I know, the title seems like a strange combination (unless you’re pregnant, then, maybe not so much). They are not as closely related as said title makes them sound, but they are both on my mind today. We’ll start with the applesauce because it’s light and fun and, well, who doesn’t love applesauce.
I am very particular about produce. I definitely come by it naturally, as my grandmom was and my mom is the same way. I don’t remember having a lot of frozen or canned vegetables when I was young and don’t know that I knew that people ate beans that they didn’t have to snip ends off of themselves. I could spend twice as long in the produce section of the grocery store or a farmer’s market as I could anywhere else. There is just something so inviting about shiny, bright fruits and veggies. H is not a shopping enthusiast so he usually goes to play in the “Treehouse” (which may be the smartest thing any grocery store has ever done… EVER. Thank you Giant!). From there, it is usually my mom, L and me to do our gathering. As soon as we hit the very front of the produce section, L immediately starts yelling “Mama!”. That “Mama!” quickly morphs into “Nana!” and doesn’t end until I’ve weighed a few bananas, plastered the sticker on the bunch and removed one for him to eat while we shop (though that poor “nana” doesn’t usually make it out of that section).
This is how L grocery shops
This week on the menu, because it’s been so cold here lately and also because the husband is on night shift this week and next, I have three different soups (Minestrone, Veggie Cheese and Turkey Sausage Vegetable) which are all pretty produce heavy, so we did most of our shopping in one part of the store. As well as shopping for dinner items, I also, as I’m sure most of you do, try to keep different breakfast and lunch options in mind and also keep enough healthy snacks around because H can’t usually go an hour without asking for a snack. If I indulged him snacks as often as he asked, I don’t know that the child would stop eating all day. So, we always have Cuties (oranges), apples, bananas and an array of other fruits front and center in the kitchen to draw the eye. I will be the first to admit that, in my love of all things fresh and delicious, I sometimes over buy and despite my quest to get the very best fruit in the pile, the baggers at the store aren’t always as careful when handling the fruits of my meticulous inspection as I might like for them to be. So, I sometimes end up with apples, pears, bananas and other fruit that look a little less that stellar and begin to lose their shine after a few days. What to do with perfectly good “unperfect” fruit? Make your own fruit sauce, of course!
The first time I made applesauce it was actually supposed to be apple butter. Alas, H was about 7 months old at the time and that apple butter never made it past being sauce. To a tiny H, warm, sweet applesauce was the best thing he had had in his very short life. If you have a crockpot and a food mill, you too can make your own! If you have any other fruits lying around, throw them in to! The more the merrier in the crockpot! It really couldn’t be easier to make. Plug in your crockpot and turn it on low (don’t laugh, this is not an unnecessary note and I wish I had someone to stand behind me and remind me every time I make something… note to self: train children to remind me of useful things). Wash all of your apples thoroughly because you’re going to cook them with the skins on. Cut apples into slices and remove the core/seeds and toss them into the pot. If you are throwing any other fruit in (or veggies… carrots or butternut squash might be nice) prep them accordingly and throw them in too. Now, find something to do for the next 8 hours or so. Your apples will cook down without adding any water or juice and the skins that you left on will give it a warm brown color and great flavor. Once it is cooked down and all of your fruit is mush, place your food mill over a large bowl and, in batches, work your fruit through the mill. The mill will take out all of the skins and leave you with your delicious fruitsauce. Yum! You can funnel the sauce into mason jars and seal them, if you so desire, or you can just put it in some plastic containers and store it in the fridge. If you still have babies at home, you could also freeze it in ice-cube trays, transfer the frozen cubes to freezer bags and grab a few out when you need to feed Babykins. If you are making your own baby food, this method can obviously be used for most fruits and veggies or combinations of the two. It is an easy way to get things done without having to spend hours in the kitchen.
My slighty less that perfect apples…
Into the crockpot…
Good enough to eat
L tested, happily approved
If you used only apples and want to continue on and make apple butter, just transfer your milled applesauce back to the crockpot add spices and continue cooking for a few more hours. The apple butter recipe that my mother gave me calls for 1 cup sugar (which I never add, as I find the apples to be sweet enough), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/2 teaspoon cloves, per pint of applesauce. Cook it for a couple more hours, on low, to incorporate all of those spicy flavors. Trust me, if you ever make your own applesauce, you’ll never want store-bought again. Applesauce that you buy in jars, in the grocery store, has practically no flavor, while this applesauce is bursting with it, eliminating the need to add any sugar, though you may like some cinnamon, especially if you like to eat it warm.
Now, on to my second topic of pickles. I love pickles! I always have and I’m sure I always will. My tastes have changed over time and while I was once a strictly “dill” girl, I now appreciate a nice, sweet gherkin from time to time, depending on the meal. But this isn’t really about my pickle preference, or even about pickles specifically so much as it is about the names of things. Would a rose, by any other name still smell as sweet? Well, yeah, it would but it might have some sort of goofy, or even offensive name. Would you want your significant other to bring you home a dozen long-stemmed “hitlers” as a gesture of his affection for you? Well, if we knew nothing of a Hitler of the Adolf variety, you may not care so much, but as it stands, that name is not just difficult but impossible to separate from a horrible person and time in the history of the world, that we would never use it to name something as beautiful and desirable as a flower. There are words that will always have a terrible or offensive connotation and trying to gloss over them like they don’t just sets everyone up for failure.
