Thank you for finding That Old House amidst the chaos of the Internet. We are delighted that you are here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Heirlooms, Apples, and Three Generations of Catherines

Heirlooms and Apples on this sunny September Friday.

You know me as Cass, but that is my gang name.

No, not really, but it is a nickname.

My Grandmother, born in 1875, was named Catherine.
My Mother, born in 1921, is named Catherine.
I, born in (mumble mumble mumble cough), am also named Catherine.

It was inevitable that I should get a few things handed down to me from
both of The Catherines. One is the ability to carry a tune pretty darned well.

Others -- a love of books and language, some skills in hand work, and a great deal of child-rearing wisdom that Howard and I embraced. It must have been excellent advice; our daughters are not in jail. Yet. Although I haven't spoken to either of them today. . . .


Another legacy is a recipe for applesauce that I am sharing for Foodie Friday;
it dates from the days when people used all the parts of a pig except the oink; it is that thrifty.

For the Heirloom Party, I am sharing something more tangible than a singing voice
and lessons on how to think like a child. I'm sharing my Grandmother's tea set.

I apologize; it is terribly tarnished but I haven't done my pre-Thanksgiving silver polishing blitz yet. I don't polish these pieces too often, as they are old plate and I don't want to risk polishing right through to the metal beneath.

When I was a very small child, my Mama kept this set on the low coffee table in the living room.
We could look at it, but not touch.

I looked at it a lot.

I was very young when I asked if I could have it and my mother answered,
"When you get married." I think she even meant it.

About 6 years after my wedding, I finally pried it from her desperate, sweaty grasp.

I am not sure how old it is, but I guess it is from the 1920s or 30s. It's not valuable, except to me. It is 1881 Rogers Quadruple Plate, Pattern 5014. Does anyone have access to a good book on silverplated holloware?

Again, I am sorry for the condition of the pieces today;
you can see from the undersides that they polish up nicely.

Clearly, my Grandmother used this set. It has some small dings and dents.

Does anyone else think the tea pot looks like Aladdin's lamp?

I hope, if a Genie ever pops out, that he does windows, pulls weeds, and empties the dishwasher.
Them's my three wishes.

I love the engraving on the tops of the pieces, and the blank spaces for monograms. I doubt my grandparents could have afforded to have the tea pot monogrammed; they had 7 children to raise!

Okay, this post is getting long and rambling,
so I'm going to segue smoothly right into The Applesauce.

There, wasn't that smooth? So is The Applesauce. Here's what you do:

Take some apples. Any apples. Drops, bruised, or perfect, any variety. Wash them well, making sure to get into that dusty place around the stem, where the apple's belly button lint lurks.

Next, put them in a bowl and briefly admire how nice they look with drops of water artistically clinging to them.

Then get out a cutting board and a cleaver, and hack them up. Any which way.


Halved down the middle to expose that secret star in the center of every apple.

It doesn't matter how you chop them up, but do not peel them, do not remove their cores.
Just cut them up, and plop them into a nice big stockpot.

Add enough water that you can see it down near the bottom of the pot, between the apples.

Don't cover them up with water, or you will end up with very lumpy apple juice.
You pretty much want to steam the apples; you don't want them boiling and bobbling around.

Get the water steaming, then cook the apples over medium heat until they are soft and mushy.

Next, pull out that nifty kitchen appliance that our great-grandmothers swore by:
the food mill.

Cooked apples go into the food mill, food mill goes over a big bowl, elbow grease keeps the mill turning . . .

and you end up with a lovely bowl full of amazing applesauce.

And a big pile of empty skins and seeds and other icky parts left in the food mill,
that you can just toss out.

Meanwhile, the applesauce has gained every last bit of flavor from the apples.
No waste. You can sweeten or add cinnamon if you must; I don't.

These apples were little MacIntoshes from a New Jersey orchard; I took my Dad there yesterday as he was jonesing for some late summer peaches. I also bought some fabulous eating apples, bred specially for New Jersey.

