Monday, September 3, 2012

A Potpourri of Apples, Cookbooks and Gadgets

Happy Labor Day! For those of us in the States, today is a day to celebrate work by, well, not working :)

I know a lot of writers take advantage of this extra writing day by cranking out as many words as possible, but some of us are taking family time.

While you're reading this and drooling over the recipes I'm about to share, here's where I'll be:

All six of us have the day off, so we're hiking to the top of Harney Peak, the highest mountain between the Rockies and the Pyrenees.

These pictures are from last year's hike - ask me this afternoon if we made it to the top this time!

So, on to the recipes.

It's good to have friends, especially friends with apple trees. My friend Mel gave me this bag of apples last week -

We haven't had a very good year for apples, and these babies weren't grocery-store perfect, but they were oh, so welcome!

So the first thing I did was wash them. No matter where you get your apples, it's important to wash them thoroughly. I wash them three times, transferring them between sinks.

The next step was to sort them. I found eight good sized, well-shaped apples.

And now for a recipe. These were old fashioned apples, so I pulled out one of my favorite old fashioned cookbooks. This one was published in 1942 by my home denomination's publishing house. I grew up in the Church of the Brethren, a small Anabaptist denomination with the same roots as the Amish and Mennonites, but from Germany rather than Switzerland. I could bore you with all the similarities and differences in the denominations and the history of how my ancestors from the Emmental district of Switzerland ended up in the Brethren Church...but (yawn)...this is a cooking blog.

So anyway - if you notice, this is the Granddaughter's Inglenook Cookbook. The original one was published 1901, and this is the "updated" version. This one assumes the cook has a thermostat on her oven and measuring cups in her cupboard.

I found a recipe for Deep Dish Apple Pudding.

And yes, it's as good as it sounds.

The first step is to peel, core and slice the apples.

And if you don't have one of these gadgets, it's time to get one!

This is what the apple looks like after it's gone through the corer-peeler-slicer:

You will need about 8 cups of sliced apples. Put them in a large bowl, and then add 1/2 cup white sugar and cinnamon. The recipe says "cinnamon to taste". I like cinnamon, so I put in one tablespoon, maybe a little more.

Mix the apples thoroughly with the sugar and cinnamon, and then put them in a baking dish. I used my 11x8.5 inch that I picked up somewhere - it's an odd size. A 9x13 would work, too.

Now for the topping. Melt 1/2 cup butter and mix with 1/2 up brown sugar and 1 cup flour. Stir this together until it's smooth. Sprinkle it over the apples.

You can also add 1 cup oatmeal and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to the topping to make more of an apple crisp.

Bake at 350 degrees "until apples are tender". I baked it for 35 minutes.

And, of course, serve it with ice cream!

Now the Deep Dish Apple Pudding was delicious, but I still had a half-bushel of apples left!

Some of them had rust spots, some had bruises, others were kind of crooked and stumpy - perfect for apple sauce.

Back in the days when we lived in northern Indiana, we lived about a mile from the largest apple orchard in Indiana, Kercher's Sunrise Orchards. I'd stop by there about once a week during September and October and buy seconds - apples that didn't make it through the sorting process - for $11.00 a bushel.

Man, those were the days!

I would make 70 quarts of apple sauce every year. Which brings me to my absolute favorite of all time gadgets: my Victorio Strainer.

There's no way I would attempt 70 quarts of applesauce without this puppy!

Just wait 'til you see this baby at work!

To make applesauce - 

 Fill a large pot about 2/3 full with water and add 1/2 cup lemon juice. 

Quarter your apples, remove the stems and cut out all the bad spots (and watch for worms...).

 Cook the apples until they are soft and start swelling (about 1 hour from start to finish - but watch them closely as the end of the hour approaches).

Now it's time for the strainer. Put the apples, a few at a time, in the hopper at the top and turn the crank.

 The applesauce comes out here.

The peel and core comes out here.

 And we have applesauce! Sweeten to taste!


