Monday, September 30, 2013

Homemade Applesauce A.K.A "Show off Applesauce"

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I was craving homemade applesauce the other day and I wanted to run to the farmers market to get apples. However, we were in the middle of making French Onion Soup (you can find the recipe here).  If you've ever made it, you know that if you have plans to do anything or go anywhere, you better allow enough time to shower or you will smell like a big, stinky, stanky, gigantic armpit that hasn't been bathed in months! Oh you think I'm kidding? You just try it! You will smell like onions, your clothes will smell like onions, your undergarments will smell like onions, kids, dogs and basically anything else with hair or fiber in the vicinity will also smell like onions.  It's well worth it, but my whole point is that if you are trying to get to the farmers market to get apples, it just isn't going to happen people!  The next best thing was the apple orchard, but we live in an area where we have to drive 30 minutes (each way) to get to an orchard.  The one closest to us was having a fall festival kick off and I didn't really want to fight the crowd to get a bunch of apples, and I honestly didn't feel like wasting the time or gas to get there.  I contemplated just going and buying applesauce but lets face it, it's just not as good as homemade. Additionally, I'm a newlywed and as a newlywed, who doesn't like to throw on an apron, try to look all cute and play 1950's house wife by "showing off" your cooking skills and whipping of a batch of....well in my case homemade applesauce!  My easiest option (although I admit probably not the cheapest) was to run to my local grocery store and buy apples.  I got a variety of three different types, three fuji, three golden delicious and 5 lb bag full of McIntosh apples. I told Brian it would probably make a small batch, just big enough for the two of us (and since I am used to getting a full bushel at the orchard I really had no idea what to expect I would end up with). What it ended up yielding was more than even I had anticipated.  We ended up with about 90 ounces or a little over 11 cups.  It is delicious and I got two thumbs up from everyone in the family who tried it (even Andy)!  The next time I make it I will go to the orchard and I think more than likely I will ask for windfall apples or grade B apples.  Sure they won't be as pretty, but as long as I am coming home and making them that day or the next, I think they should be fine and I'm sure much more cost effective.  I will also purchase a larger quantity and either can or freeze them so we aren't under pressure to eat quarts and quarts before it goes bad in the fridge. It's really not too hard to make and honestly the biggest pain in the butt is the prepping and peeling of the apples.  Many people have fancy peelers, but mine is 5 ft 9 and MUCH better to look at while assisting me in the process! ;)  I'll leave you with the recipe, well wishes for a fantastic fall and  hopes you enjoy the recipe as much as our family did!

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Homemade Applesauce 

8 lbs of apples (I used a variety of 3 Fuji, 3 Golden Delicious and a 5 lb tote bag of McIntosh.
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 Cup of  brown sugar
1 Cup of white sugar (I used half while cooking and reserved the other half cup after all of the apples had been cooked and blended into the applesauce)
1 Cup of water
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of ground cinnamon.

Apples should be prepared by washing, peeling and coring them.  Prior to slicing them I added one cup of water and 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to the cooking pot I was going to be cooking the apples in.  As I sliced them, I tossed them into the water/lemon juice mixture (stirring after adding each apple) to ensure that they wouldn't brown until I had them all sliced. After all 8 lbs were prepped and sliced, I added the brown sugar, a 1/2 cup of the white sugar and the cinnamon.  I cooked them on high until they came to a rapid boil and then turned them down to simmer for 45 min. It will look like you have a moderate amount of liquid but do not drain or strain. To make the process easier, I used my Cuisinart Immersion Blender to blend into a smooth sauce (you can either blend or use a masher to achieve the same results).  You can always determine the consistency you like best, but Brian and I preferred a smoother type sauce.  Once the applesauce was cooled, I added the other 1/2 cup of white sugar.  You could also season this to your own taste by adding additional or less sugar and doing the same with cinnamon.  Allow the sauce to cool and store in the refrigerator, or if you prefer you also have the option of canning or freezing.


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Monday, September 2, 2013

Day 200: Smiles, Dip Dreams, Money, and We Got Married!

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Today I am officially 200 days FREE from nicotine after chewing tobacco for the last 16+ years of my life.  Even 200 days later I'm still amazed at how much better I feel about myself and my family.  I still have feelings both inside and out of my body that I thought would go away a long time ago.  That's just one more example of how STRONG of a grip nicotine can have one a person. 

And what's even more amazing?  I have done two things in my life that I couldn't be prouder of in just a 200 day span...WE quit (as in Stacy, my wife helped me more than she'll ever know) our nicotine addiction and....I married a woman who is sincerely out of my league.  Yes, we are married!  I couldn't be luckier or more blessed than I am right now!

