Sugar and Pectin Free Crab Apple Jelly

I’ve been wanting to make a sugar-free/pectin-free and after a quick Google search, I thought I’d try this recipe.  Because I love experimenting with food and recipes, I made some tweaks to it.  Here’s what I did.

1. I boiled 4 quarts of crab apples for about twenty minutes.  Next time I’ll add cinnamon sticks to it to make my house smell even more amazing than it did.

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Look at that lovely juice!

2. After boiling, I put some apple into a sifter and began pressing them with a spoon to squeeze out the lovely pulp.

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See that brightly coloured pulp?

3. As I pressed the apples, the pulp and applesauce mixed with each other in the bowl, so then I put over top of a pot, taped the sides so it wouldn’t move, and dumped the applesauce into it.  I stirred the applesauce slowly and the pulp start to drip into the pot.  The cheese cloth prevented any applesauce from getting through.

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4. Once I pressed all the applesauce and all my pulp was in the pot, I added ¼ cup lemon juice, 1 cup organic apple juice, ½ cup water, 1 ⅓ cups raw, farmer’s market honey.  Turn it on to medium heat to boil.  If you turn it on high, it will boil over and you not only lose a ton of jam, it is VERY difficult to clean afterwards.

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6. I boiled it for the recommended amount of time, dumped it into the mason jars, then sealed it by boiling it in a pot of boiling water.  My jelly did NOT set.  It was a beautiful clear liquid that when mixed with sparkling water tasted like pop, but it was not spreadable at all.

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My jelly, applesauce and crab apple liquor!

7. The next day I decided to try again.  This is where I changed things a bit.  I poured all the jelly back into a pot and boiled it on medium heat for about a half an hour!  Once it started to look like it was frothing, I took it off and watched as it thickened before my eyes.  I poured it into mason jars and it set beautifully!  It’s quite a bit thicker than I expected, but definitely spreadable and better than liquid!

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It’s not nearly as clear as before I gave it a 30 minute boil, but it is set and ready to enjoy during the winter!

This week I am pickling carrots and beans!  Next month I’m attending a fermenting class and hope to ferment foods all winter long!

A Little Bit of Autumn

Spring and Summer are my favorite seasons by far, but autumn is ok too (mainly because it’s a season that is not winter).  The temperatures are cooler, the leaves begin to change and we reap the fruits of nature.  Picking rhubarb and apples, digging up garden produce, baking breads and muffins, cooking stews and chili, and drinking warm afternoon teas are just some of my favorite things.  Oh and wearing SweetLegs.

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Don’t these leggings just SCREAM cozy and comfy?!

Mmm how I love delicious, raw, local honey from the Sherwood Park Farmer’s Market on warm rhubarb banana bread.  I didn’t measure anything for this recipe, but threw a bunch of ingredients into a bowl and it turned out amazing.  All the ingredients are whole foods and there was NO refined sugars added (that’s what honey is for!).

photo(60)My husband dug up our potatoes today.  Not bad for our first year gardening and they should last us a while.

photo 2A million more juicy tomatoes are hanging from their vines.  We will be making plenty of meals that include tomatoes.

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My neighbour has two apple trees that are heavy with fruit.  My three year old and I went over yesterday and picked A LOT of apples, but there are still so many more.  Thankfully, my neighbour wants me to take ALL of them so I’ll be baking, canning, juicing like CRAAAAAZEEEEE!

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Because of all this delicious food nature has provided for us, and because we still have plenty in our fridge, pantry and freezer, I only spend $36 on groceries this week (which included beef, chicken, some produce and kidney beans!). 

Happy Labour Day long weekend everyone!  Hope you’re enjoying your last “hurray” before the kids go back to school!

 

You Need to Try This Peanut Butter

I ran out of organic peanut butter last week.  Peanut butter is a staple in our home since we basically eat it every day and it’s a quick, easy and delicious protein to get into my kids.  I found this peanut butter at Costco and I can honestly say I think it’s better than Skippy or Kraft! 

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The natural and whole ingredients make it taste fantastic!  Try it.  Seriously.  It comes in a two pack (750g each) and was between $6-$8 (I can’t remember off hand).  

7 Yummy Things We Are Enjoying This Summer

1. Happy Planet Raspberry Lemonade

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I knew I was pregnant with Charles (baby #3) when I first tried this product last year.  All I had to do was take a sip and I knew that something so simple should not take like the angels in Heaven made it.  Seriously folks, this was my first trimester go-to for my nausea and I still love it.  It goes on sale at Save-on-Foods for $3.99.  Send Happy Planet an email praising their products and hopefully they will send you a $1 coupon or free product coupon (FPC) and you can use it on the Raspberry Lemonade.  Maybe you’ll luck out and get it on sale, with a coupon AND during 15% off Tuesday!

