Search Results for: apple cider

Hot Caramel Apple Cider in the Crockpot

It’s cold outside.  And I don’t like it.  I enjoy fall temperatures, but not freezing, bone-chilling, make your nose drip and eyes sting kind of cold. And it’s starting to feel like that in the early morning darkness.

Whenever it gets cold, I look for warm drinks.  Hot tea is always one of my first choices.  My warm apple cider is also something I truly love to drink!

A few years ago, I posted this recipe for Hot Caramel Apple Cider.  The recipe is compliments of the 101 Homestyle Favorite Recipes (101 Cookbook Collection) from Gooseberry Patch.  This recipe will warm you to your toes!

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While the recipe calls for 1/2 gallon of apple cider, I use almost the whole gallon.  You can double the whole recipe if you wish.  I don’t.  I think 1/2 cup of brown sugar is plenty of sweeten the gallon of cider.
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Pour the cider into your slow cooker.
Add the vanilla, cinnamon sticks, cloves and cider vinegar.  Stir.  then slice up your orange and put it in the slow cooker as well.  You’ll let this warm on low for 4-6 hours.  Your house will smell amazing!
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Then pour the cider into your favorite mug, add the orang and enjoy!
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Do pay attention to your kids while you are making this cider.  I let the crew work on laundry while I was making this and found my Lion Cub in a bit of a predicament.
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5 from 1 reviews
Hot Caramel Apple Cider in the Crockpot
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • ½ gallon of apple cider
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 inch cinnamon stick
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 sliced orange
  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Strain, discard spices and enjoy!
 This recipe is linked to Watcha Crockin.
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Recipe #8 – A Warm Cup of Goodness

The air has turned chilly in the Midwest.  And the sun is setting earlier.  And with cold, dark nights comes the need to drink something warm!

So off to the 101 Homestyle Favorites Cookbook from Gooseberry Patch I went.  And I found a recipe for Hot Caramal Apple Cider.  And that sounded like it could warm my toes.
The recipe is:
1/2 gallon of apple cider
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
4 inch cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1 sliced orange
Combine all ingrediants in a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Strain, discard spices and the orange. 

My favorite place to buy cider is from Doud’s Orchard, northern Miami County and just up the road from my house. While we have other orchards in the county making great hard cider, selling great apples and other sweets, I always head to Doud’s for my cider.

My ingrediants were all things found in my cupboards!

And I didn’t measure.  I never do!! Doesn’t it look pretty in my slow cooker?!

8 recipes done, only two more to go!! And then I’ll be giving away a 101 Homestyle Favorites Cookbook from Gooseberry Patch!!
Special thanks to Gooseberry Patch for providing me with this great cookbook to try and share with you. If you would like to purchase this or other cookbooks, please visit their store. If you would like to see other great recipes, check out


Mommy Guilt and Travel Denial

I am getting ready to leave for South America in a few days. And I am in complete denial. I have nothing packed and my shopping list just keeps growing. The only Spanish I know is either from Dora or from some of the guys who work in our hog barns. So I can either ask for a red crayon when I’m in Chili or I can talk to someone about pigs per litter in Mendoza.  I don’t think either of those potential conversations will actually happen.

I’m in denial that I will be away from my family for 10 days.  I’ve never been away from my entire crew for that long. I know this trip will be such a great time, but I am going to miss a few things that are important to my crew. My Monkey has a spring music program that I won’t be able to attend. There are baseball meetings that The Farmer is going to have to take care of. And who knows what else will pop up that isn’t planned yet.

So, I haven’t actually packed anything in a suitcase yet. Instead, I’ve been doing the following:

*  Playing endless games of Apples to Apples and Headbanz with my girls

*  Letting the girls menu plan and help make some recipes

*  Doing countless loads of laundry

*  Snuggling with my kids

*  Reading books. Alot of books

*  Letting my Lion Cub sleep in my bed. I know it’s controversial to some, but there are times my little guy wants to sleep next to me. So I let him. And he will scoot over really close and put his little arm around my neck and snuggle his head into my neck. So then I can sniff his Johnson baby shampooed curly head.

The time will go fast. It’s the evening time alone that will seem slow. I’ll miss that curly headed little man and his little arm sneaking up around my neck. And when I get home, I can’t wait to be met with arms wide open and the smiles that will follow.

Wine With Me Wednesday: Sauvignon Blanc

There are two wines that I love to drink during the summer, Dry Rose’s and Sauvignon Blancs. Last week I talked about one of my favorite Rose’s. Today I will share with you a new Sauvignon Blanc I just discovered.

