om nom nom straight from the spoon

“So what is apple butter anyway,” you ask suspiciously, because frankly that sounds pretty weird.

It’s not actually all that weird. It’s really a kind of apple jam. It’s a baked reduction and you can flavour it in a bunch of different ways and I’m getting better at it and it’s getting better as I do. I believe it’s called ‘butter’ because it’s lovely and smooth with maybe just a hint of apple graininess in the texture, not because there’s any actual butter involved. It preserves FOREVER–the stuff stays good, and stays good some more, and stays good after that–and although it’s *time* consuming, it’s also very easy to make. Most of the time is spent prepping the apples to cook down; everything else is really just putting it in the oven and remembering to stir it a few times while it does its thing.

We finally broke out the nifty apple corer/slicer/peeler that Ted’s mom sent us and we put it to work on a bag of freshly collected apples. It worked BRILLIANTLY, reducing the time it takes to prepare enough apples for apple butter from over an hour down to about half an hour, and that included figuring out the ideal settings for it. If you have more than a few dozen apples to deal with, Iiiii would get one of these, ’cause wow.

The process for all apple butters is as follows; basically the only difference is how you decide to flavour it when you reach the “put sweetener in” stage.

the apple cutter in motion!
the apple cutter in motion!
sproingy apple!
sproingy apple!

Whrr! All done super fast. That was awesome. Into the pot!

then just slice once & put into the pot...
then just slice once & put into the pot…

I didn’t take any picture of pureeing the cooked down apples, but basically: put 1.5 cups of apple juice in with the apples, turn the heat on, stir a couple times as it boils to mush, then puree. I used my food mill this time, which is…honestly, about equal in pain-in-the-assery as putting hot apple glop into a blender. And then you’ve got applesauce to pour into a deepish flatish enamal cooking dish.

applesauce, pureed and tart as hell!
applesauce, pureed and tart as hell!

Put in a slow oven (around 325F) and cook for about an hour, stirring once or twice, until reduced by half:

the 'waterline' there on the far side is proof in the pudding (er, applesauce) that it's cooked down by halfish.
the ‘waterline’ there on the far side is proof in the pudding (er, applesauce) that it’s cooked down by halfish.

Add honey, white sugar, and a teaspoon of salt. I used about a cup of honey this time, because that’s what I had available, and about 3 cups of sugar. (Our apples are VERY sour. YMMV; taste after putting the honey in & see what you think.) Adding the sugar & honey will refill the pot to about the previous full mark.

reliquifided with added honey & sugar!
reliquifided with added honey & sugar!

Return to the oven, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until reduced by half again, probably around 90 minutes.

such red! very color!
such red! very color!

It turns an amazing shade as the sugar caramelizes. My favourite thing about making apple butter is the different colors they all turn, depending on what you’ve put in it. The honey is super red and lovely.

If you wish, stir in a teaspoon of cinnamon after you remove it from the oven.

Jar as you would anything else.

a bit of leftover honey apple butter that wouldn't fit in a jar :)
a bit of leftover honey apple butter that wouldn’t fit in a jar :)

Eat leftovers straight from the spoon.

om nom nom straight from the spoon
om nom nom straight from the spoon

Miz Kit’s Honey Apple Butter
4lbs prepared (peeled, cored, sliced) tart apples
1.5 c apple juice/sweet cider
8 oz honey
3 c white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Put apples and apple juice into a large pot, cover, and boil until the apples are soft (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally. Puree the mix in a blender/food processor/whatever until smooth. Turn into a deep, flat enamal-lined pan & put into a pre-heated oven at 325°F (150°C, 130°C fan assisted) and roast, stirring very occasionally, for an hour or until the puree has reduced by half.

Remove from oven. Stir in honey, sugar and salt. Return to oven for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring slightly more frequently. Add cinnamon when it comes out of the oven. Jar as you normally would, or refrigerate and be prepared to eat a great deal of apple butter over the coming weeks. Makes around 48oz/6 8oz jars.

day two books!

