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Apples are my favorite fruit. They are always in our fruit bowl, and they are automatically put onto the shopping list every week. My favorites are Golden Delicious and Gala, but I certainly don’t limit myself to just those varieties. Especially in autumn when there are so many delicious ones to try.

I do not, however, like applesauce. (Nor do I like apple juice, but that’s not the topic of this post, it’s really just an aside.)

To be absolutely fair and accurate, I must say that I do not like most applesauces. I only buy applesauce from the store when I want to bake with it. Homemade applesauces are a bit more tolerable, which makes me think it’s partially a textural thing. Homemade applesauce is (usually) not as thin and runny as commercial applesauce. I have found that I like an applesauce with chunks. And not too much sugar.

Hannah started on purees three months ago, and she very quickly demonstrated a willful desire to feed herself, in addition to what was a merely indifferent attitude towards any puree that wasn’t in a pouch. We moved her on to finger foods real quick. It didn’t really occur to me to make applesauce for her because it seemed unlikely that she would ever eat it.

Then we started giving Hannah bits of bread and found in the process that we could put purees on them and she’d eat them that way. Apples were difficult for her to bite into, but she seemed to like their flavor. Applesauce suddenly seemed like it might be a good idea.

So, three pounds of sliced apples, a little lemon juice and water, a sprinkling of cinnamon, and twenty minutes of boiling in the Dutch oven later, all it took was a little mashing to make a thick, chunky applesauce. I made it without sugar since we’re trying to limit Hannah’s intake right now. As it turned out, the Gala apples I used were sweet enough on their own. The applesauce, in all its simplicity, was perfect as it was.

It took Hannah a couple tries to warm up to it, but eventually, she decided that the texture was acceptable and the flavor more than simply acceptable. But I’ve found that she prefers to just pick up the chunks of apple on their own and eat them that way, rather than on bread. It’s been a nice way to let her eat the apples she enjoys, along with introducing her to different flavors and textures. It makes a bit of a mess, but so does just about everything she eats, so nothing out of the ordinary there.

And I like it. Because it’s chunky, it has a nice texture and holds up well with other foods. I’ve eaten it as a sandwich with some peanut butter, which was very nice indeed. Last week, I combined a cup of the applesauce with a cup of barbecue sauce and dumped it over some pork tenderloin in the crockpot. After eight hours, we had pull-apart pork that smelled divine and made for a very tasty dinner with more than enough for leftover lunches for the next couple of days.

So, with autumn on the way and the promise of an assortment of lovely, tasty apples with it, I’m already planning on making more applesauce in the near future. Which just goes to show that tastes may change over time – or else we learn how to adapt things and turn them into something that we can truly appreciate.

Except, probably not for apple juice. Cider is totally acceptable, but apple juice is just yucky.

Applesauce on a potato bread bun, ready to add some wonderful flavor to a delectable BBQ pulled-pork sandwich.

Applesauce on a potato bread bun, ready to add some wonderful flavor to a delectable BBQ pulled-pork sandwich. It was actually a lot chunkier than this, but the chunks made the sandwich awkward, so I gave them to Hannah instead. She enjoyed them immensely.

Sunday
Steak, Asparagus, and Gorgonzola Pizza (from Smells Like Home)

steakpiza

Oh my, heaven. I usually don’t make pizzas with white sauce, but this sounded too good not to try. Best pizza I’ve had in a while. Everything goes together so well, and the tang of the Gorgonzola adds a wonderful finishing touch. I’d definitely add more asparagus next time, as it got a little lost in the cheesiness of the toppings, but even that didn’t stop it from tasting great. I’m also wondering how it’d be with some mushrooms as well. A relatively easy pizza to make, but the bèchamel sauce is fairly easy to do, and it tastes so creamy and delicious that it’s worth it. The leftovers made for a nice breakfast the next morning! We’ll be doing this one again.

 

Tuesday
Buffalo Chicken Soup (from My Retro Kitchen)

buffalochicksoup

I’ve already confessed that I love all things buffalo-flavored, but this soup went way beyond expectations. I made it with carrots instead of celery, which seemed like a big improvement to me. I loved this soup. The carrots, plus lots of moist chicken, plus a thick buffalo-flavored broth, plus a smattering of blue cheese on top all added up to an amazing soup. The flavors came together perfectly, and it was just at the right level of spicy (I had to add more Frank’s Hot Sauce to get it where I wanted it, but no problem). I made the whole recipe, which left enough for me to enjoy the soup over lunch the next couple of days. It just kept getting better. Easily my favorite meal of the week and one I will keep in mind whenever I get a craving for buffalo chicken.