2. Quinoa Chips

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Usually when I try new products I like to wait until they are on sale, clearance or on 15% off Tuesday.  These chips came in an itty-bitty bag and cost $4.99 (on sale).  OUCH!  That was not a frugal buy at all, BUT I like to try new things so bought it on 15% off Tuesday.  The kids and I had this as a treat and thoroughly enjoyed these GMO-free treats.

3. Red Lentil Pasta

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Found at Costco.

This was another non-frugal buy, but I decided to try it anyways.  My son is ridiculously picky and I struggle to find a healthy variety of foods to feed him.  To make this $9.99 box of “pasta” stretch, I’ve combined it with eggs, veggies, and free-from chicken.  Because it contains 21g of protein per serving, my kids filled their bellies with a small portion.  I’m guessing that we can stretch this into quite a few meals.  Best part is that there is only ONE ingredient listed in this product: red lentils.

4. Chia Squeeze

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Found at Costco.

I try to spend $1 per 100g/1L/unit in organic food and this was slightly more than that.  Right now I’m feeling quite limited with my dairy-free diet (Charles has a sensitivity to the dairy proteins he receives through my breast milk) so I like finding something quick, easy and “to-go”.  These organic treats have the consistency of tapioca pudding and tastes best when chilled.

5. Coconut Milk “Ice Cream”

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This is MINE!  I love ice cream and find that I cannot go through summer without it.  This delicious coconut milk “ice cream” is actually on sale at Planet Organic for $4.99 until August 14.

6. San Pellegrino

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This sale is over, but watch for it as this is the BEST price for this product.

A delicious alternative to main stream pop.  I’m thrilled that my husband likes these and has started mixing his rum with them instead of with his usual Coke!

7. Organic Flavoured Milk Kefir

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3 x 454ml for $9.99.  Found at Costco.

Milk kefir is not something I EVER thought my kids (especially picky eater Ben) would enjoy: but they do!  This organic milk kefir from Liberte is awesome and I believe the price is great too!  This fermented, probiotic milk is great for gut health and WAY cheaper than buying probiotic pills or drops.  This package comes with raspberry, strawberry and plain.  My kids do NOT like the plain, so I’ve mixed it with honey or fruit and well, my daughter will eat it!

These are just a few things we are enjoying this summer!

 

Annie’s Homegrown Products

 

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Well.ca has Annie’s Homegrown products on sale for at least 25% off.  I like these products because they use a lot of natural, organic and gluten-free products.  Their bunny crackers and fruit gummies are great alternatives to the conventional products that often contain ingredients I don’t recognize, along with high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavours/colours.

After reading Our Year Without Groceries, I’ve been really thinking how I could do something similar and avoid the grocery stores and this is a good way.  With FREE shipping with the purchase of $25 or more, I can easily stop up on good snacks that my kids love, without even leaving my house!

Sale ends August 3.

Homemade Sparkling Lemon Juice

I love San Pellegrino Limonata.  In the summer time and during my first trimester, it is an absolutely favorite and a must.  With mostly natural flavours, it is a good substitute for pop, but unfortunately it is just so darn expensive!  Most stores sell the 6 pack for $5.99, and Costco sells a 24 pack (right? 24 pack?) for just under $16, which makes it about $4 for six cans.  That is a really good deal, but last night at Costco I just didn’t want to fork over the money for it.

Months ago I accidentally bought club soda (long story) and I had no idea what to do with it until now.  I mixed 1 tbsp of sugar with 1 tbsp-ish of lemon juice, then filled my glass with this club soda.  After adding an ice cube it tasted almost identical!

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I bought my lemon juice for under $2, the 1kg of sugar for under $2 (and obviously I’m not going to use the whole 1kg on just these drinks) and the 12 pack of club soda for $3.99!  I haven’t done the exact math (and I can if you want), but making my own sparkling lemon juice is just as delicious and certainly cheaper than buying San Pellegrino Limonata.

Oh.  And did I mention, there are almost no calories in it other than your tablespoon of sugar?  I’m going to see if I create other “pop” flavours to enjoy this summer!

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How I Drink My Coffee Now

As I learn more about refined sugar and how it’s all GMO-made, I’ve been looking for alternative sweeteners.  I’m still taking baby steps here and don’t know much about great alternatives and how to use them, but this is a start.

I bought this big bag of organic coconut palm sugar at Costco and it will last me a while.  The organic coconut milk was also from Costco and I had bought it on sale thinking I may have to go off dairy again with this baby: thankfully Charles is fine with my dairy consumption.  Since I have it though, I decided it tastes pretty darn good in my coffee.  Sometimes, when I have canned coconut milk, I will whip that up into a delicious whipped cream (flavored with a touch or honey or maple syrup) and put that in instead.  Mmm delicious.

Check out this neat website that searches top food blogs by specific ingredients.  I’m eager to try some that use coconut palm sugar.

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In case you’re wondering, the thermos is also from Costco…