(Meaning that when they ask, 'You wanna piece o'me? Huh?
You wanna piece of ME?" . . . you can truthfully answer, "Yes.")

Sadly I cannot remember the name of these Jersey bred apples.
I will just have to go back and get some more.

So . . . if you visited That Old House yesterday, and are desperately hungry because there was no food on the table, this is your little midday meal:

Freshly made, warm applesauce,

cornbread hot out of the oven

sharp Wisconsin Cheddar, and good Colombian coffee.

As my other Grandmother used to say, when she finished putting the food down at dinner to feed her family of 9,
"Well, that's all there is, and what are you going to do about it?"

Go ahead, sit down.
Remember the table is set in the conservatory.

If you are really peckish, I've got a little seafood chowder heating up. ;-) -- Cass


Thanks to Michael for hosting Foodie Friday at Designs By Gollum,

and to Marie of Emma Calls Me Mama for her Heirloom Party

Ladies, you rock. :-)

Please click on the links above, or near the beginning of the post,
to join these parties and read what others are posting about!

P.S. It was hard for me to choose which Heirloom to feature today; I am very lucky to have many family things. If you are new to That Old House and are curious about some of our hand-me-down furniture, you can visit this post from July 7, 2009.

P.P.S. Illustrated Note to Self: When cooking on a stove, it helps to turn on the burner that is actually underneath the pot. It takes too long otherwise . . . .

Yes, I really did that. Doh!


  1. Hi Cass/Catherine III
    Loved the blog today and always..
    could just smell the aroma of apples cooking, and mouth watered at the thought of hot delicious applesauce!!
    and the tea set with lovely history..awesome!!
    and the idea of popping in joining you for lunch..heavenly!!
    thanks for sharing..♥
    pop over and visit me..Mountain Mermaid..

  2. Oh how delicious! Nothing is better in the Fall than anything made from apples! I know it tastes so good...
    I loved your story of the 3 Catherines...: )
    Your tabelscape in the previous post was so, so pretty. Your conservatory is the the loveliest place to dine.
    Have a sweet weekend!

  3. I learned something today... I didn't know apples had belly buttons. How about that! You and I could have used those Foley food mills as our heirlooms... my mom bought mine for me and I have kept it unused for years. She always made homemade applesauce but the only recent use my mill has gotten was in making The Pioneer Woman's potato salad recipe. Maybe you've inspired me to drag it out again :-)

  4. Hi Cass,
    I LOVE your tea set! What a precious treasure! Thank you for sharing it with us today. Have a wonderful weekend.


  5. You have a great blog - and what a wonderful tea set!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe and humor with us too.


  6. Cass, I just love your blog! I love your old home and all the older things that reside there in your home. Now I feel like I have had a piece of Jersey, Wisconsin and Colombian as well as some visiting into the past. Your writting is great. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Great post. I just LOVE the tea set and doesn't that applesauce look wonderful :)


  8. What beautiful treasures! I love the name Catherine. It sounds so regal! And your sense of humor is priceless! Hope the daughters are settling well in their abodes. I doubt they're in jail. You'd have gotten a call from the bail bondsman!

  9. Great post and I had to laugh about the burner:)

  10. I just spent well over an hour, reading through some of your posts, Cass. You are a terrific writer...I can *hear* you clearly & I love your wit & humor.

    Thanks for stopping by my brand new blog. I wanted to tell you to just google "paper drip catcher for teapots" & you'll get lots of sources. I buy mine at a tea room nearby, but I guess you could make them if you wanted.

    Your old house is lovely as are the gardens & the treasures & the FOOD, too! ♥

  11. Love the tea set. It is truly stunning. The detail on it is amazing. What a wonderful treasure. The applesauce looks sooooooooo good. I would love some. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Marty

  12. OMG!!! You are too funny Cass. I enjoyed your post a lot. And I mean a lot!!!! And I love the tea set, even if it is tarnished. But then, I love tarnished silver. Only because I am usually too lazy to polish my own silver. And thanks for the applesauce recipe. Next year when my apple tree gets apples I might have to try & make some applesauce. Thanks for the laugh & have a good weekend.

