Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Homemade Applesauce

Due to a lovely weekend trip in the Virgina mountains this past weekend, I found myself the benefactress of an amazing amount of fresh-grown tart apples

I've never really engaged in the process of picking apples, lugging them home, prepping them for "the fire" and cooking with them. My apples usually come from the grocery store. Not, I should mention, because I prefer it that way; I've just never had the opportunity before.

With so many apples in my kitchen, I thought that I would tackle the most basic of all apple recipes: applesauce. I had just been mentioning to my fellow apple-picker that I had homemade applesauce once when I was a high school student. I was visiting a friend of a friend's house in upstate New York...i.e. apples everywhere there; and this friend's mom's applesauce was AMAZING. Somehow, that's always stayed with me, lingering yummy-goodness on my tongue. And now that I'm a mom...well, I figured that it was time to make my own homemade applesauce.

I pulled up a recipe so that I could wrap my head around the process. It certainly seemed easy enough, but I had one really important question:

How many cups of chopped apples does 4 apples yield?

I mean, really?! 4 apples of what size? Ack!
So, I figured that I would wing-it. It's worked in the past (grin).

I didn't have a plan except PEEL & CHOP until I got bored. (enter laughs here)
Clearly, with so many apples, I kept going, well after I was bored. At the end of it, I had roughly 6 cups of chopped apples. I added 2 cups of water. Don't ask me how I came up with the 3 to 1 ratio. I just figured that the apples would have their own moisture to excrete (ugh, that word doesn't sound yummy, huh?) and it is always - in my experience - easier to add more water if needed, than to take it away after it's already in the pot.

I was generous with the sugar. These little suckers were TART and I didn't want to suffer-pucker though a bowl (um, entire pot) of applesauce. So, I added 1 cup of white sugar. I nixed the cinnamon because my little guy is picky with the spices...and I can always add it later.

These apples were made for becoming sauce; they dream about it as they grow - I am sure of it. As they heated up, they broke down almost completely on their own. There was no direct mashing on my part, only an occasional stir of the pot. And, I should add, I am not particularly worried about my sauce not being uniformly mashed, you know, "free-spirit cooker: it doesn't have to look perfect"...and I was actually already thinking past the sauce to a new end-goal of baking.

Chunky sauce would, I knew, serve me better than stressing about mashing all the bits fine.
In contemplation, chunky serves me well in many aspects of my life.
; )

And, the end result: yummy-goodness for sure!
I wish I could share it with you.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pan Fried Peaches

It was my sincerest intention to grill these lovely Southern Peaches. They were the perfect (I mean perfect) state of ripeness: round, plump, firm with a hint of give.

I did what I've seen them do on the Food Network" cut them in half, pull out the pit and drizzle them in a bit of olive oil. They were ready along side of the deep red steaks to meet the heat of the grill.

And then, gas in the tank.

And so, these peaches were pan-fried, you could also say sauteed. I kept them on a pretty high heat in order to get the caramelization effect on the open-face of the peach. I might should have placed a lid on the pan for the last min or two, so that they could have been properly heated all the way through. Instead, they were hot and crispy on the front side and a bit normal...maybe fresh-of-the-tree on the closed end.

Not bad.
Went perfect with the steaks.