I think we've all had that aroma-memory moment. It's similar to the music-memory moment. (You know the one. You're in the middle of a store, hear a song on the in-store music, and a flood of images fill your mind.) Aroma-memories are so amazing, aren't they? While walking behind an older woman recently, a waft of her perfume caressed my senses. Suddenly, I saw my grandmother's face so clearly. It was a sweet moment.
Fall is like aroma-memory overload for me. There are so many crazy-good memories associated with the fragrance of the fallen leaves, the bonfires, the pumpkin-scented candles...
Today, I got to have one of those memories. We were in apple harvest overload in our house. I had purchased a couple of bags of apples at the grocery store a few weeks ago. Only days later, I decided to take a trip to the local orchard, and brought home a "large" bag of seconds. (These are great apples, and always a mix of varieties.) We've eaten a lot of apples, but...my refrigerator overfloweth. This evening, I took the opportunity to downgrade our stock to "slightly full" by making some applesauce.
I've made applesauce a couple of different ways in the past. But today was the "best" way, as I relived memories.
For about four years, we lived in an area of the country fondly known as the U.P. For those of you who are wondering, "WHAT?!" Those letters stand for "Upper Peninsula," and it is the northernmost part of Michigan. It is a land of forests, waterfalls, beaches, shores along the Great Lakes, and snow by the ton. It is beautiful and wonderful and breathtaking.
During our time there, a sweet friend would occasionally gift us with a tub of her homemade applesauce. My husband absolutely LOVES applesauce. (Most of us eat a small serving. He eats it by the bowl. I am not kidding.) Well, Myrna's applesauce was the most amazing concoction he had ever tasted. A whipped topping container-full would disappear within two meals (or less).
After we moved back to troll land (another U.P. reference), we had a very prolific apple tree in our backyard. I couldn't stand seeing all those apples go to waste, or worse yet, be destroyed by wasps and bees. I made a quick call to Myrna. "How do I make your famous applesauce?"
She replied with her usual humble chuckle, and quietly explained the process. The thing about great cooks, though, is that they have learned by the "doing." Trying to describe it over the phone was like describing a great work of art to someone who cannot see...words fail. She did her best to help this culinarily-challenged young mom understand the process. But there was one major piece of kitchen equipment missing: the apple grinder.
I asked if I could possibly use another utensil? Again, she laughed and said, "Well, I've never done it any other way!" I figured I could try, though.
Well, being a mom of two young, energetic boys, my applesauce project was delayed a few days. During that time, I received a curious-looking package in the mail. From? Of course, Myrna. She added a note saying she had an "extra" apple grinder, and thought maybe I could use it.
I have never treasured anything more. What a kind, thoughtful gesture!
So this afternoon, as I turned my surplus into savory applesauce, the warm, homey scent of the fruit filled my kitchen. I reminisced about the lovely woman who made this moment possible. I ground those apples into a smooth, creamy blend of flavors.
My applesauce will never be as tasty as Myrna's, but the memories are still as sweet.