Tag Archives: Cuisinart

One bad apple didn’t spoil this applesauce

As a kid, I had a love/hate relationship with this tree — or at least one of its predecessors. It’s a transparent apple tree, which stands in the exact same spot it stood when I was a child. If it’s the original, it’s ancient.

Last week, my running partner and I discovered that the tree was full of apples but no one was picking them. We got permission from the owners to pick the apples, so carefully picked our way through the grass which was littered with rotten fruit. Which brings us to the hate part of my relationship with this tree — rotten apples draw bees. Not a summer went by that one of those bees failed to embed its little stinger in one of my feet.
IMG_0142[1]As for the love part…well, my mom made the best applesauce with those apples. They tend toward worminess but she spent hours cutting them up, cooking them, mashing and straining them through the ancient Foley Food Mill before canning or freezing the resulting sauce.

Fast forward to 2013  — the apples still tend toward worminess but we each managed to pick enough to make us both happy.
IMG_0140[1]For a few days, my husband and I avoided the apples, thinking maybe the applesauce fairy would deal with them. But…as luck would have it, a few days later, we lost power so with nothing better to do, we lugged the apples to my mom’s home, where she cheerfully helped us prepare the apples — in exchange for keeping some for herself.
IMG_0148[1]While cooking them, I forgot to add sugar until the sauce had already cooled. Which just proves that sugar is highly overrated — it didn’t even need sweetening!

Since we’d sold our canning equipment long ago — after remembering exactly what we hated about helping our parents can tons of produce every summer — we froze the sauce. A few whirls through the Cuisinart and it was ready for the containers.
IMG_0151[1]

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Filling the bread drawer takes unexpected turn

Our bread drawer was nearly empty today so I decided it was time to stir up the sourdough and bake some bread. My plan did not include making crackers or pizza dough, but…well…things happen.

Just an FYI for the uninformed: In the “olden” days, a bread drawer was usually made of tin, with holes punched in the lid for airflow. The purpose is to store bread safely and keep it fresh.

When we looked this house, one of the things I fell in love with immediately was the fact that it has two built-in tin bread drawers…just like the one in the house I grew up in.

This is what ours looks like. See? It’s empty.

So..back to the bread. Using some of the sourdough, I mixed up one of my favorite blends — whole wheat flour, cracked wheat, flax seeds, and white flour. While kneading it, I remembered that I could have used the Cuisinart for this part.

I put the dough in a big bowl to rise. Plenty pleased with myself, I went off to do something else. Oddly, when I checked the dough, it hadn’t risen. At all. Of course, that’s when I remembered what I should never forget. Yeast.  Unlike my big brother’s sourdough, mine doesn’t provide enough rising action so I have to add yeast. Except I forgot.

My husband reminded me that he did that once and baked it anyway. He thought it tasted okay. I considered that option, but decided I wasn’t up for unleavened bread. But..all was not lost. Crackers don’t need yeast, so we rolled half of it out for crackers and stuck the other half in the freezer for thin crust pizza.

That didn’t solve the empty bread drawer so I swiped more of the sourdough and mixed up another batch of bread. This time I cheated and let the bread machine do the kneading (it’s easier to clean than the Cuisinart).

I know what you’re thinking. Why doesn’t she toss the Cuisinart pieces in the dishwasher? We don’t have a dishwasher. Never have and according to the hubs, never will. Guess who does the dishes? Not me.

But we do have two tin bread drawers. And now they’ll both be full — one with crackers and one with bread.

Walnut butter replaces addiction for PB

Some addictions are okay to have. Like, for example, nut butters. Until about a year ago, I was addicted to peanut butter because it goes well on just about everything…crackers, bread, ice cream, popcorn. As a kid, my favorite sandwich was peanut butter, honey and raisin. Fortunately, I married someone who loves PB almost as much as I do.

But you won’t find any of that mainstream slimy PB with sugar or hydrogenated oils in our house….only the real stuff — just peanuts and salt. Smooth. And yeah, you have to stir it up before you spread it but hey, it tastes MUCH better.

True to form, our oldest daughter inherited that love. All the way through third grade, she packed her lunch every single day. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The only variation was the type of jelly or jam, which could range from strawberry to raspberry to peach.

Along comes daughter number two. Surely she would share our love for PB. But no. Her very blue eyes in a family of brown/hazel should have been a clue that she would veer from the course we three were following. Try as we might, the only item with peanut butter as an ingredient that would cross her lips were honey milk balls, an amazing concoction of peanut butter, honey, oats and powdered milk (see recipe below).

Fast forward 26 years. Daughter number two and I are perusing the various nut butters in Trader Joe’s. She tells me that her tastes are changing as she gets older and admits that she actually likes peanut butter now. So we started comparing the various nut butters and I realized that like every other store I’ve checked, they don’t carry my new addiction — walnut butter.

About a year ago, my mom and my friend, Mary, introduced me to homemade walnut butter. There weren’t a lot of foods that interested me at the time — I was still recovering from abdominal surgery — but walnut butter appealed to me. I decided to learn to make it, which involved finally learning to use my 30-year-old Cuisinart.

Walnut butter on rice cracker

Walnut butter in Cuisinart

Once I mastered that, I haven’t turned back. I buy walnuts in bulk, dump them in the Cuisinart, add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and turn it on. About 10 minutes later, I’ve got smooth walnut butter. Which, by the way, goes really well with cinnamon raisin bread (see recipe for bread machine below).

Okay, so like most nuts, walnuts are high in fat. However, like salmon and flaxseed, they’re also high in Omega 3, which among other things can lower the amount of lipids (fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides) circulating in the bloodstream and reduce inflammation throughout the body. So like everything else…eat them in moderation.

Honey Milk Balls
(Makes 2 dozen)
Combine in bowl:
1/2 c. honey

1/2 c. peanut butter (try this with walnut or almond butter)
1 c. dry milk powder
1 c. uncooked rolled oats
Mix well, then knead by hand until blended. Shape into small balls.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
(For bread machine)
3/4 c. very warm water
1/4 c. applesauce
1/2 c. raisins (Monukkah raisins or other sticky ones, work best)
1 tbsp. olive or canola oil
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. yeast
Put first eight ingredients into bread machine in the order listed above. Make an indentation on the top of the ingredients and add yeast to indentation.
Set machine according to manufacturer’s instructions for baking. I prefer to bake this recipe on the one-hour setting, but that will depend on your machine.