My Nana was a most extraordinary lady. Tomorrow, it will be two weeks since we lost her. As this is Holy Week there are surely parallels to be made about resurrection and new life. But frankly, they do not bring me comfort because they do not bring back her smile or her dancing or her enthusiasm for life which was contagious to those around her. I feel like I should do more here in tribute to her; I want to do more here in tribute to her, given the profound impact she has had on my life. At her memorial service I talked about how I believed that Nana’s legacy was that she taught us the language of food. She showed us how we can channel our feelings of grief, joy, and frustration into the preparation of food and use it to show other people that we care about them. It would seem fitting then, that tomorrow we plan a huge dinner in honor and remembrance of her. But the idea of doing so seems like an overwhelming task because there is simply so much to say, both with words and with food. Where do you even begin?
Answer: You begin with bunnies. Pear bunnies, to be exact.
This applesauce is special. Did you know that some applesauce is considered special, whereas other applesauce is not? It’s okay if you were not aware of this fact; after all, it’s my job to think about these things and report back to you. So this is me letting you know that your applesauce needs to be special. I feel that I can speak pretty confidently on this topic because we are applesauce people. This is primarily because my kids are picky eaters and I don’t cook them something separate for dinner, so I always like to have one or two things at the meal that I know they will eat. Enter trusty old applesauce. If you make your own, you can control the amount of sugar in it, which is good for all of us. An added bonus is that it is a good source of fiber, a nutrient that is always lacking in my kids’ diets. At this point in my life as a parent, I have made gallons upon gallons of applesauce. I freeze it, I can it, I add blueberries, I make it on the stove, in the oven, I’ve tried it all.
Of all the different variations and ways I make applesauce, this is by far my favorite. In fact, even if I didn’t want to keep applesauce around for the benefit of my kids, I’d still make big batches of this particular kind because Ray and I like it so much. There is a little bit of pear in there, a few handfuls of cranberries, some lemon, orange, and cinnamon. There are just enough cranberries to make the sauce a little bit tart, but the added pears are sweet enough to mellow out the tartness. The orange and lemon are not pronounced flavors, they just help enhance the others. There’s not enough of anything that it dominates the flavor of the apples, but just enough so that when they all come together you get something a little unexpected and a little special. I find that it is sweet enough that I don’t need any added sugar, but you can always add some if you like.
When it comes to holiday dinners, the unofficial motto in my family is “Prepare enough food for everyone that is coming to dinner. Then make more.” I always laugh when I get cooking magazines that feature holiday dinners with about 3 things on the plate. Are you kidding me? We have three different vegetables alone! Plus salad, and bread, and a variety of meat, need I go on? So. Much. Food. Good food. Food that people you love have taken the time and effort to prepare because they know that you will savor it. How can you not sample a little bit of everything? Then perhaps a little bit more? And before you know it, the skinny pants you wore thinking that they would help keep your food consumption under control are digging into your belly and you’re counting the seconds until it’s socially acceptable to go upstairs and put on your pajama bottoms so that you can finally get some relief and when you do you want to shout “Thank you Sweet Jesus!” because in that moment you can’t imagine anything better than that blessed elastic waistband. Phew!