 

Wednesday
All-White Salad (from Around My French Table)

allwhitesalad

I think I covered this well enough in my French Friday post. This was so lackluster and unremarkable. I’m not a fan of salads, but this was so underwhelming that Geordie (who does like salads) was sorely unimpressed. Honestly, it’s put me off trying any other salad for a while.

 

Thursday
“Frito” Chili Pie (from Brown Eyed Baker)

fritochili

We have had a bag of corn chips (at one time freshly made in the HEB tortilleria) sitting on the kitchen table for weeks, and I finally went looking for something to do with them. A Frito pie seemed like a good option. This one has a really good chili that was tasty even on its own. The corn chips were already going a bit stale, and baking them in the oven didn’t help much, but overall, it was a good meal. I’d definitely do the chili on its own again. Geordie and I had the leftovers with fried eggs one morning, and that made for a nice filling breakfast. An idea we’ll keep in mind for the future, no matter what kind of chili we have!

 

Friday
Sardinian Paella (from Food & Wine Magazine)

sardinianpaella

I wanted to make something a little special for Valentine’s Day, and I decided on a paella after watching an episode of Iron Chef America. The first paella I ever had was from a pizza delivery place in Japan (yes, they had a paella special, and yes, they delivered it hot and fresh to our door), but whenever I think of paella, I can’t help but think of the episode of “Fawlty Towers” in which Manuel and the hotel chef get into a fight over who is going to make the Fawltys’ anniversary paella. This paella was not accompanied by such excitement, thankfully. The shrimp got a little overcooked, and I wish I’d bought more mussels, but otherwise, this was terrific. And much easier than I’d expected. I wouldn’t mind making it again!

Confession time. I don’t usually eat salads. I don’t really like them. I’ve never been a big fan of greens, and since they make up the majority of most salads, I tend to avoid them. However, I will eat a salad (especially a Caesar salad) every so often, but usually only if it’s made by someone else. As much as I don’t like to eat salads, I like making them even less. So I faced this week’s Dorie recipe without any expectations of enjoying it at all.

And, honestly, I didn’t enjoy it. At all. The salad itself was easy to make: a Granny Smith apple, white mushrooms, and pre-shredded cabbage (no celery, because ew). It took maybe ten minutes to get everything sliced, chopped, and/or dumped out of a bag. As the name suggests, it’s white. Well, the cabbage was a little green, and the mushrooms had the brown gills, but otherwise, it was pretty bland-looking. But that’s the idea. An all-white salad doesn’t promise much else, does it.

Then I set about to making the dressing, and it took 30 minutes to do. In theory, it’s simple: an egg yolk and a bit of Greek yogurt are whisked together while gradually (very gradually) adding olive oil. Then some lemon juice. Then more olive oil. Then more Greek yogurt. This would have all been a lot faster if I’d just used the food processor to do it, but that would mean more cleaning, and I like to avoid more cleaning when I can. I whisked the dressing together, and the next day, the knuckles on my right forefinger were tender to the touch. And after all that, the dressing wasn’t even that interesting. It was okay, but it was not, in my opinion, worth 30 minutes of effort and sore knuckles.

In the end, I was as unimpressed with this salad as I thought I would be, and that made me a little sad. I’d been hoping that I’d be wrong and that it would be a good salad. Maybe not a great salad (have I ever had a great salad that didn’t involve breaded chicken? probably not), but a good salad. It wasn’t even that. It felt like a chore to eat it. Geordie was just as unimpressed as I was.

allwhitesalad

It probably didn’t help that we had some great meals this week. This was definitely the low point, uninteresting in both appearance and flavor. That was part of the problem. It’s not that the salad is inherently bad. It’s just boring, for lack of a better word. I usually love mushrooms, but they didn’t stand out here. Granny Smith apples don’t do anything for me, and they didn’t do anything for this salad either. A little bit of sweetness might actually have improved this salad a bit, but you’re not going to get that from Granny Smiths. And it still wouldn’t help the lackluster dressing. Geordie and I both felt that the salad had nothing to offer other than the uniqueness of being a salad almost entirely sapped of color.

This will probably be the last salad I make for a long, long time.

Check out the Dorista links to see their all-white salads from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. Looking forward to next week’s crepes – now that should be an interesting experience, no matter how it turns out! Happy cooking!

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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