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In terms of my "bad" feelings that I still have....Well they could be worse, or I guess more intense.  For instance, just recently I had a dip dream.  Yes it's exactly what it sounds like.  I had a dream that I was dipping.  I woke up in a state of depression because I thought I just let myself, my wife, our kids and all of our supporters down...I'm serious, when I woke up, for about 15 VERY LONG seconds I truly thought I had been dipping.  My chest hurt, I was sweating and I was on the verge of tears.  Then all of a sudden, I snapped out of it and let out a huge sigh of relief!  Ask Stacy, she was obviously laying beside me in bed and I freaked her out lol. 

Iv'e also had some cravings.  Some intense, some not so intense, but no matter the intensity, you must always take a craving serious or it will consume you.   I used to get bummed because I'd say to myself, "I've been off nicotine for 100 days now, why am I still getting cravings!?"  Well, the truth is, once you're addicted to nicotine (whether it's smoking or dipping), cravings can and will come and go for a loooooooong time! Maybe forever. With that being said, you should be better and more experienced at fighting them off as time goes by.

This next observation, well I'm not sure if it fits in the good or bad part of my feelings.  I guess good for me, bad for people still addicted?  You be the judge.  As many of you know, Stacy and I love a frozen coke from our nearest convenience store.  And as many of you know (or at least should know) making a stop at a convenience store usually means that MOST of the people you see there are buying one of two things (or both):  cigarettes/dip or gas! I have noticed a TON of people spending $5.00+ on a pack of smokes and almost $4.00 on one can of dip! Prices do go up and down, however, let's be honest, it's usually up!  I also noticed that almost no one buys just one pack/can at a time.  The ones who do, are back the next day buying the same thing with the illusion that they saved money the day before. I used to be one of those guys...I'd tell myself that buying one can today, and one can tomorrow that I was saving money.  How? I actually losing oney by driving my car to the store when I didn't need to.  I was an idiot and as I mentioned 1,000 times before...nicotine RAN MY LIFE. I planned my days (every single day) around my nicotine consumption.

A part from my face falling off and me leaving my family stranded, the next best part of quitting tobacco is not only the money we have saved, but actually seeing that money go to things that my family NEEDS and WANTS.  For instance, we just got Auden one of her fall/winter coats and when we realized the price, we said to each other "This is how much I/you would have spent on dip within a week!"  It was an AWESOME feeling!  Plus, those feelings will never, ever get old. Going out to dinner, filling the gas tank, paying Auden's Girl Scout fees, Becket's T-Ball fees, lunch money, groceries, bills etc, are ALL more affordable now!  It feels GOOOOOOOD!
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Another little something I learned about myself:  I was never really a big drinker, but every now and then I enjoyed having a beer.  When I'd go out with my friends I'd have several, just like anyone else.  However, having a beer ALWAYS came with a fresh can of dip.  It was one of the biggest triggers I had for nicotine!  Because of that, I waited until I was more than 100 days nicotine free before I tried a beer.  I was still nervous when I did indeed have my first nicotine free beer.  I'm happy to report that I have had beer several times now and haven't gone into "need a dip mode!"  Woohoo! I will say this though...If I had started getting beer triggers when I had a beer or two, I would have stopped drinking alcohol all together.  You see what could happen when you allow nicotine to run your life?  It really, truly, honestly and sincerely consumes your way of life...

If you have read some of my older blogs, you would know that our goal in writing these blogs was many things.  However, two of the bigger goals we had were: 1) To help/force me to hold myself responsible/accountable for both the good and bad episodes of quitting nicotine.  2) To maybe, just maybe inspire some people to try and quit.  I'm happy to say that since day 100, several people have come to Stacy and I for advice on how we managed to do it and for advice. It's almost as good as a feeling as it is to spend dip money on our families needs! As for the people who have tried to quit without help?  Well, I bet you know how that ended...

I just want to say this journey has taught me a TON of things about what is truly important in life.  It has taught that many people prefer to take the easy way out by justifying their nicotine habit instead of trying to quit.  Why?  Because it's easier to lie to yourself than to tell yourself the brutal truth!  I have a challenge for YOU.  If you smoke or chew.....Look in the mirror right now and ask yourself one question:  Is my nicotine addiction worth it?  Now.....Answer that question HONESTLY!

I'll be checking back in at day 250 whether I'm still successful or not!

Take care all...Don't forget to follow our page and other social media.  We have A LOT in store for you! 

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