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October 2011

The Best Halloween Radio!

If you haven't discovered Halloween Radio yet you are missing out on some of the creepiest fun to be had this Halloween season! I'm having a party on Monday night (as I'm sure that many of you are!) and I've been trying to assemble the ultimate spooky dance mix. Halloween Radio has already done it for me with one station devoted to atmosphere (read chainsaws, screaming cats and witches howls!) and another that has  all of the wonderful scary tunes that you remember! Two sides of the house, two computers, one television playing the Munsters and I'm all set for a wonderfully spooky time!  

HAlloween radio
Screenshot taken from  the Halloween Radio site

 


Apples, Apples, Apples!

 

Every year I look forward to autumn for so many reasons, but mostly because the harvest season with its totally unabashed abundance inspires me to begin really cooking again! I love the light fresh meals of summer but it’s the long slow braises of autumn and the scents of apple butter, chili and stews that really feed my soul. So far, this years Indian summer although a bit rain soaked has brought a few bonfires, plenty of crispy wonderful apples , clambakes and lots of fresh cider. This week , now that I've finally felt Autumns first chill in the air I've begun to think about making Cidre’, that thoroughly seductive French hard cider that my son and nephew love to drink all winter long as well as delicious slowly baked Apple Tarte’ Tatins that emerge from the oven dripping with butter and oozing with creamy salted caramel. I came home from Asheville with a dehydrator and a 23 quart pressure canner so that I can indulge my desires to preserve every little bit of this season that I can.
Apples 080


I begin longing for these treats in the last weeks of August when plump red apples start falling from my trees and the smell of their ripeness begins to waft through my windows with the warm breeze. Riding the trails this time of year is an incredibly delicious experience with the warm windfall apples crunching under my horse Henry’s hooves , the last of the ripening berries that I can steal from the birds and the sticky sweetness of the molding fallen leaves. When I still lived at Windesphere, my son Alex and I always went apple picking at a farm that was right around the corner. We’d spend the day picking apples and choosing fragrant concord grapes so ripe that they were practically bursting with juice. Those are such wonderful memories. We’d bring a lunch of fresh cheese and warm bread and we’d spend the day playing among the trees , choosing the best apples and cominghome with huge bags of fruit, way more than we could ever eat. Alex was homeschooled and one year my husband came home to find two huge carboys on the sink filled with cider and bubbling very wickedly and very mysteriously. “It’s an organic chemistry experiment dad….we’re making Cidre’ " my son proudly told his father! Jim looked at me in disbelief, but I finally prevailed. The resulting beverage was a wonderful yeasty, cidery brew that we bottled , labeled with my Windesphere Witch label and given away all year for presents. That was also the same year that we made wine at a nearby vineyard. Homeschooling definitely wasn't a task for the faint of heart, but more for the fun of heart! Those days were great!
I think that may have been the point that my husband officially began to question my sanity, but when the time came to fill the bottles with the sweetly alcoholic brew even he got in on the action. After all, he did grow up on thousands of acres of cattle farm and his mother grew up canning and preserving everything in sight. I’ll never forget the sight of Jm helping Alex siphon the liquid from the carboys into the bottles that he’d labeled so proudly. We let the Cidre’ settle for another month or two and then we opened the first bottle. It was perfectly delicious , amazingly fresh and tart!
This year I'll probably also make some Apple cordial. Just take many peeled and cored fresh apples, slice them and put into a bottle of spiced rum. Add more spice if you like, a whole vanilla bean, some whole cinnamon sticks , raisins and a bit of brown sugar or molasses. Shake andthen let the whole thing sit for about a month. Pour it into several pretty bottles, label and give it away as Christmas gifts. This is a really satisfying treat served in those tiny cordial glasses that you inherited from your grand mum and drunk next to a cozy fire… add a snuggly feline and stir!
Today I'm about to start my yearly tradition of making apple butter with bourbon and as much chutney as I can bottle. I love to make apple butter and it's one of the easiest things that you can do with a surplus of fresh apples. The traditional way calls for a huge copper pot and a bonfire , the way that it’s made every year at the Apple Butter Festival in Burton, Ohio. The Century Village in Burton has a wonderful festival every year where you can see apple butter being made in this old fashioned way. When we still lived there we'd drag Alex up at 5:00 am to participate in this wonderful alchemy….that of turning apples, cider, cinnamon, butter ,sugar and smoke into a rich and golden spread. When you make apple butter this way takes hours to melt it down, but it's worth it. First you build the bonfire and then you bring out the copper cauldron which is literally bigger than a kitchen sink! Add apples and cider and stir with a wooden paddle , every now and then adding more crates of peeled apples. When the apples are melted down, then you add enormous amounts of cinnamon, sugar and butter to the already delightful mixture. There are bees flying around everywhere the aroma is so sticky and sweet. Every now and then I've bought a jar that has a bee in it, in my mind a sign of a very lucky year ahead! (and a naturally made product!) This year for the first time in awhile I went back to the festival and stood watching the stirrers. I must have been looking longingly at the process because a very sweet woman just handed me her paddle and turned over her cauldron. "You look like you want to stir , do you know how?" I just smiled and grabbed the paddle that she handed me and she was nice enough to take my picture!
Lacking a bonfire in my kitchen but owning a wonderful copper pot, I make apple butter every year at home. It’s very simple and makes your kitchen as well as the rest of your house smell incredible. I embellish a little bit simply because I can, but in the end it’s apple butter. I hope that you'll try this because its one of the most satisfying Autumn preserves that you can make. For the record, you can do the same thing with fresh pumpkin and it's wonderful! If you lack a copper pot, a slow cooker will definitely do the trick!
You will need:

