Primitive Pleasures {May}

MayOne of the very best things about this May is having a mini family reunion this weekend to celebrate the marriage of my cousin. Since not everyone gets to enjoy such a fun gathering, here are some other good things trolled from the interwebs this month.

Simplicity:

People who chronically multitask have lost the ability to focus on one thing – and they’re actually terrible at mutlitasking…. Interesting article on NPR (man I love public radio) about the myth of multitasking.

When -est should be -er and how that gives us the freedom to live simply.

Books:

I’m a book list junkie. Relevant Magazine has a great list of 10 books everyone should read by 25-ish. I think one of them might be our first book club book. Have you read any of them?

I love Heather’s idea to reinvent what classifies as classic literature for her 25 in 25 list.

Michael Hyatt’s podcast about how to read non-fiction was inspiring.

Marriage:

A New Kind of Sexy is honest and we need more of that when talking about marriage.

So we fought for it. We stumbled on redemption in the unlikely sexy acts of taking out the smelly-diaper trash, going to marriage counseling, and texting each other apologies for misspoken harsh words.

Beth of Red and Honey

And more honest reflection from Tyler Ward with 3 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Got Married.

Etc:

I’ve been there – wanting someone to fully understand why I left my heart overseas…

Because I’m a sucker for articles about the twenty-something stage of life – here’s a good one by Anne Bogel.

Hysterical iMessage version of Chapter 5 in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. 

I LOVE McGriddles. Can’t wait to try these.

Mom’s Applesauce

Mom's Homemade Applesauce | Primitive RoadsWe subscribed to Taste of Home for a short stint when I was in Jr. High. I spent endless hours reading every single word of those magazines. Pouring over pages full of delicious, not so health conscious recipes was the beginning of my cookbook obsession, I think.

Homemade Applesauce | Primitive RoadsMy favorite column in Taste of Home was, and is still, My Mom’s Best Meal. Readers share the recipes that showcase their mom’s best home cooked meal. There’s heritage and story, flavor and tradition in each column’s tribute to a mom and her best meal. The selected recipes speak of time around the table, of hospitality and love.

Mom's Homemade Applesauce | Primitive RoadsThough I no longer get a Taste of Home in my mailbox every month, I’ve often considered what I would choose for my mom’s best meal. My mom is a phenomenal cook/baker/entertainer so I have plenty of options. However, I keep returning to one meal – comfort food at its best – that was a staple in our home growing up.

My Mom’s Best Meal

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing my mom’s best meal, one recipe at a time. I’m starting today with my mom’s applesauce.

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More often than not, a jar of Mott’s Cinnamon Applesauce graced our table. It was an especially good accompaniment to pork chops and rice pilaf (another favorite meal of mine). It was a huge treat when mom made applesauce from scratch.

When my mom explained the process, I was shocked to find out how easy it was to make your own applesauce. The hardest part is peeling the apples and that’s more time consuming than difficult. The time is a small price to pay for the fresh, pure taste of homemade applesauce.

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Mom's Applesauce | Primitive Roads

Now, this isn’t a condiment like the Crockpot Apple Butter I shared in December, which you can spread on anything. Homemade applesauce is chunky and fresh compared to a concentrated, thick apple butter. This is a perfect side dish for any meal and when you make it yourself, you can feel good about feeding it to your family – from babies to grandparents.

Mom’s Homemade Applesauce

  • 8 apples, Golden Delicious are a good choice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Peel apples and cut into large chunks. Place apples in a large saucepan with water. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until apples are tender, stirring once or twice.

Remove from heat. Drain off approximately 3/4 cup of liquid and set aside. Mash apples with a potato masher. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon.

Reserved liquid, additional brown sugar or cinnamon may be added to sauce to achieve desired taste/texture.

Chill.

Yield: about 4 cups

NOTE: I generally end up adding all the reserved liquid back because it seems to reabsorb as it chills. You can serve it at any temperature, but I prefer cold applesauce. The water can be replaced with apple juice (Martinelli’s is best!) for extra flavor.

A New Holiday Tradition {of the culinary sort}

I am a stickler for traditions – especially around the holidays and especially in regards to food.

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without brown sugar, pecan crusted, butter laden sweet potato casserole or stuffing made with Mrs. Cubbison’s (who I always imagined was good friends with Aunt Jemima…) classic dressing mix.

Every once in a while, however, a new culinary tradition is born, a recipe so good it breaks right in to the standards with fresh flavors and an addictive quality that demands repeating.

