When Life Gives You Apples …

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… then you really need to figure out what to do with them when you’re about to go on vacation for two weeks.

This was our situation a few weeks back.  And really there’s only so much apple crumble you can handle in the summer months.
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Why not make yourself some applesauce?  In addition to providing a tasty and nutritious snack, you can also use it as a dairy substitute in baking, and even add it to meat marinades to add flavour.  And it’s not like it’s hard.
Apple Sauce

I had nine Mcintosh apples, which I chopped up relatively small.  You can take the skins off if you like, but every time I do that I see my mother’s disapproving face in my mind and hear her saying, “that’s where all the vitamins are.”  So I leave them on, for texture and colour.
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Take two or three cinnamon sticks and about ten cloves, and wrap them up in a square of cheesecloth.
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Tie it into a tidy package.
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Toss that and your apples into a slow cooker. Add in a few spoonfuls brown sugar and some ground cinnamon, as well.  You can leave the sugar out altogether if you want a healthier sauce.
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Pour in about 1/4 cup water, just for juice’s sake.
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Cook on high for a couple hours, stirring occasionally.
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The smell is fantastic.
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When the apples are soft and brown, you are all set.
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Make sure to remove and discard the spice bag when you’re done.
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Squish the apples up with your spoon.  If you really want to go super smooth, put the sauce in a blender.  I like mine with a bit of structure.
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The best part is that applesauce freezes up real good.  So you can enjoy it any time!
Apple Sauce

Raspberry Orange Crumble – In the Woods

What do you do for a potluck when you’re in the middle of Gros Morne National Park?  You make a raspberry crumble, of course!

Will.i.am and Caramía gave the Pie and me a Backpacker’s Pantry Outback Oven (available as well from M.E.C.) as a wedding present, and we’d had no opportunity to use it in the two years since.  When we found out we were going camping in Gros Morne over Canada Day weekend we figured that there was no time like the present.

The day of the potluck dawned and we considered our options.  Miss Awesome and Ranger P (formerly P-with-an-E) had come pre-prepared with felafel and crackers and cheese, but we felt we should contribute something of our own as well.  We had flour, oats (from instant oatmeal), brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter on hand — why not create a crumble?

The problem was the fruit for the middle.  It turns out that fruit is nearly impossible to come by in any of the communities within Gros Morne, and we didn’t have the time or the resources to stretch our search farther afield.  Fortunately, the fates shone on us that day (as did the sun).  Miss Awesome’s Auntie, whom we visited while in the park, happened to have a frozen bag of raspberries on hand, which she graciously gave to us and thus saved the day.

So now to the crumble. Of course, in the thick of things, I measured nothing, so I’m just going to guess here.

Because the berries were still frozen, I set them to thaw in a pot on the fire.  I thought about adding a bit of sugar to the raspberries but changed my mind.  There was enough sugar in the crumble mixture, in any case.  I think I had about 2-3 cups frozen raspberries in this.

We had a random orange floating around, so I grated the peel from that and chopped up the fruit into small pieces and chucked that in with the raspberries.

Miss Awesome persuaded me to add a few drops of Cointreau to the mix.  That’s her foot there.

In a bowl, I mixed up the dry instant oatmeal (about 1 cup instant oatmeal) with about 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup butter.  Add in 1/2 cup brown sugar and a liberal sprinkling of ground cinnamon and mix with your fingers until it’s all nice and crumbly.

Spread half the crumb mixture in the bottom of your outback oven.

Pour the raspberries (now thawed, but not stewed) on top and spread it evenly.

Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top.

Seal up the oven, placing the lid securely on the pan and the little tent-thing on top of that and bake for a while.  This of course depends on the strength of your camp stoveOurs only really has one setting — hot — so we had to keep turning off the flame and letting the thing cool down before starting it again in order to prevent burning.  Here Miss Awesome checks on her couscous while the crumble bakes.And the Pie relights the burner for the umpteenth time.  I can’t be trusted near fire.Keep checking that little dial!

After a while, when the raspberries were bubbling through the crumb top, I took the lid off and let the tent-thing help me crisp up the surface of the crumble a bit.  I think that had I used less gooey fruit and real oats instead of instant oatmeal it would have been a crisper thing, but it was sure tasty.

Cranberry Cobbler

This simple, zesty cobbler has a hint of citrus that takes it from ordinary to extraordinary, and is wicked easy to make.  The recipe, taken from the O Magazine Cookbook, calls for orange zest, but I substituted it for lime, because that’s what I had on hand. 

I also used flash-frozen cranberries instead of fresh, and they worked out just fine.

Preheat your oven to  350°F.

In a large bowl, beat together 6 tablespoons softened butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until smooth and creamy. 

Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, until well blended.

Add in 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange (or lime) zest and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Add in 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder and beat until fully blended. 

Set that aside for a wee bit.

In a 2-quart shallow glass or ceramic baking dish, pour in 6 cups cranberries.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon orange zest (or lime zest) on top.  Give it a bit of a stir.

Spread over this 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 1 cup cranberry juice.

Spoon the topping batter over the cranberry mixture by heaping spoonfuls. 

Feel free to spread it and flatten it a bit if you like.

Bake for 40-60 minutes (depending on your oven), or until the filling is bubbly around the edges and the topping is brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped or ice cream.