  1. Oh, WOW!!! That first recipe ahd me drooling on my keyboard. YUM.

    And the next one, well... No gadget. Wish I did.

    And I have a degree in Religious Studies so I love hearing all about the stuff that makes other people yawn. :D Food and religious history blog. I'm cool with that!

    1. Virginia, those pictures had me drooling, too. I made that dish just a couple days ago, but between dessert one night and breakfast the next day it just disappeared!

      I can't complain. I love it when my family actually eats what I make them :)

  2. Jan, I love this! And yeah, might have to do some apple pudding/crisp this week. SEPTEMBER!!!! YAYAYAYA!!!!

    I have the food grinder like that. We used to can hundreds of jars of spaghetti sauce, salsa, applesauce. Amazing contraption!

    And I'd love to hear more about that separation of churches, too. I've done a bunch of Amish research and it fascinates me that (do not take offense) every church that separates from almost any church does so thinking they're the 'one true church'... What is it about us mere humans that says we have to be the "one true" and/or "the best".

    We're so frail. With big egos!

    We can mix religion and faith with cooking anytime, honey! That's what women chat is all about.

    Has anyone ever seen the play "Quilters"? I love sisterhood epics! And apple-anything.

    1. Ruthy, you have the best of September and apples up there in the North Country, don't you? I'd say Michigan and northern Indiana do, except this year there's no crop...a late freeze took out the apples, peaches, etc. Sad times and the death blow for a lot of farmers, I'm sure.

      Church splits are fascinating. I've been doing genealogical research trying to trace which branches of my family started out Mennonite, which started out Amish, and which started out Brethren. It's a tangle, since the names don't give me any clues! They're all Yoders, Millers, Hoovers, Schrocks and Shercks. But I have found that some of them emigrated in the first ships bringing Amish immigrants in the 1730's on ships with names like the "Charming Nancy" and the "Love and Unity".

      These stories are where I get the fodder for my Amish books. I'll be writing for years :)

    2. Jan, that's fascinating.

      We Irish just tried to kill off the English Protestants.

      And then we all came here and lived in peace. So weird.

      I want to hear more. And our apple/cherry/peach crops suffered the same fate. Popped into blossom early and then frozen into an early fruity grave.

      So we're paying more but I'm making it a point to frequent them because this is a stinkin' tough year for them to get through. No "disaster" just mother nature.

      Fickle woman.

  3. I'm interested in your Anabaptist roots too, Jan! And I've discovered that I have a connection as well. Now I'm Irish through and through but when I delved into family history I discovered that my father's line comes from Germany where they were persecuted for their religion. So what did they do? They immigrated of course. For religious freedom. To Ireland of all places which was like 99% Catholic. That was in the 1700's.

    Now -- on to the apples. How did you know I visited a farmer's market this weekend and bought apples on a whim? I was going to make a crumble/cobbler but I think I'll give this recipe a whirl instead. Hmmmmm and can you imagine it piping hot with a bit of half and half cream poured over it?

    I don't have any of your fancy gadgets so I tend to make applesauce on demand -- in a pot on top of the stove but then I don't have a bunch of guys to feed either. :-)

    1. Yes, I can imagine it piping hot! The recipe I used suggested serving it with cream rather than ice cream... I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

      The advantage of making applesauce on demand is the aroma. Better than any candle you can buy, isn't it?

    2. I love applesauce on demand. Just warm and chunky enough to feel real!

  4. Oh -- and happy hiking! I can't imagine that kind of scenery! It's all gentle rolling hills around here.

    1. The scenery here is breath taking. One of the best views in town is from the Walmart parking lot. Imagine, you've just fought your way through Saturday morning crowds at Walmart, pushing your grocery cart past all the running kids and gossiping moms. Finally you get out the door, pause for traffic before heading across the parking lot, and one lift of your eyes gives you a fantastic view of Harney Peak and the Hills.

      No wonder I don't complain about grocery shopping!

