Enduring family relationships are based on time honored traditions. For me, my most favorite family traditions always include FOOD.
Before starting this blog, I kept a handwritten journal of my comings and goings, my desires and goals, past blunders and future hopes. I began consistently keeping a journal when I was 15 years old and maintained the same black book format until I was 50. Altogether, I have 59 identical volumes of my personal history. If you were to read any of those volumes, you would find a lot of passages referring to food. Not the every day kind of food (while there is some of that) but the kind of food that was a part of every celebration, every holiday, every get together. Why so much food? Sure, I wanted to share how much I love to eat and I love to cook. But more importantly, I wanted my heritage to know what were the kinds of food I enjoyed, that were meaningful to me and my family and that were central to our important gatherings.
Food elicits feelings of comfort and connection. When my children come home to visit, before we plan the activities, they want to plan the menu. Coming home to them means not only companionship, but favorite dishes that remind them of cherished memories.
Food also plays an important role in family history. My grandmother Dorothy Gilbert Hooper, passed away when I was just six years old. My personal memories of her are few but I've been able to become better acquainted with her through her recipes. Preparing one of her famous this or that has naturally led to recalling a story or two from Dorothy's life. Each time her dishes are duplicated, her legacy is shared and remembered to the next generation. A wonderful way to keep my grandmother close in heart.
One of her recipes that have become a staple in our family's fall and winter food tradition is my grandmother Dorothy's Cinnamon Applesauce. There are two ingredients that are key to this unusual dish: Rome apples and Red Hots candy. Rome apples have the perfect color, taste, and consistency for applesauce. They are only available from October to January which means this dish can only be made during for the holiday season. If for some reason you can't find Rome apples (ask your grocer first; their displays are usually tucked away), Macintosh is a fair substitute.
Red Hots were first manufactured in the 1930's and add the perfect combination of cinnamon and sugar. Plus, it gives the applesauce its distinctive, bright red color, making it a wonderful accompaniment to roast, ham, or turkey, not to mention holiday brunches. Red Hots are also a great way to describe my grandmother Dorothy. She was a 4'11'' ball of fire with red hair and a sweet disposition.
Making Dorothy's applesauce is easy and can be done from start to finish in about an hour. I know, once you try it, you will want to add it to your family food traditions too..
Dorothy Hooper's Cinnamon Applesauce
5 Rome apples
1-1/3 cups water
1/2 cup Red Hots candy
Peel, core, and chop apples.(I use an apple-peeler-corer to get the job done in just minutes. You can pick one up at Bed Bath and Beyond for $20.00).
Put in a pot and pour water over apples, then add red hots. Over medium-high heat, stir the apples until the red hots are melted and the apples begin to boil.
Turn down heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes and remove from heat. Use a potato masher to get applesauce to desired consistency.
Serve warm or refrigerate to serve cold. Makes 8-10 servings.
What is your favorite family food tradition?