I’m sure that I lost most of you with that last little bit, but give me a chance to bring you back. If you are lucky, you may have found, seen, read or even follow a blog by a pretty spectacular lady with a beautiful little girl named Addie. The blog is A is for Adelaide and I consider myself lucky to say that I knew Chelley way back when. I knew her before she was Addie’s fabulous mom, before she was an inspiring and insightful blogger, before she was fighting to make the world a better place by educating. I knew her when she was just a fun girl that I was in choir with in high school, an interesting, funny, sweet girl with short spiky hair who wore a pair of Chucks with a gown to the winter formal. As per usual, I digress, and I’m going to try to get us back on track here. Last April, Chelley became mommy to the gorgeous, charming and sweet Adelaide Eileen or “Addie”. When Addie was 9 1/2 weeks old, she was diagnosed with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. Chelley and her husband, Dave, are both average height and so this was obviously not something that they had prepared for. Despite her initial fear, which most of us, as parents, feel every day, Chelley has taken everything in stride and is the most amazing mom that Addie could have been blessed to have.
Now, we finally get to where the pickles come in. A few months ago, Chelley was doing her grocery shopping and while browsing the pickle aisle, saw that Cains, under the parent company of Gedney Foods, still called their small dill pickles “midgets”. Now, I don’t know that I’d have really given it much thought, but Chelley has worked extremely hard to educate herself. being the parent of a little person. The word “midget” was classified as offensive in 2009. It is akin to calling a black person the “n” word. You see how I just typed that? I won’t actually type the word as it is horribly offensive, but most people have no problem using the word “midget” because they really don’t know any better. In fact, as evidenced by the presence of pickle jars, sports organizations for children and some small racing cars, we have absolutely no problem using the word “midget” in a different context. Seeing that word glaring out at her from the store shelves made Chelley a little bit upset. She thought she might just smash the jars, but she showed great restraint and instead she went home and blogged about it. She made a beautiful video of her beautiful little girl and posted it and shared it and made some phone calls. Eventually she spoke to Barry Spector, the president of Gedney Foods, who told her that, in keeping with the changing times, they would be changing the name of their product! Chelley should feel so incredibly proud for taking a stand for something that was important to her and working hard to show a big company that they don’t have to be complacent just because it is easier.
Instead, she is now facing backlash, after some local media outlets picked up on the story. People have written awful comments under the related articles and some have even gone so far as to visit her website to leave harassing digs. Is this really what we have become? Is this what we are teaching our children? That if you don’t agree with someone else’s opinion, it is totally acceptable to tell them as much, preferably in as crude, rude and obnoxious a way as possible? For people who take the “words are just words” stance, they sure are using a lot of ugly one to convey that message. The truth is, words aren’t just words, and that is the reason that Chelley took the stand that she did. Words are a very important part of our everyday lives. They can help you to express how you’re feeling, what you want or need, how you see the world. Words and their meanings are what you use to tell people that you had a bad day or that you had an excruciatingly painful day, the likes of which you didn’t think you could survive. Words can help us describe, in beautiful detail, the faces and memories of our loved ones so that , long after they are gone, we can have them with us again, if only for a fleeting moment. If words are so unimportant, how do you explain the joy that you feel the first time your child utters “mama” or says “wuvvou” (which is “love you” in L-speak). The truth is that words aren’t just words and that every word carries with it a significant meaning that differentiates it from all other words. I don’t have a child who is a little person but I can whole-heartedly understand why Chelley feels the way that she does.
Then, there are the critics who feel like the “PC Police” have taken things to far and are ruining everything for everyone. From everything I’ve seen, since this started to unfold, there are more than a few people in the world who could use a little bit of policing. Just because you can use words and you have your First Amendment rights to free speech, doesn’t mean that you should use them. There are a litany of words that are offensive to the groups of people that they affect and when we teach our children that words don’t mean anything, we end up with completely desensitized little ones who use terms like “That’s so gay!” or “That’s retarded!”, without a second thought about the group that they are speaking of. I, myself, have been guilty of using one of those words and, while it is not one of my prouder moments to confess that, I have tried very hard not to perpetuate use of the word at all, in any context. I don’t ever want to hear one of my children use a word that would hurt someone else, meant in an intentionally hurtful way or not. I can’t imagine being the parent who has to comfort the child on the receiving end of such words, but more terrifying to me right now, is the thought of have the child using those words. I understand there being a place, when dealing with young children, for the old “sticks and stones” adage. However, in this age of constant social interaction, there needs to be a talk about the reality of words not physically hurting, but spirits being broken and they are usually harder to fix.
As for the folks who go with the old stand-by that the word “midget” isn’t always used to mean an offensive word for a little person, I ask you this: Did you know that the swastika was originally a symbol that meant life, good luck, sun, power, and strength? Do we still associate that symbol with such things? No. Now, the swastika is a symbol of hate, violence, antisemitism, murder and death. How would you feel to walk into a grocery store and see a jar of pickles emblazoned with a swastika? Even if you’re not of Jewish descent, you still probably wouldn’t feel as though that symbol was appropriate. If the company originated hundreds of years ago,when that symbol was still one of good intent, failure to change the symbol when times changed would be inexcusable to most. That is how one particular mother felt about an offensive word. If her wanting her daughter to grow up in a nicer, kinder world is her worst offense, I think we could use some more moms like Chelley. We should all be teaching our children that just because something doesn’t directly affect them, they can still be sensitive to it and that one voice can make a difference.