The Weekend Dish-Herb Vinegar

Writers and cooks know one true thing and that is, as Stanley Kunitz said,

Just as a tapestry cannot be woven out of a single set of threads…you need another set of threads as counterweave…

So go ahead and make your Christmas cookies and fudges, cakes, pies and candies. But when you need something to cut the sweet, consider creating a batch of herb-infused vinegars.


There are endless possible combinations, but I created this one to put forth a ruby jewel color and to make use of the bounty of my herb garden. You can buy clear bottles, or put the empty Pinot Grigio bottles out of their recycle bin misery and let them be the life of the party again.

For PDF labels, complete with poetry quotes courtesy of the Academy of American Poets, click here.

    Backyard Sisters Herb Vinegar
– 1 sprig rosemary
– Several twigs of thyme
Wash herbs and air dry. Slip them carefully into the bottle.

In a separate container, preferably several large pitchers or bowls, mix equal parts:
– Apple Juice
– Apple Cider Vinegar
– Red Wine Vinegar
– White Vinegar
– Rice Vinegar
– Cooking Sherry
Stir. Fill bottles.  Using a funnel helps immensely, but I’m pretty sure you already know that.

It’s so easy to make, even a writer can do it.

~ Catherine

The Weekend Dish-Apple Butter

Apples It began years ago; so many I don’t know the exact number. Nana, Granddad, this backyard sister and her youngest backyard girl gathering on a day in the fall to make apple butter.

After the apples have been purchased and cleaned, and the peeler/corer/slicers and jars, have been dug out of storage, we are ready to get to work.

Those peeler/corer/slicers are nifty little gadgets and save a lot of time. When all peeled,cored and sliced the apples are placed on the stove to cook.

apples cooking on stove Once they are soft enough, everyone’s favorite part begins: whirring with the hand-held blender.

Sometimes it is a solitary task, and other times a helping hand is lent.

Or, a little moral support . . .

The spices are adjusted after the first taste test.

When it’s just right, it is placed in jars and the backyard girl gets a little treat.

The backyard girl, with her excellent penmanship, always gets the job of labeling.

The day yields some delicious apple butter to be shared and enjoyed for the next few weeks, and also a fantastic bonus for this backyard sister and her daughter of time well spent catching up, reminiscing, telling tales, laughing, listening to music and dancing. We are grateful Nana and Granddad are so generous with their time and kitchen skills (utensils too!) and I, for one, always come away with not only a treasure trove of jars filled with yummy apple butter but also the precious gems of new, fond memories made from the stories told and delights of watching granddaughter and grandparents sharing with each other. That just doesn’t happen every day; but it will tomorrow. Oh, and I also come away with lots of fun photos.

Here’s the recipe in case you would like to try it and see what develops . . .


Note: This recipe is adjustable for desired quantity and flavor. Any type of apple may be used. We choose a mix of tart and sweet. Canning jars are available at most supermarkets. They need only a thorough washing and drying before use in this refrigerated canning method.

We use two pans of eight quarts each.

16 lbs. apples, peeled and cored, divided equally in the pans.

5 lbs.  Granny Smith

5 lbs.  Fuji

6 lbs.  Honey Crisp

Into each pan mix in:

3 level Tbs. Cinnamon

¾ tsp. ground cloves

1 1/4 cups of sugar

1 1/4 cups of Simply Apple brand apple juice.

Simmer each pan on stove covered for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste as you go. Adjust spices to your taste. When apples become soft mash them with a potato masher, a wand mixer or whatever tool you have to smooth them to an apple butter consistency.

Yield: 14 large (16 oz.) jars.

Refrigerate after cooling.

~ Sue