Arkansas and the founder of Love, Welcome, Serve. She has a fabulous cookbook by the same name. I love her heart for faith-filled hospitality. It reminds me of the heart of my church’s Tasting Grace Mentoring-in-the-Kitchen ministry! Go follow her on Instagram. I really believe she and I would be fast friends. 

CREAM CHEESE PUMPKIN BREAD

For the pumpkin bread:
3 cups all purpose flour

1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup oil
1 15oz can cooked pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup water

For the cream cheese swirl
8 oz cream cheese, softened well at room temperature

¼ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk

  1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients together, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar. Stir it all together well. 
  2. Add the wet ingredients and mix well.
  3. Divide into two prepared loaf pans.
    (Amy suggests using a glass loaf pan, so I did and loved the results.)
  4. Mix together the cream cheese swirl ingredients until smooth.
  5. Equally spoon dollops of cream cheese mixture over the pumpkin batter. Then use a long toothpick or skewer to drag and swirl the cream cheese around the top of the batter. Just swirl it around, do not stir it into the batter.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool 10 minutes in the pans then invert and cool completely.  Here is my “cream cheese swirling” picture prior to baking.

Fall – I can’t wait for you to get here in 3 weeks but until then, I will be making this wonderful bread to share and serve!

Happy Almost Fall Y’all!

Gran Jan

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TEN YEAR BLOGIVERSARY GIVEAWAY!

Happy Ten-Year Blogging Anniversary to me! TEN YEARS! A decade of blogging! I’ve never kept up with stats for my blog, and I don’t even know how many people actually read these posts. But this I do know…it has been my great joy to share my JOY here the last 10 years. Ten years ago when I began this blog, my purpose was to journal my journey in becoming a grandmother. I absolutely love going back and reading and counting God’s blessings to our family.

My first post was July 24, 2008 entitled The Waiting Room and can be found below. I was waiting for my first grandchild to be born. He is now waiting on his 10th birthday next month. Gran Jan’s JOY for sure! I am now Gran Jan to FIVE amazing grandchildren!

Waiting Room

I am going to give away a $25.00 gift card to celebrate! Please leave a comment by Wednesday August 1st telling me something amazing that has happened in your own life the last 10 years. I will randomly draw a winner and we will both celebrate!

Happy 10 Year Blogiversary to me!

Gran Jan

Update – Cheryl won the blogiversary giveaway! Thank you all for your support and kindness! 

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Gran Jan’s Chicken Pie Recipe

I was home last week as my office (our local school system) was shut down for Spring Break. It was a marvelous week.  I am fully convinced (as if there were any doubt) that I am going to be a fan of retirement. I worked harder than ever in my gardens, but it was great. I spent one day visiting two different women in very different seasons of life. One is a brand new mother with a 1 month old son, the other is a beautiful wife and grandmother who recently had surgery. I loved visiting with them and also shared a pound cake with them. The Retirement Countdown is officially at 40 DAYS! FORTY! FOUR-OH! FOR-TY! The slower pace will be so welcomed. Was I busy? Absolutely! But I picked my own pace – therein is the JOY!

Today I am sharing this wonderful chicken pie recipe again. I’ve made it twice recently and it is a keeper. It makes such a nice meal and the crust on top rises up in perfection. This recipe is one that I had published in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook several years ago, entitled Slow Cookers, Casseroles & Skillets I also made it for another friend who recently had some surgery and she and her husband both said it was pure comfort food. I like that.

I also like that it is simply a chicken pie with simple vegetables. You may keep it plain or add peas/carrots or even a can (drained) of mixed veggies. I like to have a big salad as a side dish, or sometimes another hearty vegetable like black-eyed peas or corn on the cob.

Pick up a rotisserie chicken from your local deli grocery store and you’re halfway through with the preparation!

Ingredients:

1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled from bone and cut into bite-sized pieces OR
4 cups cooked chicken, also cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can of drained peas/carrots or mixed vegetables
1 can cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 oz size can)
2 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 1/2 cups of self-rising flour (White Lily preferred)
1 cup of buttermilk (maybe a splash more if it seems too thick)
1 stick of melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 casserole or a large round casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Spread cut up chicken over the bottom of your casserole dish. (Lightly salt/pepper the chicken.)
  4. Evenly spread the drained vegetables over the chicken. 
  5. Whisk together until smooth the cream of chicken soup, broth, and cornstarch and pour this over the chicken.
  6. Now whisk the flour, buttermilk and melted butter together and pour/spread evenly over the soup/broth mix.
  7. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Serve with a side of your favorite vegetable or a big green salad!

This recipe is simple comfort food.  Love your family, make a chicken pie tonight. Sit around the table and linger for a while in conversation. These are the best times.

~Gran Jan

        

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Countdown to Retirement

For a woman who could probably find her own picture in the dictionary by “get-it-done,” or as we say in the South “git-er-dun,” I am so excited about my upcoming retirement from my 30-year day job (May 31, 2018)! I’ve worked in our local school system for that many years, beginning as a school secretary and retiring now from the Queen Bee 🙂 job as administrative assistant to the Superintendent of Schools. My heart is full of wonderful memories as I’ve been blessed to work with some of the finest teachers and administrators anywhere! I began working when I was 15 years old as the popcorn-maker ticket-taker in a local cinema. Those were the days! This old gal is ready for the next season.

