I live in Charleston, South Carolina now, but I grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania -- home of the Pennsylvania Dutch, or Amish. Lancaster was such an interesting place to grow up, but I wouldn't exactly call it "svelte." While farming is a huge part of the culture, Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine is typically full fat all the way. I grew up with a lot of diet saboteurs (not in our house, of course -- my mom is a svelte cook, too!). There was "shoofly pie," whoopie pies, funnel cakes and chicken corn soup. True county fair food. Delicious! Chicken pot pie was my favorite. Only the chicken pot pie I grew up with didn't have a crust or resemble a pie at all. My grandmother made the best, even though our family isn't Pennsylvania Dutch. It was more like chicken and dumplings. Even the word "dumpling" sounds fattening, doesn't it? Sort of like "chow chow," which, ironically, isn't bad for you -- it's pickled vegetables! I still won't eat it. Chow chow. It makes me giggle.
But apple butter was the one thing I could never resist when we went to any type of "family restaurant." No need for butter or jelly. Apple butter is amazing, but I've never seen it anywhere but home. And for all these years, I just assumed it was bad for me. Sounds bad, doesn't it?
I hadn't thought about apple butter in years. I was talking to a colleague the other day who was familiar with the area where I grew up. He brought up apple butter and we both laughed about how it was such a guilty pleasure. Obviously, my next move was to revamp it.
So what's the good news? I did some digging, and I learned that apple butter doesn't have to be bad at all. In fact, most of the recipes I found were quite light on the sugar and didn't have any fat. I had assumed....
So what is apple butter? Basically, it's just reduced applesauce with a few extra spices. You can make your own apple sauce if you're feeling motivated, but I wasn't. I just grabbed a jar -- an unsweetened jar! -- of all natural applesauce and off I went. This is so easy -- quite possibly the easiest recipe I'll ever post on here. I now have a new refrigerator staple that is light (only 10 calories per teaspoon!) and reminds me of home. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Yields 1 cup
4 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot, tilt the lid slightly so steam can escape, and cook on low for 8 hours. That's it!
The Svelte Gourmet: A Month of Main Courses cookbook is available at www.thesveltegourmet.com/products.html. Enjoy!