Sunday, October 27, 2013

Andy's Easy Homemade Apple Wine

Just the other day we were talking about the Apple Harvest Festivals I attended as a child when I lived in Southington, CT. I can remember how huge and delicious a tart Macintosh apple was and couldn't wait to bite into one. One thing led to another and Andy decided he was going to try his hand at some apple wine. After using up our apple supply to can apples and make apple-pear butter, we took a trip to the store and bought 16 large Macintosh apples. I had written how many pounds that came to, but I organized my desk and that is long gone. (UPDATE 2016: I bought two 3 lb. bags of small apples. There was a total of 26 apples. I used 20 apples total or about 4-1/2 lbs.)  The whole time we were coring and crushing the fruit, the smell was incredible.This year has been a great one for fruits. The cherries, blackberries and muscadines we've used this year have been juicy and in abundant supply.

He used the same formula that he uses for his homemade blackberry and muscadine wines. Once the wine cleared, it was the prettiest pale golden yellow I had ever seen! Very delicious!

  • 1 quart of crushed fruit per gallon of wine 
  • 1 pack yeast
  • 3 lbs. sugar per gallon of wine
  • water

  • Pillow case
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • 3 gallon wine jug
  • Airlock
We use our food processor to "crush the fruit. Place cored and sliced apples in a food processor.
We use a four cup measuring glass to put the batches in until we get a level quart. Line a 5 gallon bucket with a clean pillowcase. Pour 12 cups (3 quarts) of fruit inside the pillowcase to make 3 gallons of wine.
 Pour in 9 pounds of sugar on top of the crushed apples..

Pour pack of yeast on top of sugar. With a wooden spoon, blend well. Fill the bucket half full with warm water. Stir again. Twist the pillow case closed. Cover the top of the bucket. Andy uses a wire to tighten the cloth over the top to keep gnats out.

Every day, for five days, uncover and stir with a wooden spoon. On the next day, squeeze the juice out of the pillowcase filled with the crushed fruit and remove. Using a funnel, pour the liquid into a 3 gallon jug. Fill up with water to three gallons. 

 Seal off with an airlock.
I cannot wait to "sample" this when it quits processing! It smelled heavenly when we mixed it up.

Andy's Southern Fried Frog Legs

You can't say you've done it all until you've caught and fried a mess of frog legs. Now that we can conveniently buy the frog legs in Rogersville, there's no need to get eaten up with chiggers traipsing around several ponds in the dark of night to catch your next meal. It has been MANY YEARS since I've last gone frog gigging. My job was to hold the flashlight back in the day...with good reason. My aim isn't the best and I was always scared to death a snake would be lurking around and get me.

What frog leg meal would be complete without the following: catfish, cole slaw and hushpuppies. If you're going to break out a cast iron pot and get it fired up on the burner (outside), you might as well go all out and go all fried. We always fry these in the following order: hushpuppies, frog legs and then the catfish.

Before I tried them, I had always heard that frog legs tasted like chicken. That's not 100% true. They have their own unique taste. All I can say is they taste GOOD. Don't be a chicken, jump in and get your feet wet! The thigh meat is really white and tender. Before you know it, you'll have a plate full of bones and wonder who ate all of them?
 Wash the frog legs and remove anything that looks "questionable."
 Split in half. Soak the frog legs in the milk/egg mixture for an hour before frying.
White your cast iron pot of oil is heating to 350-375 degrees, go ahead and get the legs prepared.
Mix two cups flour with the following seasonings to your taste: Salt, pepper, Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning. Pour the flour mixture in the bottom of your shaker/breader basket. Add the frog legs. Before we bought this handy contraption, we used gallon ziplock bags to coat everything with.
 Shake several times until the frog legs are coated well.
We LOVE this style of thermometer. It is so much safer to cook with than the traditional style with that little clip. This is a lot more accurate. Get your grease up to 350 degrees. 
 Slowly drop several of the frog legs in one by one. Be careful! Grease will splatter and it will be easy to get burned. Make sure your kids are well away from this type of cooking activity.
 When the legs start floating to the top and the crust is a nice golden brown, they are ready to take up.Use a slotted spoon to remove the frog legs. Let some of the grease drip off before you transfer.
Drain on a paper towel lined pan.

The Best Gazpacho Ever

Gazpacho is a tomato based soup, full of vegetables and typically served cold. This recipe makes quite a bit. It is the perfect make ahead lunch for work. You won't even have to heat it before you eat it. Great, right?

I have a deep love and appreciation for anything that contains tomatoes and cilantro. Andy, on the other hand, can pick a speck of cilantro out of 55 gallon drum and swear the whole thing tastes like cilantro. When it comes to trying new dishes out on him, he's normally game for it. However, if there are any green specks, he's immediately suspicious. Elaine shared this delicious dish with us one day at work and I thought it was to die for. She accidentally used some extremely hot rotel tomatoes so her husband couldn't eat it. Well, we loved it and were thankful to get to enjoy it. It takes a little time getting everything chopped up, but my old-school food processor had it done in no time. I'm all about saving some money, but I was told to stick with the name brands below for the ultimate taste and I'll admit it was worth it.
2 cucumbers
2 stalks of celery
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 small onion
Toss vegetables in 1/4 cup olive oil

4 cans of Hunt's Diced Basil, Garlic & Oregano Tomatoes
2 cans of Del Monte Diced Tomatoes with Zesty Mild Green Chilies
1 6 oz. can of tomato juice
Juice of 1-1/2 lemons
1/4 cup parsley
1/3 cup cilantro

 In a large bowl, pour all of the tomatoes and tomato juice.
 In the food processor, mix the onions, parsley, cilantro and celery.
 Pulse cucumber until finely chopped
 Finely chop all of the peppers in the food processor.
 Add the ingredients to the bowl of chopped tomatoes.
 Stir in lemon juice, mix well.
Process until very smooth. Serve with an Italian-flavored bread or crackers.