Dirt Road Ramblings about Apples and Oranges and Pudding and …..

Oct 31


I can’t help having little food memories pop up now and then . Does this happen to any of you that have a unique or special involvement with food and cooking ? Maybe a memory of a childhood experience . Something of a  more recent time ? Perhaps a special birthday party celebration with your family and friends , or maybe a memorable Fresh Vegetable Omelette you enjoyed one morning while on a road trip this last summer vacation .  I wonder…..?

Back to “the acre ” I go for the memories  . There was a little crowded , musty grocery store just down the road from our house . There were no sidewalks yet , only the main roads were paved . I would get instructions from Mom on what I was to buy and bring back home…it may be ordinary things like some sugar , a 1/2 gallon of Adohr Farms milk or maybe some cottage cheese . However , I would always  clamor for some AMAZO instant pudding mix . I think it was .15 each box . I was only 6 years old and a real whiz with Mom’s Sunbeam MixMaster . Add 8 oz. of cold milk , whip on medium and in 30 seconds you had “amazing pudding ” . Chocolate ,vanilla or butterscotch (my favorite ) were the flavors made by The American Maize Co. There was a NY Times article written on March 17 , 1949 by Jane Nickerson touting Amazo pudding mix ;  this new convenience item for families . It didn’t last very long ; Jello cooked pudding mixes ( later instant versions ) and other brands entered the ring in 1951 and so and so on…. I still would like Amazo ; but probably only butterscotch .

I also remember shopping at Sav-On Drug store in Reseda in the 50’S .  It was a hot day ; my brother Tom and I wanted ice cream . They had several choices..probably about twelve or so . I always made my choice quickly-VANILLA . Tom took longer (of course he was a lot younger , maybe 5 years old ) , to make his choice . They had a new snack product . It was like a potato chip ; at least it was shaped like a potato chip . Mom bought some and we all liked them . They were not on the market long either . Came in green onion , tomato , cheese , and garlic . In later years when I learned about food and the world of cooking , it was evident that they were flour and egg white based . They were tasty though . There is a reason why they didn’t last or have not been brought to market .

I did not grow up with apple trees in my yard . We had peaches ,plums , every type of citrus ( including exotic kumquat and loquat ) , pomegranate , and figs ….but no apples .  When I finally was around apple trees , I went crazy . Apple pies , baked apples , apple pan dowdy , apple sauce , and so on . Here is a recipe I like to make every fall and winter . It’s my version of apple butter ;  it just doesn’t cook for many hours as is the tradition , . Maybe it should be called apple sauce . I make it a bit different every time . I add all manner of things that I think will make it different . Rhubarb , plums , cranberries , left over jams , but most often very ripe pears . Some are good…others , not so much .


***12-14 medium to large apples ( any variety is good ,  mixing tart and eating types is best ) -peel , core and cut into chunks into 1 gallon of water with 1/4 cup of lemon juice  * 1- 3 ” piece of fresh ginger , peeled and grated fine * Zest and juice of 1 large lemon and 1 med to large orange * 1 cup packed of brown sugar   * 1/4 cup honey   * 1/2 tsp. of sea salt   *** The most recent batch that I made I used Gala , Golden Delicious , and Gravenstein varieties .

In a S/S or non- stick 5-6 Qt. stock pot ,  add lemon and orange juice and zest . Stir over low heat and add brown sugar , honey and salt until smooth…about 5 minutes . Add ginger and stir for 1 minute ; add apples and coat with sugar- citrus- ginger mixture . Bring heat up to medium and stay close by , stirring for 3-4 minutes or until bubbling . Turn heat to lowest simmer , cover pot and check every 5-8 minutes and stir . Cook until apples are soft and start to break down ; about 35 – 45 minutes . When fruit is soft and a thick sauce has formed , remove from the heat and cool pot on a rack . After 15-20 minutes you can mash compote by hand , or blend with an electric hand blender until smooth . I prefer a chunky consistency . When cooled further , put in jars or containers with tight fitting lids . Will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks .

Serve with Roast Pork , Turkey at Thanksgiving or my favorite – at breakfast or any time  with whole grain toast or English muffins .

I was recently given the gift of a wonderful little book , “Why Lobsters Turn Red…When You Cook Them ? ” , by Herve This . He is known as the “Father of Modern Gastronomy ” . I am a bit fussy and old fashioned sometimes ; after all my hero Fernand Point ,passed away in 1955 ( Restaurant La Pyramide in Vienne , France ) . In that era ,he was a man who influenced many chefs that carried us to where we are now in this wonderful world of food .

