Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

My Christmas Letter December 31, 2013

I know that this is a little late. Like most things this year, I’ve been behind on doing this. It’s been that kind of a year, you know? I realized around Christmas eve that there was no way I was going to get my Christmas cards out (again) this year let alone write a letter in each one (in my defense, I didn’t realize it was Christmas eve until that day!).

I don’t have any pictures of gap toothed children grinning up at the camera to share.  Still just me and the dogs. Everybody is doing fine.  Nothing new to report.

This spring my brother got married and I went to the Caribbean with my family.  It was nice to get away for a week to a beach with pina coladas on it. Lots of pina coladas!

The last semester has been my roughest so far this year.  Classes that conflicted with each other in my mind and a whole lot of stress made it so that I was nearly always ready to start getting crabby (which is unusual for me). I know that grad school isn’t meant to be fun, but this last semester still really, really sucked for me.

I’ve still been knitting. Since I moved to a place on a bus route, I’ve become a very public sock knitter.  So much so that I have now memorized the Kitchener stitch!  I can also nearly turn a heel without instructions too! (Tini, your assimilation is nearly complete!) I’ve gone from an avowed non-sock knitter to a decidedly sock-knitterly knitter.

I’ve also started cooking.  Well, to be more precise, canning.  I finally have a spacious kitchen that’s air conditioned and have decided to take advantage of it by making salsa’s and canned green beans, jellies, jams, and marmalades (I’m really digging on the marmalades right now).  I have canned probably 100 pints of applesauce and 30 half-pints of applebutter (it was a really good year for apples around here). Canning has been another escape for me as well as a way to make healthy(ish) food for me and my family.  Plus, once people find out that you can USE 25 pounds of apples, all of a sudden it starts showing up:-)

I promise I am still alive and doing ok.  Just really busy.  I will try to post here a little more regularly but I make no promises.  This next semester promises to be quite busy for me as well.

I hope that all of you are doing well. Leave a comment telling me your favorite moment of the year 2013. Mine would be the impromptu pickle party we had this fall before everything got nuts.  Imagine, half a dozen people with hundreds of cucumbers and gallon after gallon of vinegar.  It was a lot of fun in a really kind of old-fashioned way!




Cider Pressing December 19, 2013

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Tonight, I learned how to press cider on a very McGyver style chopper and press.  My roommate Elise’s friend Mark had built this handy little contraption to assist in wine making.  However, I think I am just going to make cider jelly/cider syrup with it (honestly, the cookbook says that if it doesn’t turn into jelly, then you’ve got yummy syrup for your pancakes. Win-win in my book!).

This was the grinder/chopper part. Inside the box there was a drum with the heads of a bunch of screws sticking out of it. The apples got thrown into it and mashed down with the little mallet thing and came out the bottom and into the bucket.


This is what the inside looked like.



Then we put the chopped/mashed up apple bits into the press.



Here is a slightly closer look. The zip ties I think are to give the bucket a little more support.



DSCN0760The part that was “pressing” was an old brake cylinder with a couple of plastic bags wrapped around it. There were some blocks of wood on top of that and then a little car jack. Below the bucket was some creative tinfoiling and a simple cutting board funneling the cider in the pitcher.

In all, we pressed about 3 gallons of cider to be turned into jelly/syrup. Keep tuned to see how it turns out!