The Apple of my Eye

Yesterday marked the final day of canning...for this week, anyway. As promised, it was a shorter day because this Smoky, Spicy, Skillet Tomato Jam was cooked down in a skillet. Geez, I might do all my canning this way. The wider the pot, the shallower the depth, and the quicker it cooks down. This jam was all cooked down in less than half an hour. When it was all processed, I had 4-1/2 half pint jars.

It tastes just as the name implies...smoky and spicy. This morning I cleaned out several leftovers, including some fish from last night's dinner and made this sort of scrambled egg/fish taco/cheesy/onion pita bread breakfast sandwich. I can't recommend it. On the other hand, it was an excellent vehicle for the tomato jam, which came to the rescue and saved the breakfast day. Possibly I should fashion some little capes for these jars and call them superheroes.

Even though the canning episode from yesterday was over fairly quickly, I spent my time between stirring sessions watering the annuals. While I was outside, I noticed our pitiful little apple tree. We've been threatening to take it out for years. The only reason it hasn't been taken out is that it's kind of off by itself, and it isn't bothering anybody, and so it's low on the list of things to uproot and destroy. (As I've mentioned before, after living in our house for 16 years, we're at the "slash and burn" stage of gardening. The former iris bed can attest to that.)

So anyway...I'm gazing at the pitiful apple tree, lofting insults in its direction, when what to my wondering eyes should appear? Hold on there...is that an apple?

Holy $hit! It IS an apple. And lookie there...there's another one!

And another!

And look at these! All-in-all, I counted seven apples on our scrawny little tree. Holy Moly. What's up with the deer? Why haven't they eaten them?

So, whoa. That was something. Here's the thing about this tree. When we bought it, it was grafted to host five different apples, which was probably part of what doomed it. All but this one little stalk have died off now. When we planted our fruit trees back in 2004, I created a little "legend" that I've saved in my documents folder all these years. Here it is...it must have been a "fanciful" day when I created it.

At the top is the 100-acre wood. George and I used to walk there on summer days. Now, I can't get the kitties to go with me any more. So anyway...you can see the two cherry trees there to the left. The first Black Tartarian we planted died, but it's been replaced with a second. It nearly died too, but as you know, it produced a bounty of cherries this year. Also, on the right, you'll see a nectarine tree. It died too. There in the middle are the different apple varieties on the apple tree. Given that, I'm guessing these apples we're seeing now are either the Melrose or the Lodi variety. Checking in with my friend Google, Melrose apples look like this:

and Lodi apples look like this:

So...I'm kinda leaning toward the Melrose variety. If that's what they are, this website says this about them:

The Melrose apple is a popular dessert variety. Holding up their shape well when cooked they are perfect for use in pies, cobblers and galettes. Hollow and fill with sweet or savory stuffing for baked apples. Layer slices with pear in a tart or atop a pizza. Their sweet flavor is amplified when cooked as well. Add to batter for bread, muffins and cookies to add sweetness and moisture. Sautee or roast and serve as a topping or accompaniment for pork and chicken. Peel and slow cook to make sauces, soups and preserves. 

Okay...well, if we're gonna have just one kind of apple, I'd like a "dessert variety." You know we're fond of dessert here at the Three Cats Ranch.

As for the cats of the Three Cats Ranch, it's too hot here for them. Cats with dark fur and black spots have to hang out under the trees when they're out in the sun. Cats are not fond of sunscreen, just to be clear.

It's even worse when you're a mostly black cat.

We've been running the air-conditioning, which makes my basement sewing room approximately two degrees above freezing. After I had my domestic chores finished yesterday, I thought I might get a start on the oranges for this month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Instead, I decided to go to the warmer upstairs where Eliza resides and get to work quilting the Summer Holiday quilt. I'll bet you forgot all about this quilt, didn't you?

It was sandwiched for quilting more than a year ago. I love this little quilt. It's one of Lynette Anderson's designs from this book:

For this quilt, I'm keeping things simple. I'm using cotton threads of similar colors...a Gutermann 50-weight in the bobbin, and a YLI Soft Touch 60-weight on top. Why the difference you ask? Because I have just partial spools of each, and I don't want to run out on either top or bottom, if you can follow my thinking. (Don't be surprised if you can't.)

And I'm keeping the quilting simple too...a diagonal grid in places, outlining the blocks, and adding a few little details in the embroidered blocks.

It's a small quilt, and so it shouldn't take too long. With the help of my quilting furriend, it will probably take a little longer. I had to encourage him to use the quilt in his chair for napping, rather than lying down on the quilt currently under my needle.

Today I'll continue on with that. With it being such a hot day, we have a boat outing planned on the river this afternoon. A few people will be joining us there, and it will be a nice way to cool off on a hot day. Between now and then I have one housekeeping task, and some slow stitching, and then I'll get back to the quilting.

Also, you might notice a new gadget in my right side bar. I'm participating in the Teal Mini Quilt Swap. It's a swap, but it's also a fundraiser for ovarian cancer research. Registration is going on right now, but it'll be closing soon. You can click on that link to get more information.

9 comments from clever and witty friends:

Quilting Tangent said...

Yah! Canning done abd time to explore and sew. Maybe apples in the future. I picked blackberries and froze them.


Ahhh--my pretty 'cool' kitties--nice photos--and cute story on the apple tree--it wants to be a real apple tree when it grows up!!! and I love that quilt--you have done a lovely job on it--
enjoy, and stay cool--from hot hot Florida--di

Quilting Babcia said...

Cooking up the first batch of tomato jam as I write. Using the recipe you shared a couple years ago, but the next batch will be of the Smoky Spicy variety. House is smelling quite nice too, I might add. Hot and muggy is the order of the day yet again. Maybe some scrappy piecing later if the jam finishes before it's time for supper. I like the sweetly simple quilting you're doing on the summer holiday quilt. Sometimes diagonal grid is the very best way to go, surprising we don't tend to use it much, since it's such a satisfying way to finish many quilts.

quiltzyx said...

Hooray for Summer Holiday! The quilting looks quite grand & I'm glad you chose to work on it rather than deal with the possibility of frost bite.

And how about them apples!! Were any of them ready to pick? Sounds like they will be delicious in any number of ways.

Linda Schiffer said...

Thanks for mentioning the Teal Mini Swap. Good cause - I just went and registered for it. Fun!

:) Linda

piecefulwendy said...

So, if you get just one apple from the tree, but it might be a blend of the two strains, would it be called Mel-Lodi? Hahaha! Sorry. I haven't had my coffee yet. Cute quilt you are working on, and, of course, beautiful kitties!

juliehallfeldhaus said...

My sewing room is in the basement too. I always close the registers in the summer so no air is blowing on me. I enjoy your canning pics I used to can lots of fruit but not so much anymore!

Brown Family said...

That is a cute quilt! I do remember when you were working on it!

Kate said...

Summer Holiday is such fun and the quilting looks great.