Ideas that Come at the End of the Dry Season in the Desert

water in desert

The desert really is a different animal. Living here is far and away unlike living in an environment blessed with abundant water supply. If a plant or animal (or person for that matter) doesn’t have the capacity to survive on its own, it will die. Unless a human decides to invest very large sums of time, money, effort, and resources (often imported) in its survival. Note “survival.” “Success” takes a whole lot more.

It takes huge amounts of water to keep this ranch going. Water drawn from a well supplied by an aquifer that is being abused up and down the Baja peninsula. Every non-native plant (even many of those native to the area but usually found growing only along arroyos) needs to be soaked thoroughly twice a week. Any edibles need to be soaked twice daily. Each of nine horses drinks ten to fifteen gallons a day. Ten or so sheep drink a few more. The chickens, maybe two or three. Then there’s the water used to wash and shower and drink. Approximately zero percent of that water is rainwater. Chronic drought means the aquifer we’re drawing from has not been properly restored in years. It will rain here, but the few torrential downpours aren’t enough to keep things moist year-round.

All I can think is: what and who are really meant to be here?

For some reason I’m beginning to think a bunch of expats with resource-heavy hobbies and a swimming pool might not be it.

water in desert 2

I’m not saying my hosts are irresponsible, by any means. In fact, they are very mindful stewards of their land and the resources available to them, making a commendable effort to minimize their impact and promote the health of the ecosystem.

All I’m saying is I’m not sure the desert is a great place to do anything but live a desert life.

And that life is one that is dictated by the availability of water. Perhaps there’s a reason Mexicans tend to treat plants and animals with what appears to be disregard and (to some) cruelty, especially when it comes to food and water. Because here, it’s every living thing’s own responsibility to do what it’s gotta do to survive. In the desert, the luxury of manipulating flora and fauna to suit one’s own needs just doesn’t exist.

And I think I believe that this fundamental scarcity is at the root of Mexican culture – and all cultures borne of an arid landscape, I’d imagine. Being dependent on a resource that is seasonal and often unpredictable keeps people here cognizant of nature’s power. It puts people in their place, I guess. Which is at the mercy of mother earth and father space-time. In the US, we’re big-headed assholes who think water comes from pipes and weather is controlled by a busty bimbo on network TV. Generalization, yes. Untrue? No.

It makes me think of how difficult it is to get people at home to appreciate the seasonality of fruits and vegetables. How about we take away your water for nine months out of the year and then see what you learn about patience and thankfulness and reality?

Us water folk have a lot we could learn from the desert.

water

Grow Your Own Sprouts, Dummy

I want to dedicate this post to a one-time co-worker from back in my Whole Foods days. Through his willingness to overstep boundaries, call me names and tell me like it was I learned never to buy those wickedly overpriced prepackaged sprouts again.

Because growing your own sprouts is as easy as (if not actually easier than) 1-2-3.

Not to mention it’s cheaper than a crocus in March.

All you’ll need is:

  • Seeds — Alfalfa or bean (such as mung and garbanzo) are perfect for first-timers. The latter choice will yield “crunchy” sprouts and the former those delightful long strands you may know so well. Your best bet is to pick these up from bulk bins at your local natural foods store. For alfalfa you’ll only need about 1/4 cup for 1 batch. For the others, about 1/2 cup. It’ll likely set you back about $2.
  • Mason jar or comparable container
  • Cheesecloth or mesh
  • Rubber band

This time around I kept it at alfalfa.

The first step is to soak your seeds. Place 2-4 tbs of the alfalfa seeds (1/2 cup for beans) in the bottom of your jar and cover with cool water. Soak for roughly 6 hours (beans can sit for 8-10):

The second step is to drain your seeds. Place two layers of cheesecloth over the jar and secure with a rubber band (you’ll only need one layer for larger seeds). Find a place where you can keep the jars upside-down to allow the seeds to drain. If they’re on a solid surface, be sure to remember to lift them to remove excess drippage when you can:

The third step is to rinse your sprouts twice a day. Just fill the jar with water, drain and replace.

The final step is to watch them grow. Seriously. That’s it.

DAY 1:

DAY 2:

DAY 3:

There is one optional step — place your sprout-packed jar by a window for a few hours and BAM:

Chlorophyll is a wondrous thing. This is a great way not only to beautify your sprouts, but also to enliven them. Exposure to sunlight increases their level of chlorophyll, and while claims are contested, many agree that this life-giving molecule may offer fauna some of the same power it lends to basically 99% of the floral world. So why not. Use your window.