SALT STORY : There has been written , my dear friends , many many times that if you have salted your lovely pot of vegetable beef soup there exists a simple and easy  solution .Upon a last sip you note there is TOO MUCH SALT , all you need to do is add a peeled potato and your problem will cook itself out . Well let me tell you this . Never going to work…nada , no way , didn’t happen . It is completely possible that it may work for lots of people , but not for me . My solution ? Easy…Peasy ! DO NOT SALT THAT BUBBLING CAULDRON UNTIL THE END . It will keep you out of trouble ; plus , you won’t have to toss that lovely pot of soup everyone was ready to dive into . Steaming bowls full . Lots of crusty bread and butter . Maybe a bit of room temperature Gruyere cheese on the side too. That sounds really good . Looks like it may be “soup time “.

PET CORNER : I mustn’t forget another lovely  book that was also a recent gift . From Maggie-Waggie …a more clever ,loving , sturdy and loyal JACK LHASA APSO . There is not a Buddhist monastery to guard , but she is most dedicated to her job of keeping all  on Peacock Lane safe from unwanted intruders – Be they from the US Postal Service , errant and bold black crows , pesky squirrels after the many bird feeders provided , or an arrogant dog that should decide to walk down her sidewalk . The crows and the squirrels are where her Jack Russell genes flourish . However , you can render her a quiet  , barkless and tranquil pup with a nice juicy chunk of poached beef heart . Maybe she’s a connoisseur too.?

That book ? It’s a must read for dogs and their humans alike…”The Dangerous Book For Dogs –  A Parody ” , By Rex & Sparky. Publisher -Villard , New York . Get ready for some major laughter , some harmonious  howling , lots of truths presented and material for conversations by the water cooler and for “thumbs on keys ” alike !

GREAT WAY TO SERVE RED GRAPEFRUIT : With a very sharp knife , cut the very top and bottom from the fruit . Set it on it’s bottom , and with a curving motion , slice smoothly from the top to the bottom being sure to remove the peel and the white layer of bitter pith . On the side , then cut into slices ; fan out on a serving plate . Some like to sprinkle with a bit of sea salt or sugar . I like them just as they are . Needs a knife and fork to enjoy .

A FINAL THOUGHT -A Point of The Knife : I do not see people sitting down together and sharing a meal much these days . On the run and  eating in their car ;  grabbing warmed snacks from a convenience store or worse yet … removing the tray from a frozen red and green box , popping it into the microwave for the required 3-4 minutes . Remove the cellophane cover and sit in front of the computer or TV to ” enjoy ” . This may be OK for Kevin’ dinner ( after he gets left home on Christmas… he “IS”  only 8 years old ) , but not for us . Sit down with someone you know or care for and have a meal. Mostly talk , and enjoy the conversation  ( and please turn off the Smartphone – that is what is really smart ! ) .




  1. Cindy Dawson /

    I love your ramblings….always have! I am so proud of you for posting them my friend! Miss you and your Big hugs!


  2. Soup time, indeed! I’ve got a pot of ox tail on my stove right this minute and I happen to know a neighbor has a pot of posole on his. Let’s hear it for fall in the NW!

  3. Yes indeed . SOUPS ON !!!!!!!Let the broth bubbling begin .

  4. Chantal /

    Food memories are so much fun! We always had Oregon bay shrimp cocktail on Christmas day. It was such a treat! Also, chicken teriyaki. I loved that dish when I was a kid. Had it for lunch just last week (bento style at some Japaneses place)and shared the memory with a friend. His 6-year-old daughter loves it too!

    • Shrimp cocktail works for me..always has. It is so good when it is very fresh and hasn’t seen the freezer yet . I always had it on New Years Day at The Ringside . My sister-in-law was Hawaiian so we always had the best teriyaki chicken…so I agree . The sweet ‘n salty is what makes it so good ; but really good when a bit of charcoal char is added .

  5. What a wonderful picture of Miss Waggie-Waggie! She does love kids, probably ’cause she is one too and they understand each other.

    • I think Miss Maggie-Waggie understands most everyone she meets…agree? Wouldn’t we humans wish for such a gift ?

  6. Daniel Werner /

    When I was age 5-12, we lived in VERY rural Montana, 18 miles from town and at least 5 miles from the nearest family. One of the things my parents would do periodically to pass the long evenings and nights was to make candy. We enjoyed any number of “experiments.” Some worked and some didn’t. My favorites almost always involved chocolate. And they were also the favorite of our Great Dane!
    One winter day, my folks planned a reception for all of our friends and neighbors. The menu included a large batch of special chocolates. When done, they were all set out on the large kitchen table to cool. As I recall, no one was looking and the dog, whose head was at table height, ate everything he could reach. His tongue reached almost to center of the table and when he was finished, all that was left were a few pieces down the middle of the table.
    My brother and I still remember how upset we were that he got all the goodies!
    I wonder how many families make candy at home these days.

    • That is such a “GREAT DANE ” story ( guffaw! guffaw!)I can just see him thinkin’, ” these people are not paying any attention and I’m not about to let this chance slip through my paws…I’ll just let them slip through my tongue !” Priceless!!!! Who were the “dumb animals ” this time?

Leave a Reply