Homemade Apple Butter

apple butter jars

I can remember my mother buying Apple Butter when I was a child. She would make toast for us, and we would spread the butter on the hot toast, then when the butter melted we would spread Apple Butter on top. It wasn’t an every day thing since it wasn’t always in the fridge. My mother would buy it occasionally, so it was a treat when she did buy it.

I’ve been making applesauce a lot more than I normally do, and peeling the apples is always the worst part, which is why I don’t make it all the time. If I had something that made peeling apples easier and faster, then I would make it all the time. I recently bought this gadget on Amazon called Starfrit Apple Pro-Peeler. I watched a video on YouTube that came from QVC and they made it look so easy to peel apples. I bought it based on their video and decided to make Apple Butter with the peeled apples. This is what it looks like.

Starfrit apple peeler

So you basically remove the plastic, then stick the apple on the 4 prongs to hold it in place, then turn the crank which turns the gears which turns the apple and the arm with the blade moves down to the bottom of the apple and starts peeling it from the bottom to the top. It’s really fun to peel apples. It normally takes me about 2 or 3 minutes to peel 1 apple, and this thing literally took 5 seconds to peel the apple.

I got the recipe for the Apple Butter from Betty Crocker. The recipe is for 12 granny smith apples, apple juice, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and ground cloves. You put all of the ingredients in a crock pot for 10 hours on low, then use a mixer on the apples, then continue cooking it on low for 2 more hours, then 2 hours to cool down before canning it.  Here’s what it looks like in the crock pot at the very beginning.

Apples in crock pot

I tasted it when it was finished, and I was surprised that it didn’t have the same taste that I remember of the Apple Butter from my childhood. I think it is too spicy in fact lol. Not hot spicy, but I mean like the cloves and nutmeg etc. I don’t recall tasting those ingredients.

When it was finished cooking, I tasted it and it didn’t taste very sweet to me, so I added more brown sugar. It did help with the sweetness and the bitter aftertaste. I figured I would not judge it while it was still hot, but instead go ahead and can it and put 1 jar in the fridge and make my decision when I could try it cold. I did, and it still wasn’t sweet enough, so I added a little bit more sugar to the jar (in the middle of the 2 jars in the picture above) and it did help it a lot. I made 1 slice of toast and added the butter, then added the Apple Butter and cut the toast in half and gave one half to my partner and we both ate it together. It was actually very good. I can see me trying this on several different things like ice cream and perhaps waffles and pancakes.

I used 20 apples and doubled the amount of the rest of the ingredients. I got 11 jars out of it, and there was a tiny bit leftover, so I poured the rest in the jar in the middle in the picture above. It’s from my Magic Bullet lol. I only have 11 glass jars for canning because 1 jar broke last year. I am going to be missing 4 more jars because my partner is giving 2 jars away at church tomorrow, and I will be giving 2 jars to people who work at the grocery store lol.

I’m going to buy more jars since we will be losing 4 more jars, but I’m going to buy the bigger jars because I want to make more applesauce and put them in the bigger jars. Now that I have this apple peeler, I’m probably going to be out of control  with canning apple butter and applesauce lol.

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Fitbit Charge HR

Fitbit Charge HRIt finally happened. I was finally able to buy a Fitbit Charge HR. I bought the extra large because I didn’t trust that the large one would fit my fat wrist lol. I also didn’t trust that the band on the large would keep it on. I prefer a regular watch band.

I wanted to buy something like this a couple of years ago, but these are so expensive, and I just didn’t have the money. I bought The Spark from SparkPeople, which is a great product, but it’s glitchy. When I am riding my bike, it logs it as “General exercise” which means if I really burn like say 300 calories, it logs it as 94 or something. I don’t like that. I also didn’t like that it didn’t work with the bluetooth to connect to my phone, and this does.

When I lost 70lbs a couple of years ago, I used the Noom app, and to tell the truth I’ve been using it ever since, I just haven’t lost any weight because once my motivation goes away, I don’t lose weight, so whatever I am using doesn’t do any good. I have a new gadget, and I have some motivation to lose weight again, so I really hope I get my moneys worth with this new watch lol.

