My recent lack of food-related posts has been gnawing at a tender place in the back of my mind for a few weeks. To be fair to me, I did have my hand cut open in June, which required a few weeks of leaving my schmancy knives in the drawer. I’d love to tell you that my good knives have their own drawer, but my kitchen is way too small for such luxuries: they live in a little gap next to the silverware tray. It’s not pretty, but it works. Since school’s been back in, I’ve been hopping like nobody’s business, but today I’m cooking something to share with you, at long last.
You’re Gonna Need:
apples (I also tossed in a nectarine)
dark brown sugar
Tonight, I had opened my lunch bag, which really should have been cleared out last night after school –never mind that– and found these:
It is autumn here in Alberta, and everyone I know who has fruit trees is handing out apples like mad. Besides the leaves turning, those little backyard apples are the signal that winter is on the way. The apples are teensy this year because we had such a cold rainy summer, and it started late too, but I had thirteen from a friend at work stashed in my lunch bag. I just forgot about them until tonight. In there with them was the nectarine I didn’t eat with my other stuff on Friday. It was bruised and overripe, so I decided it could go in the pot too. It’s a sin to waste a nectarine.
I thought I’d brew up some (mostly) apple sauce for The Electrician’s grandpa, who eats apple sauce on most of the meats he has with dinner. I’ve never seen him eat anything but the jarred stuff, which will do in a pinch but looks wrong somehow. Think about processed apple sauce: it’s too smooth and jarringly pale. I don’t even want to think about what they put in it to keep it from bronzing up.
If you’re new to my cooking exploits here, be forewarned that I simply don’t measure when I cook. I’ll try to explain quantities as best I can, and feel free to leave a comment or pop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need more information.
First, I quartered and peeled the apples. It was an exercise in dexterity and determination, since the biggest one was a little smaller than a tennis ball. Unfortunately, I mooshed the nectarine up more than I meant to, but everything was going into the pot so it didn’t really matter. I washed my biggest saucepan, which at that point still hadn’t recovered from my linguine at lunch, and put it on medium low heat with a half inch of water in the bottom.
When I tasted the backyard apples they were a little bit watery, so I tossed a hearty glug of lemon juice into the pot as well to deepen the flavor. I also figured the lemon would darken on the heat and make my sauce appear even richer and more beautiful.
I always cut half my apples roughly and slice the other half into much smaller pieces. I prefer a sauce with some body to it, and the little pieces will make the sauce part before the others cook down enough to fall apart.
Then all the fruit needs to go on the heat for a while. I had to keep adding enough water to keep them from sticking to the pan, but you don’t want to boil them so it’s important to keep the water to a minimum.
After about ten minutes, I added three heaping tablespoons of dark brown sugar. I love the richness of the deep brown stuff, and why anyone would want to ruin food with bland white sugar is beyond me. Then, I threw in three dashes of nutmeg, and five dashes of ginger. I have very fine holes in my spice jars, so I’d guess I added a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg and a half teaspoon of ginger. As always when I’m doing something quite sweet, I tossed in a healthy pinch of salt to balance the sugar. To finish up, I added a number of robust shakes of cinnamon. There was a close call, because I grabbed the wrong jar first and almost added chili powder. Folks, always rely on the labels; don’t guess based on the colour of the contents.
I stirred it all in and sat down for a few minutes to enjoy the scent steaming up out of the pot. Filling my house with a fabulous smell never fails to make me smile.
Before I expected it, the little bits of apple cooked down into nothing and the mixture became the chunky sauce I envisioned. Because I didn’t want to lose all of the texture, I pulled the sauce off the heat a few minutes before it was really done so the heat already in the sauce could finish the cooking.
Here’s what I ended up with:
The Electrician is golfing with his grandparents tomorrow, so I’ll put the apple sauce in freezer bags and send it with him. I might save just a little bit, though, for my sweetie to enjoy on ice cream after dinner.
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