Crabapple Sauce Recipe

Crabapple Sauce Recipe

We picked five gallons of crabapples the other night. Now I’m busy turning them into tasty things. Like this crabapple sauce. Isn’t the color gorgeous? And the house smelled so good when I was making it. If you have a crabapple tree that you’ve been eyeing, you have to make this recipe at least once. It’s a lot of work – I’m not going to lie – but the end result is pretty spectacular.

Ready to give it a go? Here’s the recipe. [Read more...]

Friday Yard Sale Finds

Saturday yard sales are great, but Friday yard sales are better. Seriously, it’s amazing what I find at Friday sales. Antiques. Old-school kitchen items. All manner of practical stuff. And last Friday was no exception. Check out my haul:

Size 4 Yard Sale Shoes

My oldest daughter is wearing size 3 shoes now, so I’ve been on the lookout for size 4 shoes. And let me just say, they are not easy to find. I think it’s just one of those sizes that lots of kids skip. Whatever the reason, I finally hit the jackpot. All of these shoes came from one sale. Several pairs were brand new, and the rest looked like they might have been worn once. And they’re all great brands – Merrell, Gymboree, Lands End, Gap. Better still, I didn’t pay more than $3 for any of them. In fact, I got all of these shoes, plus a pile of clothes for $18. Pretty sweet deal.

Sharpie Markers

Sharpies are made in my town, so when you see them at a yard sale, it’s a good bet that they’re brand new. I scored all of these markers for $1. And when I tested them, they all worked.

Jewelry Making Supplies

Craft supplies used to be a yard sale rarity, but now it seems like I find something every week. And the prices? Let’s just say they put those 40%-off Michael’s coupons to shame. I paid $.75 a piece for these rolls of hemp twine, and the seller threw in a spool of jewelry wire and a tube of epoxy. Nice!

Food Covers

These food covers hardly ever show up at yard sales. I’ve been trying to put a set together for years. So, when I spotted this set of four, I was stoked. And the $3 asking price seemed more than fair.

Spice Rack

I dry a lot of my own spices, so I’ve been looking for some more spice bottles to store them in. This spice rack was just $2, and had nice glass bottles. Score!

Looking at these pictures makes me wish it was Friday again. I can’t wait to see what I’ll find this week.

Are Friday yard sales a big deal in your area, too? Is this just a Tennessee thing? I’d love to hear from you.

Use This Instead of Cheesecloth

Use Paint Strainer Bags Instead of Cheesecloth

There are lots of kitchen items that I love. Cheesecloth isn’t one of them. Don’t get me wrong; it’s useful when you need it. I use it to strain pumpkin puree and broth, to make spice bundles and – on occasion – to make cheese. But it’s awkward to work with, hard to clean and it wears out quickly. There has to be something better.

And you know what? There is. While walking up and down the aisles of my local hardware store the other day, I spotted paint strainer bags. They’re simple mesh bags designed to fit over a five gallon bucket, so you can – you guessed it – strain paint. But you know what? They work just as well in the kitchen. Because they have a wide elastic band around the top, they fit beautifully over a mixing bowl, and stay right where you put them (something cheesecloth never wants to do), and since they have a finer weave than cheesecloth, they do a better job of straining, too.

Strained Butternut Squash Puree

Liquid from Butternut Squash Puree

My husband used them to strain the butternut squash puree that he made last week (yep, he’s a keeper) …

Straining Ham Broth

Strained Ham Broth

and I used them to strain the ham broth that I made yesterday. They performed perfectly in both situations.

And since they cost just $1.50 a bag and are machine washable, I’d say they’re an all-round winner. Don’t you love when you find a better way to do something?

Curb Find: Vending Machines

Vending Machines

While we were out yard-saling this morning, we passed a curb pile with vending machine parts. What a fun find! We loaded everything into the car, and when we got home, we had enough pieces to put three machines together, with plenty of leftovers.

Vending Machine Parts

See all the extras? We even have the different dispensing wheels that you need to sell gumballs, bouncy balls, etc.

Double Vending Machine

And we rescued this double machine, too.

I’m not sure what we’ll do with them yet, but if nothing else, I think they’d be a cool way to store some of our art supplies. Wouldn’t the three red ones look cool sitting on a shelf?

When to Pick Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash Vines

This spring my husband added some soil from one of our compost bins to our front beds, and before long we had butternut squash vines coming up in the front yard. Nice!

Butternut Squash - Not Ripe Yet

Those plump butternut squash have been tempting my taste buds every time I walk past them, but I’m not picking them just yet because I know if I pick them too soon they won’t keep well.

So, how do you know when butternut squash is ready to be picked?

Pick them when …

  • the skins are tan, with no green lines showing
  • the stems are brown, and the vines have died back

Many gardeners also recommend waiting until after the first frost to harvest any winter squash.

To Pick Your Butternut Squash

Be sure to leave two to three inches of the stem intact. If you cut them shorter, they’ll rot quickly. Inspect your squash carefully, and place any with damaged skins or stems in a pile to be used right away. Cure the rest by sticking them in a warm spot with good air circulation for a couple weeks. Turn them regularly to ensure even curing. This will allow the squash to shed some of their water weight and to develop tougher skins, so they store well.