As if this whole process wasn’t already the simplest and most amazing thing ever, just wait until you unload your jar. With just $1-2 in the game, you’ll come out with about $25 worth of prepackaged alfalfa sprouts:

They don’t last too long in the fridge, so definitely plan on a few days of sprout-related meals in a row, but really – who’s complaining?

So next time I see you at the Whole Foods checkout line trying to hide your $10 plastic container of sprouts in shame, I’ll be the one calling you out. GROW YOUR OWN SPROUTS, DUMMY!

Go Pig or Go Home at Alla Spina

When I do eat meat, I like to go big.  Or in this case, pig.

Last night during our first foray out to the hip, happening–you know, GQ-approved–new spot from Philadelphia’s beloved Marc Vetri, Alla Spina, there was no way I was going to resist the chalk-scrawled depiction of a pig’s head on the specials blackboard. I never pass up an opportunity to try something new. Especially when it’s a true snout to tail eating.

We were greeted by this fellow:

And, well, all I can say is that we quite enthusiastically welcomed him to the table:

So, as you can see by the lack of brains and eyeballs in that pile of debris, this experiment in “will I be able to survive when we finally make it to Mongolia for my dream trek across the steppe” was a complete and total success. Yum!

No seriously, yum. Eyeballs are delicious.

Thank You, Passionate People…I Owe You One

Sometimes the world seems cold and heartless.  And sometimes it seems like no matter which way forward you try to take, there’s nothing there but frustration waiting.

But sometimes, our lives are graced with the presence of warmth and goodness and passion – moments we too often squander hastily in some masochistic favor of “the grindstone.”

Luckily, that horrid vapid abomination of a holiday called Valentine’s Day managed to get me thinking about the people around me that spur those moments of almost tangible optimism, most of them so distractedly and unintentionally that it’s hard to appreciate. There are so many people that put so much love into what they do that just being around them and the products of their passionate pursuits makes me feel like there’s something worth living for. And here are just a few of them:

At the South Philadelphia Tap Room, Chefs Scott Schroeder and Mark Regan reign over an ever-evolving menu of specials that keeps it real with classics like fried chicken and eggplant parm, but also delves into the deep dark corners of the culinary world…and that is why I go back again and again and again. Be it head cheese, monkfish liver or just a spectacularly-prepared cevice, Scott and Mark’s dedication to serving fresh, fun, honest, diverse and delicious food has got me hooked. Well, that plus their usually stellar draft list and gang of wicked cool servers. To the SPTR crew: YOU RULE.

I learned a lot during my first visit to Le Virtù. After a long-overdue foray to their cozy bar for wine (yes I drank wine!) and an unbelievable plate of a variety of house-cured salumi, Chef Joe Cicala had the good grace to show us where the magic happens. In the nondescript basement of this quiet Italian oasis, Joe is truly working miracles. Their small in-house salumeria houses row after row of beautifully marbled cuts of meat, each seasoned simply and traditionally (as per Joe’s regular training trips to Abruzzo), dangling tauntingly, aging to perfection. Right there in South Philadelphia. It is a sight to behold. So much love. To the Le Virtù crew: YOU RULE.

Sometimes produce speaks for itself. Sometimes a farmer speaks too. One look at Culton Organic’s produce and one chat with farmer Tom Culton were enough to hook me on this Lancaster farm’s artisan goods. Like the regular table at Headhouse Square wasn’t enough, I was lucky enough to visit the farm, which Tom manages almost single-handedly. His dedication to the preservation of heirloom varietals of game and produce and his almost aggressively frank passion for living with and not on the land (not to mention his impressive collection of colorful satin scarves) is contagious. What a dude and what a farm. To the Culton crew: YOU RULE.

Here are just a handful of the other people and places that make me all warm and fuzzy on the inside because of how much they rule:

  • Catherine and Al Renzi and their dedication to Yellow Springs Farm in Chester County,
  • Jean Broillet and his unwavering commitment to the blossoming Tired Hands Brewing,
  • Marisa McClellan and her amazing preserving and lifestyle blog Food in Jars,
  • Fair Food (Farmstand) and everything they do to bring local farmers and local consumers one step closer together,
  • and so many more.

