LittleJudeonFood

One kid's adventures in gastronomy


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It’s That Time of Year Again…

The time of year when we venture into apple orchards and make ourselves sticky (and a little ill) from all the apples we sample. Because we went a little later than usual this year, Mama and Papa indulged me in my choice of attire that day:

After trying both kinds of apples, I'm sticking with the red.

After trying both kinds of apples, this monkey is sticking with the red.

Ordinarily, we make applesauce, but as we still have a fairly full stash from last year’s harvest, Mama thought we’d try our hands at apple butter. I’ll write about that a little later because for now, I want to tell you about something that can only be called a revelation (if only I knew what that word meant):

Apple bread.

It’s a tad sweet and totally snackable. We made one loaf of bread, and from here on out, we’re making apple muffins.

We used the yummy recipe found here. Mama substituted one cup of the flour with whole-wheat and all the sugar with brown, just because that’s how Mama does things.

First, I mixed the brown sugar together with the cinnamon. Here I am breaking up the little lumps of brown sugar. (Mama just reached in and pinched whatever was left with her fingers.)

breaking up sugar lumps

Then we put different sugar and butter in the mixing bowl and creamed them with the paddle. Mama told me to start slow, and I said “otherwise the dough will get angry.” What I meant was that it will fly all over the place. You’re not just combining the sugar and butter. What you’re doing is smashing the sugar into all that butter, coating all the little sugar granules with fat. This results in a lighter finished product with better lift.

I'm holding the vanilla because I can't wait to add it. I love it so much!

I’m holding the vanilla because I can’t wait to add it. I love it so much!

Once the batter was made, we practiced a new word: half. Mama spread half the batter into the bread pan, then I sprinkled half the chopped apple over the batter, then topped that with half the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture. (I might have eaten a little along the way.)

Good thing Mama diced a large apple.

Good thing Mama diced a large apple.

Then we repeated the whole operation with a second layer. Mama advised me to spread out my additions as evenly as possible so there were no overly sweet or apply spots.

I was eating batter with one hand and sprinkling cinnamon-sugar with the other. Talk about multitasking.

I was eating batter with one hand and sprinkling cinnamon-sugar with the other. Talk about multitasking.

Our bread took a bit more than an hour to bake until our tester came out clean. (When we made muffins a week later, the same amount of batter and fillings made 12 and baked for 20 minutes.) I declared this bread delicious. Good thing we picked lots of apples. We’re going to need them.

Love, Jude

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It’s applesauce day!

It’s cold outside today, but it’s warm and smelling of cinnamon and cloves inside. We made 12 pints of applesauce, and we barely made a dent in our apples!

Mama decided it was go much faster if we kept the peels on. They blend right up in the immersion blender.

Mama decided it would go much faster if we kept the peels on. They blend right up with the immersion blender.

Papa showed me a new way to eat applesauce: as something to dip my pork chop into. Yes, indeed!

Love, Jude


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Let there be apples

With the fall comes apples and apple picking. Being that it’s already past Halloween, we’ve gone a few times. We even picked pears in early September.

Imagine how much cider you could make with all those pears on the ground?

Imagine how much cider you could make with all those pears on the ground.

By now this apple picking thing is old hat for me. We pick the apples, and then we eat them. I sure do love apples.

I'm performing quality control on this apple.

I’m performing quality control on this apple. The brown on it means it’s russeted.

This past weekend, we picked more than 60 pounds! We’re stocking up for the winter, but we also want to make applesauce and apple pies. (Crumbles, rather, since they’re much easier to make than pies, as they don’t have a crust!)

It was sunny but really cold this day. The cold will be perfect for storing all the apples we picked.

It was sunny but really cold this day. The cold will be perfect for storing all the apples we picked until we can gobble them up.

I’m getting pretty good at making these apple crumbles. Mama hasn’t put in anything like raisins or cranberries or pomegranate arils, but don’t let that stop you from doing it. And don’t let anything keep you from making a crumble!

Love, Jude

Apple Crumble
(This is one of Mama’s loosey-goosey recipes, so feel free to improvise.)

4 or 5 apples (multi-variety*), peeled, cored, and sliced or chopped as desired
Brown sugar
Whole-wheat flour
Ground cinnamon
Ground cloves
Ground nutmeg
(other spices, as desired)
Rolled oats
2 tablespoons butter (or so)

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Prepare the apples. I like to use this nifty crank to peel the apples, and then Mama sometimes uses a fancy apple corer to break the apple apart.

I can only use this with supervision because Mama says the peeler is sharp.

I can only use this with supervision because Mama says the peeler is sharp.

This corer is a lot harder to use than it looks.

This corer is a lot harder to use than it looks.

Once the apples are all sliced or chopped, put them in a bowl, and add some brown sugar (to taste), a handful of flour, and spices as desired. The flour will help thicken the juices as they seep out of the cooking apples.

Mama lets me add the spices. I like cinnamon, so I gave it an extra shake.

Mama lets me add the spices. I like cinnamon, so I gave it an extra shake.

Maybe Mama shouldn't entrust me with the spices...