New Zealand is known for Sauvignon Blanc. They make many outstanding wines. And this might be a new favorite of mine. GoldWater Estate is found is the Marlborough region of New Zealand. This wine is a pale yellow color. When I poured it into the glass, I smelled citrus, pepper, and some mineral undertones.  
However, when I drank the glass, which I did pretty quickly, I tasted a lot of lime! And lime is one of my very favorite flavors.  I also taste a bit of peach and green apple flavor as well. 

This wine was about $16. But I can’t remember where I purchased it!! Ack!! I have been racking my brain as to where I have been wine shopping recently and still can’t come up with the store. I may have bought this at The Fresh Market, but can’t be sure until I go back!

This wine is a screw cap and should be enjoyed when you buy it. Don’t let it sit around to age. Enjoy it now! And enjoy it chilled! This will be a favorite of mine for some time! As soon as I can figure out where I purchased it!!

Wine Wednesday: Heading to Michigan

This week my industry’s annual meeting is taking place.  It’s why this Wine Wednesday piece is actually getting posted on Thursday! 

One great part of our annual meeting is the chance to hear from other wineries around the Midwest.  This year the winemaker from Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, Michigan. And he brought some great wines for us to taste!

The first flight we tasted was a selection of Rieslings.  These are 2006, 2008 and 2011 dry Rieslings.

This tasting of three wines took place at 9am!  Don’t I have the best job?
Only the 2011 vintage is still available for sale.  Riesling does not have to be surgary sweet, as some may be familiar with. This is  a dry wine, meaning it’s residual sugar level is very low.  When you smell this wine you will notice citrus and stone fruits aromas followed by very subtle minerality. When you taste it you should find fresh apple, orange and apricot fruit flavors combine with a hint of spice for a crisp and refreshing finish. 

Since this wine isn’t sweet, it can be stored away for a few years in a cellar to age. Any wine that has a sweetness factor can not be stored for years! The sweeter the wine the faster it should be drank. The winemaker said this could be cellared for five to ten years. Personally, I always try to cellar wines but get too thirsty and drink them instead!

This wine is $18 a bottle and pairs well with Asian fare, curries, and seafoods! 

Wine Wednesday: Heading to Michigan!

This week my industry’s annual meeting is taking place.  It’s why this Wine Wednesday piece is actually getting posted on Thursday!

One great part of our annual meeting is the chance to hear from other wineries around the Midwest.  This year the winemaker was from Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, Michigan. And he brought some great wines for us to taste!

The first flight we tasted was a selection of Rieslings.  These are 2006, 2008 and 2011 dry Rieslings.


This tasting of three wines took place at 9am!  Don’t I have the best job?

Only the 2011 vintage is still available for sale.  Riesling does not have to be sugary sweet, as some may be familiar with. This is a dry wine, meaning its residual sugar level is very low.  When you smell this wine you will notice citrus and stone fruits aromas followed by very subtle minerality. When you taste it you should find fresh apple, orange and apricot fruit flavors combine with a hint of spice for a crisp and refreshing finish.

Since this wine isn’t sweet, it can be stored away for a few years in a cellar to age. Any wine that has a sweetness factor cannot be stored for years! The sweeter the wine the faster it should be drank. The winemaker said this could be cellared for five to ten years. Personally, I always try to cellar wines but get too thirsty and drink them instead!

This wine is $18 a bottle and pairs well with Asian fare, curries, and seafoods!

If you find this wine near you, I’d recommend picking up a few bottles.  One to drink, and one to save!  If you don’t get thirsty in a few months!

A Bucket for the Bubbles

My kids love bubbles.  I will walk throughout the house and yard and find bottles of bubbles laying around. I try to keep the half-empty bubbles containers in one place, but they still end up everywhere. That’s why I was happy to get a small, galvanized bucket from Red Hill General Store. It is the perfect size to keep by our front door so the girls can grab a bottle of bubbles when they head out to play. And hopefully the bubbles will return to this bucket for the next playtime!

In looking for other uses for my bucket, I thought it would make a great storage container for fruit. I always have fresh fruit available for the kids. If I leave it on the counter, they are much more likely to grab a piece instead of asking for candy. I think these apples look great in here!

And I’m a sucker for pretty flowers. You can always find a floral arrangement in my house. I love flowers and think they brighten up a room. Sunflowers are one of my favorites! And this bunch looks great in my bucket.

