D.I.Y Applesauce, and Someone You Should Meet

Macintosh

Last fall, I got a text message from my son-in-law:

“I want to make applesauce – tell me how?”

I gave him the super-easy small-batch version. Peel, core and chop apples. Put them in a saucepan with a tiny bit of water. Cook on low, covered, until soft. Mash. Refrigerate. Eat…

A half-hour later, another text:

“Done! Why don’t more people do this? It’s SO easy!”

Good question. If I were to guess, I’d say it never occurs to most people. They just grab a jar off the shelf at the store, because that’s what they’ve always done, and what their parents did.  It’s applesauce – cheap, and good for you, right?

Peels

Not so fast; better check that label. The cheap one is more than just apples. High Fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, preservatives…The ‘just apples’ kind is way more expensive than the couple of pounds of raw product packed into the jar.

Of course, it isn’t just applesauce. Breads and breakfast cereals, crackers, cookies – even the ones labeled “Natural” – have mile-long ingredient lists, full of unpronounceable things that don’t exist outside of a factory. While it’s pretty easy to throw together a batch of chocolate chip cookies instead of buying that bag of Chips-A-Hoy, other convenience foods might seem too difficult (or time-consuming) to replace with homemade.

Some, you might never have even considered being able to make in your own kitchen…

Homemade Instant Oatmeal, anyone?

Alana's book, in use

Which brings me, however clumsily, to my Someone You Should Meet: Alana Chernila, her wonderful book Homemade Pantry, and her equally-wonderful blog Eating From the Ground Up. I first ‘met’ Alana last year when another blogger (can’t remember who, sadly) linked to this post on making Greek yogurt in a slow cooker. I never got around to making it, but became a huge fan of her recipes, her attitude about feeding her family well (without breaking the bank) and of the clear, friendly voice with which she writes. Reading her short essays that accompany each recipe is like hanging out in a friend’s kitchen and chatting over coffee; the words wrap you in their warmth, and the tantalizing smell of the latest project feels just beyond reach of your senses…

Mom that I am, my first thought was, “Sarah needs this book for Christmas!”

Quickly followed by, “Wait – I need this book!”

I got two of them, of course.

Helping the apples march into the pot

Sarah and I have both been cooking from them. Oatmeal, granola, and bread to start with for me, while my daughter is fixated on the Dairy Chapter (See her post about making butter here). If you’ve been disappointed with your efforts at whole wheat sandwich bread before, you HAVE to get this – her recipe/method is foolproof! (Translation: I made it. I didn’t mess it up. It isn’t heavy as a doorstop. My family ate it, and asked for more.)

Now, I’m not saying that I’ll Never Buy ANY Prepared Foods Again. There will be times when there’s no choice but to pick up a loaf of bread from the store, or a box of cereal. But, we’re making an effort, for Angel’s sake and our own, to banish the Bad Habits and Bad Food Science of the last 50 years, and get back to eating real foods made from whole ingredients. It’s a start…

Mmmmm...applesauce

And, as Angel will tell you, it makes the house smell awesome….

 

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38 thoughts on “D.I.Y Applesauce, and Someone You Should Meet

  1. And while you’re cooking at home, Angel will be learning so much about what real food is and where it comes from – she’s a lucky girl. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to check out Alana’s blog – but only because you said I should!

    • She learns other things, too. We count how many cups and spoons (she made it to 14 without a mistake while the apple pieces were marching into the pan!) and talk about fractions, or time. Without realizing it now, she’s learning some basic Kitchen Chemistry, too…
      Hope you like Alana’s blog!

  2. and again medical food, a recipe against insomnia : to drink a glass of tepid milk (it is the recipe of a woman who is anesthesist doctor in a great hospital in Paris, and I have known her on the beach in Tunisia…). And for me, more easy in the night (and more digest than milk), to eat a nature yoghurt :and a quarter after, I sleep !
    And for the rest, it is the problem of the society of consummation, and the return to the true values……for many things !

  3. Now I need that book! DH makes our applesauce in a blender and then we single-serve portion it and stock the freezer. He adds blackberries to each batch which makes it extra tasty (and pretty) and with more nutrients.

  4. I might have to look into that book, it looks interesting. I think my daughter would like it. She makes her own peanut butter and stuff every now and then.
    Apple sauce is for babies here, you don’t buy it, though you can buy one or two types for roast pork, but really if you want stewed apples in Australia you make them. That is the way we were all brought up.

    • Check out the blog – there are lots of great recipes on there, and her food photography is good, too.
      That’s interesting about the applesauce…making it ourselves is something we lost two generations ago – at least – along with lots of other things.

  5. This is precisely my philosophy Marie, and I’m so glad little Angel is lucky enough to learn about proper food while so young. Many people I know have such terrible diets and wonder why they feel bad. I got into the habit of reading labels when I developed a paprika/red pepper allergy… a real eye-opener, and slightly scary too! I must take a look at that site now – thanks for the link!

    • It’s odd that so many of us have become sensitized to things that never gave trouble in the past. Paprika must be a really hard one, since it’s used for color in so many things…
      I wish I’d been able to do for my own kids what we’re doing with Angel, but I just didn’t have the skills back then. It feels good to see my daughter using the same philosophy with her family, now!

  6. what an excellent page, we also make our own applesauce and I Love to eat it hot! Lucky angel having all that good food. i think I might order that book myself. It seems my brain has been frozen stiff, now I had better zap back to Linda’s and see if I called her Marie! Angel looks very grown up in these pictures, she is doing very well on your lovely wholesome diet. OK I have to go back out into the cold now.. sigh.. I am not doing well these last few days.. falling apart.. speaking of which.. how is your back?.. c

  7. I remembering being as surprised as your son-in-law the first time I made apple sauce. I gave away some of it to friends and one wouldn’t accept that I didn’t add any sugar to it. He’s a stubborn type and probably still feels that way — it’s been years! 🙂

  8. I love Alana’s blog! It’s one of my favorites. There are somethings that are just so simple to make from scratch, and so much better, that you just have to wonder why we all started eating them out of jars in the first place.

  9. I’m going to check into the Greek Yogurt. It doesn’t last long at my house!! The photos of Angel are wonderful. What a beautiful little girl she is. Your blog friends are right, she will grow up knowing how to cook healthy food. Hugs to everyone!!

    • We go through phases with the yogurt – It’ll be the Breakfast of Choice for a couple of weeks, then just sit in the fridge for a month. If I could get milk from Sarah’s dairy on a regular basis, I think I’d be insisting on it more often…
      It’s not only fun to watch Angel discovering Good Food, it’s a relief to know that Sarah is taking the same tack with her family, and that her taste buds weren’t irreparably damaged by my eariler efforts 😉

  10. I received this book for Christmas, and I love it! So far I’ve only made chocolate ice cream, not the most healthy thing. But making ice cream sure made me realize how MUCH fat is in it. I think that’s part of the lesson this book teaches…be mindful of what you are putting into your body. When you are using whole food, and wholesome food, you are truly nourishing yourself. I’m looking forward to cooking from this book a lot in the next few months, especially when more local produce becomes available.

  11. Your images have me craving applesauce. I swear I can smell those apples cooking (and Angel looks so sweet standing over the pot and sniffing the apples). Thanks for the introduction to Alana. I’m going to check out her blog now. 🙂

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