Thursday, October 6, 2011


Since devoting myself entirely to food (with periodic breaks for dancing and biking and laundry, of course), I find that sometimes my work and play lives blur. I know, it's a tough life. But truly, it's been a busy few weeks, dear readers, and I've been meaning to tell you all about the food education adventures of late. Food stamp outreach at the Kwanzaa Kitchen Breakfast (work). Jeff's kind assistance with setting up my very first batch of shiitake mushroom logs (play, though there is a related magazine article in the pipeline -- see what I mean about the blur between work and play?) and drafting the last couple of FoodPrints lessons, hopefully soon to be available online (work). Curriculum writing for elementary and middle school after school programs I'll begin co-teaching later this month (work). Dressing up like a peapod to help get kids at a nearby primary school excited about their new salad bar. My first shift with the brand spankin' new Brainfood MVP program. (These last two were both volunteer gigs earlier this week.) And, last but not least by a long shot, making and canning applesauce with my friend, Farmer Gail (play).

(Note: this post, as implied by the title, is about making applesauce. For those of you who want to read more about some of the other recent food adventures, sit tight: I've got some writing to do. And Ibti Peapod pictures to bury in case I ever decide to run for public office one day.)

All food all the time. Every so often I worry that I might stop loving food so much. Then I remember it's me we're talking about here. Have I grown tired of canning? Ha! Hardly! When Gail came by to pick up me and my spices on Sunday afternoon, I must say I was a little giddy. I hadn't made apple sauce since last fall. Autumn, indicated by the onslaught of apples at farmers' markets as much as the troubling drop in temperature, was officially here. (What's that you ask about the spices? Just 3 or 4 of them plus a couple of fresh lemons -- a far cry from the cache of 25+ baggies of key ingredients like cardamom and star anise that I schlepped around the country.) I looked up a couple of basic recipes -- mostly to check the processing time and triplecheck that I had not misread, that it was in fact OKAY that I would not be bumping up the acidity level with the addition of a mess of lemon juice or vinegar or something, as I do in normal canning to stave off bacterial growth (raise your hand if you've lost sleep over fears of botulism) -- and my cooking companion broke out the handy dandy apple peeling and coring contraption.

[I love that gadget. If I ever get married, that thing is going on my registry. They seem hard to find, these apple peelers, but less so than, say, a loving life partner. Actually, recent broken hearts considered, I may as well go ahead and buy one for myself and cut out the interminable wait. Yes, let me just take a look on Craigslist....]

With Gail washing and peeling, and me slicing and spicing, we had two big pots' worth of applesauce simmering on the stove in no time. Wash out and boil the jars, fill 'em, check 'em for air bubbles, wipe the rims, twist on the lids, submerge the filled jars at a rolling boil for 20 minutes, cool on a wire rack... I daresay I'm getting pretty handy at this. (And a good thing, too, since I'll be co-teaching another bilingual canning class, featuring homemade applesauce, later this month.) Though she admitted to a shared fear of botulism before we got started, Gail seemed delighted at how simple and straightforward the whole process was as we cooled the jars and checked the lids. I suspect that she'll be tackling the rest of the half bushel of apples soon, empowered by the confidence (and deliciousness) inspired by this initial batch of sauce.

Have you made applesauce yet this season? If you need ideas or have questions about spice variations, you know who to call....

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Blackberry

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