Monday, November 18, 2013

Baked Applesauce

Trying something new - Baked Applesauce!

We have an abundance of apples this year. Due to late spring frosts, our trees had not produced in two years, so they were primed and ready when conditions were right. We have picked hundreds and hundreds of apples. I don't have enough friends to give away all the apples that we have. I am down to three five gallon buckets of this season's crop. I have made a ton of applesauce on the stovetop, but was experiencing some pretty serious hand cramping from all that peeling!

While I was waiting for my son to get his haircut the other day there was a little blurb in a magazine that said you could bake whole, unpeeled, uncored apples in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour. After that hour, let them cool and the peel will come off and the core will slide right out. 

My sore hands were delighted at this possibility, so I tried it. 

First I washed several dozen simalarly sized fresh garden apples and placed them on baking sheets with a deep edge. Mine were a little bruised here and there, so I took some time to cut out the bad spots. I squeezed a few little apples into the gaps in the pan. After that was accomplished, I baked them at 350 degrees for one hour. 

When they came out they looked like this:

Not very attractive, but expected. Upon cooling they actually shrunk down a little. 

Now for the highlight! Sliding off the peel and pulling out the core! Woo Hoo! No messy work! 

Well, unfortunately, that is not how it went. Yes, the peel pretty much came off, but with good apple still attached. No, the core did not just pull out of the apple with the peel. I had to smoosh (for lack of a better word!) the baked apple off the stiffer center with a knife. An oopy, goopy time consuming mess. 

This was the pile off the first pan of apples:

 I peeled them into the pan I cooked them in to save all the juices that baked out during the cooking process. When I had both pans of whole apples out of their peels and off the cores, I dumped the apple mush and juices into a container and smashed out any lumpy spots with a potato masher. 

This is the final product: 

The two pans created about 14 cups of applesauce. I did not add sugar, but did add cinammon. I found the end result to be a little bit stringier than stovetop applesauce. 

My final thoughts on this process? The way I have always done it is actually easier than baking the apples. If I could find my apple peeling/coring aparatus it would certainly make my life much easier than peeling by hand, but hand peeling is no more work than it was to clean the apple meat out of the baked apples. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thoughts on Mother's Day

I have a confession to make. I have never really liked Mother's Day. Much like Valentine's Day there is just so much pressure to have the perfect gift. If you don't buy X then you aren't worthy of love. It seems a little harsh to me.

What also bothers me is what people tend to forget.

They forget the women who long to be mothers. The ones whose arms ache at the mere sight of a baby. Perhaps they cannot conceive or have tried several times and lost their wee babies before they could ever take a breath.

They forget the mothers who are separated from their children, either by choice or by life circumstances. The mothers who long to see their children one more time, but can't this side of heaven.

They forget about all of those whose mothers are gone. We will all experience the loss of a parent eventually, but what if it feels like  her death was before her time and your heart really hurts?

I am not saying we shouldn't celebrate mothers. There is no harder job on this planet than motherhood. We try hard, we fail frequently and we live every day hoping we aren't totally screwing up the next generation. Talk about pressure!

What I am asking is for you to be tenderhearted and aware of those around you who may feel a little prickly on this day we celebrate motherhood. Spend an extra moment of prayer for God to breathe a measure of healing into every heart that hurts today.

In His Peace

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Life is Hard - but Go LIVE it!

Life is hard. 

I said those exact words to a young woman yesterday, weeping over the loss of a friend. It is true. No one ever promised it would be easy. Jesus even warned us in John 16:33 "... In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

This past week has been hard. Hard on our nation with the horrible events in Boston and in West, Texas. We cannot fathom that a human being would intentionally damage another. Unfortunately, such behavior is becoming more prevalent, not less. 

Oh, Jesus, how we need you!

This week has been hard on our friends and family at home as well. Last Thursday amid all the national chaos, we experienced a local tragedy. It did not make the news, but it broke the hearts of hundreds of teenagers and adults regardless. A young man, just 19 years old, died in his sleep on Thursday. Went to sleep, didn't wake up... at nineteen. It is unimaginable. 

