Last weekend, James and I decided to put an end to the rule of the communist roosters in our chicken coop. So we did the dirty deed on Sunday (well, James actually did the deed). I never dreamed in a million years that I'd be plucking feathers off a dead chicken in my garage, but that's what I did. The whole process of harvesting the chickens wasn't so bad -- not as bad as I had anticipated -- and we certainly came to respect our meat that much more. Let me also say that we harvested the chickens using a humane method to lessen the suffering of the animals as much as possible -- we're not sadists or anything.
With the roosters gone, I believe the hens threw a party. Seriously, those girls have been much more relaxed without the boys bossing them around all the time, taking their food, herding them upstairs into the coop, herding them back downstairs to the outside, jumping on top of them, pecking at them -- ugh. And now, the eggs are coming more frequently. Yesterday, a new hen started laying, so we get about 2 to 3 eggs per day. Yeah, they're still on the small side for eggs, but give those hens a couple of weeks to get this laying business down. At any rate, we eat the small eggs up, too -- dee-licious!
Tomorrow, I'm heading down to the Indianapolis area to give a small seminar on canning apple butter. I have said before that my mother-in-law created a monster when she taught me how to can, and now I get to spread my love of canning onto others. I'm sure it's going to be a great time! In case you're interested in making some fall apple butter goodness, here's the recipe. Next year, I'm going to experiment with using syrup or coconut crystals instead of refined sugar (my arch nemesis, after all).
Slow-Cooker Apple Butter
5 ½ pounds apples, peeled and cored (mixed varieties work best) Makes 6-7 half-pints
1 – 3 Cups sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp fine sea salt
½ Cup apple cider or water
Chop apples into very small pieces. Place into slow cooker. Pour sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt over apples. Stir to combine. Add cider or water. If desired, add more sugar.
Cook on high for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are mushy and falling apart, about 6 hours. (If your slow-cooker does not get very hot, cook your apples overnight for 9-11 hours.)
Using an immersion blender, process apples in the slow cooker until you reach desired creaminess. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a firm whisk will also work (with a little elbow grease). A food processor, blender, sieve, potato masher or food mill can also be used to puree apples.
Can or freeze!