Tons of apples, sliced and cored! It’s your call as to peel them or not, I keep the peels on because I like them!
A large bottle of fresh apple cider
Cups of brown sugar
Huge amounts of cinnamon
At least one stick of very good butter
A slow cooker or a large copper pot (the slow cooker works very well ,but it never gets quite as creamy as it will if you stand for hours cooking out the liquid and stirring happy good wishes into the pot!)
Here’s the simple recipe. Put the apples into the pot or cooker, add enough cider to cover and cook for as many hours as it takes to really cook them down . When it’s almost done add the cinnamon to taste, brown sugar and enough butter to have it be silky and smooth.
When it’s done pour it into sterilized glass jars and seal tightly. If I'm not pressure canning the jars I pour a layer of melted butter over the top of each one to help seal.
If you're a regular reader of mine then you know that I simply can't leave anything alone and this simple recipe although wonderful doesn’t quite do it for me, I'm always having to gild the lily! Real apple butter made over a bonfire has a bit of a smoky taste so at the very end I add a bit of organic liquid smoke. Sometimes, I leave it at that, but morethan often I’ll add some bourbon, something wonderful like a Woodford Reserve or a Bookers, because you will taste it so it's not worth it to use anything too cheap.
Making apple chutney is fun and easy. Same basic recipe, but this I’ll always make in the slow cooker and add raisins, lemons , walnuts and onions and a little bit of the liquidsmoke. The slow cooker is actually easier to control than my copper pot which does have a mind of its own. I play with the spices, sometimes adding fresh sage from my garden and sometimes add a bit of brandy or single malt. Serve it with a freshly roasted chicken or a loaf of fresh bread and a large wedge of white cheddar. Always make sure that there's a wonderful ale nearby, it's the perfect accompaniment!
Please promise me that you’ll have fun with the harvest this year and make a promise to yourself to put something by even if your stillroom is the teensy kitchen in your apartment. . In the end, that’s what food like this is about, slow to cook, creative and fresh. I hope that I've convinced you to let it become a real part of your seasonal experience !
Now for one more treat! Tomorrows project comes from my sister Ellen , who IS the Goddess of all things sugar , butter and chocolate! She called me the other day insisting that I try a recipe for caramel apples which she says is perfect! In the realm of dessert, if she says it I believe it and as one who has always been intimidated by caramel I was completely intrigued. The recipe comes from the Tartine cookbook which is a fabulous bakery in San Francisco that evidently makes the most wonderful caramel apples in the world. According to Ellen you simply take all of the caramel ingredients and place them into a saucepan, bringing the whole of it to a boil, checking the temperature with your candy thermometer. You dip the apples , let them harden and I guess that they don't stay on the plater long enough for anyone to really look at them , they are supposedly that good! I've seen pictures though and they are beautiful, the caramel is translucent and covers each apple completely yet allows the beautiful colors of the fruit to shine through. I haven't made them yet so I figured that we could all try together! Here's the link!
Seeing that it's baking season, I've got lovely jars of my homemade baking and pie spices to give away to one of you! Just let me know in your comments if you'd like to be entered in the draw and please leave me a recipe or two because I love sharing ideas with you!

 

This was originally posted by me last weekend  on  Perfume Smellin Things!


B' Witching Bath and Body Products!

So you can imagine this witches delight when she walked into her favorite herb store and found a delightful bath and body company made just for her. B'Witching Bath company is over 40 years of tradition , herbal recipes passed down by their Grandma Bruce for us to enjoy ! With delicious all natural flavors like Pumpkin and Honey and Apple Cider you'll be enchanted too! In Cleveland please go visit my dear friends at The Village Herb Shop in Chagrin Falls to purchase these lovely products (440-247-5029 or www.villageherbshop.com , but just for fun take a peek at their fabulous website at www.bwitchingbathco.com!

B' Witching Bath and Body Products!

You are cordially invited to Eat, Drink and be Scary!

Halloween

   You are Cordially Invited to Eat, Drink and be Scary!

I hope you will join us!

Date: The entire month of October!

Location: Post a link to your blog in the comments section of this post and I will add your name to the Participants sidebar.  