So who for you?

Celebrate Often, and with Cheese

I was torn about the paltry and primarily symbolic raise I received last week.  The weekend was largely spend navigating extremes, oscillating from pangs of bitter entitlement to moments of humble appreciation.  Emerging now from the emotional turmoil into a week dedicated to raw food and yoga, I realize how gosh darn dumb I really am.  THE ANSWER IS THAT YOU SHOULD BE THANKFUL AND GLAD, EMILY.

Darn.  The belated epiphany totally took a dump on my chance to celebrate what I should have (at least with the promptness that gives a celebration that gutsy gusto).  Luckily – memories of the past’s more successful celebrations live on.

So in an attempt to recreate that feeling of exuberance, I’m going to revisit a ridiculously decadent celebratory cheese spread that John and I enjoyed last fall.

And I hope to at least leave someone with a lesson from the errors of my waffling ways: celebrate what you can while you can, be it the laughter of children or the smell of Pillsbury crescent rolls, because, well, duh.

Before I get into the chees-ifics, I should mention that despite how amazing each and every cheese we savored that day was, the winner of the night was hands down the jar of Dilly Beans I myself had made the summer prior with fresh-picked green and wax beans.

That said, there was nothing even remotely close to a loser on the table that night.  We started off with a real stunner: Jasper Hill‘s Moses Sleeper.  This Vermont-made bloomy rind cheese is perhaps the best American made brie-style wheel you can get.  Pillowy, gooey and smooth, the pasty center is at once buttery, citrusy and freshly earthen.  If you’re looking to convert a “non-brieliever” (yes, I went there) this is the cheese to do it with.

Next up was Valley Shepherd Creamery‘s Oldwick Shepherd, a classic favorite from the Garden State.  Fresh raw sheep’s milk is pressed into these firm wheels and cave-aged for at least 3 months to produce this wonderfully nutty Pyrenees-style cheese.  The earthen qualities of the lightly molded rind and the rich fatty sheep’s milk make for a slightly salty bite that would please even the most discerning Basque.

Crossing the world and going back in time to a provincial French monastery, we sample Abondance.  This alpine-style cheese produced exclusively in the Abondance valley is made from the milk of their prized Abondance cows (or occasionally the Montbéliard and Tarine breeds).  This ancient farm cheese touts a firm, smooth and supple body with fruity overtones and a lovely hint of hazelnut.  No wonder this is one of France’s most popular cheeses!

Like that all wasn’t enough, we really hit it big time with Cardo, an incredible washed rind goat cheese made by Mary Holbrook (yes, one lady and one lady only) at Sleight’s Farm in Somerset, England.  Don’t be deceived by it’s innocent creamy appearance — this stunner reeks of meaty pungency.  And yet while its full bodied texture coats your tongue with a savory, earthen, tingly funk, it still manages to deliver the fresh dry delicate floral tones one would expect from a goat’s milk cheese.

Mary has spent years perfecting her technique, which actually incorporates some inconsistency by rule.  For instance, she cuts the curds of the set milk with only her arms, leaving the curds free to maintain some irregularity.  Also setting this magical wheel apart, Mary uses cardoon (aka artichoke thistle) stamen instead of animal-based rennet to start her cheese, a Portuguese tradition.  After an aging process facilitated by Neal’s Yard Dairy (as she has no caves of her own, poor woman), a few lucky folks get their hands on this very limited production treat.

I rounded out this wildly decadent spread with a classic: Colston Bassett Stilton.  This creamy crumbly blue produced with all the pomp and circumstance of English tradition is the best way to finish out a night (especially when paired with a link of the Northeast’s own Rieker’s Landjaeger Sausage and some homemade black raspberry jam).

Take it from me — if you really want to celebrate (be it a baby or a finished book), $50 and a trip to Di Bruno Bros. can take you there.

Do it.

Goodbye New Mexico, Hello Raw Beet Soup

Hello again, blog.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been away for a while.  It’s true.  I left you.

For this (green chili cheeseburger at Perea’s):

And this (chile rellenos and enchiladas at Padilla’s):

And this (green chili stew at Maria’s):

And a WHOLE lot of this (IPAs at La Cumbre Brewing):

But I’m back now.

Needless to say, New Mexico was quite a marathon.  ABQ eats are certainly friendly going down, but they’re not so friendly afterwards.  After 14 straight days of drinking and irregular eating habits, it’s time to normalize.  Back to a world where people don’t consider melted cheese a food group and tortillas a vegetable.

