applesauce > apple cake!

I like to cook so it’s no surprise I’m writing another post about cooking. I have to squeal with joy about my new-t0-me kitchen tool, my food mill.

Have you used a food mill? It’s just about the most awesome thing ever, IMHO. I have relied upon a mini food processor for my food grinding needs (, but when it comes to making applesauce (which became apple cake) I have to admit…the food mill is superior!

I had an abundance of apples. My dear man is allergic to fresh apples so I wanted a way to cook them. Applesauce is nice, but I’m not one to sit and eat a bowl of it (presumably, neither is my dear man. Clearly, I was cooking for both of our tastes…!). However, applesauce as a base for apple cake is right up my alley. I began my research. My usual applesauce recipe is from the lovely and talented cookbook author/artist Susan Branch: which is a really wonderful recipe! But, I had a LOT apples…and I didn’t want to peel and core them ALL.

apples on cutting board

Hello, food mill!

food mill

I had never used a food mill, but since I’d been considering getting one I’d kept an eye out when browsing thrift stores. I found this one at the Goodwill–it was $5.00 but because it had a blue tag, it was 50% off! Mr. Armstead, a co-worker of mine, had memories of his father using a food mill, and taught me how to use my new-found tool. He explained the process; just put the cooked apples in the food mill, set the food mill over a bowl, turn the handle clockwise to smoosh the apple pulp from the apples, then turn the handle counter clockwise to gather up the skins, and what’s in the bowl is fresh applesauce. I was still skeptical. Really? That’s it?

I found a few recipes from a trusted source (Martha Stewart) and set about learning my new kitchen tool. I started by washing the apples and slicing them in half.

apples in pan

The apples were small! I had a lot of them to chop up. I took a picture of the apples next to a stick of butter. See? Small!

apples and butter

I followed the Martha Stewart recipe for basic applesauce: Once the apples were washed and halved, I chucked ’em in the pan–skins, seeds, stems, and all. I was ready to challenge the effectiveness of my food mill.  I added sugar and a cinnamon stick, plus about an inch of water:

apples in pan

I cut up a bunch of apples;  2/3 of the apples were granny smith, 1/3 were red delicious apples. I brought the water to a boil, then reduced the heat to medium-low and covered the pot with the lid askew. Once the apples cooked for approximately 20 minutes, they looked like this:

apples in pot

Try not to be put off by the color. I wanted to have a mostly tart applesauce, with a little bit of sweetness, hence the two kinds of apples. I think just about any combination of apples would work–I used granny smith & red delicious because that’s what I had on hand. My favorite apple to eat raw is braeburn–it’s tart, crisp, juicy. I’m going to try them in applesauce next time I have an abundance of braeburn’s.

Time to test out the food mill! 3 ladel-fuls of apples in the food mill, grind…grind…grind…clockwise, of course.

cooked apples in mill

Mr. Armstead was right. I could see the pulp give way from the apple skins. At first the pulp came out in small drips, but soon it was yielding to the force of the blade and the pulp was quickly extracted from the fibrous bits.

apples in mill

I cooked some granny smiths by themselves and added them to my bowl, then added some red delicious apples on top. Pretty contrast before mixing, see?

two-tone applesauce

The smell was heavenly. Apples, cinnamon, sugar. I added some fresh lemon juice a little more sugar to taste. I have to say I was very impressed with the food mill’s ease of use and effectiveness. I used the warm applesauce to make this applecake:

I made another batch of applesauce a few weeks later but this time the seeds broke down–and because apple seeds (a.k.a. pips) contain cyanide I had to throw the batch out. I’ve decided that I will pit the apples, but I won’t bother peeling them. This tool was a great find! I look forward to using it often; my mate enjoys apples and now can eat them without experiencing an allergic reaction. I would like to hear if you’ve used a food mill and I thank you for reading!

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

gift tags: instruction!

Examples of gift tags

Children's gift tags

I’ve got a gig! Well, it’s more of a volunteer effort, but it’s in the works!

A couple of years ago I was a volunteer at Rockwood Library in Gresham, Oregon. I have BIG LOVE for this library–I was a Homework Helper for a year and a half, every Tuesday night. I enjoyed working with the kids in the neighborhood and I thought the staff were awesome! I’ve always wanted to go back and volunteer just a little bit more.

What to do?

How about teaching a class?

What to teach?

Well, if you’ve read my blog you’ll know I like to make gift tags.

basket of bags of gift tags

Gift tag examples

The holidays are approaching…

So, I contacted MCL and asked if I could come teach Rockwood Library patrons how to make gift tags.

examples of gift tags

50's ladies

I was a little freaked out about asking.

They responded.


Big excitement! Anticipation! Planning! Writing!

Examples of gift tags

Children's gift tags

So, I’m in the process of creating a “how-to-make-gift-tags” lesson plan and a handout for my attendees. I’m carrying around a notebook so I can jot down reminders to prepare for the class. I’m organizing my art supplies and am making sure I have plenty of everything so more than one person can make tags at a time.

I’ve got my daughter Jinjer interested in volunteering her time to help me run the class. I’m hoping I can talk her friend Tangereen into volunteering that day as well. Jinj & Tang. Awesome kids.

Examples of gift tags

Children's gift tags

My motives are not completely altruistic. I completed my education to become a librarian nearly two years ago. I’ve yet to secure employment as a librarian. Teaching a class now helps me practice the process of planning programming I would like to present once I do land my dream job.

Examples of gift tags

Children's gift tags

Here’s the details:

I’ll be teaching ‘gift tag construction’ in three separate (yet equally awesome) sessions:

1) Sunday, November 14th from 1-2 pm at Rockwood Library

2) Wednesday, December 8th from 6-7:30 pm at Holgate Library

3) Sunday, December 12th from 1-2 pm at Rockwood Library

So…if you’re interested in learning how to make gift tags, feel free to sign up. Go here…do it now! and look for “gift tag construction”. Sign up! Join me!

Examples of gift tags

Bird gift tags

I make gift tags out of discarded books and magazines I pick up at yard and estate sales. I love colorful, vintage imagery. I sell my gift tags through Trillium Artisans, a wonderful organization dedicated to supporting local artists that use sustainable practices in their creation of art. Check them out for wonderful, handmade art made by some pretty talented people! I am constantly inspired by what I see created and hope to someday open up a functioning Etsy shop!

Examples of gift tags

50's ladies

Time for me to get back to ‘lesson planning’. I hope to see you there! Thanks for reading!

Published in: on October 18, 2010 at 8:10 pm  Comments (2)