Octocon was this past weekend, and a fine Octocon it was!

I decided to do a dealer’s table at the last minute, and it went…well. I brought jam and books. About…70 jars of jam, and 30-40 books. In fact, I had to restock for the second day, because what I’d brought on day one had sold out to the tune of about 80%, which was sort of Beyond My Expectations. I don’t seem to have gotten a picture of the books on day one, but (first photo courtesy of, by which i mean ‘nabbed from the twitter feed of’ Octocon :)):

day one jams!
day one jams!
day two books!
day two books!
day two jams!
day two jams!

This is what was left at the end:

This morning my Twitter timeline was full of people full of jam (pics courtesy of Shelly!):

pear and blackberry jams!
pear and blackberry jams!
all gone!
Good news: @ce_murphy makes amazing pear jam.
Bad news: I ated it all.

So…yes. That went well! Next year I need to bring sampling jars (and a toaster, someone said *laughs*), but it certainly went well enough to do it again. (One of the other vendors said he’d had a friend in the dealer’s room last year, and the friend had said to him, “There was a woman beside me selling JAM,” which he obviously thought was baffling, and the vendor relating this story said he’d said, “*Jam*? You’re pulling me leg,” but the guy had sworn that no, there was someone selling JAM, and look: here I was again!

Then he bought five jars. :))

I also handed out fudge:

fudge for octocon
fudge for octocon

and I tell you what, it was a spectacularly good batch and the only reason I shared is because I am a MAGNIFICENTLY NICE PERSON. A number of people asked if I was selling fudge. I wasn’t, just handing it out, but IDK, guys, what do you think, a cottage industry? Miz Kit’s (or Mrs Murphy’s, for Added Irishness) Jams & Fudges?

kate and kit and fudge :)
kate and kit and fudge :)

OMG my friend Kate (pictured above) was ROCKING her Rogue look this weekend, O.M.G!!!!

Kate rocks a 1950s Rogue style!
Kate rocks a 1950s Rogue style!


There was also a perfectly stunning Agent Carter in a perfectly stunning blue dress the EXACT SAME COLOR as mine, like, to the point that I caught a glimpse of the *color* from the corner of my eye and thought: That woman is an Agent Carter! And she was! So we bonded. :) And then she saw my name badge and was like “! You’re CE Murphy! I loved your gargoyle books!” So we bonded more. *laughs* It was really lovely to meet her and I’m feeling inspired to do cosplay because of her. ♥

I did a few panels (fewer than I was supposed to, because there were a couple late night ones I was meant to do on Saturday but I decided to check the train times at the last minute and it turned out if I did the late panels I wouldn’t be getting home until 1am and nooooo. I was much too tired for that.). They were all a lot of fun, and to my UTTER DELIGHT, the reading Saturday morning netted at least 3 sales of BEWITCHING BENEDICT. I wasn’t at *all* sure how a comedic Regency romance would go over at a SF convention, but I gave it a shot anyway. I read the lemonade scene and got a lot of laughs, and then people came to buy the book! I was so happy! Several people who bought it said “I don’t usually read romance, but the reading was so funny/I like your writing/I’ll give it a shot,” which just fills me with joy. ♥!

An advantage of being at the dealer’s table was people came to me, which was wonderful! And I got to chat with a lady I’d just met on Twitter who is a CE Murphy reader and who runs a collectibles business (Uncanny Collectibles), so that was wonderful, and it was just a really nice weekend. And I’m super tired and have to get to work now. :)

crabapple jelly & jam, blackberry jam / apple jam & jelly, strawberry jam, raspberry jam

I keep doing things and not having time to blog about them. Or not thinking to. Or thinking to but deciding sleep is better. Or that making pear jam is better.

(It turns out making pear jam is a GREAT idea.)

yeah, so the thing is that I have, like, a ton of jam-making posts to do, except they’re all just pictures of jam in the process and that starts seeming boring and…anyway, I made crabapple jelly that’s perfectly gorgeous and I made…in fact I made 4 kinds of jam last Sunday. Pear, blackberry, peach, and crabapple. Jelly. I made crabapple jam the next morning. It’s very tasty.