This happened last year with Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip.

A friend brought it to a Thanksgiving celebration and I couldn’t walk away from the plate. We ate the dip with tortilla chips and Wheat Thins. Basically, anything crispy or salty was an excellent foil for the smooth tang of cream cheese piled high with a sweet-tart cranberry relish.

My fiance, now husband, and I proceeded to take this dip to every function left in the holiday season.  It went from the desert to the chilly Ozarks and back home again.

My mom flew to Idaho for Thanksgiving this year.  When we planned the menu, you better bet the Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip made the list for pre-meal munching.

If you’re like me and forget to pick up a lemon while you’re at the grocery store, sit your little hiney back in the car and go get one. (Or have your ever so kind husband grab one on the way home from youth group even though he is dead tired – thanks, babe! When he heard what I needed it for, he agreed that the extra stop was worth it).

The lemon juice, combined with the sugar, helps break down the cranberries and totally brightens up the relish.  Our go to vehicle for this insanely addictive dip is Wheat Thins, but any beloved crackerish item will work.

I do hope this dip finds its way into your holiday recipe repertoire! Your family and friends will love this new tradition.

 

Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip

Original recipe by Jamie Cooks It Up!

Time: 15 minutes prep + 4 hours refrigeration

1  12 oz package fresh cranberries

1/4 C green onion, chopped

1/4 C cilantro, chopped

1 small jalapeno pepper

1 1/4 C sugar

1/4 t cumin

2 T lemon juice

dash salt

2  8 oz packages cream cheese (I used reduced fat)

The night before (or at least 4 hours in advance):

Rinse cranberries under cool water and pick out any shriveled or bad cranberries. Place berries in the bowl of a food processor. I’ve chopped by hand and the results are much quicker and more cohesive when done in a food processor.

I’m not one for extreme heat so I use half of the jalapeño.  Take the rib and seeds out. Chop green onion, cilantro, and jalapeño into smaller pieces.  Add to processor with sugar, cumin, lemon juice, and salt.

Pulse mixture until the cranberries look like gravel and the other ingredients are well incorporated.  Put in a bowl and chill (I vote overnight!).

Let the cream cheese come to room temperature a couple hours before you’d like to serve the dip.  Place the foil wrapped bricks in room temperature water for awhile to speed up the process.

Use a knife or spatula (an off-set spatula, like you would use to frost a cake, works wonders here) to spread both blocks of cream cheese over a plate.  Pour cranberry mixture over the cream cheese.

Serve with crackers or chips of choice.

Three of us devoured half of it in one sitting and the remaining half the next day. Just put saran wrap over the plate and all is well for eating leftovers.

Pure & Simple

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

At the risk of sounding a tad bit crazy, I have to admit that I’ve always found raw carrots difficult to eat.  All those orange fibers don’t seem to go down without a fight.  No matter how much I chew or how small the carrot is to begin with, swallowing is quite the challenge.

After some trial and error, I discovered that a little lubrication helps the consumption process.  My favorite carrot combination is ranch dressing, but sometimes I feel bad about eating those healthy veggies slathered in preservative-heavy bottled dressing (especially since I go with the processed light version).

Yesterday, a perfect storm of circumstances led me to create a better version of my go-to snack.  Our belongings are still in transit which means no kitchen supplies except two knives, two forks, and paper plates.  We subsist on food out or food we can whip up with minimal gear required.  On a recent grocery store trip, a two-pound bag of baby carrots found its way into our Fred Meyer cart, along with Greek yogurt (on sale!) and a packet of ranch dressing mix.

A quick stir (with a knife, of course) and short stay in the fridge later, there was a thick, creamy, ranch dressing substitute waiting to guide those carrots down my gullet.

Plus, greek yogurt has more protein compared to salad dressing or sour cream*

Ranch Greek Yogurt Dip

  • 1 (16 oz) container 0% plain greek yogurt (Chobani is my favorite)
  • 1 – 2 (1 oz) packets of ranch dressing mix

Mix contents of dressing packets into greek yogurt until evenly dispersed.  Dip away!  Flavors will be more pronounced over time.  I used two packets of dressing mix because greek yogurt is a strong base flavor, but one is totally sufficient.

This dip would be a great substitute for mayonnaise on a sandwich.  It would also make a killer alternative to the mayo/sour cream in this Parmesan Crusted Chicken recipe floating around Pinterest.

* Per 2 tablespoons: light ranch dressing – 0g protein, light sour cream – 2 g protein, greek yogurt – 3g protein