 

Beginning today I will be hosting a Halloween blog party to celebrate my/our! favorite season! 
You're invited to create your own wonderful entries and share them on this site. I love to decorate for the season and I'm never very far from my kitchen, conjuring up delicious potions and decadent spells!  
 
I know that you do too and I invite you to share your decorations, recipes, passions, fashion, stories (spooky or otherwise!) and all around Halloween revelry with us!
 
 You can create a party or tell a tale....you can share photographs, your own decorations or a special seasonal dish. It can be glamourous or ghoulish, crafty or commercial...It's up to you! The whole point is to have a wonderful time with friends old and new!
And if that weren't enough we're having a contest! 

 Just email the link to your blog (where you'll post your entry) and your email in the comment section of this post. If you're the lucky one, you'll receive a 50.00 dollar egift certificate from Sur la table!  This year, there will be a runner up prize; a one year subscription to Bon Appetit! The lucky winners will be chosen at the stroke of midnight on Halloween and their names and links to their entries posted on this site.  So grab your brooms and dust off your cauldrons and let the bewitching begin!

 

The Only Rules!

1. Click on the "Eat, Drink and be Scary" Button  (Found on the right hand side of this blog) on the sidebar of your blog! 

2. Let everyone know that you're participating! 

3. Please leave me a link to your blog and your email address in the comments section of this post. I'll put your link up within a day of receiving it. If I miss you please email me at beth.gehring@stirringthesenses.com and I'll take care of it right away! Please have all entries in by October the 28th!


4. Have a Bewitchingly Fabulous Time!

And..for a bit of inspiration......

 

  

 


Stay tuned for details about the 3rd annual Windesphere Witch Halloween Party & Decorating Contest!

Collage

Wickedly Wonderful playthings can be found everywhere!

 

In the spirit of the season I hope that you'll join me for the 3nd annual Windesphere Witches Halloween Party. The winner will be chosen at midnight October the 31th.  If you're the lucky one, you'll receive a 50.00 dollar egift card from Sur la Table! Details will be coming soon so grab your brooms and dust off your cauldrons..Let the bewitching begin!

And..for a bit of inspiration......

           

 


Got a question for The Windesphere Witch? Come and Sit for a Spell!

  Photo on 2010-12-12 at 15.38 #4

 “Life is an extraordinary gift! Think about it, there are so many  beautiful pleasures surrounding us every day yet so many times we don’t stop to appreciate the  simple richness of our lives! I have a fundamental belief that when our homes are the way that we want them to be, no matter how humble or wealthy our means that we create a place for all of our dreams to come true. Having a life that you love is simple, just ask for it. There are pleasures to be found everywhere and in every moment !  

People are always wondering why I’m smiling, I tell them I'm really lucky....I enjoy what I do!  I love to help others learn to live well.  I love being the one to show you how to create your dreams, throw the parties that you long to , have your home be your castle. When we’ve created your perfect life,  I’ve created mine!"

I've been helping others create lives that they love for over 30 years.Years of experience as a visual stylist blended with an extensive background in public relations and marketing for the giftware and decorative accessories industry, allowed me to work in and eventually become the President of Schreibman Jewelers East, one of the most prestigious bridal, gift and tableware businesses in Northeast Ohio. 

Along the way I discovered that many were drawn to me because of my ability to live everyday with beauty, creating each moment as a magical new gift, a never-ending circle of celebrations, feasts and fun. I believe that in designing powerful and beautiful rituals for our lives and beautiful personalized environments to live in, we create lasting  traditions for ourselves and our families. I know first hand that a life filled with celebration supplies all of the magic necessary to create anything that you could ever dream of!

I'm an experienced Interior Stylist, Lifestyle Consultant and Personal Shopper and I love helping you create environments that that you will love living in!

I've had many of my articles published locally and nationally, and have enjoyed giving many interviews over the years, most notably to Martha Stewart Living, Gifts and Decorative Accessories, and Tableware Today.  I've been very honored to do all of the tableware for several of Julia Child, Jacque Pepin and Todd English's TV shows and the books by the very same!   


Connecting with me couldn't be easier! Just send me an email at beth.gehring@stirringthesenses.com detailing your needs.  Please use the subject line "Question for The Windesphere Witch!" .  I will write you back within 24 hours and we will set up your first phone appointment which will run for 1/2 hour . If you've got an emergency please feel free to text me at 440-941-5186 with a brief comment and I'll text you back a time that we can speak without interruption.

 Your first phone call is a personal gift and is given to you without any obligation to continue working with me whatsoever.  At the time that we set up your phone session, you'll receive an email packet that will help you prepare to make the most out of our time together.  

I promise that not only will you come away with the answers that you need but you'll have fun too! I encourage you to throw your most perplexing lifestyle design questions at me! I welcome a challenge and delight in helping you find the personal style that will delight you and enrich your life and the lives of those around you!   

I am also available to come onsite to help with your needs. If you've a question that will require me to travel to meet with you please feel free to let me know ahead of time in your email. Within the greater Cleveland area your first 1/2  hour onsite is my gift to you.