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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Favorites and Heirloom Silver and New Apples. . . .

My family began saying goodbye to my mother some years ago, as Alzheimer's Disease robbed her of her abilities and skills, and slowly stole her away from us.

Mama -- our extraordinary mother, my father's extraordinary wife -- left us early last Tuesday morning.

I'm not back to blogging yet, so I'm re-posting an old story. I've got to go put together meat loaf soon -- my Dad and my sister and her family are coming to That Old House for dinner this evening -- a plain family meal after all the restaurant and catered fare this past week.

We are not yet ready to give up our daily family gatherings, although they are getting smaller. On Friday, my brothers, my sister, their spouses, and a more than half of mama's grandchildren gathered here at That Old House to assemble picture collages of Mom, and share a cold lunch. There was much laughing, a lot of stories, a little crying. Between visiting hours at the funeral home, we gathered at That Old House again, 22 of us, for lasagna and some catch-our-breath time. Yesterday, after a beautiful church service, my father hosted 60 family and friends for lunch at a local restaurant, to celebrate my mother's wonderful life.

I will miss her every day; however, I am just beginning to realize how grateful I am that she is no longer suffering, but is restored and beyond the hurts of this human life. When I think of her now, I don't think of her as she was these past few sad years, but as she used to be -- funny and vibrant and energetic, and nearly always with my father, or with some adoring children.

As my mother used to say, "Thank you, Jesus."

I am joining Chari's of Happy To Design for her Sunday Favorites blog party, and re-posting a story from September 18, 2009. Please join our hostess for more stories! Just click on the logo, below, to do so.

Just click the button,
and see
what others are writing
about today!

(From September 18, 2009)

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. Although I haven't spoken to either of them yet today. . . .


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

I am also sharing something more tangible than a singing voice
and lessons on how to think like a child. I'm sharing my Grandmother Catherine'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 lurking 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 in liquid.

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.

If you don't have a food mill, toddle off to your nearest
old-fashioned hardware store and buy one for a very low price.
You don't need a pricey fancy one from some la-di-dah cookware website.
A plain old aluminum one works just fine.

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 and goodness from the apples.
No waste. You can sweeten or add cinnamon if you must; I usually 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 at this orchard, 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, "Why, yes, I do.")

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

So . . . if you visited That Old House yesterday, and are desperately hungry because there was no food on the tablescaped 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, Margrethe, used to say, when she finished
putting the food down at dinner to feed her family of NINE,
"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


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!


Well, I don't do that anymore; in November we replaced the electric stovetop with gas!

Many thanks to those who have left such kind and sweet comments on my last post about my Mother, or who have written privately to me. I am really touched, and it is so very comforting to know you are there, and thinking of us. God bless you all -- and thanks. -- Cass


  1. Cass-I am so sorry. No matter how old we are, we still need a mother. Alzheimers is such a cruel disease for all concerned. What a wonderful legacy to carry her name, her treasures, her voice, her recipes, her granddaughters on in this world. I believe, as you do, that she is restored. Thanks for a thoughtful and beautiful post. I will keep you all in my prayers.

  2. Cass,
    I am so sorry about your mother. I lost my mum to Alzheimers as well. She was smart, pretty and a good mother and wife. I will always miss her. I just know what you and your family are going through. Your post was touching.


  3. Oh Cass - - - the picture of your mama and daddy sitting on the step, he in his Navy uniform and she looking like she stepped right out of a 40's magazine. It is choking me up and I never even knew them. SO Americana!!!

    I love you.

    I'm so sorry you are going through this deep water, but I'm glad you are wading together with your family and not alone.

  4. Cass, I am so sorry about your Mother. It doesn't matter how much we prepare, we are never truly prepared for the loss of someone we love.

    Take care.


  5. Thinking of you Cass and how you must miss your mother...I know everyday is a challenge but I know each new day will bring new blessings to you..maybe you will remember something she said or did and get comfort from it. It is so hard to lose our parents. I love your post and the picture of your parents. Keeping you in my prayers! Sonia

  6. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. May loving memories of your Mom warm your heart. I too lost my Mother to Alzheimers a few years ago but she lives in my heart every day and I hear her voice in my head and she sits on my shoulder in the kitchen when I play with my flour which was her passion too.

