When I look back on my childhood, I often realize I was not as grateful for certain circumstances or actions as I should have been. But, I guess that is the benefit of having a pretty good childhood, huh? You don’t know how bad it could be.
One such situation involved my father’s caregiving for a short while. In the midst of an extremely trying time at work, he had to take care of my mother while she recovered from abdominal surgery and my brother and I (who were not always the easiest individuals to please). He did fairly well at doing the duty of two people and I never even realized what a hard time he was having in the office until adulthood. However, all my brother, Tom, and I knew was that Dad wasn’t doing things like Mom did.
This was especially true of his cooking during this time. As I’ve grown older and my palate has broadened, I really enjoy my father’s cooking. He’s very confident and creative in the kitchen. But, when I was small and he was harried, my brother and I could not appreciate what he was turning out for dinner and putting in our lunch boxes. Dad was well-meaning, but no elementary school kid wants olive loaf on rye bread, even more so when Mom usually put together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on homemade white bread (and sometimes even cut the crusts off) with sweet little notes tucked on the side. We ate a lot of casseroles for dinner which were so different from what Mom served. I remember one night in particular actually being a little horrified to see my father scrape leftovers into a casserole dish and place it without ceremony right into the oven. Then, while the oven door was open and the oven rack was extended (breaking a kitchen commandment in my child’s mind), he roughly cut (by hand not on a cutting board as Mom taught me was the only way to use a knife) both cheddar cheese and raw onion. I think my brother and I actually shed tears over that one.
Poor Dad. We made things so difficult for him, but he never made us feel bad for it. And, we both do now.
Tom and I talked about Dad’s cooking while we picked apples recently and we each have our favorite dishes from him (and some things we hope he doesn’t make again). I particularly like his applesauce. I enjoyed it so much when I was young, that I thought he must have created it especially for me. I didn’t even know you could buy applesauce in the store, and once I tasted the commercial stuff, I felt bad for kids who didn’t have a dad who made it for them.
It is only appropriate that I post the applesauce recipe today. Happy Birthday, Dad! Sorry I wasn’t always grateful for what you did for us. I certainly am now.
Makes about 4 pints
about 4 pounds apples
2 to 3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
about 1 cup water
Peel, core, and roughly dice the apples.
Add them to a large pot with remaining ingredients. Add just enough water to prevent the apples from burning.
Bring to boil, then turn down the heat and cook slowly until apples are soft. Probably about 20 to 30 minutes.
If you are canning the applesauce, spoon it into jars while it is still warm and process in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes.
This applesauce also freezes very well, and it is great served hot or cold.