Of course I won’t be able to put it to good use for another month. My gym membership is frozen until April 15th, so on that date I will ride my new Schwinn Meridian 3-wheel tricycle to Planet Fitness. The physical therapist said I can use the exercise bike and the elliptical machine and to do some of the exercises I did at Physical Therapy. Until then, I will use the Fitbit watch and the Fitbit app to track my sleep and my steps and log my food. I’ve already walked 3,070 steps since I got it this morning. It wants me to walk 10,000 steps per day, and I’ve already walked a quarter of that so far. The day isn’t over.

I was going to wait until next month to buy it, but I was just dying to have it now. I’m impatient lol.

Getting FAT

My partner and I went to the movies today. We saw Into the Woods, which by the way was a really good movie. I had to pee so bad by the time it ended, so I went to the restroom and well, took a piss lol. When I went to wash my hands, that’s when the realization hit me that I am right back to where I started 2 years ago when I started my diet when I lost 70lbs.

I had really bad sleep apnea back then, and when I had lost all that weight, I couldn’t use my BiPap machine anymore because the pressure was too high, and I actually didn’t even need to use it for the last 18 months. The CPAP company told me I could bring it in to have it readjusted to lower the pressure, but I had it in my head that I finally don’t need it anymore, so I never did anything with it.

The year that I had lost 70lbs, I stopped losing weight in July and I never could figure out why. I was doing everything the same, I was eating the same portions and the same calories, but the weight just stopped coming off. Actually, when I first began losing weight in January of that year, the weight was coming off really fast, but then gradually it went from say for example 5lbs a week down to 4lbs, then 3lbs, then 2lbs, then before you knew it I was only losing half a pound a week until there wasn’t any weight loss at all. The weight gradually started climbing back up and I could not understand why.

You know how when you plateau, then get so frustrated that you say screw it, I’m going to eat something bad. Then once a week you start eating junk, then twice a week, then 3 times, etc. Next thing you know, you are gaining the weight just as fast as you lost it. Sometimes you just need that “AHA” moment, and that was today.

After the movies, we went to the grocery store and my partner asked if I wanted some valentine’s candy, but that is the last thing I need right now.

I have the Dr. Phil 20/20 diet that I pre-ordered in December that arrived on my Nook last week. I have been meaning to read it, but with all the Minecraft and other video games taking up all of my time, I just haven’t been able to read it yet, but I think now is the best time to start reading.

So I guess what I am saying is, this is day 1… well, perhaps since the day is almost over, I will make it day 0, epiphany day, tomorrow can be day 1 lol.

I can always do something if I set my mind to it. I have the Noom app, the SparkPeople “The Spark” on my shoe to count my steps and cardio along with a SparkPeople workout DVD, bicycle trainer and the Dr. Phil diet book. I also have the PlayStation 4 which I will save the money for the camera so I can use it to dance with a dancing game lol. Hey, all I know is the cabbage patch, it would be awesome to know more than that, I mean, not that I really go out dancing.

I have been very lazy, but I need to discipline myself because I don’t want this sleep apnea and I don’t want this fat face again. I’m done with that, so wish me luck.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

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Have you ever had Spiced Pumpkin Bread? No, I’m not talking about that cake stuff that you buy, or that grandma bakes for dessert, I’m talking about actual bread that you can make sandwiches or toast with. Yeah, actual bread. No? Well, you are in for a real treat my friend because this is the best bread that I have ever had and it is too awesome not to share.

Okay so disclaimer it is high in calories. I’m not going to lie. You know that diet that you’ve been struggling to stay on? Well, you can go off your diet just this once. I swear off bread when I am dieting, but from October to December I throw caution to the wind because screw it, your weight can wait until January 1st when you make your New Years resolution to lose weight.

Now back to the bread. This bread is so fantastic. You can literally make a ham or turkey, or ham and turkey, go wild. My favorite is Peanut butter and Jam. It really brings out the taste of the pumpkin more for some reason. You can also make toast or garlic bread. Whatever you want, just freakin’ do it!

This is what you do. If you have a bread machine then wonderful, if you have a mixer that works too. If you have neither and you are low on funds, just head on over to the thrift stores. I bought my bread machine at a thrift store for $6. I shit you not. If you can’t find one then well, get your hands ready to start kneading dough. Trust me, it is so worth it.

spiced pumpkin breadThe ingredients are very simple. You start with the top and work your way down to the bottom. This is the recipe that comes in the recipe book for my bread machine, but I have a couple alterations for you because this recipe doesn’t make the best loaf of bread.

