Easy Apricot Crisp

Apricot picking

Yesterday we were blessed with bounty from a friend’s apricot tree. When we got home we made some jam. But then in the midst of other busyness, my energy for the apricots kind of fizzled away. So from the last of the apricots that my kids had pitted for me, I made this easy crisp.  (Hopefully my apricot mojo will return soon, since I still have 5 boxes of apricots!)

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Easy Apricot Crisp

8 cups halved apricots, washed and pitted
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup quick oats
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 sticks melted butter

Wash and pit apricots until you have about 8 cups. Toss with white sugar. Spread sugar/apricot mixture in a 9×12 casserole dish. Melt butter in a bowl in the microwave. In a medium bowl combine oats, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add melted butter and combine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the apricot mixture. Bake for 50 minutes at 325 degrees. Serve warm or cool. Wonderful with ice cream or whipped topping.

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Asian Salad Dressing Recipe

Have you noticed that bagged salads are getting lighter and lighter? You used to be able to get a full pound of salad greens for $2. Now the bags hold only 12 or 14 ounces, which means I need at least a bag and a half for my family. Lately I have been buying green salad less often. And instead of buying two bags of iceberg lettuce, I buy one of iceberg and then another bag of baby spinach. The spinach adds nice color and nutrition to an otherwise boring salad.

I also often substitute fresh cabbage when making winter salads. It is so easy! I simply cut half a medium sized green cabbage into very thin shreds, grate a carrot into it, and toss it with either 1/3 of a cup of bottled Italian dressing or 1/3 of a cup of my homemade Asian vinaigrette dressing. Half a head of cabbage will make enough salad for my whole family, which costs less and is better for you than bagged lettuce. And a cabbage will last in the fridge for several weeks, unlike lettuce that goes in 3 or 4 days sometimes.

Asian Salad Dressing

* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
* 1/3 cup olive oil (or sesame oil is even better)
* 1/3 cup white vinegar
* 1/3 cup soy sauce
* 3 tablespoons honey
* 1/3 cup water

Put all ingredients into a pint size jar with a tight fitting lid. Put on lid and shake well. Remove lid, and heat jar in the microwave for 1 minute just to dissolve the honey. Let cool, and shake well before serving. Store covered in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

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How To Make Grape Jelly

Lots of people think of canning as a tremendously finicky and difficult process. That just isn’t true. It does take a little time, but it is one of the few jobs I do that I can still look at and enjoy a few months down the road. I thought I’d share some pictures and the steps that I took in making grape jelly recently. I’ll be using a lot of words to hopefully answer most questions that people might have. But don’t get intimidated. Once you have done this a time or two, you’ll probably find you can make a batch of jam in an hour or less.

Be sure to check out this website to avoid major canning sins. Remember, it’s your own responsibility to make sure your food is safe, so read up on it. But by sticking with high acid foods, such as fruit, pickles, and tomatoes, and by following processing directions carefully, it is very possible to safely store food for your family. In fact, if you stick with high acid foods, you don’t even need a pressure canner. And if you’re doing pints instead of quarts, and have a large stew pot in which to process them, you don’t really even need a specialized canning pot.

Concord grapes

Concord grapes

Grape Jelly

Make 7 cups

Jelly Ingredients

3-1/2 cups grape juice
5-1/2 cups sugar
One 2 oz box pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice

Supplies Needed

pint or half-pint canning jars
canning lids and rings
large pot big enough in which to fully submerge jars
canning tongs (extremely helpful, though not essential)
1/4 cup vinegar (pour into your canning water to prevent spotting on jars)

I made my own grape juice, using Concord grapes we’ve grown and the charming old juicer you see below. I borrow it from my parents every September. You put water in a bottom tray, fill the top rack with bunches of grapes, and heat it on the stove until juice comes out the tube. (Here’s something similar: Stainless-Steel Juicer Steamer.) For as old as ours is, it works wonderfully. And yes, you can see in this photo that I can on a flat top range. I do set my pots on very carefully and lift them when moving them, instead of just sliding them around. But it has worked well.

old juicer

the juicer I use

If you are making your own juice and want your jelly to be totally sediment-free, you can strain the juice through a coffee filter set in a wire strainer. I don’t bother with this step, as my family is not that finicky about their jelly. It is perfectly okay to make jelly with grape juice you buy in the store as well.

Prep Steps to Follow for Any Canning Recipe
–Gather all your supplies.

–Thoroughly wash your jars and rings in hot soapy water and set them on a towel to dry. When I’m canning, I like to set a big old bath towel on the counter next to my stove. This gives me a padded place on which to fill jars, and a heat-protected landing pad for when they come out of the canning pot.

–Fill your canning pot halfway and set it on the stove to simmer.

–When the water gets to a simmer, dip your jars and jar lids in the water for 30 seconds or so, to kill any lurking bacteria.