I made spiced pear jam from a friend’s recipe before that, and it’s GORGEOUS, omg. And we got a pressure cooker so I can make and preserve applesauce, which doesn’t keep well unless pressure cooked. And we’re having an Apple And Pear Picking Party (although I think it’ll be primarily apples by then, as most of the pears seem to be coming down) in mid-October but we have So Many Apples. Mmm. Applesauce, tho. And perhaps cider. Mmm.

God, it’s nearly October. I have so much work to do. I wish I could give up sleep for 3 months and get caught up. Not that I’d get caught up, but I’d be closer.

I…dang. What was I going to say. Something about work. Nope, dunno what. We watched s3 Killjoys and didn’t expect that ending. We each expected something different from each other but neither of us expected that. :) Went to American Made, which was pretty good although not nearly the comedy it was billed as. I’ve probably seen some other things too, although the television has not been on much at ALL lately so I might be wrong. We liked the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery althouogh I also do not like the thing that happened that many other people also did not like. The Klingons were fine, though. (In fact, it looked to me like every House was distinctive in feature style, which I thought was cool.)

There was a long terrifying saga about my captain’s chair keyboard stopping working and the quest to fix it, but it’s fixed now and typing it all up seems like too much work. I’m really relieved it’s working now, though.

I re-read THE BLUE SWORD, which, 34 years on from my first reading of it, remains one of my very favourite books. I will always wish there were more Damar books.

I’ve gone to the gym a couple times this week. All my parts are tired.

Yeah. That’s it. All and nothing. ♥

cover art for Bewitching Benedict

Me: I will watch s5 Orphan Black when I have launched BEWITCHING BENEDICT

Me: I will watch s5 Orphan Black when I’ve got REDEEMER sorted

Me: I will watch s5 Orphan Black when I have this unexpected thing sent off

Me: I will watch s5 Orphan Black when KISS OF ANGELS is written

Dear Me: when the fuck am I really going to be allowed to watch s5 Orphan Black?

Apparently Me: when the entire 22 book to-do list is done.

Sometimes I hate me.

I went blackberry picking this morning, which I’ve been feeling torn up about having had no time to do. (I genuinely feel better for having gone.) I’d found a good run of them a couple weeks ago and went to check it out, to great success:

That’s over a kilo of berries picked in about 45 minutes, which I felt was a pretty good haul. While I was picking, one woman walking by said, “Good day for picking!” and another one who had been out picking yesterday actually stopped to talk to me (Her: I always feel SO GUILTY when I drive by these berries! Me: YOU UNDERSTAND ME!!!!), and that was really nice because almost everybody who’s spoken to me about picking at all thinks I’m bonkers.

So I came home and washed the berries

and got them into the pot

and made jam

and three hours after I started picking blackberries, I had homemade blackberry jam on fresh homemade bread.

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. :)

I then made PEAR JAM because we have STUPID NUMBERS of pears on our pear trees (there are by far more pears fallen to the ground than we have had at all, in previous years at this house), and it is wonderful. I had no idea if it’d be any good because I’ve never had it, much less made it, but it’s pretty splendid. It starts out sweet and kind of apple-y and then suddenly it’s like NO WAIT THIS IS *PEAR* JAM!!! and it’s really good! And Ted, who likes pears (or at least processed pears) thought it was wonderful, so I’m very pleased with myself.

Tomorrow I have ambitions of making pear jelly, because I have An Awful Lot Of Pears here, and I bet that’ll be really nice too. And I gotta start doing something with the crabapples and the appleapples and…*despair*

(I mean, I gather other people can just walk on by fruits of the trees and whatnot without even flinching, but me and that lady from this morning, WE JUST CAN’T DO IT.)

(We’re gonna get a pressure cooker. That way I can make applesauce and canned (or at least jarred) pears and…other stuff…that will last if pressure-cooked but won’t otherwise.)