Luckily today I came across this little bugger to the right from Harvard (a non-bureaucratic smart person attempt at the food pyramid known as the Healthy Eating Plate) to remind me that even through there’s still a whole basket full of Christmas candy and a dump trucks worth of nuts n’ bolts at home, it’s time to start actually using my brain when it comes to what I’m putting in my body.

To kick things off strong, I started with a meal that could cleanse the bowels of a two ton rhino — Raw Beet Soup with Sauerkraut Shitake Seitan Hash:

Raw Beet Soup with Sauerkraut Shitake Seitan Hash

Serves 2

FOR SOUP:

  • 2 whole red beets, unpeeled
  • 1 carrot, unpeeled
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/4 white or yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (with seeds)
  • vegetable stock/broth as needed
  • dill (fresh, preferably, or dried) to taste
  • fennel seeds to taste
  • agave nectar (or honey) to taste
  • dash apple cider vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • VITAMIX, BLENDTEC, OR OTHER HIGHPOWER BLENDER ESSENTIAL!

FOR HASH:

  • lacto-fermented sauerkraut (good, simple recipe here – my recipe will follow, sometime)
  • handful of mushrooms
  • seitan (omit for gluten free version)
  1. To make soup, put everything in the blender and BLEND. Seriously. That’s it.  But blend for long time.  Like 4 minutes. Adjust seasonings/add stock/broth as needed to achieve desired texture.
  2. To make hash, chop all ingredients thinly and mix.
  3. Pile hash, pour soup, serve with water-thinned greek yogurt (if not vegan), cashew cream (if vegan), or nothing (if lazy).
  4. CLEANSE AWAY!

Dijon Maple-Seared Tofallops Over Raw Marinated Brussels Sprout and Oyster Mushroom Salad

Following a week of unexpected indulgence that included an impromptu splurge at the brand new vegan spot from the Horizons folks, Vedge, and a last minute invitation to The Farm and the Fisherman‘s Pork and Beer dinner featuring pork from Wyebrook Farm and Lew Bryson to navigate pairings from Spring House Brewing in Lancaster, PA I needed a major cleanse meal.  Thankfully, somewhere between the vegan cocktails and shots of 41% ABV beers (needless to say I am referring to Brewdog’s unforgettable Sink the Bismark) I found time to get my hands on this beautiful stalk of brussels sprouts from Culton Organics:

With this bad boy on hand, there was definitely a cleanse meal in the cards.  With their powerful anticancer properties (thanks to high levels of glucosinolates and sulforaphane), brussels sprouts provide unparalleled support to the body’s detox system.  Plus they are full of antioxidants AND can help lower your cholesterol!  Now that’s what I call a power vegetable.

Need even more convincing that brussels sprouts might be the best veg ever?  Those leaves up top?  Delicious raw or stewed.  The stalk?  Matchstick it up and saute with some olive oil.  Side dish of champions.  This is a true snout-to-tail-type of plant – my favorite.

What really pulled this meal together, though, was a 1/4 pound stem of ethereal gray oyster mushrooms just begging for attention in my refrigerator.  Not wanting to do anything to compromise the delicate, pillowy cream-colored flesh of the mushrooms, or, for that matter, the nutritional content of the brussels sprouts I opted for a raw salad.

The phrase “raw brussels sprouts” likely elicits a sneer from most folks.  But what most folks don’t realize is that it’s cooking your brussels sprouts that puts you at risk of releasing those danky sulfuric compounds that have so wrongly criminalized this lovely little brassica.  When sliced thinly and marinated, the raw brussels is a refreshing treat.

Inspired by a great little blog called Warm Kitchenette, I realized that scallops would be a great pairing for a light raw brussels sprout and mushroom salad.  In the minutes following, I then realized that Ippolitos had just closed.  Scallops were quite clearly not an option.  So I got creative.  “Tofallops” it was.  And you know what?  You ALMOST couldn’t tell the difference.