The recipe I use is in the middle for the 1 1/2 pound loaf. I don’t actually let it bake in the bread machine, I just use the machine to knead the dough for me. So just use the normal dough setting.

Start with 1 egg. Crack it directly into your cup. It says 1 egg with enough water to equal 1/4 cup. Well, I make it 1/2 cup. 3 tablespoons of oil. It doesn’t really matter what type of oil you use, so use whatever you want. I used canola for this recipe. 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. You can use a real lemon, or just buy one of those little plastic lemons with lemon juice. Just go down the list and add everything else verbatim.

Once you’ve added all of your ingredients, turn on the machine (or if you are actually doing this by hand, and if you are I applaud the hell out of you) and let it start kneading the dough. Don’t walk away from it, stand there and watch it. Does it just spin dry as if it were a baseball stuck to the bottom? If so, it is way too dry so add some more water, I would say about 1 tablespoon at a time. I would also suggest adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of more pumpkin. More pumpkin doesn’t hurt. What you want to see is your dough flapping against the side of the pan or bowl. Don’t make it too wet, but if you do, just simply add another tablespoon of the flour. Just keep watching it to make sure that it’s not too dry and it’s not too wet.

The bread machine should go for about half an hour or so. Once it finishes its kneading cycle, it will rise in the machine, just allow it to rise until it beeps and turns off. When it does that, what you want to do is turn the machine on again so it starts spinning the dough again. Let it work long enough until it’s back to a ball of dough. When that happens, take out your bread loaf pan and grease the sides to keep it from sticking, then dump the dough inside the pan.

I use a toaster oven since my oven doesn’t work, but that is the perfect place for me because I don’t have to wait for it to preheat, and I will tell you why. You want to put it in the toaster oven on warm, not bake, 45 minutes on 150F to rise. When 45 minutes is up, you should notice that it has risen again, and if it has, you want to turn the temperature up to 375F and switch it from warm to bake and let it bake for 45 minutes. When the 45 minutes is up, turn the temperature back down to 150F and switch it over to the warm setting again and let it warm for 20 minutes.

Oh and if you are using a toaster oven, you don’t need the rack because the bread will rise so high that it will touch those 2 coils at the top. You do not want that to happen. Just take the rack out and put it on the counter to use later. If you have 2 coils at the bottom, if they are wide enough that your bread pan sits in between them then you are golden, if not then you may have to sit it on top of them. I hate to give the advice to do that because it could break them, and we don’t want that. So if that is the case then it’s probably a better idea to use your oven.

Most people would say to take the bread out of the bread pan and put it on a rack to cool, but I found that it falls when you do that, so just leave it in the pan on the counter for a 10 minutes. When it is sort of cool to the touch, flip it over into your hand and lift the pan off. If the bottom is kind of wet, just take 2 paper towels and place it over the pan and drop the bread back in. I know this sounds odd, but it is wet because it is no longer in the oven, so it gets wet. Give it about 10 minutes and take it out and put it on the rack. It should be nice and cool by then, and the paper towel will soak up the moisture from the bottom of the bread. Let the bread sit on the rack until it cools down and the bottom will dry out.

I bought a bread slicer, it’s more of a guide that allows you to cut even slices and trust me, it really helps. You want to give it a couple of hours to really cool down before you start slicing it. Some say to wait a full 24 hours, but screw that, you want some bread now! Just let it cool down and then cut the bread to your hearts content. I use a plastic grocery bag to store it in.

Your bread should be light and fluffy and really soft. If it is too dense, you didn’t add enough water when mixing the dough. If it is too fluffy, you either sliced it too soon, or you added too much water. If you did it right, it will be so delicious that you will never want to buy regular bread ever again.

I normally don’t eat bread because I get so addicted to it that I can’t stop lol. Most people are addicted to chocolate, I get addicted to bread. I mean, not just regular bread, if it’s really good bread, then yes, but like regular bread, not so much. Give me a bag of bagels and get the rest while you can. Forget about English Muffins, those are ALL MINE! LOL. You see, I didn’t get fat because I couldn’t stop eating junk food, it’s from all that damn bread.