His name was Tony. He was loved by so many. Deeply involved in theater, band, choir and show choir in our school and in the community. I can't think of a single person who did not like him. He had an amazing smile and a great bear hug. I am thankful that I knew him, even though my heart hurts and my eyes are red. 

I weep for his future - all the things that might have been. I weep for all the teenagers that I love who are in pain. They are experiencing a loss like none other. For many of them this is their first encounter with death. To have it be a peer is so unexpected and jarring. I know many of them feel shattered and raw right now. I long to take each of them in my arms and hug them until my arms ache. Trust me, I have been hugging my children very close this week. I weep for his Mother, who is enduring the unimaginable while still trying to parent her younger children. It is hard to understand that life doesn't stop because you are in emotional agony. This big blue planet keeps turning, the sun keeps rising and we keep on keeping on. 

Life IS hard. I hope through your pain, my friends, that you realize what a gift your life is and go out and live it to the fullest. I don't mean all that YOLO garbage that is an excuse to party hard and live like there is no tomorrow and no consequences to your horrible behavior. I mean to go out and LIVE. Make it matter, leave the world a better place. Leave behind a legacy of love, kindness and laughter. Don't waste time on things that don't matter because life is fleeting.  The sudden loss of one so young proved to us that there are no guarantees for tomorrow. Make today matter. 

I promise you this, as I promised the young woman last night,  - the pain you are feeling will ease. It will get better. Not today, not tomorrow, probably not even next week, but it will. Hang in there. Take it one day at a time, one minute at a time if you have to.

You have been given the gift of another day -- go live it. 

In His Peace - 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stop the Madness!

As I saw the first news tidbit pop up on my Twitter feed I felt sick to my stomach. My first hope was that this was an accident, a fluke event that was not intentionally perpetrated by one human being against another. I thought the same thing when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. No one would do that on purpose, I thought. I was wrong then, as I am wrong now. I am just as sick about it today as I was that fateful September day. How much more twisted will society become?

It almost seems unbearable. Why do we harbor such hatred toward one another? Why is violence and destruction the go-to answer for so many? Why do we let hatred beget hatred? Why can't we all just get along? How do we stop this madness?

The questions are far more numerous than the answers. I know many of us have these questions swirling in our minds. I have taken the chicken way out - I have left my television off. I don't want the images in my head. I don't want to hear the stories of the loved ones lost or the extremist theories. Don't get me wrong, it isn't that I don't care, because I do. I have been praying for those involved, the victims, the families, the first responders - all those directly impacted by this horrific event.

I feel like I need to be shuttered a little bit to the news onslaught. I can't be the only human that feels that way. There are days when it is just too much to take. The up-to-the-minute news feeds, the in your face reporting, the need to get to the most gut wrenching or most hideous details of the story to get viewers to tune in disgusts and distresses me. We have become so hardened by the graphic nature of the news, movies and video games that we almost forget that these are real people. People that left home yesterday morning fully expecting to return to it last night.

What can we do about it? It feels like not much, but we can change how we behave and perhaps it will have a ripple effect to others. We can refrain from spouting half truths and rumors. We can stop regurgitating messages of hate and distrust. We can choose to LOVE and live a life that radiates that love into the darkest corners.

The following verses come to mind this morning:

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. 

(Proverbs 10:12 NIV)

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
(John 13:35 NIV)

In His Peace - 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Feelin' Like Spring!

We are experiencing those first few delightful days of spring. Those days where the sun feels so incredibly good as it hits your face, the sky is blue and the birds are singing. Yesterday it was 54 degrees, which felt so wonderful. I was able to get outside and get some early spring yard chores done, and really enjoyed being outside. 

This morning I was thinking about how much I enjoyed being outside yesterday and was chuckling about how in the fall, a day hovering around 50 degrees may be one where I would say, "Nah, too cold outside, I will wait for another day". It is amazing to me how we adapt to our environments that way. What feels hideously cold in the early parts of winter, isn't so bad by the end of the season. 

I suppose this is why you will see Midwestern kids on vacation in California in shorts while the Californians are wearing parkas! It all depends on what you are use to, I suppose! 

I hope you can get outside and enjoy these first nice days, get started on that spring clean-up or merely enjoy a few moments outside without freezing to death! 

In His Peace -