I hadn’t given much thought to that little apple tree in our backyard since we moved in 6 months ago. I spent the summer dipping my toes into gardening and cherished my small harvests of tomatoes and peppers (when I say small, I think we only got three tiny peppers), but eating fruit that just happened to be growing on a tree that I could see from my kitchen window was entirely new to me.
So when my neighbor asked me if I was going to do anything with our apples, I shrugged and laughing told her to take them all!
Not too long ago, in a podcast interview I did with Lindsay Krage, she said something that really took hold in me: knowing where your food comes from can be really powerful and it’s important to hold as sacred.
When my dad got sick, I learned how important our food was to our overall wellbeing. I learned to cook with whole foods (lots of soups), I learned to read ingredient labels, I learned to stock the refrigerator more than the pantry. But what I didn’t learn was where my food was coming from.
I was spending hours in the kitchen but I wasn’t holding my food as sacred.
Looking back even further, some of my favorite memories were made in the kitchen, peeling apples with my grandma and learning how to bake fresh bread with my aunt. I loved it when my dad and I would go to pick raspberries at his uncle’s house along the Mississippi River. We would pick raspberries all morning and then spend all day turning them into the sweetest jam.
Maybe it doesn’t come as such a surprise then, that on a recent late fall morning when my mom was visiting, I wandered over to our apple tree, bucket in hand.
I looked at the apples. They were pretty small, misshapen, and covered in dark spots. But they felt firm so I picked them anyway. I came back into the house with my bucket overflowing and asked my mom if she would help me make applesauce.
Neither my mom or I had ever canned on our own before but we are two resourceful ladies (and we had the internet) so we decided to give it a try.
We peeled the apples, one by one, and chopped them up. We boiled, we processed, we taste tested (extremely pleased and surprised at how delicious only apples and cinnamon could be). I realized that the feelings I had spending the day cooking from scratch with my mom, in my very own kitchen, creating something together, epitomized home, belonging, and purpose for me.
I want to fill my days with more of that.
In this time when everything feels uncertain and scary, I know only a few things: my family and our health is the most important thing to me, food is sacred and I feel more connected and more deeply rooted when I explore that, I am in control of how I fill my days, it all maybe starts with homemade applesauce.
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