–Once rings and jars have been dipped in the hot water, set them on the clean towel. At this point turn the heat down to low so the water will stay hot while you mix up the jelly.

Making the Jelly

–Get out a second large-ish pot and stick it on the stove.

–Pour the 3-1/2 cups grape juice, lemon, and pectin into the pot, and stir until pectin is dissolved.

— Heat this mixture until it gets to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.

— Quickly add the entire amount of sugar, stirring briskly to mix well. Return to a full rolling boil and boil for 2 minutes.

–Pour jelly into jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of the rim, without overfilling. I find this easiest to do by using a 2 cup glass measuring cup that I dip into the pot of jelly.

Fill to within 1/2 inch of top of jar

Fill to within 1/2 inch of top of jar

–Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth so that no jelly residue remains.

–Put lids on jars, then add rings, screwing rings on firmly.

Wipe jar rim clean before you place lid on jar

Wipe jar rim clean before you place lid on jar

–Place jars in the boiling water bath, making sure there is enough water to cover the jars with 1/2 inch to 1 inch of water.

Water should cover the tops of the jars.

Water should cover the tops of the jars.

Just a caution here: never put cold jars into boiling water, or hot jars into cold canning water, as this will cause breakage. The goal is to put hot jars into hot water. However when you are canning multiple batches, you may have some jars cool before you can get them into the canner. If that happens, simple add enough cool water to your canning pot to match the temperature of the jars.

–Turn your stove on high and bring canning water to a brisk boil. (Remember to add a slosh of vinegar to the water, as this helps the jars come out shiny and pretty.) Once the water boils, let it boil for 10 minutes.

Remove the jars after processing for 10 minutes

Remove the jars after processing for 10 minutes

–Remove the jars to the towel to cool undisturbed for a few hours.

Set on a towel to cool

Set on a towel to cool

–Within half an hour or so, you will probably hear lovely ‘pinging’ sounds, which mean your jar lids are sealing properly.

— Before you put the jars away into the cupboard, test to make sure they have sealed by pressing your finger in the center of the lid. If it is well sealed, it will feel tight and won’t pop down and up when you press on it.

Press the center of the lid to make sure the lid stays firmly down and doesn't 'pop' when you touch it.

Press the center of the lid to make sure the lid stays firmly down and doesn

That’s it. I am quite sure that it took me longer to write this post than it takes to make a batch of jelly. So give it a try and let me know how your canning goes!!

Other canning recipes I’ve shared:

Spicy Salsa

Applesauce

Apricot Jam

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Check out my cookbook for even more easy and affordable recipes.

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Hamburger Zucchini Stir-fry

A Korean friend of mine shared this recipe with me. It is perfect for summertime when you are overrun with zucchini.

Hamburger Zucchini Stir-fry

Cooked rice
1 lb. hamburger
2 c. diced zucchini
2 tbsp. oil (sesame oil is best but olive is fine too)
1/2 c. diced onion
1/2 c. diced green pepper (optional)
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic
chow mein noodles (optional)

Start a pot of rice cooking. (If you own a rice cooker, it is so much easier!) Dice zucchini and toss in a bowl with a teaspoon of salt. In a few minute’s time the salt will draw some of the water out of the zucchini. Dice onion and green pepper. Fry hamburger with garlic, onion and green pepper. Once hamburger is brown, drain off excess oil. Drain any water that has collected in bowl with the zucchini. Add zucchini and soy sauce into skillet with hamburger. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste (but remember, zucchini will have taken up some of the salt as it released water in the bowl before cooking, so taste before salting). Serve over rice and sprinkle with chow mein noodles if desired.

This meal cooks up in 30 minutes or less and will serve 4-6 people.

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Summer Confetti Salad


This salad was tossed together at the last minute, but my family loved it so much that I knew I had to share it with you. I’ve had similar salads made with strawberrries and spinach, but I’ve never seen one with apricots and cabbage. I was delighted to discover that they were such a tasty combination, especially since I happen to have a lot of both right now. This salad is loaded with nutrition, color and taste.

Summer Confetti Salad

Salad
3 cups of thinly shredded cabbage (any kind)
1 cup of other greens (I used turnip greens–spinach or chard would work well too)
1 cup strawberries, chopped fairly small
1 cup fresh apricots, chopped fairly small

Dressing
Juice from 2 limes
3 T. sugar
3 T. oil

Chop fruit and vegetables and mix in a bowl. Whisk together the dressing until sugar is dissolved. (If you don’t wait til sugar is dissolved, a family member may feel the grit between his teeth and accuse you of not washing the greens. Just sayin’.) When dressing is mixed, pour quickly over salad and toss to coat evenly. Grab your portion of this salad immediately or you may not get any. Especially if you have a 12 year old daughter who goes back for more four seven times.

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