Dijon Maple-Seared Tofallops Over Raw Marinated Brussels Sprout and Oyster Mushroom Salad

Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, Serves 2

  • 1/2 block of firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 pint brussels sprouts (I used about 1/3 from the whole stalk)
  • 1/2 pound (roughly) oyster mushrooms
  • slivered almonds
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp honey or agave nectar
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • S&P
  1. With a paring knife, cut scallop-sized circles out of your tofu block.  Arrange “tofallops” on a towel and press firmly on all sides repeatedly until all the surfaces of each one are dry to the touch (this helps them sear!).  Leave them on a towel to continue to dry while you prepare salad.
  2. Mix marinade of juice from 1/2 lemon, honey, olive oil, and S&P to taste.
  3. Preferably with a mandoline (you can use a very sharp knife, but with small handheld mandolines available for under $15, like this one from OXO, I suggest you invest!) slice the brussels sprouts thinly and rinse clean.
  4. Shave mushrooms very thin with sharp knife.
  5. Toss brussels and mushrooms with marinade and let sit.
  6. Using a spatula or spoon, coat the top sides of each “tofallop” with dijon mustard.
  7. Heat a saute pan over med/high flame.  Coat generously with nonstick spray.  Add 1 tsp maple syrup.
  8. Once hot, place “tofallops” dijon side down in the pan.  Let sit undisturbed for about 5 minutes, or until you can smell the syrup caramelizing and the dijon becoming fragrant.  Quickly coat the other side of the “tofallops” with dijon, and then gently flip to the other side.  Allow to sear for another 4-5 minutes or so.
  9. While the “tofallops” are searing, add a handful or two of slivered almonds to the brussels and mushroom and toss.  Distribute salad between two plates.
  10. Once “tofallops” are nice and lightly brown on both sides, place on top of your plated salad.  Voila!  Dinner is served.

The Snack Most Worth Waiting For: Dilly Beans

This past summer I picked up a load of green and wax beans from my Aunt’s garden.  Not knowing what else to do with ’em, I took a nod from Marisa of the fantastic canning blog Food in Jars and went for Dilly Beans — an old fashioned pickled treat.  Lucky for me, the finished product was buried so deep in my pantry that I couldn’t be tempted to break in early.  After a full four months (three, even, would have probably sufficed) I opened a jar for the first time.  Verdict?  AMAZING.  My boyfriend and I literally ate the whole jar within an hour — well before we finished anything else on the associated cheese plate.  Even better news: NO BOTULISM!  So go ahead, have some fun.  Dilly those beans.

Dilly Beans

  • Wide mouth pint jars or 12 oz. jelly jars
  • Other associated canning supplies*
  • String beans (a combo of green and wax is nice!)
  • Garlic cloves (2 per jar)
  • Split hot chili pepper – fresh or dried (1 per jar)
  • 1 tsp dill seed (per jar)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (per jar)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (per jar)
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed (per jar)
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns (per jar)
  • fresh dill
  • water
  • white vinegar
  1. Sanitize jars.*
  2. Trim string beans so that when stuffed upright in jar they are about 1 inch from the top.
  3. Fill jars while still warm with string beans, garlic cloves, split chili pepper, dill seed, salt, cayenne, celery seed, peppercorns and a spring of fresh dill.
  4. For each jar you’ve filled, add 1 cup water and 1 cup white vinegar to a large pot.  Once boiling, pour the hot brine over your beans leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top of each jar.
  5. Run a chopstick or whatever you have on hand around the outside of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims very clean with a paper towel to ensure a clean seal.
  6. Apply warmed lids, screw on bands, and process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.*
  7. They’re ready to eat basically immediately, and will last about a year in your pantry.

*I’ve never bothered to put together a nice primer on canning but they are certainly available out there. For something comprehensive, try the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning – it’s a bible of sorts.  Alternatively, here’s a quick and simple Canning 101 from Simple Bites!

Birthdays for Fat Kids: Sushi, Burgers, Shakes and…Harbison?

There was no doubt that my 24th birthday had to have something to do with food.

It all started at Zento.  With several recommendations to back it, we thought this would be a great opportunity to break from our norm, Vic’s on Sansom, to satisfy the sushi crave.  Unfortunately, we flubbed our ordering steez, going for lunch specials instead of their famously creative rolls.  We ended up with an okay spread of maki, sushi and sashimi.  Good quality and fresh, but by no means stellar.  We’ll definitely be back to try the Omakase, though.

Next, we headed straight to Charlie’s, a burger joint in Folsom, PA (airport territory) recommended to me for it’s black & white milkshake.  And man.  Did this place do the job.  Best burger and best shake I’ve had in ages.  Got the Charlie Special – one of approximately three menu options – and a black and white.  No frills perfection.  I’ve dreamed about that soft, mushy burger and dangerously chuggable shake every night since.  No lie.

