Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Getting Saucy with Apples

Yes, that's correct, apple sauce. Seems simple enough, right? Like, I shouldn't even be using a cookbook, heh? Well, that was the plan: make apple sauce from scratch with just my own clever brain telling me how. But I panicked toward the end and grabbed the Joy of Cooking (the "All New" version) to see if what I was intending to do was, in fact, what I should be doing.

And it was. Cut up apples, put in saucepan, add a bit of water, toss in a cinnamon stick, and simmer until soft. Then add sugar, some nutmeg or ginger, and you've got apple sauce.


I used the apples that hadn't been needed for the Gingerbread Apple Pie--of which there were just three. Three apples to make apple sauce. That was fine by me, since I was just going to give it to the baby; no need to make gallons of it. But when I'd referenced the Joy of Cooking's instructions, what I'd taken away from it was to add 1/2 cup sugar. 1/2 cup. Not paying attention to the fact that the Joy of Cooking's recipe had used 10 apples.

It was apple syrup, basically.

Luckily, I had some pears on-hand and ended-up adding them to the mix, making a pretty decent apple-pear sauce, though I admit it was still sweeter than I would have liked.

And then I talked to my mom and she said that you don't even need to add sugar, neccesarily. I could have avoided the whole issue! Next time I'll skip the refined white stuff and, if the apples are too tart to go without sweetener, I'll add a teaspoon of agave nectar and see if that does the trick. Live and learn.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gingerbread Apple Pie

Someone in the office left a bag full of generic "baking apples" (or so their sign read) in the breakroom last week. I'd eyed them several times, but since I took so much produce from the generous co-workers' gardens this summer (namely tomatoes and cucumbers) I figured I'd let someone else take the apples. But there they sat, day after day, until, being nosy, I opened the bag to take a closer look at 'em and discovered that three were squishy rotten. I tossed those and decided to rescue the others from a similar fate.

Once home, I scoured my cookbooks (well, okay, I grabbed one and flipped to the index and looked up "apples") and found Isa Chandra Moskowitz's receipe for Gingerbread Apple Pie in her first cookbook, Vegan With a Vengeance. Isa's description, boasting that the pie was so good it became her family's holiday tradition, made the decision for me. Who could argue against gingerbread AND apple pie?

I'm not sure of the legalities of re-typing some else's receipes, so until I get that figured out, I'll just list the ingredients:

For the crust:
  • all-purpose flour
  • brown sugar
  • ground ginger
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground allspice
  • salt
  • baking powder
  • margarine (I used Smart Balance)
  • molasses
  • cold water
And for the filling:
  • Granny Smith apples (I don't know what kind I used, but they were green.)
  • brown sugar
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground or freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground)
  • ground allspice
  • ground ginger
  • ground cloves (I didn't have any)
  • maple syrup
  • canola oil (I used olive)
  • tapioca starch or arrowroot (I substituted cornstarch)

Note: I've found the full recipe on Spark Recipes: check it out!

Peeling and slicing the apples took the longest prep (and wasn't especially easy, since I had the baby girl intermittently hanging on my leg and wailing. But once the apples were ready, everything else feel quickly and easily into place.

The final result: I'd give this pie a C+

I don't know if it was me or the oven or the recipe (since I'm a novice baker I suspect I may have had something to do with it...) but the gingerbread seemed a little doughy and the filling was a little dry. Nevertheless, it wasn't bad tasting, just an odd texture.

I'd try this recipe again, next time ensuring I cooked everything at the recommended degrees (my oven may have been too cool) and weighing the amount of apples versus just eyeballing it.

So, not a resounding triumph for my first cooking attempt, but a beginning nevertheless. I'm happy to have started!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Challenge Begins!

I purchased yet another cookbook last week and realized that I'd better begin this cookbook exercise of mine or I'll be too busy buying new bookshelves to hold my ginormous collection to ever have time to actually *gasp* cook anything.