Monthly Archives: March 2012

Kellers Cook: Crockpot Applesauce

On Saturday, I tweeted this photo of my most recent kitchen experiment:

And, well, it garnered some attention. More than usual. 9 response tweets, actually, including a husband asking for the recipe for his wife. I promised the recipe would be posted soon, so this week, I’m going to show you my super precise recipe experiment for crockpot applesauce. I managed to take a few camera-phone shots, too, (they’re called visual aids). This experiment was loosely constructed around what details I could remember from my friend Amanda’s crockpot applesauce recipe. Which was verbal. And several weeks ago, so…you know.

The basics:

  • Apples
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon Juice, perhaps

For the apples, I used 7 organic honeycrisp (from Amanda’s Azure Standard order) and a lone pink lady that had been rolling around the fridge for a couple weeks. I chose to leave the skins on but chopped them into bite-sized pieces.

My 8 apples, chopped up, filled my 6-quart slow cooker about halfway:

It reduced significantly in the cooking process (filled 1 quart mason jar + 1 8oz. cup) so next time, I will do enough apples to fill the entire thing. Next, I added 1/3 cup water. I like really thick applesauce, which is why I used so little, but if you want it thinner, use more water.

Cinnamon is next. I really like cinnamon, so I used a lot. (I know, so precise, right?) I used about this much:

So all you visual people, just look at that sprinkling and figure out exactly how many teaspoons it was. Good luck.

When it comes to sugar, you have a couple choices: one, you can leave it out and let the apples’ natural sweetness be enough. You could also add white sugar, or you could add sucanat, or you could add brown sugar. I chose the latter.

Let’s be honest, I used 2 of those heaping teaspoonfuls. What? I like sugar. Because I’d read somewhere online that you should add some lemon juice to this recipe, next I took a half a lemon (with the peel completely zested off) and squeezed some juice all over the apples. This turned out to be a not-so-great decision. Keep reading.

I mixed everything together well and set the crockpot on high for 2 hours, mostly because I didn’t want to wait 6 hours (if cooked on low). If you choose the high heat shortcut, watch the apples, because the ones on the edges will caramelize…and then scorch if you’re not stirring consistently.

After an hour and a half, I began fiddling with the potato masher, since the apples were cooked enough to mash. Still, I’m thinking longer is better in terms of mashing ease, and while I had turned the heat to low to avoid scorching the apples, I liked the flavor the longer it cooked. Well, I sort of liked the flavor.

Remember when I said I added juice from half a lemon? Turns out, lemon makes things sour. I added too much lemon juice and didn’t strain the seeds, either. By the time I tasted some of my mashed up applesauce, all I could taste was the lemon. The remedy? White sugar. Twice, because one healthy sprinkling wasn’t enough. I told you, I like sugar. Next time, I’ll leave the lemon out altogether and only use a bit of brown sugar.

In the end, after 2.5 hours of cooking and a lot of mashing, the applesauce was very tasty. As I mentioned, it filled a quart-size mason jar to the brim, and then filled the mug pictured above (8oz), which I was happy to eat immediately. I like it plain, hot or cold, and mixed into oatmeal. Jon has eaten it on waffles and I plan to use it on ice cream eventually.

If you try the recipe and mix up some of the ingredients, let me know how it turns out! And if some of you choose to be super precise with your measurements, post them here in the comments! An actual recipe? What’s that?!

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lenten disciplines: solitude

Last Sunday, the Table at CPC launched a new series about Lent centered around the spiritual disciplines. We learned about solitude, its presence and purpose in our lives, and the importance of developing the practice. As an extrovert, that idea is painful to me. I want to be with people, I want to feel connected, I want the noise around me to make me feel included. Brad challenged us to make room for solitude this week, and to be honest, I thought about it…and thought that was enough. I’d already decided to give up radio on my morning commute for Lent. That’s enough solitude carved into my day, right?

Then Tuesday happened.

It was a great day on campus, a day of prayer and fasting, ending with a special event in which all the students, staff, faculty, and local parents gathered for a time of worship, seeking guidance, and communion. We broke the fast together afterwards. It was a beautiful time.

I was supposed to leave work and head down to be with a dear friend and her family for the evening, but the steady rain was beginning to freeze and it looked like driving would quickly be dangerous. I decided to just go home; Jon was out of town.

After a soaking, cold walk across campus to my car, and a slow, silent drive home, I got home and beelined for a bath; I was in pajamas by 7pm. I sat on the couch under blankets, a lavender candle glowing nearby, and journaled my thoughts from the day. I thought about how this was solitude: the warm quiet at the end of the day, the peace that grew slowly.

I pulled up a delicious recipe and decided to bake a triple berry breakfast cake just for the heck of it (I never just bake). I worked in the kitchen: slowly, methodically, silently.

In reflecting on my night of solitude, I’ve discovered that slowness is a key element. It’s doing things consciously, on purpose, lacking the hurry that is usually so characteristic of how I spend my days.

Silence is another key part of this solitude business. I won’t lie, the morning commutes feel longer without the sound of the KS95 morning show. I’ve caught myself reaching for my radio multiple times. Silence is uncomfortable to me. I think part of growing up is identifying what causes the good kind of discomfort (for me, it’s working out consistently, addressing conflict in healthy ways, and being alone in silence) and then forcing yourself to do it anyways, because you know it’s good for you.

Have you practiced solitude before? What did it look like, and what did you learn from it?