Tuesday, November 30, 2010

People who live in Apple Houses. . .

are bound to learn every possible way to cook/process/eat/enjoy apples.

A friend on facebook said she could just hear me (ala Forest Gump) apple pic, apple fritter, apple sauce, apple butter, apple soup, pork with apples, apple crisp, apple cider. . .

She isn't far from the mark!  While we didn't get to enjoy the full harvest season here this year, there was still apple sauce, apple butter, and apple crisps made from the fruits of these orchard.

Last, but no where near least, was the small and precious batch of apple cider that I extracted, all without an cider press.

It starts with a bowl full of apples.  This many apples yielded about 1 quart of cider.  Be sure that you have a variety of apples, a cider from only one kind will not be near as pleasing.  Choose at least one tart variety.

Quarter them.

Throw them in your food processor and turn it on.  Your goal is to make apple mush.

Now you need a large bowl and a strainer that will fit inside of it.  Lay a large, fairly wet, but not soaking towel over both of them.

Like this.

Dump your apple mush into the bowl/strainer/towel. 

Wrap it up (like an apple mush present, don't you all wish you were on MY gift giving list!)

Take a picture of your fairly messy kitchen (you can skip this step, but expect that this will make a bit of a mess.)

Now SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE.  Squish, push, ring, do what ever it takes to get the juice out of that mush.  It will take a while, about 10-15 minutes.  It's a lot of effort for a small amount of cider, but you have never tasted cider like this before.

At the end you will be left with this.  Can you believe that this is all that is left of all those apples? 

Isn't it a lovely color?  You may want to add a little water to this, as it is very intense.  I imagine this would change from batch to batch, so test it first and then add just a little water at a time.  Chill it or heat it and add mulling spices to it.  It was a very special treat!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Can you find us???

The first thing that my friend Sonya and I learned when we first came to look at the Apple House was that it was HARD TO FIND.  My GPS was about a mile off and while Sonya's iPhone got us in the right vicinity we still couldn't see the house.  Lucky for us there was a group of goofy teenagers playing basketball at a home near where the iPhone said the house was.  We took our chances and asked them:

me: "Hey, do you guys know where number 88 is?"
super smart teen boy (with a grin):  Well, this is number 87, so it's gotta be close!"

there is not another house that can even be seen from where we are.

me: "OK, super smart teen, then where is the log house around here?"
sstb (points across the street) "in that orchard, way back there."

Thank you sstb who is now my neighbor.  I appreciate your help and I'm sure you appreciate me as a source of entertainment.

The Apple House has a driveway that is about 200 yards long.  You can not see it from the road at all, as it very literally is in the middle of a huge orchard.   This became a problem in our first week here as we had deliveries (minor things, you know, like internet modems and preschool paper work) coming to the house almost every day and people had a hard time finding the place, especially in the dark.


Give the people something to look for!

 This was the sad state of our mailbox when we arrived.  It is a quirky thing, obviously home built.  More on that later.  Link thought we should replace it, but I kind of liked it and told him to give me a crack at it first.
Goodbye newspaper tube!  John Henry and I scraped and sanded the old paint and lettering off of it, and then covered the cool old wood.  We didn't want to mess with that!
HELLO!  A couple of coats of chartreuse paint and we are getting easier to find all ready!
Next I dry brushed the entire thing lightly with red to give it some age and depth, painted the flag red, added the appropriate numbers and a sign with our name on it made from one of the old shingles off of the house.  John Henry and I also collected large rocks from around the area and dry stacked them around the base to strengthen it and also to cover up the white PVC pipe that is holding it in place.  Last, we added a small solar power light to up light it.

Now when people come to visit we tell them "Look for the apple green mailbox with our name on it and turn into the orchard there."  No one has had a problem finding us since!

One more fun fact.  While I was painting, our neighbor (sstb's father) came over to meet us.  He told us that the previous owner had, in fact, built the mail box.  It is constructed of iron and probably weighs 70-80 lbs.  He had done it after loosing his mail box one too many times to baseball bat toting teenagers in a pick-up truck.  Our neighbor also came up with his own solution.  He had what appears to be a normal looking mailbox, but the inside of it is partially filled with concrete.  He told us it was a satisfying night not long after they were both installed when he was awoken by the ring of aluminum hitting concrete, tires squealing, aluminum hitting cast iron, more squealing, and finally the sound of pick-up truck swerving off the road into the field.  The culprits managed to extract their truck and were never hear of again.

I LOVE IT!  And that mailbox is not going anywhere!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Desperate Times - Desperate Measures

The Apple house is located in a part of WA state where the water is very very hard.  The house had also sat empty for about 3 years, although the water remained on during that time.  However, no one thought to refill the salt in the water softener.  The insides of both of the toilet bowls were bright green where the water had eroded and oxidized the copper pipes.  The insides of both toilets had to be replaced, the washer hook-up had to be replaced, and basically, we are finding that every place that water comes out has been destroyed by the massive amounts of minerals (including sulfer - gah!) in our water.

Worst of all, the hard water has destroyed the dish washer and all of the associated plumbing.  I haven't had a dish washer for a month while it was on order / lost/ sitting in the warehouse because it was marked for pick up instead of delivery. . . yeah.  OK, so that's a pain, but manageable.  My chapped hands will tell you otherwise, but I am willing to do dishes by hand.  However, when they come to (at long last) replace the dishwasher they had to turn the water off to the kitchen sink.  Then there were plumbing problems, then there were parts missing, then, then, then. . .

A dishwasher I can live without, a kitchen sink I can not.

It is two days before Thanksgiving.  I have company coming.  It has been two days.  The dishes are piling up!


 Do the dishes in the bathtub.  This works surprisingly well.

Drain and rinse.

Lay out a clean drop cloth and allow to dry.

  Take a picture of your adorable baby who thinks you are a genius!

Then curse silently to yourself as the workers show up not 3 minutes later to fix the plumbing and install the dishwasher.  Actually, it's now been over an hour and they are still working on it.  Of course, there are more problems, so I am glad I got most of the dishes done beforehand.

Gotta love an old house.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Earlier this year our family decided that we needed to uproot ourselves from our beloved Seattle and move to the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.  In October we left our first home, a modern townhouse in the city.  We drove and drove and drove some more.  We landed in a log house that sits in the middle of 20 or so acres of apple orchards.  John Henry, our three year old son, christened it the "Apple House" right from the start.

The Apple House needed more than a little bit of work.  The Wrights are the family for the job!  We will be working with our land lord (yes, we are renting, we aren't sure we want to stay in the middle of nowhere forever) to revive this long neglected, but once well loved, home to a comfortable and cozy state.  Our goal is to make it fit for an energetic family and a retreat for the friends and family we must bribe to make the long long drive to visit us.

Please join us as we chronicle this transformation, here on Apple House Revival.
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