Maybe Mama shouldn’t entrust me with the spices…

Mix with your hands or a large spoon. I had to wash my hands after doing this! Pour it all into a pie plate. Spread the apples so they lie relatively evenly. To the bowl, add more flour and brown sugar, a couple handfuls of oats, and more spices (if desired). Mama didn’t add any more cinnamon to our crumble topping. Stir it all up. (I happen to like using the whisk.

Get everything for the streusel good and blended.

Get everything for the streusel good and blended.

Now smoosh in the butter. Two tablespoons is just what we used. You can use more or less, but try to get at much butter covered by as much streusel mixture as you can. “I think I need to wash my hands again,” I told Mama.

Blend the butter into the topping any way you like. I didn't really care for getting butter all over my fingers.

Blend the butter into the topping any way you like. I didn’t really care for getting butter all over my fingers.

Then sprinkle the streusel topping over the fruit in an even layer.

I helped make this!

I helped make this!

Bake until golden and the apples are soft, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before digging in. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. And, whatever you do, don’t hold it hostage until your kid finishes his dinner. That’s just mean.

Mama and I high-fived and told each other, "Good pie!"

Mama and I high-fived and told each other, “Good pie!”

Note: Mama likes to use several varieties of apples in both her pies and her applesauce. The tarter ones balance out the sweeter ones, and the softer and crisper ones add texture.


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Jude Appleseed

I am not a baby who doesn’t know where food comes from. I’ve found eggs at the homes of some of my friends, and I’ve picked strawberries and blueberries and raspberries, as well as peaches and apples. We grew peas and tomatoes last summer, too, but (as Mama will be quick to point out), I kept picking them off the vines before they were really ready to eat. And then there was the mint that grew so out-of-control that I could have played hide-and-seek in it.

In the fall, Mama took me to an organic apple orchard not too far from our house. I knew just what to do. And, aside from the branches still being wet from that morning’s rain, I was really good at getting to the inside branches and picking big beautiful apples…each of which I, naturally, tried to take bites out of.

Mama can’t remember how many apples we picked that day, but it was definitely two full grocery sacks. And Mama says you can never have enough fresh apples in the fall. Why, for 1 pie alone, you need about 5 of them. And then consider applesauce. All that peeling and chopping cooks down to hardly anything! Let me show you.

But first, Mama pointed out that it’s very important to choose a sweet apple: honeycrisp, gala, fuji, pink lady, winesap, Cortland, jonagold, rome…the list is nearly endless. If you go to an orchard like we did, just ask the owners. They’ll be able to tell you! You want to avoid tart little numbers like grannysmith, otherwise you’ll have to add a whole lot of sugar. And you know how Mama feels about sugar. (Something else you can ask is whether they have any seconds–these are the apples that they’ve picked off the ground. It’s not as bad as it sounds–a wind could’ve just blown it off and caused a bruise, making it “unsuitable” for selling…but ideal for applesauce!)

Some folks choose to not peel their apples when making sauce. Some even toss the whole, roughly chopped apple in, seeds and all, choosing to strain the finished sauce. Do whatever works for you. Mama peels them, and Papa and I eat the peels. It’s win-win. There’s no formula for chopping or slicing the apples. Large chunks will take longer to cook down, but you also don’t have to make them itty-bitty.

Just lop off the apples "cheeks" for a quick way to core them.

Just lop off the apples’ “cheeks” for a quick way to core them.

Add the apple chunks to a large pot with a splash of water in it. (Mama says this keeps the apples from sticking initially.) She added a few cinnamon sticks and cloves, but she cautioned that it’s better to use cheesecloth that you can easily fish out, or just remember how many of these you put in the pot, as nobody wants to bite into a whole clove. (Alternatively, you can skip the spices, or use dried.)

The apples chunks don't have to be that small when you start.

The apples chunks don’t have to be that small when you start.

Turn the heat to medium to get everything going, and put a lid on the pot. Stir it occasionally. You don’t have to linger, but do keep an eye on things. Lower the heat a bit, and if the apples seem to be sticking or scorching, then turn it down some more, stir them, and maybe add another splash of water. (You shouldn’t have to at this point, but better to be safe than ruin a batch of applesauce.) Taste it, too, from time to time. Maybe you’ll want to add some brown sugar or other spices.

Here's what the apples look like after a little bit of cooking.

Here’s what the apples look like after a little bit of cooking.

Once the apples are supersoft, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, you have a couple options. If you prefer a chunkier sauce, then take a potato masher and go to work. That’s usually what Mama does, but this time she decided to use her immersion blender. You could also use a food processor, a blender, or a food mill to reach your desired consistency. Spoon the sauce into clean jars. If the jars are hot and the sauce is hot, Mama says you could get lucky and have them seal. But Mama just let the jars cool, then she stored them in the freezer. (Let them thaw in the fridge overnight.)

The apples are so soft they're practically turning themselves into sauce. Don't forget to fish out the cinnamon sticks and cloves!

The apples are so soft they’re practically turning themselves into sauce. Don’t forget to fish out the cinnamon sticks and cloves!

The applesauce was slightly spicy and very smooth. We ate it warm right from the pot, and it was the perfect snack on a crisp afternoon. Of course, it’s also good cold. Sometimes Mama mixes in raisins or adds it to oatmeal, but mostly I eat it straight. And what did we do with the couple dozen remaining apples we had? Stay tuned…

Love, Jude