My diet disaster

I’m feeling very dumb these days because I am making the worst possible food choices and I can’t seem to stop gaining weight.

Last year I lost 70lbs and I bragged and my partner bragged, and we keep bragging despite the fact that I only lost 70lbs in 6 months time, and then stopped because I couldn’t seem to lose any more, so I slowly started gaining the weight back. That was 1 year ago almost exactly and I am 30lbs heavier now.

Here’s why. I know this is going to come off as blaming other people and I need to take responsibility for my own actions, but it’s really hard when you understand my situation. My partner isn’t on a diet. Plain and simple. He wants to go to buffets and eat ice cream and cookies and chips and this and that. I can pretend that I don’t want to eat those things, but let’s face it, I’m an addict. If you took an alcoholic to a bar during a beer bust, what do you expect them to drink while you drink beer? Milk? No, they are going to drink beer. If you live with a heroin addict and you bring home some heroin, what do you expect them to do? Watch you? No, they are also going to do heroin. So you simply cannot expect to bring a food addict to an all you can eat buffet and expect them to eat 1 plate with nothing but veggies, because that isn’t going to happen. They are going to leave that buffet feeling like they want to vomit during the ride home.

I spent all year last year faithfully eating weight watchers smart ones frozen dinners, fruits, veggies and denying myself treats that I love to eat. When the plateau hits and the next 6 months is all work with no payoff, you feel betrayed and you wonder why bother and then start slipping and eating whatever the heck you wanted. Well, that’s exactly what happened to me.

Again, I’m not trying to blame this on anyone because I’ve done it to myself, I realize that I can say no and I need to start saying it more often.

A week or so ago I started my Noom diet from scratch and then my birthday came and I ate cake and ice cream, buffet, chips, bread… And today someone brought me a Marie Calendars pie.  Chip doesn’t like lemon because it gives him acid reflux, so I ate nearly half of the pie on my own. I’m out of freaking control! I gave the other half of the pie to a neighbor because I just can’t take it anymore. I’m starting to look fat again. I looked in the mirror and my face is getting plump and so is my neck. I just can’t keep going like this anymore!!!

Tomorrow I am going to ride my bicycle to Food Maxx and I am going to buy 20 Weight Watchers frozen dinners for myself and 20 Michelina frozen dinners for my partner since he will eat anything and those are way cheaper. I can’t print the Weight Watchers coupons until my printer head and ink come next week, so I will have to deal with losing $6 – $8 from the lack of coupons because I just cannot let this wait another day. I need to take my life back and make better choices.I refuse to get fat again dammit!

For breakfast I will enjoy what I eat every morning, only this time I will measure my food. After breakfast, once I’ve had enough coffee in my system I will get on my bike and ride to Food Maxx and buy healthy frozen food and more generic crystal light. I’ll also buy some apples and oranges for snacks. I’ve been eating bananas every day, but I need to add other fruits so it’s less boring.

I always say that people will change their lives when they are ready, but the people we live with need to respect that and not tease us by putting bad things in front of us. I wouldn’t sabotage someone with what they are addicted to, so I expect to be treated with the same respect.

Anyway, rant over. I will hope to do my best and stick to my new diet starting tomorrow. Also, riding the bicycle is a huge help because it’s exercise. I will also start riding my bike again on the bike trail, but I will need new lights first. Target has rechargeable lights for $30 which I am saving for. I don’t have the money now, so I will have to ride after the sun comes out, not before. I’ll need all the will power I can muster.

Weight loss progress

noom weight graph

I started using Noom in January 2013 and I successfully lost 70lbs in the first 7 months, but then I hit a plateau, as you can see in my weight graph.  I tried to maintain my weight, which was 194lbs, but I had a hard time.  The holidays came and I had gained about 20lbs.  I have been saying 15lbs because I seem to get to 208 to 210lbs and stay there, but occasionally it will go up to 213 or 214.

