Better than free peanuts

Fun Fact: our taste buds are sensitive to altitude (air pressure and humidity), which means how we perceive the taste of food while on an airplane is different than how we taste food on the ground.

This, I figure, is why Sprite is so much better when I’m in the air, and why I can’t tolerate those Alaska Airlines snack packs the moment the plane touches down (but gobble them up when I’m flying).

The latter could be out of hunger, though.  Ever since airplanes stopped serving free meals, I always get hungry on the plane.  On Thursday, however, I had the perfect accidental solution.  (So… no pictures, because I wasn’t doing this on purpose.  Sorry!)

At the end of each semester, we have to completely clean out our fridges.  Since I mostly cook for myself now, I had a lot of food to deal with in a short period of time.  Most of it got eaten, sent off to a friend’s house for the month, or was non-perishable and is staying in my room.  That left me with a small block of sharp cheddar cheese, some prosciutto, and a lot of pita bread (I mis-estimated my pita eating abilities, apparently.)  A small enough amount of food to just throw in my bag and take home with me.

Then I remembered I’d be flying at lunch time.  Lunch would be… a really good addition to my bag.  Cheese and prosciutto go really well together, and bread is bread.  All I needed was something to cut the cheese with.  My pocketknife was out, because security, so I grabbed a plastic spoon and hoped for the best.

I, in fact, received the best.  Plastic spoons are surprisingly adept at slicing cheese, and pita sandwiches are far less messy than regular sandwiches.  Besides, it was delicious.  I’d highly recommend it next time you fly… I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to eat airplane snacks again.

Of course, that was also my last flight to and from college in my college career, and probably my last flight in a while, so maybe I’ll have forgotten when next time rolls around.

Don’t Cross the Applesauce

A few weeks ago, I found myself with some extra apples and frosting after making a large batch of caramel apple cupcakes.  (The frosting, by the way, was salted caramel cream cheese frosting.  Delicious.  But that’s for another time.)

The apples needed to be eaten, and something had to be done about all the leftover frosting.  Since my favorite parts of the recipe had been the baked apples and the frosting, I thought I had a brilliant idea: bake the apples until they’re the consistency of pie filling, then add frosting!

So I cut and peeled the apples, popped them in a pan with some cinnamon, and left them on the stove for a while.  Then dinner was ready, so I went to eat, and when I got back to the stove to check on my apples, I had… applesauce!  The best applesauce I’ve ever eaten!  (My mom’s friend refers to this as “creative surprise”)

That experiment is basically what led me to want to start this new food blog.  So… what better way to start it than by trying to make applesauce again?

My Apples!

I started collecting apples from the dining hall…  Delicious apples!  And, hopefully, apples that actually taste good.  I tend to trust apples that are green with hints of red.  No idea why.

A few … weeks … later, I decided it was time to actually slice the apples and start making applesauce.

My slicing method is a little strange.  I learned to cut apples in a
baking class where we made apple dumplings.  Instead of cutting into
regular shapes and then carving out the core, I cut around the core,
making a different shape of slice than most people are used to, but
making coring the apple completely unneccessary!

Once you slice them enough, you can’t tell the difference.  Besides, if it’s being baked, shape doesn’t really matter, I don’t think.  As long as they’re even.

Then I had to peel the apples… I don’t know if you’re supposed to peel
apples with a vegetable peeler, but maybe that would be easier.  I don’t have a vegetable peeler, so all my peeling this semester has been done with this knife.  It’s curved, which makes it a decent peeler.  I don’t know what it’s actually for.  Totally useless for chopping.  Anyone recognize it?

Don’t cut yourself when peeling things with a knife.  Don’t worry, I don’t know that from experience.

At some point, it occurred to me that I needed a pan to bake the apples in.  I pulled out my trusty cast iron pan.  Best $25 dollars of my bank’s money that I ever spent.  Not sure why they gave me free money, but that’s beside the point.  I have cast iron pan now.

