I have been saving the last of the Wolf River Apples, carefully stored in the basement refrigerator for the holidays. I made an apple pie at Thanksgiving using them, and the last ten pounds will be for Hanukkah applesauce.
Wolf River apples are unusual for two reasons: they are HUGE, the size of a large grapefruit, and they collapse into mush. These are the reasons why we love them for pie; my grandmother and mother always made pie from a Yellow Transparent apple that also cooked into mush but was famous for being unbelievably sour and small as well as for turning your thumb rust colored when we peeled bushels of the things. The Wolf River mimic the texture without needing quite so much sugar and you usually need only one or two for a pie.
For applesauce for 17 people, I peeled seven of them. I’ll make sauce again tomorrow for another party.
And My Point?
These apples connect me in a number of ways to the things that I love and respect. I picked these apples. I know the grower and she is a family farmer in Laport Co, IN. We went apple picking with friends, so the memory of the day shared in the orchard is warm and joyous. The sauce they make is part of my life and memory – Grandma’s apple creations – and Sam’s Jewish heritage and experience (one day when I had latkes cooking and applesauce made he remarked that the house smelled like his grandmother’s kitchen). My children are a part of the picking, cooking, and eating. We make things with our own hands.
And they hold back the cold. All of it. Memory, family, and the stove.
I should mention that it is astonishingly cold here today and yesterday. My thermometer tells me it is -3°F, and the weather websites tell me that it feels like -17° like that makes a while lot of difference when it is so cold. Absolute zero (0° on the Kelvin scale) means that all atomic motion ceases it is so cold – well, when it is even -3°F the motion in my house ceases for all practical purposes. Even the dogs don’t want to go out.
We will hold back the cold, make tea, bake cookies, and celebrate the slow inexorable return of the sun. Light two candles tonight for the children of the Maccabees, and light as many as you wish for memory and love.
Image of apple peelings by Flikr member kayepants