Do you want your own bucket? The Real Farmwives of America & Friends are giving away a bucket! Just visit the website to have a chance to win your own Galvanized Embossed Tub from Red Hill General Store! They have plenty of different sized containers on their website. And share with me what you would do with a bucket like this!

While Red Hill General Store did provide me with a bucket to blog about for this post the pictures, ideas and opinions shared here are my own.  Thanks Red Hill General Store for the bucket. It has plenty of uses around my house!

Crockpot Lasagna Soup

This post features me comparison shopping at three different grocery stores.  This trips were sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers.  And while they compenstated me for the post, the opinions are all my own.  Including my disgust with Whole Foods.

I’ll admit to really loving the grocery store.  I like looking at packaging, products, marketing and new items.  I laugh out loud at the companies who label apples at gluten-free, and then wonder who exactly falls for that?  I get excited when new products are released or my favorite mini-sweet peppers are on sale.  Crazy, maybe.  But I love to wander the aisles and look at what is being sold.

I do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi’s and Kroger’s.  Plus I visit the locally owned Amish market for my lunchmeat and cinnamon rolls that are better than I ever make.  Those are the only places I shop.  Today I was shopping for ingredients to make Crockpot Lasagna Soup.

Easy, Comforting, Crockpot Lasagna Soup!

So to my surprise, I learned that I was going to need to shop at a Whole Foods.  Let’s be clear, Whole Foods goes against everything I stand for as a hog and grain farmer.  I believe in using clear concise measure in selling foods.  Whole Foods markets gluten-free apples.  I believe that consumers should choose how they spend their food dollars.  Whole Foods tells customers that if you don’t buy their food, then you are not feeding your family correctly.

For this trip, I took my friendly dietician Kim and my blogger friend Crystal with me.  We were going to shop three different stores, buying the same recipe ingredients at each store, and compare prices.

First stop was Kroger’s.  Since this is one of the stores I shop often, i breezed through the aisles and found my ingredients. I purchase store-brand on nearly everything I buy, except tomatoes.  I always buy Red Gold tomatoes.  As an Indiana company with Indiana growers, I love the tomatoes and the company!

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Cost? $20.61 total.

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Then she told me we were going to Whole Foods.  I was less than happy.  I didn’t want to spend one dime of my hard-earned, hog-raising, corn-growing money at that store.  I thought the store smelled bad and I was upset that I couldn’t find every ingredient I needed, as they didn’t sell pork sausage.

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And the real shocker?  The cost.  $33.17 for the ingredients that they did sell.  Don’t forget they didn’t have sausage.  And to top it off, the ground pork I did buy for this recipe was rotten when I unwrapped it.  I pulled it out one day before the best-by date and it was stinky and rotten. So that was a waste of $6 on a pound of meat.

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Then it was off to Aldi’s.  I really love shopping at Aldi’s.  It is my go-to for pantry and kid snack staples.  I usually don’t buy meat at any grocery store, so I was happy that they had the meat I needed.

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I was most excited about the price! $17.13 for the entire meal!  Almost $16 cheaper than Whole Foods.

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As a hog and grain farmer, I support people spending their grocery income however they choose.  If you want to shop at the Whole Foods stores, then please do so.  If Aldi’s is your favorite store, that is great.  What I don’t like is a grocery store telling me that I’m not feeding my family the “right” way if I don’t shop their store.

Now for the recipe!  I made a Crockpot Lasagna Soup.  This is a simple, filling recipe and perfect for fall nights!

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Crockpot Lasagna Soup



Crockpot Lasagna Soup
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Super easy, crockpot soup that is tasty and will please the entire family!
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb. pork sausage
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup vegetable juice or V8
  • 2 cups uncooked shell pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Brown pork and sausage on the stove.
  2. Mix together the can of tomatoes and tomato paste in crockpot.
  3. Add broth, beef, garlic, parsley, basil, onion, vegetable drink, salt and pepper
  4. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.
  5. Just before serving, boil pasta in a saucepan. Add prepared pasta to crockpot and stir.
  6. Serve with salad, garlic bread and cheese for topping!

I’m hooking up to my lovely friends Whatcha Crockin’ weekly blog fun!

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Wine Wednesday: Satek Winery Tawny Port

Have I mentioned out temperatures this week have ranged from a -45 degree wind chill to a big warm up of 5 degrees today.  And there are 18 inches of snow on the ground in my cornfield.  The kids went out to play and I nearly lost my Lion Cub in all the snow. The cold temps and snow we’ve had in the Midwest has made me think of warm wines.  This post has nothing to do with the fact my kids have been on break for 2 1/2 weeks and I haven’t been in my office since December 20th.  Or that they have cabin fever and miss their friends.  And I have a ton of work to do. Nothing…at all…

I’m looking for a wine that warms you as you drink them. That made me pull out a very special port from a great Indiana winery.

