Years ago, I found a recipe for simmering scents that bring a sense of the holidays to our home. I made a batch recently. I love that the ingredients are all-natural and incorporate my favorite holiday smells. There are no exact measures on this for the ingredients. If that makes you uneasy, the photos will help. Once you get more adventurous, play around with various amounts of this or that and see what scent gets the emphasis.
Add the following ingredients to a small saucepan or pot:
Rosemary sprigs (I cut some from our backyard plant)
Vanilla (a few drops)
I also add:
Cranberries (I toss in a handful mostly for color)
I often turn the burner off, and the smell continues to waft as the brew cools down. Then I don’t worry about it burning dry. I use the same mix for a few days, just adding water and reheating it.
Turn on some holiday music and fill you home with the sounds and smells that can bring simple joy, even in these uncertain days.
Since 2020 has had so many lowlights, I figured this was the perfect fall for me to also cut back on seasonal sweets for health reasons. Why not make things even more miserable? I can go one autumn without homemade desserts like apple crisp, apple pie a la mode (topped with a little cheddar cheese), and Disneyland apple slices with dipping caramel. My waistline will thank me, even though my sweet tooth feels abandoned. But then we come to homemade applesauce.
Slow cooker applesauce to the rescue. I love making applesauce in the fall in the slow cooker, with plenty of apple and cinnamon scents wafting through the home. I eliminate the added sugar, often as an experiment to see if it turns out sweet enough. After all, when I bite into a raw apple, I don’t sprinkle sugar on it. It is plenty sweet on its own.
When I was a fourth grade teacher, as did many of my teaching colleagues, I’d make slow cooker applesauce in the classroom every fall. The apples would soften and warm all day long and the classroom smelled much better than usual. Many teachers do this for Johnny Appleseed Day, which may be a celebration merely to give a theme to making homemade, or classmade, applesauce during the hours of academic life. What a little sweet treat for the students in the afternoon!
Here is the recipe I used this year. I used all the apples we had around the kitchen. I’m not sure of the brands. I don’t peel them either. We like a more rustic applesauce around here. And I love skipping that step. I did not add any butter.
The first batch of apples I cut into were bad on the inside. You can read more about that here. I had to use other apples. These are said to not taste great. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, contrary to the popular saying.
The sweet and cinnamon aroma filled the afternoon, building anticipation of a homemade evening treat.
Later that night, we enjoyed small bowls of homemade, delicious, chunky, rustic applesauce and added some whip cream, just to add a little pizazz. The applesauce was sweet enough, even without the added sugar.
Fall foods and cooking are part of the season, even in a pandemic. I am grateful for these simple traditions and pleasures. Next up, butternut squash? Perhaps. We’ll see.