      But it's almost 7:00 here this morning, and as soon as I get the Clif Bars and beef jerky in my pack, we're taking off. See you all later this afternoon!

  5. Hey, we can talk about her whilst she's gone! ;)

  6. ok that pudding looks good but honestly I've never understood the appeal of apple sauce(of course i'm saying this not having tried homemade apple sauce!)but that's a lot of work just to smoosh up an apple - I think I'd rather just grab an apple out of the bowl and eat it - peel and all - I like the peel! my mom and aunt used to make this nasty 'salad' where they'd peel oranges and apples and chop them up and add miracle whip(told you it was nasty) and I'd stand there grabbing the apple peels as they came off and munch on them.


    1. Oh, Susanna... Mushed fruit and Miracle Whip.

      I'd be eating the peel, too!

    2. hee hee no they just diced them not mushed but it was nasty nasty nasty stuff IMO. it's just the only thing besides apple sauce I've ever seen an apple peeled for! ok I know I ended a sentence with for and that's probably illegal or something..sigh..

  7. I'm amazed! For one, climbing a mountain. Wow.

    And making apple sauce! Again, I'm amazed. And it doesn't look nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Of course, I don't have one of those gadgets. Don't tempt me! LOL

    I love the idea of apple pudding. YUM! Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Missy, you don't need a gadget... Just peel a half-dozen apples, slice 'em, add a splash of water and simmer until they're soft... then drain, mash with a potato masher and add some cinnamon and sugar. Really Easy-Peasy. Promise!!!

    2. I"m actually not a huge applesauce fan. I like it but don't love it (though I'm like Susanna and have never had it homemade.) Now, make some apple butter, and I'm on that! So do you ladies also do apple butter?? I want you to post on that sometime!

  8. I'm back...

    No, we didn't make it to the top this year. :(

    At least, not yet. We still have weeks of hiking to go.

    We tried a different trail to try to avoid the Labor Day crowds (those people from other states just insist on sticking around...), but it ended up being about two miles longer and much steeper. Combine that with a summer that included very little hiking, and, well, we reached a point and decided we had done enough for today.

    But we did go 5 miles - 2 1/2 up and 2 1/2 down. Not too shabby. We'll try again in a month.

  9. Susanna and Missy, I never buy applesauce from the store. That stuff tastes like wet sawdust.

    Okay, maybe not that bad, but pretty awful.

    Try the homemade - just a few apples, like Ruthy said. Peel them, core them, slice them, cook them with a bit of water (and a dash of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown). Leave them chunky and enjoy!

    Apple butter is just as easy. Do the same as the applesauce, but put in more seasonings. Use about a dozen apples - Macintosh are the best. Peel, core and slice them, and then put them in your slow cooker with a couple cups sugar, a couple teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, a pinch of salt. Cook it all day until it reaches the consistency you like. I prop the lid of my slow cooker open a bit to let steam escape and let the water cook out.

    Easy peasy, right?

    And if you want it even easier, buy a good quality applesauce like Motts. Season it like you would the apples and let it go in your slow cooker.

    Of course, if you have fresh apple butter, you have to bake some biscuits to eat it with, right?

  10. I am an apple butter fan! LOVE it. Need to try the crock recipe. And the best part? No corn additives.

    Our family is a mash of everything? I even have a chair my great great somebody who was a Presbyterian minister carried by horseback over the mountains to other family who was Methodist. Shocking!

    Peace, Julie

    1. Presbyterians and Methodists mixing it up? Where will it all end!!!

      It's almost as scandalous as my great-grandfather marrying a democrat... (which the democrat members of the family are very proud of)

    2. LOL, Julie and Jan!

      And thanks for the advice on small batches and using the slow cooker for apple butter!

  11. Love me some fresh applesauce. My kids have requested the apple butter this year though. I make it the same way as the applesauce above (I have the gadget), and then recook in slow cooker with spices. YUMMO (as Rachel Ray would say).

    1. Ginger, I'm glad to see you use that method as well. I definitely need to try it!