Are you ready? No, not for Thanksgiving dinner…I’m talking about the much-anticipated Black Friday sales that get those very determined people out of bed at three o’clock in the morning to stand in ridiculously long lines and wrestle over Elmo. Me? No…I am decidedly not one of those people. I will however, spend oodles of money happily from the comfort of my couch, snuggled cozily under a blanket. No crowds, no lines, no waiting; just a hemorrhaging wallet.
Last year we were both sick at Thanksgiving and had to forego our usual Black Friday tradition of wandering around our sleepy downtown, eating and drinking ourselves silly. Instead, stuck in the house, we stumbled upon the lightning deals happening on Amazon, which turned out to be a very dangerous discovery.
Have you seen these lightning deals? They’re fantastic. You get a little clue as to what’s coming up for the next deals, and then you’ve got to move fast when that time hits. (Hence the lightning aspect.) They had us riveted in front of the computer all day, merrily clicking away, sometimes seemingly for no other reason than that is was “such a great deal!” Hundreds and hundreds of dollars were spent that day, and more in the following days of this lightning extravaganza.
So our previous tradition is now out the window. Lightning deals are the new tradition. And we’ve been waiting all year to do it again. I think I can hear my wallet whimpering already…
Here’s something that’s not anywhere near as fast as lightning: my apple butter recipe. But is it worth it? Mmmm, yes!
Apple butter is new to me. I’d never made it before, but knew I wanted to use it in a dish that I was planning. My first attempt was basically applesauce. It was very loose and while it tasted great, wasn’t exactly what I was going for. After some research, I decided to take the advice of many people who said cooking it for a long time is a good way to achieve that butter-like thickness. Good thing, because we fell asleep with it on the stove.
Every hour I would peer into the pot and determine that I wanted it to go just one more hour. My final plan was to go six hours. So when we woke up at the eight-hour mark, I thought I might have one big piece of apple jerky. But no…it was perfect. Slow cooking is definitely the way to go.
Ancho Chili Spiced Apple Butter
Makes approximately 2 cups
4 cups cored apple, cut into large chunks
2 cups apple juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat apples and apple juice to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, until apples are very soft. Stir occasionally.
When apples are soft, run through a food mill. Return back to pot with juice. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Heat on the lowest flame possible for about 8 hours, stirring occasionally. Mixture will get very thick.
Remove from heat and use a blender or immersion blender to puree. (If using a regular blender, you’ll need to move the apple butter around to get it all pureed since it's so thick.)
Oh how I adore sweet and spicy combinations, and this apple butter is just that. I love ancho chili powder for the rich flavor that it adds to dishes, however, it doesn’t add a lot of heat. I wanted just a little kick in this apple butter and a dash of cayenne adds the perfect hint of spice at the finish. Apple butter has endless uses…whatever you think it might be good on, it probably will be.
Hopefully I’ll be back later in the week after the cooking marathon has ended and I’ve recovered from my buyer’s remorse…
(Update: I just checked Amazon and saw they’re already doing lightning deals. I screamed. I may have a problem.)