Satek Winery started as a c149aommercial vineyard in 1992 in northeastern Indiana with the intent to eventually open a winery. The winery opened in 2001 and has seen tremendous growth in the years since then! Owned by Larry and Pam Satek, along with their son Jason and assistant winemaker Shane Crist, make exceptional wine and create an experience for their guests to remember.



While the temperatures dropped outside, I dug through  my wine cellar for a good sipping wine. I found a bottle of Satek Winery’s Kreimbaum Bay Decennial Tawny Port. This bottle of wine is in honor of their 10th anniversary and is a blend of all the ports they have made.

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When I first smelled and tasted this, I thought it tasted like the thick toasty caramel on the outside of a caramel apple.  This wine has been aged in oak, so you get a lot of smoky, oakiness as well.  This wine is 20% alcohol, so you should plan this as an after dinner drink, or an aperitif to be enjoyed in smaller quantities!

And at just under $40 for a 375ml bottle, you will want to enjoy lightly or buy a few bottles! It is the perfect wine for 18 inches or snow or to enjoy on a cold evening.





Verizon Samsung Fun!

Thanks to my friend Cris, over at Goodeness Gracious, I’ve been able to get some hands-on time with some fun Verizon technology! 

If I am to be completely honest, I am a fairly loyal Apple user.  I love my Ipad, Ipod and wish I had a Mac as a computer.  However, as I’m trying to branch into other brands, I was excited to try the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. 

The screen is 7 inches.  And the colors were pretty awesome.  It was just like using my laptop, only on a smaller screen.

The one who seemed to love it most was my Lion Cub.  He is a big fan of stealing his sister’s Ipads, so we have been debating buying him his own Leapster or other screen toy.  Now I’m thinking he wants this tablet! 

One advantage to this tablet is the size.  Although I was a bit uncertain about using a smaller tablet, I did like how it could easily fit in my purse.  Then the kids could play with it during doctor visits, endless meetings I drag them to, or in the car. 

I am still learning what apps are available for these types of devices so I didn’t utilize the apps like I could have.  I also appreciated how long the battery lasted.  I seem to burn through the battery on my IPad.  I felt this battery lasted a bit longer.

And now the tablet is back in a box and going back to Verizon, as I only got to play with it for a few weeks.  I had to pry it out of my little guys hands! 

While Verizon is providing me their fun new gadgets to experience, I am not getting paid for the experience.  And the opinions are mine.  Do you really think I’d give you someone else’s opinions? 

And there is another gadget waiting for me to play with it!  That post will have pictures.  Life has gotten in the way of blogging the past few weeks.  I will save those details for later posts.

Wine Wednesday: What I’ll drink for the Super Bowl

It’s not secret I like, or love, white wines.  While I’m always thrilled to pair that perfect red wine with a great medium grilled steak, I don’t always enjoy sitting down at night, back on my laptop finishing up work stuff, sipping a big red wine.  I’d rather enjoy a crisp, chilled white wine while I finish answering emails!

I also think wine is a great drink to enjoy during the Super Bowl!  You don’t have to drink beer with your food choices.  Plenty of white cheese dips, appetizers and main dishes go well with wine!

While at my industry’s fall board meeting, held at Bloomington’s Oliver Winery, I had a chance to try a new wine they had recently released.  I was hooked about bought 3 bottles immediately!  I just drank the last of those three bottles and need to go buy more.

III is a blend of Vignoles, Vidal Blanc and Chardonel. I love all three of these grapes as a standalone wine.  Blended they are nearly perfect!  

According to the Oliver Winery website:

This wine is the result of the winemaking team drinking too much coffee and brainstorming about the possibilities of a white blend from Creekbend.  Various white varieties were barrel fermented on an experimental basis in hopes that a nice blend would develop. The final wine from those trials is a blend of  barrel fermented Vignoles and Vidal Blanc, along with a fraction of stainless steel fermented Chardonel. All three portions underwent complete malolactic fermentation.

This wine has delightful aromas of pineapple and tropical flowers.  Its flavors of pear and apple resemble those of a good Viognier.  III has a rich mouthfeel and delightful lasting finish.

Creekbend III

Because this wine carries the Creekbend label, that signifies these grapes are grown in Oliver’s Creekbend vineyards, just a few miles from the winery.  