  13. This sounds so dang good I could just die. I do love me some applesauce...especially homemade...with cinnamon...ummm...

  14. The tea service is beautiful!I can just taste that warm apple sauce,in reply to your grandmother, I think I'll sit down and eat. It all looks so delicious.
    It does always help to turn on the stove when you cook .Been there , Done that,lol .
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving the sweet comment.;-)

  15. I want to sit in the conservatory and eat apple sauce. Wouldn't mind a cup of tea from Grandma's tea set either. Lovely post! :)

  16. That is just the way I make applesauce but I definately add sugar! ;~P
    I love that you didn't polish the tea set ~ it has so much more character that way! What a treasure from Grandma!
    I thought I was the only one who did stuff like turning on the wrong burner! I feel so much better now. *teehee*
    And, when your genie is finished at your place, send him over to me, will you please!?
    You're a hoot!

  17. Love the silver tea site...just gorgeous!

    I love homemade applesauce, so much more tasty then the store bought kind. Just bought a new food mill and I love it.

  18. Hi cass

    what a great post and how nice to be named after great ladies--took the summer off from blogging and I come back to see you are up to happy things! How nice! Tara

  19. Loved your post and you know that thing you do about turning on the wrong burner, I do that all the time and I'm living in this house for a year now. Duh!
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  20. I have a food mill just like yours never seen it used before . I found it in my moms cabinet. Now I know how to use it. Thanks. I love teapots. Have a big collection. I looked in my antique book but could not find yours. I do know that the law to put "made in where ever" was put in place in 1920 so if it does not say where it was made it is before 1920.

  21. Thanks for stopping by. I love your house and the small tea tour you gave us. Awesome applesauce too.

  22. Oh, I enjoyed reading all this! The tea pot is just gorgeous, and I like tarnished silver!

    The applesauce and cornbread look yummy!


  23. P.S. - I said tea pot, but meant tea set!!


  24. You are so funny!
    What if one does not own a "food mill?"
    or know what one is?

  25. Hello sweet Cass - love your nick name. It's so rock 'n roll. Fabulous. Oh and how cool is that tea set! Love it. Please, do not polish it. So neat just the way it is. What a pretty design. And I really like that the lid of the pot is hinged!

    Thank you for joining me for the party!


  26. Loved the beautiful heirlooms. So graceful.
    I also love your name. Catherine was the name I wanted to use if I was ever blessed with children. Of course had it been a boy I suppose I would have had to choose something else!
    Thank you for a lovely post, oh and that stove thing..I do it all the time!

  27. your tea set is lovely!


  28. Hi Cass,
    First, your Heirloom Silver is absolutely beautiful!!

    And save me the chair on the left for all the goodies your are serving! That applesauce looks so yummy!

  29. Cass, this was a joy to read. Everything looks beautiful--love the tea set, the apple sauce, and your lovely view of your sun porch.

  30. This is my first visit here and I'm hooked.
    Love your applesauce recipe. I will have to prepare that so I can serve it over my gingerbread recipe from my chilhood cookbook.. which you can see on my blog Ladybug Creek.
    You've been blessed with a great sense of humor. Lucky, lucky you.
    I'll be back..

  31. Hi Cass - I've had a lovely catch-up around your last few posts. I picked apples yesterday from one tree and thought I'd make applesauce. I may use your method as it lookes pretty easy - and I have made other things you've posted and they've always turned out.
    Isn't it nice to be connected through the generations by your name? Mine came to me after much use, and I passed it on to my daughter, but as a second name.

  32. Great blog post! Love the set from your grandmother. The applesauce looks yummy, too!


  33. "her desperate, sweaty grasp." you have me in stitches. It is a wonderful heirloom. I also make my applesauce this way. It looks pretty darn tasty, and such a beautiful conservatory!

