Giving thanks for Mom’s applesauce

Variety of locally grown apples

Variety of locally grown apples

There’s nothing better than a recipe handed-down through generations that stands the “test of time”.  We grew and harvested apples at my nearby childhood home.  My parents accepted donations for the hand-picked, polished and proudly prepared produce they carefully cultivated nearly half the year.  They were acknowledged for their earnings as pioneer supporters of ‘Heifer Project International’, helping others to feed themselves via sustainable farming.

Old-fashioned apple corer and peeler.

Old-fashioned apple corer and peeler.

In the tradition that was uniquely my Mother’s, I share this classic process with you, slightly expedited but with all the goodness of simple down-home cooking.

Cored and peeled apples

Cored and peeled apples

Pour 1 C. filtered water into a Crock Pot on low setting for all day or slow, overnight cooking, or on high for a couple of hours.  Peel and core 12-15 quercetin rich apples of different varieties.  I chose a combination of local McIntosh, Jonathan, Cortland and Granny Smith, the same we grew on the homestead.  This blend of firm textures, crisp flavors and a balance of sweet and tart complement the slow-cooked concoction, satisfying diabetic requirements.

BAApplePeel

Additional anti-inflammatory ingredients include about ½ tsp. each:  Penzey’s “Cake Spice”

with star anise, high-grade cinnamon for depth, dried orange peel for brightness and a generous grating of fresh nutmeg.  Top it off with about a Tbsp. of raw organic sugar cane or agave syrup to sweeten.  I ceremoniously add ½ C. of cinnamon red hot candies to the first batch of the season, in memory of my Mother.

Anti-inflammatory spices and basic ingredients

Anti-inflammatory spices and basic ingredients

Place all ingredients in order listed into slow-cooker.

Place all ingredients in order listed into slow-cooker.

Use your best judgment should you opt to use sweeteners and organic and/or locally grown produce.  In the 1980’s, I was reprimanded by the self-proclaimed “food police” for providing preschoolers unhealthy snacks containing sugar and poisonous apple skins.  The very suburb criticized in today’s newspaper as a top city to avoid by French tourism (the capital of haute and nouvelle cuisine). Currently, they are well known for their innovative restaurants but it is often the misinformation that can be most dangerous. Today we have more information about what constitutes “healthy” food v. foods to avoid, and why.  HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) was not as prevalent an ingredient over a quarter a century ago.  GMOs were virtually unheard of while little differentiation was made between “organic”, “natural” and “locally grown” produce, and not as widely available.

Soft and warm applesauce cooked to your liking.

Soft and warm applesauce cooked to your liking.

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Savory summer strawberry herb vinaigrette

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Salad dressing recipe best on bed of mixed greens, walnuts and fresh strawberry halves

This surprising, zesty dressing brightens salads and stimulates the senses.  A versatile dressing or marinade, mere modifications change from a tart version to a sweeter, savory sauce that can stand up to poultry, game and some fish.  This recipe was developed to satisfy recent cravings for homegrown ingredients plucked fresh from the garden.

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Recommended fresh ingredients

  • ½ C. rice bran oil
  • 1/3 C. apple cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar, or fresh key lime juice
  • 1 ½ -2 C. washed strawberries
  • 1Tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 1/8 C. fresh basil leaves (cinnamon basil works well)
  • 1/8 C. fresh parsley
  • ¼ tsp. “Reunion Pink” peppercorns
  • Dash of “Penzey’s Baking Spice” or fresh ground cinnamon for depth.

Add all ingredients simultaneously and pulse or blend on high for 10-15 seconds

These fresh, whole foods and savory herbs offer antimicrobial properties and contain water soluble vitamins addressing several common conditions faced today.  Some may argue that an oil-free diet must be maintained when considering cardiovascular conditions.  Others proclaim fermented foods, like vinegars, are detrimental.  In moderation, this preparation is a condiment to enhance flavors, not intended as a meal.  Rice bran oil acts as a nutraceutical, featuring tocotrienols that share a similar tocopherol chemical structure belonging “…to the vitamin E family and are powerful natural antioxidants (Tomeo et al., 1995).”

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Strawberry blossoms

Strawberries are naturally abundant and refreshing during the late spring and summer months.   An effective antioxidant reducing blood pressure, strawberries are high in vitamin C and fortify blood due to iron content.  Strawberries (and apple cider vinegar) contain pectin that reduces painful arthritic inflammation by eliminating uric acid accumulation in joints, causing the painful crystallization of synovial fluid.  Strawberries are a naturally sweet and satisfying fibrous food source.  Allergic reactions to strawberries may be life threatening so take extreme caution.