This wine retails for $22/bottle.  It is more than worth it to buy a bottle, or two, or in my case…maybe six bottles!  It won’t take me long to enjoy this wine!  I’ll encourage you to buy some to, but not until I get mine purchased!

Jumping into Technology

It’s not often I cross-blog, posting the same blog on my work blog ( and my personal blog. But this project has consumed my mind and a good portion of my budget and I want everyone to see it!

Who doesn’t own an Iphone or Ipad? While my phone is still a Blackberry, I recently bought an Ipad and am in love! This little creature can do it all. And with all of this new technology came a huge desire by me to jump in.

So, the Indiana Wine Grape Council has announced the debut of a free iPhone app that enables wine enthusiasts to discover and learn more about the state’s 48 wineries. Sound fun? You’re going to love it.

The “Indiana Winery Guide,” available on the iTunes app store, provides Hoosier wineries yet another way to engage and connect with consumers who support this fast growing industry. The initiative continues to position Indiana on the leading edge of wine marketing among wine associations in the U.S.

The app was created by Mobiltopia, a leading Indianapolis-based mobile app development company.

The “Indiana Winery Guide” app launched in early June, just ahead of the 11th annual Vintage Indiana Wine & Food Festival on June 5 at Military Park in downtown Indianapolis. The app’s introduction also celebrated June Wine Grape Month as declared by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

The app enables users to map local wineries, obtain directions, view photos and details about the wineries’ amenities, and travel along a wine trail. A special feature of the app showcases Traminette, Indiana’s inaugural Signature Wine, along with a listing of all wineries that offer it. Users also can mark their favorite wineries and wines for future reference when making purchasing decisions after a winery visit.

The best part? IT’S FREE! And it’s available via the iTunes app store to any user of an Apple iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. The app will be updated regularly as new wineries open their doors. The app uses a tourism-platform that Mobiltopia created specifically to power this particular app, The platform has proven so successful that it will be used by Mobiltopia to create future tourism apps.

“It’s a very flexible system, allowing us to add new features and functions,” said James Burnes, Mobiltopia’s CEO and founder. “We have several upgrades planned for the coming weeks and months as we get feedback and analytics from users.”

More information about the app is available at

Wine Review: When I Disagree with the Judges

I like to see results of wine competitions.  It’s interesting to see what medals the judges award to wines.  And as someone who markets a pretty huge, major, really great wine competition, I find a lot of value in getting the wineries to enter their wines so they can win some awards!

But there’s always a moment when I see a wine that I love that didn’t win a medal.  And I start to question my palate.  Did I miss some flaw in the wine?  Did the wine smell funny?  Had it changed since I last drank it?

Such is the case with a wine I truly love.  Oliver Winery is Indiana’s oldest and largest winery.  And, as a disclaimer, I work for Indiana wineries.  I think we have some pretty exceptional wineries and wines all around the state.  But most would say if you know the bare bones about Indiana wine, you likely know about Oliver Winery.  Started in the early 70’s, they have won tons of trophies, medals, and accolades for their wines.  They’re great.  The winemaking team doesn’t make a bad wine.

Except that one of my favorite wines didn’t win a medal in the wine competition I promote.  And I was shocked!!  So I bought a bottle on a recent trip to the winery and tried it again.  And I decided I completely disagree with the judges!  Because this wine is great.

So on to the wine.  It’s called Oliver Winery 2012 Creekbend III.  This is their second vintage and I like it as much as I liked the first vintage.  The wine is dry and is a blend of barrel fermented Vignoles and Vidal Blanc, along with portion of stainless steel fermented Chardonel. The folks at Oliver WInery describe it as “delightful tropical aromas combine with flavors of pear and apple and a hint of vanilla and oak for a delightful, lasting finish.”  I just say it’s great.

And it’s only $22 a bottle.  this is the perfect wine to enjoy after the kids have gone to bed.  Just a glass of this wine and a good book.  Or, if like me, you’re still answering email and finishing the days work.  This wine goes well with work.

While I think medals and trophies are wonderful, just because a wine didn’t win a medal doesn’t mean you’ll think it’s a bad wine.  A set of judges on a particular day didn’t like it.  But be your own judge.  Because you don’t want to miss the chance to try a new favorite wine.



Disclaimer: While I work for Indiana wineries, I was not paid to give this wine my undying love.  I bought this bottle of wine becuase I had already fallen in love with it.  And our wine competition is great, with fantastic judges.  They just overlooked this beauty.