Tag Archives: applesauce

A Peck of Applesauce

I am packing for our week in the midwest and I’m a little stressed. We’re planning to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws, and before you ask the answer is NO, they are not what is stressing me out. I can’t wait to see them as it has been too long between visits. What I’m worried about is if I’ve packed all the kitchen essentials. How to pack what I truly need vs. what can be improvised.

"Michigan house"

Our plan is to meet in Michigan at the house my husband’s grandfather built and have a big, huge, classic family holiday meal. Something along the lines of Cynthia Rylant’s fabulous children’s book When the Relatives Came. Only we’ll add turkey and cranberry sauce to the story.

"Grandpa Tyskling and Judy"

Grandpa Tyskling and Judy

There will be one Grandmother (my mother-in-law Judy), three siblings (my husband plus his brother and sister), their spouses (my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and me) plus all nine cousins. It’s not the number of people which has me concerned, since I agree with Rylant and think the more the merrier. Rather will the house have pots and pans big enough for the mountains of mashed potatoes, rivers of gravy, and vats of green beans? Or will we need to cook the food in shifts? To stave off my anxieties I’ve started cooking a few things to pack and bring along. Cooking is my therapy. I’ve also packed a few bottles of wine, which in a pinch, can be used as rolling pins after they’ve done their duty during cocktail hour. My stress level is dropping as I write this.

"Clarkdale Fruit Farm"

What I started with making was applesauce. This almost doesn’t qualify as a recipe, but perhaps there are a few people out there who don’t know how to make homemade applesauce. It couldn’t be easier or more stress-free if you live in apple country. The trick, as I have mentioned before when you are cooking with fruit, is to mix up your varieties – in this case apples. Then your only other decision is chunky or smooth.

"many apples"

50 Apple Applesauce

Buy as many different apple varieties as you can get your hands on. Trust me, there is no such thing as too much applesauce. If you want smooth you will need a foley food mill. If you prefer chunky all you’ll need is a huge pot and a reliable paring knife. The real difference between the two is prep time vs. clean up time. Chunky is all in the prep. Smooth will mean more time at the sink.

"cast iron enameled pots"

Vintage cast iron enameled pots

Smooth Applesauce

Wash as many apples as will fit in your pot (my giant cast iron enameled pot can hold a lot). Cut them into eighths add a splash of water and cover (that’s right, apples, seeds, skin and all). Cook over low heat (with your pot sitting on a flame tamer), stirring every once in a while to prevent the apples from burning. Cover the pot to help things along.

When the apples are soft and cooked down ladle everything into your foley food mill. The food mill will grind out the skin, seeds and stems while at the same time giving you a lovely pink toned applesauce (if your apples were red skinned). This applesauce is a thousand times better than jarred because it has a depth of flavor you can’t get with just one type of apple.

For those of you who may never have used a foley food mill be aware that they can often make noises of the rude, immature kind. Hearing applesauce burp, fart and squelch seems to cause giggles in children of all ages from toddlers to teens to middle age men. You have been warned.

Chunky Applesauce

Pretty much the same as for smooth only this time you peel and core the apples before cooking them. I can fit around 50 apples in my giant blue pot. Don’t forget the splash of water before you turn on the stove top. I always use a flame tamer to keep the heat well-distributed under the pot. This is what it will look like when things really get cooking:

"applesauce cooking"A few stirs and when the applesauce is fully cooked it will “deflate”. Stop cooking when there look to be a few too many chunky apple pieces. The applesauce will continue cooking with it’s own heat and you should end up with a perfect chunky sauce.

"chunky applesauce"

Once the applesauce is cooked you can either ladle it into jars and process in a water bath* or you can cool it down and freeze it in portions. Or you can spoon it hot into dishes and sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar. It just depends on how much you want to eat now and how much you want for later.

"applesauce with cinnamon sugar"

"jarred applesauce"Next I’ll make cook up turkey stock so I can make the gravy while the turkey is cooking. Gravy prep is one of Tom Hirschfeld’s tips along with how to keep a turkey warm. I’ve never met the guy, but he appears to give some very sound advice in the kitchen. It’s going to be a very relaxed Thanksgiving.

Update *Do not think you can be lazy and just pour boiling hot applesauce into a sterilized jar and call it a day. I did that and then because I “heard” the jars seal them selves (they make a little tink sound) thought I was fine and dandy. Silly me. A week later at Thanksgiving we opened a jar and there was mold on top. You must either refridgerate the applesauce (for up to 10 days), freeze, or process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes if you want to store it properly. Or you could just eat it all up then and there, in which case I would recommend making a smaller batch.

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Vegan War Cake

I find it intriguing to see how people put a different spin on the same old thing. During the second world war my Grammy Caldwell often had to make due with limited amounts of sugar, butter, and eggs in order to do her part for the war effort. Today I often do without those ingredients because I know or am related to so many people with allergies or special dietary needs. Same recipe, different rationals.

This applesauce cake comes from my friend Jessica and is a great example of the “something old is often the same as something new” theory. Her daughter V. was allergic to eggs and nuts as a baby and toddler and Jessica found this recipe in an old Fanny Farmer cookbook out of necessity. Before bookstores had shelves of cookbooks devoted to allergy free cooking and blogs targeted at any and all dietary quirks she needed a safe, quick, kid-friendly recipe to bring to school events and birthday parties ( after all it’s not too fun to be invited to a friend’s birthday party only to be told you can’t eat the cake or ice cream). This is the recipe she often used, leaving out the nuts and cutting back on the ginger and cloves which don’t often sell well with the under four set. It became her recipe for all occasions.

"applesauce cake"

Applesauce Cake

I first tasted the by then infamous applesauce cake after Jessica and her family moved to Massachusetts. She served it to our knitting group one night warm and fragrant, straight out of the oven. It was divine, not just roll-your-eyes divine, but sneak away from the group and sit in the kitchen scarfing the whole pan down in one sitting divine. It’s not that this cake is a looker–it’s a plain Jane of cakes, but it tastes fantastic.

More quick bread than cake it has become one of the signature dishes I bring to soccer games, potlucks, and church coffee hours. It works for many allergy issues (when you leave out the nuts) and has the added advantage of being really quick to make. This recipe is the reason my cupboards are rarely without a box of raisins, bag of walnuts, and a jar of applesauce.

Walnut Raisin Applesauce Cake

7/8 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans or almonds), optional

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 3/4 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350º F and spray or grease an 8″ x 8″ pan.

Mix together all ingredients. Scrape into prepared pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. If there is a nut allergy you can leave out the nuts and add an extra 1/4 cup of raisins instead.

"crumbs of applesauce cake"

What is left...

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