I'm back. Well, I'm sort of back. I'm backish, essentially. About 59% back.
And I'm thinking about the applesauce I made last week. Of course, I don't have access to it right now because I'm still roughly 41% not back, but I'm back enough that I can tell you about how good it was.
Can we stop for a moment and reflect on the awesomeness that is my husband? He did such a great job with the blog, and I thank you all for your comments and support during my absence. I feel like I also need to apologize to you since I got to marry him and none of you did. Awesome for me, sucky for you. Sorry about that.
So let's discuss them apples.
My friend Stacy appeared on my doorstep last Monday, and when I let her in she handed me a tote pregnant with apples. "They're from my tree," she explained. "I know they have a lot of holes, and they probably have worms, too, but I guess that means they're organic."
The apples were terrific. I was a bit squeamish about squirreling them away in the fridge after the "these-are-infested" pronouncement so I got to work immediately. Because they were little, peeling them took a bit of time, but I relaxed into the rhythm and repetitive motion. Ultimately I peeled only half, and with the exception of a few wiggly critters there were in remarkably good shape.
They cooked down into the loveliest applesauce, spiced with my favorite combination of cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. I kept the texture a bit chunky, figuring I'll be eating enough pureed food when I'm 90 and should appreciate some texture while I still have good choppers.
Recipe for Spice-Flecked Applesauce
A mix of apples generally provides best flavor, but if someone brings a bagful of apples to your door, use what you've got whether you know their variety or not. (I didn't.) I peeled half and left half unpeeled, but I think I'd peel them all next time. Ultimately, as with everything else, it's up to you. This recipe yields a pleasant, slightly chunky consistency. If you prefer a smoother texture, break out the food mill or simply cook a little longer.
5 pounds apples, either mixed variety or what you have on hand, peeled, if desired
1/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Cut apples into large, irregular chunks around cores and stems. Discard cores and stems.
Place apple chunks in a large enameled cast iron pot with all remaining ingredients. Set over medium-low heat and cover. Cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, covered, 40-60 minutes longer, stirring every 10 minutes, until apples soften considerably and begin to fall apart. I like to keep mine a bit chunky, but if you want yours completely broken down continue cooking and stirring until you reach the desired consistency.