Slow & Steady

February 20, 2007

You can learn a lot about relationships by making applesauce.  Find yourself some cooking apples like Bramley – no place is better for apples than England.  You’ll need about five or six for a fat jar.  It’s okay if they are a little bruised; most things in life are when you meet them.

Next, wash and scrub the apples and get your chopping board out.  Peel each apple carefully and slowly.  Go too fast too soon and…ouch!  You may lose some of your apple, not to mention a lot of your finger.

Once peeled, cut them into quarters and core them.  It doesn’t matter which you do first; but again, don’t rush this too much.  Now cut them again into chunks and snuggle them inside a heavy saucepan.  Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over them, put the lid on, and turn the gas to low.  That’s it.  Let it go to work. After about 10 minutes, just give things a little stir, then put the lid back on and enjoy the sweet scent filling your home.

After another 25 minutes, come back and lift the lid.  Voila!  Applesauce.  You didn’t need to mash it.  You didn’t need to prod it.  You could, if you like, dunk a cinnamon stick in it if you want to spice things up.  Actually, that’s usually a good idea.  But aren’t you glad you didn’t turn the heat up to speed things along?  Look, it cooked.  All by itself.

On the flipside, it’s also surprisingly easy to not pay enough attention to your applesauce.   It will try to let you know, by bubbling up a fuss and making the lid go thwack.  If you don’t get back in the kitchen with it and take it off the heat, then, before you know it, your applesauce has burnt out.

Somewhere between laissez-faire and micro management lies the perfect applesauce.  Depends on the apples.  Depends on you.

Sometimes you can save applesauce, and sometimes you can’t.  If the applesauce isn’t completely burnt and you started with good apples, it’s worth trying to save it if you are willing to make the effort. Just leave the burnt bit on the bottom and go to town thinking of creative ways to put the remaining applesauce to good use.  If, on the other hand, you can’t, put a Band-Aid on that finger.  If you happen to run into a nice new batch of Bramleys, bring them home.  Remember what went right before and also what didn’t.  Roll your sleeves up again.  Make some applesauce.  Then savor it, slowly.