My New Year’s Resolution again was to get down to 150 which is my ultimate goal weight.  I said 57lbs, that was because when I made the new goal, I was 207lbs.  People are always telling me that 150 is too thin, but they don’t realize is that when I was 150lbs before I gained all this weight, I could still pinch an inch or so, so 150lbs wasn’t that thin for me.  I could probably get down to 140, but I won’t go that far.  If I get down to 160 and I’m happy, then I will stay there, but I would really love to get down to 150.

I don’t have the same willpower that I had a year ago, but I am working on that.  I just can’t seem to recall what I did exactly.  I mean, I remember that I cut out bread, which I have decided to do again, I cut out sweets, which I have had a difficult time with because it is shoved in my face at every turn.  I am trying to control my willpower.  I cut out soda and other high calorie drinks.  I don’t really drink soda too often and when I do it’s usually diet coke, but I even cut that out of my diet.  Let’s see, I cut out all high calorie snacks last year, but I don’t seem to be following, but I’m trying.  Okay, enough is enough!  No more crap food!  No See’s candy, no pudding snack packs, no cheese nips or pretzels!

I have gone down a few pounds though.  I weighed myself today at 205lbs so I know I am going to succeed if I try.  I’ve been eating a bowl of mixed cereals (rice chex, honey nut Cheerios and bran flakes) with a sliced banana and vanilla flavored light almond milk for breakfast.  I bought some Progreso light soup which is 70, 80 and 100 calories per serving, and that seems to be filling.  For dinner I’m eating the Weight Watchers Smart Ones frozen dinners.  I tend to be more hungry at night than I do in the morning for some odd reason, but I’m trying to keep my snacking down.  I will eat some fruit or veggies if I do snack.  We bought a bag of red apples at Dollar General for $1.95.  You can’t beat that price.

Anyway, I am trying at least.  The Noom app will ask me to weigh myself every few days, so I’ve been doing that and my weight has pretty much stayed the same, 208, but now it’s 205 so I look forward to what I will be the next time it asks.  Last year I only weighed myself on Fridays, but this year I will weigh in when it asks me to.

I’m rambling lol.  I just wanted an excuse to blog because I haven’t been blogging lately.  Anyway, tootles!

Bread Machine for Beginners

wheat bread

I have been having a lot of fun with my new bread machine.  I’ve mostly made 100% whole wheat bread for sandwiches, but I’ve also been making spiced pumpkin bread which I also use for sandwiches.  The picture above is my first attempt at making bread, this one is wheat bread, not 100% whole wheat.

Not every loaf of bread comes out perfect though, in fact, I had no idea that my dough has been too dry until now.  The other day I made a loaf of 100% whole wheat bread and it came out smaller than usual, and when I took it out, it was really thick and hard.  I cut the slices and noticed that it wasn’t light and fluffy at all, which is how bread should be, but decided that I will just go ahead and eat it anyway and hope for the best.  Last night I had a sandwich with that bread and had the worst stomach pain in my life about 6 hours later.  I don’t know if it was the bread, or a combination of the bread and all the pretzels that I ate and the fact that everything was dry that was causing the pain.  I had a heating pad on my stomach for nearly an hour.

I decided to do a little bit of research, which I should have done to begin with.  I found this website called Salad in a Jar with 6 Bread Machine Secrets for Beginners.  I am glad I found that because I found out that I’ve been doing it wrong all this time.  My bread is always the same consistency, but never touches the sides of the pan.  It’s always a hard ball in the center of the bread machine that just spins in circles.  I didn’t know it had to touch the sides.  So now I know why the bread is so thick.

The person who wrote that blog post said to use the bread machine to knead the bread, but then transfer it to a bread pan and bake it in the oven.  Well, I don’t have that luxury because I don’t have a normal oven.  Well, we have a normal oven, it’s just old and I never use it.  I bake everything in the toaster oven, which is why I bake the bread in the bread machine.

So now that I have this new knowledge, I am going to attempt to make a regular loaf of wheat bread, not 100% whole wheat.  I will make sure it has enough water and is tacky and sticks to the side and is not too dry.

I really want my bread to come out light and fluffy and not too heavy and I want it to taste good.  I also want my partner to like it so he doesn’t have to buy his own bread from the store, which was the whole reason I have a bread machine lol.  I don’t blame him for wanting to buy bread, because it is too hard to eat, so I really hope it works out now.  I have my fingers crossed.  I have my eyes crossed for good measure.