What I Did on My Blogging Vacation*

* with Martha’s Grandma’s applesauce recipe.

I’ve taken a short, unplanned vacation from this space. There was a lot going on and I didn’t have the opportunity or mental energy to yak on about what I’m doing in our little home. But I’m back and ready to yak. I’ll spare you all the details, but I did do a couple of fun things I’d like to share.

I pulled out my sewing machine for the first time in months. Months. And I got up the courage to actually sew with Heather Ross fabric, which all sewists will tell you is stashed and hoarded and fondled, but rarely cut. It’s that precious. This week I’ll show you what I made because I’m in love.

We also went to a wonderful dinner party in Chicago. The host and hostess live in a magnificent three-story condo and have no kids of their own. They invited three families, for a total of eight kids, including toddler twin boys. Brave, brave Jerry and Eileen. Amazingly, they were completely chill about the whole thing. Our hostess Eileen had tried canning for the first time this year, and I begged for her salsa jam recipe, which she’d spread over goat cheese for an appetizer. It was delicious. She gave me that recipe, as well as a unique banana butter recipe. Both come from the book Blue Ribbon Preserves, a treasure of smart preserving recipes. I’ve ordered a copy. While the salsa jam will have to wait for next year’s garden, the basket of bananas about to turn got transformed into banana butter, which is amazing on a PB&J. I think it’ll also be pretty fabulous sweetening up plain yogurt.

(Pardon the poorly lit, unstaged photography. It’s a busy morning, and getting busier.) You might say the secret ingredient in this delectible spread is love. Or rum.

Also, I got together with my friend Martha and her mom to can applesauce. Martha and I have been friends since my first job as a technical writer long, long ago. I won’t tell you how long ago, but Marth and I were both wearing navy-blue double-breasted suits, white hose, and chunky earrings that matched our blouses, if that’s any indication. Martha was the one who showed me canning is nothing to be afraid of, and I’ve been hooked for more than 15 years. Sylvia loves going to Martha’s house to do projects, and I was thrilled Marth’s mom, who I adore, came along for the canning ride. We girls had a blast.

Last year when we canned, we used the recipe Martha’s Grandma painted during her retirement toile-painting phase. Since I’ve known Martha, she’s lived in four houses, and the plaque has been on the wall of each kitchen. We only realized last year that it could actually be used as, you know, a recipe. My kids loved the applesauce, seeing as they usually only get natural, unsweeted applesauce, and this one is filled with love. Plus sugar.

This go-’round we just cooked the apples in a bit of water, strained them through Martha’s mom’s heavy-duty food mill, then added about a cup of sugar. A little less sweet, but still delicious. The apples had a pink skin that colored the sauce a beautiful pink color. I think I’ll hoard this until the dark days of winter when we need a little extra color to lift winter’s gray.

If you’re wanting to make Martha’s Grandma’s applesauce, but she didn’t paint you a  plaque, here’s how.

Country Applesauce

12 red apples, quartered
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Simmer the quartered apples, water, and sugar for about an hour. Strain, using a food mill or by running the cooked sauce through a sieve or colander to remove the seeds and skin. Add the lemon juice. Serve warm or cold.


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