After an afternoon perusing countless of the creepiest raw food maniac websites you’ve ever seen watching Vitamixes versus Blendtecs (you see – my lovely boyfriend got me the two best birthday presents ever: a Shun chef’s knife and a high-powered blender.  What a babe.), we headed to Di Brunos to finalize the pièce de résistance of my birthday’s gastro-bration, the spread:

We worked in trios: three meats, three cheeses, three beers.

Three meats: Smoked Paprika Salami handcured in Washington State, light little lomo florets, and a few precious slices of that unbelievably rich and greasy wild pig jamon iberico.  All stellar.

Three beers: a selection of Mikkeller single hopped brews:And the cheeses.  First up – Yellow Springs Farm Melange, a briefly aged goat and cow cheese charmer.  Smooth mouthfeel, sweet and supple with hints of citrus – it’s definitely worth a try if you can make it out to Chester County (unfortunately the lovely couple that owns Yellow Springs and their 30-50 Nubian goats, produce on far too small a scale for Di Brunos or other urban retailers to carry it for a marketable price):Next up, a classic – Fiore Sardo, a Sardinian ewe’s milk cheese, aged for several months on wet reeds, yielding a slightly smoky, damp, cellar-y flavor, which is refreshing in combination with the hard, crumbly and somewhat chalky texture.  Salty nutty sheepy delicious, especially tasty paired with some homemade black raspberry jam, here she is:And lastly, the star of the show – Jasper Hill Farms‘ new bloomy-rind beauty, Harbison:  Hard to get in the East and apparently impossible to get anywhere else, this gilded mystery is a must try.  Wrapped in the bark of trees freshly cut from their own woodlands, Harbison is aged to perfection for between 3 and 6 weeks.  Pillow-y white, her taut rind peels back to reveal the ooey gooey innards of a goddess…see the moment of truth here.  As you spoon the creamy goodness out of that stiff hoop of bloom-caked bark, the scent of the earth – floral, grassy and bright but also deeply dank and meaty – envelopes you as the paste melts into high heaven on your tongue.  My god:What a day.

All I have to say in closing is thank the lord for the Vitamix, because I spent the next five days drinking my meals in an attempt to make it all up to my poor intestine.  My stomach on the other hand – he had no complaints.

A Chapter from the Autumn Almanac: Applesauce

Again inspired by a sudden excess of perishables, I learned something new last week:

Applesauce is ridiculously easy to make at home.

It’s so easy that I actually almost added steps just to make it feel more like I was doing something.  Granted, for my first applecookin’ experience I stuck with the bare essentials – but it doesn’t take much to spice it up!  Add garam masala for an eastern twist…or some berries for a tart touch!  I’ve also spent a good deal of time contemplating how to most efficiently incorporate bacon into my applesauce.

Whether you keep it simple or go nuts, I promise: if you buy yourself a bushel of apples, set aside an hour or two and do this, you’ll never go back to store bough applecrap again!

How to Make Yummy Applesauce in an Hour or Less

I used about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of apples bestowed upon me by the ancient heirloom trees out on my Aunt’s property:

I managed to enlist some assistance from my lovely boyfriend in peeling, coring and quartering the apples (thanks to a bribe of hockey and Chex Mix), which was the only real labor involved:

Just add 3/4 cup water (you could also use apple juice or cider), along with 1 clove and 2 star anise (totally optional, but classic add-ins), cover and heat!  Let the apples simmer for 15-25 minutes until they’re nice and soft.

Using an immersion blender, or via batches in a normal blender, combine the apples with 1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon and 1-2 teaspoons nutmeg until you reach your desired sauciness:

I prefer my applesauce unsweetened (aren’t apples sweethearts enough?!), but if you would like, go ahead and add any kind of sweetener you prefer be it sugar, honey, agave nectar…what have you!

I ate this stuff faster than a constipated grandpa, so I didn’t really have any left to preserve.  I stuck a small container of it in the freezer (it freezes wonderfully!) in case of emergency, but otherwise packaged it into small jars for snacks at work – yum 🙂

If you’d like to preserve, please follow the USDA instructions found here, processing in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes for half pints and pints or 20 minutes for quarts.

Happy autumn!