  34. I simply cannot believe how many wonderful images and well written tidbits of information you shared in this post. Just amazing!

  35. I just love your blog and I'm so glad I found you. Your tea set is wonderful, tarnished like all my silver, but hey, who cares! Your applesauce looks delish and the photo of your home on your header is just oooohhh so lovely. Just joined you as a follower. Come by for a visit.

  36. Love the applesauce! Every one is making it I need to get in on it!
    I had to laugh when you said Cass is your gang name! It's not very tough! hehe How nice to have that tradition! My middle name is Ann like my mothers and she is named for her aunt. So I have that. I loved visiting today and hope to come back often!
    Hugs, Lisa

  37. I came back for another visit... same day! After you mentioned the children's cookbook. I am not sure how much cooking my mother and I actually did together when I was little, but it is amazing what can be done on the sly when your mother's at work. You'll have to read my first ever blog posting about carrot balls. lol
    What was fun was to discover that on image 1955 you have a ...for the lack of a better word "decanter" that is I think just like mine. I have it featured on my blog a couple of weeks back. I got it from my mother and she got it from her mother. What do you know about yours?
    It's been fun looking at your blog photos and realizing how many similarities we have in our collections... dishes and linens.. wood floors (like the ones I will have installed on Monday) and then a Persian rug ... so much ... so fun.
    Happy blogging,
    Ladybug Creek

  38. That is very interesting about the wine decanter. (I will record the name you gave me that I suspect is in German.) I am wondering if my uncle brought it back from Germany after a tour of duty the 50's. However, my great-uncle was a German prisoner of war, but somehow when he was released he managed to bring a few items home with him. Sort of surprising if it would fit those circumstances but you never know.
    I love to learn about the history of my special keepsakes.
    Karen :-)
    Ladybug Creek

  39. I was grinning the whole time I was reading this post. You are so fun! Love your grandmother's beautiful tea set, and I'm glad your mother finally let go of it, so you could once again enjoy its beauty! That applesauce looks so good, but the only instruction I'd be able to accomplish is to admire them in a bowl with their drops of water on them, because I don't have one of those food mill gadgets. laurie

  40. Love your tea set. Are you familiar with Replacements Limited? They are located in my city and are one of the biggest, if not the biggest suppliers of china, crystal and silver in the world. You can find all kinds of outdated patterns there. They ship all over the world and supply many famous people with china,etc. Give them a look online and you might find out more about your tea set. They even have a toll free number that you can call and talk to people about your pieces. If you are ever in the area, a tour of their facility is amazing!!!!! My grandmother made applesauce like you do. It was so good! Thanks for sharing. Love & blessings from NC!

  41. Ha... your grandmother must have been a real spit fire! Love it!!

  42. Hi Cass,
    I loved reading about your heirloom silver pieces ... what a treasure! Everything about this post is first-rate: the history of the tea set, your delightful humor, the great tutorial, the beautiful images! Superbly done!

    Bye for now,

  43. Hi Cass, sorry it has taken me so long to respond! Thank you so much for stopping by, and I must say I just LOVE your blog and your home is absolutely gorgeous! I have such a soft spot for old houses, they just have so much character. I will definitely be stopping by more often. And I am so sorry to hear about your mom, dealing with Alzheimer's can be so very frustrating and heartbreaking (which is part of the frustrating part!)

    Your silver is just gorgeous! I too have some from my mom, but it is all still boxed up, I need to dig it out...along with lots of other tableware! Maybe when I get my dining room finished and an actual dining room set! I hope you have a wonderful weekend and it was very nice to "meet" you =)


Thank you for visiting That Old House; it's always exciting to find new comments -- they are treasured! Because of increasing spam, I have reluctantly eliminated "Anonymous" commenting. Legitimate anonymous commenters, please forgive me! You might try using "Open ID" instead. Blogger's spam software worked for a good long time, but, sadly, no longer.