When I was a little girl, just shy of three years old, my grandma use to pick me up during the week to spend the night at her house. Some of my most vivid memories from that age were the ones spent with her each week. She was, and still is, a young soul. I remember going to the park with our breakfasts (she would let me eat mine at the top of the slide), climbing on the train outside the children’s museum, swimming in the backyard with my arm floaties and calling her Ursula – because of her short white hair and black bathing suit (she never minded).
Sometimes at night she would take out a huge bed-sheet and lay it on the floor in the kitchen. She would fill the popcorn popper, place it in the center of the sheet, remove the lid, and run around the kitchen with me collecting the popcorn as it popped out in every direction. We would stir big pots of macaroni and cheese on the stove for dinner, and cuddle up on the couch to watch old black and white mystery movies (or Indiana Jones) with my grandpa. And she always tucked me in at night by laying next to me and pulling out the flashlights so we could play flashlight tag on the ceiling. She never had to keep up with us kids, we had to keep up with her.
Fast forward a few years, and both my grandparents and family had migrated to Vancouver, Washington, and our bond was even stronger. On Tuesdays and Thursdays after school I would go over to my grandma’s house. I remember her giving me little chores when I wanted to save for things, like the denim Levis jacket I polished all of her silverware for – I still remember my heart racing with excitement as we walked into the store to pick out the jacket (and it was’t because of the silver polishing fumes). She use to let me bake in the kitchen while she napped in the afternoons, with total trust that I wouldn’t catch the house on fire. I wrote my first recipe book on blank printer paper sitting on the bar stool in her kitchen. Then one day, she surprised me with my first children’s cookbook.
It came with colored measuring spoons and had thick cardboard pages, bound with a large plastic spiral. I would stare at each recipe for seemingly forever. All of the ingredients were drawn out in little pictures alongside their measurements. The blueberry muffins were my favorite, especially in summer when we would pick fresh blueberries in her back yard. When fall came around, we made this cinnamon applesauce from my little cookbook for the first time. I remember mashing the apples in the pot on the stove, and the sweet smell of cinnamon filling the air. I even remember the first bowlful I dug into, completely enamored with it’s golden spoonfuls flecked with cinnamon. The scoop of vanilla ice cream would begin to melt on top of the warm applesauce, creating a pool of sweet cream at the bottom of my warm bowl. I was in heaven.
We left Washington, and I stopped making apple sauce. A part of me needed my grandma in the kitchen, and felt as if I would be doing wrong by her to make it apart from her – and a piece of me still does. After apple picking with Scott the other weekend I knew the recipe I needed to make. There was excitement and sadness battling inside of me as I mashed the cooked apples. I was traveling back in time, and my heart was longing for my grandma. My sweet grandma who video chats with me on FaceTime, sends me text messages, comments on my Facebook, and reads all of my blog posts. I still have to keep up with you, grandma. You taught me how to love the creative process of cooking. You taught me to do what I wanted most, have an adventurous and loving heart, never care what others think, and always have fun (as a first priority). Excuse me while I wipe my tears and look up flights to Washington. I have a grandma to make applesauce with next fall.
CINNAMON APPLESAUCE + VANILLA ICE CREAM
Makes 6 servings.
6 cups of sweet, crisp apples: cored and diced into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
scant 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup filtered water
1 – 13.5 ounce can full fat coconut milk
3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon extract)
For the ice cream, rinse and drain the soaked cashews and place them in a high speed blender. Add the remaining ingredients, and blend on high for 45 seconds (or longer if using a standard blender) until silky smooth. Add the ice cream batter to your machine and process according to it’s instructions. Scoop churned ice cream into a airtight glass container, and place in the freezer to harden further while you make the applesauce.
For the applesauce, combine the apples and the remaining ingredients in a 6 quart pot on the stove. Toss the ingredients together. Bring the water to a simmer, cover, and reduce the heat to medium low. Let the apples cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Using a potato masher, smash the apples to your desired sauce consistency, stirring well, and covering once more to cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Serve warm, topped with a scoop of ice cream. Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the fridge, and enjoy within 1 week.