12.027 Apple Sauce

12.027

1 (Mon) February 2021

Apple Sauce

2.0

by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with W and IZ

Newbery 100 Medals, 100 Meals (34)

While reading the 100 books that have been awarded the annual Newbery Medal since 1922, I will also attempt to create one dish for every book, a dish that is directly referenced in or indirectly inspired by the events of the book.  The 100th Medal was recently announced: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller – a Korean-themed book!  Food plays a strong role in many of the stories; not surprising as the characters in most of the books are faced with adversity of some sort, including poverty, so they’re often very hungry and thus grateful whenever they get a bite to eat – as we all should be at every meal, literally give us this day our daily bread.  The dishes will be featured as posts on Give Me This Day.

(For additional posts relating to Newbery Medal books, see NEWBERY)

Unsure whether the cover was also designed to be sparse, or they were just being lazy.

Out of the Dust (1997) by Karen Hesse.  Set in the Oklahoma Dustbowl during the Great Depression, the book is about 10-year-old Billie Jo Kelby, a girl living with her mother and father on a farm.  An accidental fire in the kitchen burns Billie Jo and her mother, who eventually dies from the injuries.  Billie Jo is left to deal with the physical and psychological pain, while rebuilding the relationship with her father.

I read Out of the Dust in a single sitting yesterday, in my office, while overseeing renovations at work; by serendipity, as I approached the book’s conclusion, I was listening to Duke Jordan’s Flight to Denmark, the final twinkling bars of “Glad I Met Pat” perfectly – and I mean PERFECTLY – in tune to the final verses of the story; incidentally, an important plot point is that Billie Jo was a budding jazz pianist, whose hands were badly scarred in the fire.

I loved this book.  Before picking it up, I was vaguely aware of the story and didn’t anticipate liking it very much – not really my kind of thing.  But upon opening the book, I was immediately captivated and couldn’t put it down until the end.  Written in prose but arranged in sparsely spaced verse, the vast emptiness of the page reflects the bleakness of Billie Jo’s world, both emotional and environmental, the dull off-white color of the paper representing the dust and oppression that surrounds, invades, settles in her home, her food, her soul.  Every word on the page, signifying an action, a thought, a feeling, demands recognition and respect.  Though vulnerable, she is never a victim, strength and spirit elevating her condition above her situation.  Likewise, the story is ultimately uplifting, despite itself.

Rules of Dining

Ma has rules for setting the table.

I place plates upside down,

glasses bottom side up,

napkins folded over forks, knives, and spoons.

When dinner is ready,

we sit down together

and Ma says,

“Now.”

We shake out our napkins,

spread them on our laps,

and flip over our glasses and plates,

exposing neat circles,

round comments 

on what life would be without dust.

Daddy says,

“The potatoes are peppered plenty tonight, Polly,”

and

“Chocolate milk for dinner, aren’t we in clover!”

when really all our pepper and chocolate,

it’s nothing but dust.

Among the bonus features in this edition of the book, a recipe for apple sauce is provided, though not directly derived from the book or written by the author.  When Billie Jo’s mother was alive, she had cultivated an apple tree, a symbol of life and hope, resilience and renewal.

Serendipity again, my mother had given us a few bags of apples on Friday – the first time that she’s ever done so, having purchased a surplus of harvest from a farmer near the cabin.

4 cups of apples + 3 TB water + 1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup brown sugar + 1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg + 1/4 cup lemon juice + 2 TB butter
The recipe instructs cooking until the apples are “very tender,” but I took the extra step of breaking down the chunks into pulp with a hand blender.

It turned out okay.  Very sweet and very sour.   Intensely apple.  Nothing like the goopy tasteless slop that comes in jars.  For whatever reason, both the boys hated it.  I doubt that I’d make this again, but fun trying.

(See also FOODS.)

(See also PLACES.)

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