I wanted a lid, too… used one last time I made applesauce, so I need to do it exactly the same, right?  Somehow, I found one.  That lid actually belongs to the pot on the back of the stove… but fits perfectly!

Next, I arranged the apples in the pan.

Meh.

Next, I dumped the apples in the pan.

Then I dumped some cinnamon on them, covered them, and let them sit for a while.

I know, I know, I just stopped narrating in time with my photos, but it’s story time!

The first time I made the applesauce, I didn’t pay attention to how long it took.  I basically forgot about it, actually.  But judging by the time it takes to make and eat a box of Annie’s, I guessed it was around 40 minutes to an hour.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t touch them while they were cooking, no stirring or anything.  Maybe I’m forgetful.  Maybe that’s where things went wrong.

I was getting really impatient, kept poking at the apples and not doing things I should be doing (packing, etc).

Eventually, I walked into my suitemate’s room, where he and a friend were hanging out.  “I need to just forget about the apples so I’m less impatient!”

“If you forget about them, will they burn?”

“Nah… last time I forgot about them and they were fine!  Don’t worry!”

Never say “Don’t worry” when you’re cooking.  Such a bad idea.

A while later, I started noticing a strange smell.  It smelled like turkey, which didn’t make any sense, because the Thanksgiving turkey was long gone and, I thought, hadn’t been reheated in my cast iron pan.  (You never know with those things, though…)  In an attempt to locate the source of the smell, to see if it was my apples, I picked the lid off the pan and tried to smell it.

As it turns out, steam is hot.

Luckily, I didn’t actually burn myself, but my nose hurt for a few minutes after that.  I have a really, really bad track record for not hurting myself while cooking right now.

A little bit later, I finally identified the smell correctly.  It wasn’t turkey.  It was burnt apples.  Remember those cooking class dumplings I mentioned earlier?  When I tried to make them at home after the class, it went… badly.  And by badly I mean, it was my worst tasting kitchen disaster ever.  That was so many years ago, but I somehow still remember the smell of those burnt apples.

Luckily, I was still able to salvage some applesauce.  I’d say it was around… 2 cups, from 6 apples.  Somehow about as much as I made from 2 apples last time.  (Larger apples?  Less burnt apple residue left in the pan, probably).

Speaking of burnt apple residue.  I still need to clean this mess up.  Hrm.

Anyways, only a little burnt apple made it into the sauce, so it was pretty good.  A little sour though… I like my apples and my applesauce sweet.

Luckily, I still had some salted caramel sauce, and some salted caramel cream cheese frosting, left from the previous experiment, so I added some for flavoring, just like last time.

Thankfully no disaster there.  Oh wait.  I did managed to microwave the leftover caramel sauce for too long (I just wanted to soften it!), burn it, and… luckily burnt sugar dissolves in water as easily as regular water, so there wasn’t a cleanup issue there.  I thought I’d managed to ruin a fork and a spoon.  The fork is no loss, but there’s only about 5 spoons in my kitchen right now, so losing one would have been sad.

I still had the frosting though, so a couple spoonfuls and my applesauce was good to go.

I think I still need to perfect that recipe (I mean, I burnt my apples!), but it’s getting there.  I’m pretty sure my main mistake was using a cast iron pan and turning the stove up too high to start.  I had it on medium and eventually turned it to low, but there was boiling water in the pan when I took it off the heat, so it definitely wasn’t just low heat.  The pan I used last time was much thinner and therefore dissipated the heat easier, probably didn’t get as hot.  Stirring the apples periodically while they were cooking probably would have solved that problem too.

I’d like to tell this applesauce that it’s Nacho time, but I finished making it right before I had to start cooking dinner, so no nachos were made.  Besides, I think my tortilla chips are stale.  That could mean a disaster of nachos even bigger than my disaster of apple sauce.

Coming soon: Crab Bisque.  I’m proud of this one.