R-Relax

This one is going to take some time for me because I’ve been bound to a set schedule for many years. You know the drill – get to work by 8:00, take a lunch hour, leave work at 5:00 PM. I know I will relax, of course I will, and honestly, having more time in the mornings is going to be glorious.

E-Entertain
I love to cook and actually just told my husband this past weekend that I’m looking forward to having guests for supper and we will enjoy sharing our farm with them. That’s hard to do when Saturdays are your only day to get chores done and catch up from a work week. I want to enjoy hospitality without stress!

T -Travel
Truthfully I’m really a content homebody at heart, and most of my traveling will be to spend time with grandchildren! However – two fun events are already on the schedule for me. My sisters and I are planning a cruise to celebrate our mom’s 80th birthday, a memory-maker for sure. Oh, and there’s a trip the week after I retire with my BFF Lanie! We are going to a quilting conference in Missouri. Quilting is our JOY and we can’t wait.

I – Indulge
The dictionary says to indulge is to “give in to wishes and whims.” I’m not sure what indulging will look like for me, but I hope it includes coffee with my parents next door, long bike rides, occasional naps, and time in my sewing room and garden. I still can’t believe I won’t be clock-bound every morning. Thankful.

R- Read
Now this is happening for sure! I have a tower of books waiting for me as well as several special reading places outside by our pond, on my front porch, and in a comfy chair in my home study. I have loved reading since I first learned at the age of five and long for more page-turning and less computer screen-staring!

E – Enjoy
Since I’m planning to relax, entertain, travel, indulge and read – enjoyment is sure to be mine. I also have plans to partner with my husband as he begins a new ministry as Pastor to Senior Adults at our church. He has been a worship leader for 45 years so this transition is big, and one we anticipate with joy. We are thankful to continue serving our church family in this new ministry. I have a desire to establish a mentoring program between our senior ladies and the young women in our church and community. That will be something I know I will enjoy.

My retirement app on my phone says “2 months and 29 days” to retirement. WOW! Let the countdown begin!

Psalm 130:5 Amplified Bible (AMP)
I wait [patiently] for the Lord,
my soul [expectantly] waits,

And in His word do I hope.

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Buttermilk Pie Recipe

This is my mother-in-law’s buttermilk pie recipe. My husband Gary, is her baby boy and this is his favorite pie recipe. I loved my mother-in-law, Isabel Morton…and she loved me. She was small in stature but mighty in spirit. Memama is what my boys called her. She was a good cook and shared this recipe with me many years ago. Memama passed away a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2015 at the age of 92. We’ve missed her so much the past 2 years, but we know she’s in heaven and we will see her again one day.

Buttermilk Pie
1 deep dish refrigerated pie crust (or make a homemade pie crust – always better!)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
3 eggs, well-beaten
1 cup of buttermilk
1 stick of melted butter (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavoring

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
    You don’t have to, but I prefer to prebake my pie shell for 5-7 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, blend the sugar and flour together with a whisk or a large fork.
  3. Add the beaten eggs and buttermilk to the sugar/flour and mix well.
    (You can use a hand mixer if you want to, but I just use a good strong whisk and it works well for me.)
  4. Pour the melted butter and vanilla over the mixture and mix well again.
  5. Pour your buttermilk pie into your pie crust and bake 50-55 minutes or until set.

I hope you will make a buttermilk pie for your family soon! It will become a family favorite in all it’s old-fashioned goodness!

~GranJan

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2017 Scripture Memory Team – November

I love this time of year! Fall is my favorite season and Thanksgiving is the best! November is my birthday month and this year was a “big one.” They are all worthy of celebration, but this one…well, I celebrated the big 6-0 on Thursday the 16th. That post will be next, but for now…I want to share my November memory verses.

Psalm 34:4
 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.

I’ve never been a fearful woman. I’m not the bravest by any means, but I’m not a scairdy cat. I like to try new things and have fun. Lately however, I have found myself being fearful for no apparent reason. The fear I experience is unfounded, unnamed. An unsettled feeling in my spirit will arise and that is why this verse has encouraged my soul. I know it’s not from the Lord, so I’m calling it what it is and trusting Him to calm my heart during these times. It could be my age…remember, I’m 60 now! Getting older can be hard, there are so many changes coming my way in the months ahead. Whatever the reason, I am trusting Christ, praying it through and walking by faith. I’m so thankful that at the mention of His great Name I sense His presence and His peace washes over me. The key is I have to seek Him and the joy is that He answers and delivers.

1 John 3:20
For if our heart condemns us,
God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

This verse also goes along with unnamed fear or anxiety. There is a great difference between conviction in my heart and condemnation in my heart. At my age (I’m 60 now, remember?) I know the difference, and that comes about from living long enough to have experienced the difference. Sometimes we have feelings of false guilt (in whatever our heart condemns us). I really believe that women know this well. We can guilt ourselves over many things, we run a lot on feelings and emotion. God made us this way and it’s good to have feelings and emotion but we cannot be ruled or overruled by them. We have to remember that God is greater than our guilty heart and He knows all things.  By this I mean He knows our real motives.  Isn’t it good to know that He does not judge on the basis of how things appear? We often judge ourselves that way and end up with that self-condemnation. So rejoice today that He is greater!

He Answers
He Delivers
He Loves
He Knows

Peace to you today,


 

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