Applesauce: Thanksgiving Side Dish

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For homemade applesauce, select an assortment of varieties.

I was looking for one more side dish for a ten-person dinner at the farm recently.  Hmm… let’s see…something easy and seasonal.  Fresh applesauce would be perfect.  It goes with everything and is inexpensive, especially at this time of the year when there’s such an assortment of fresh apples available.  And, I love the smell it brings to the kitchen.

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Core and chop apples

The biggest decision is whether to leave the peel on the apples. Peel-on advocates like the pinkish color, shorter prep time, and the nutrients that come from the skins.  It takes longer to peel the apples, but you can mash them in the pot and serve the sauce chunky style or puree it easily in a blender.

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Cook apples until soft

I was cooking about fifteen apples, so I opted to chop and core them and put the cooked fruit through my “antique” food mill, an apparatus I was given as a wedding gift because it was considered necessary for every well-appointed kitchen


If unpeeled, put through food mill to remove skins.

I use a mixture of apples, my favorites being Pink Lady, McIntosh, Gala, and a few Granny Smith.  Here’s how simple it is to make a small batch of this timeless, tasty treat.

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Add sugar and a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, if desired.


Homemade Applesauce 


  • 6-8 apples, Pink Lady, McIntosh, Gala, or Granny Smith (or a mixture)
  • 1 tsp. sugar, or more, or to taste.
  • A dash of cinnamon, optional


Peel (or leave unpeeled), core, and quarter apples.  Place them in a pot with about an inch of water.  Bring the apples to a boil, turn the heat down slightly, and simmer 30 minutes or until the fruit gets soft and thickens. Run thru a food mill to remove skins.  Stir in the sugar and cinnamon, to taste.  I often add a pinch of fresh nutmeg as well.



Time to Pick Those Pears

I never notice the sound of airliners flying overhead or traffic whizzing along my street in St. Louis.  But this weekend in the serenity of my farm, I was awakened several times by what sounded like hail pellets.  I knew better.  It happens every year about this time: large acorns from an overhanging oak tree fall onto the deck outside my bedroom window.  It’s as though squirrels were hurling missiles down on the house.

The next morning as I photographed the “fall out,” I was beaned by what felt like a golf ball hitting my forehead, leaving a dent that soon became a small lump.

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On the deck at the farm, relaxing and writing

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Old pear tree in the yard of an abandoned house.

It was not the only injury from a “flying” object this weekend.  While picking fruit, a visitor shed some blood when he was smacked in the nose by a falling pear.

I have only three fruit trees at the farm.  One’s a sour cherry, that I hope to tell you more about next summer when it yields; a hearty persimmon, but I don’t bother to fight birds for the mouth-puckering fruit; and a large, Burford pear nearly one hundred years old.

The pear tree doesn’t yield fruit every year.  Sometimes it just waves its bare branches and goes, “Ahh, I’m vacationing.  Try Schnuck’s Grocery.”

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When my kids were young, they climbed the tree in search of pears each fall.  Today, as seen in the photo, I use a pole just to reach the low hanging limbs. When I bit into one of the pears it was a little firm, but still buttery, sweet and edible.  I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures of the heritage fruit.

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2014-09-27 16.43.06This tree gets no care, no spraying, no pruning.  It bears fruit in September and holds it until the first frost, when the pears drop all at once.  The nearby abandoned house, inclining on its foundation, is likely as old as the tree.

2014-09-27 17.06.11When I come to this secluded spot on our farm to pick fruit from a tree I didn’t plant, I feel a connection with generations past, those who tilled the land, not only for themselves, but for those who’d come after them.



In the Kitchen with Venison

 “Cooking, at its heart is simple and straight forward. Even if you’ve never picked up a pot or pan in your life, you can—and should—enjoy some time in the kitchen every day.”   ~Mark Bittman

Venison shank

My daughter-in-law, Deb, and daughter, Robin, (both superb cooks), put the finishing touches on a venison shank at the farm.