  7. Cass, I am so sorry to hear about your mom. I know how you treasure the memory of her as she was...same here..
    I always say we were blessed to have such good memories of our parents..No one can take those away, but not everyone has them..
    My prayers and sympathy for your dear family.
    May she rest in peace..

  8. We are never really prepared, even tho we know in our heart it is for the best. Take care of yourself. (((hugs))).

  9. I just don't know what to say other than I do know what you are going through--Mom's are missed soo much but knowng that they are with God and whole again makes it easier I think.
    My prayers continue to be with you and your family.


  10. Cass, a beautiful post...we'll be thinking about you!!! Just remember that you have friends, who will listen...right here!!!

  11. Cass, Our prayers have been with you and your family.

    I also grew up on homemade applesauce and I can't buy the store kind. I did write your recipe down to try!

    Thank you for sharing your silver pieces! I am so glad you said you can polish to the metal. I wondered about that.
    some time can you share with us how you polish. I have a few pieces that I need to polish, but haven't yet.

  12. Cass -- glad to see you back to the boards. It is a tough time, I know. Prayers to you and your family.

  13. Cass

    I am so sorry to hear about your Mom but you're right, watching someone you love suffer so is so least now she's in a good place. But still, losing your Mom is losing your Mom and tough to deal with...I'm thinking of you at this difficult time!

  14. Dear Cass,I always need a mother to comfort me! What amazes me is that despite your family trouble you still can put together such a beautiful and nurturing post! Shows your love for what you do. I feel for you, lots of love!

  15. you my friend are the BOMB. ps. I love good columbian coffee.

  16. Hello Cass...

    Ohhh my dear, sweet friend...I am so sorry to hear about your mother's passing! Although, as you said...she is no longer suffering and completely healed now...I rejoice in that!!! You, your dear father and all of your family are in my prayers, Sweetie!!! I really enjoyed the photo of your mother and father in their younger days! Their love for life and for one another just shines so brightly in their smiles!!!

    Well my friend, I really enjoyed seeing your grandmother's beautiful silver tea set! What a sweet treasure to have! Thank you for sharing it and that yummy applesauce recipe with us today for Sunday Favorites...great post, Darlin'!!!

    Love and prayers, dear friend!
    Chari @Happy To Design

  17. Hi Cass,
    Big hugs to you my friend. I know of the mixed emotions you must be going through. I had an article that helped me so much when I lost my father and brother the same year. The gist of it was for us not to be sad, as they are angels up in heaven now, looking down on us, wishing we weren't sad. Somehow it helped ease the pain a little.


  18. I am so sorry about your mom, Cass. But what sweet memories to hold on to. She was beautiful! Love your silvers!...Christine

  19. Oh Cass, what a beautiful tribute to your Mom. I LoVe the photo of her with your Dad...didn't their era just make The Best Photos ever. I understand what you mean about relief that she is her glorified self now...hubby's Mom passed this summer from the same disease, and we had been missing her long before she left. God is good all the time; may He bring you Peace and affirmation of Life Everlasting. All my love to you, Deb

  20. My grandmother used to make applesauce and we would eat some at every supper. I loved it!!

  21. I'm glad you're (kinda) back Cass. Did you know my grandfather had Alzheimers and Parkinsons? I can't remember if I had told you. He was more like a dad to me and I lost him when I was 16. Yes, I'm glad he didn't have to suffer anymore, but it was the hardest thing I ever had to go through and even though I'm 40 I still miss him every day. All I'm trying to say is that I may not know what you personally are going through, but I understand.

    I just want to give you this (((hug))) and let you know I'm here if you need me.


  22. Cass (as in yo Cass flash the gang sign)I don't know what is up with my blog list but I didn't see this post at all. I could just scream. Had I not scrolled down again I would have missed it.
    I know I emailed you but let me say again how sorry I am about your mothers passing. But I am glad you have such wonderful memories of her.

  23. Cass,

    I have grandparents that had Alzheimer's and it is a very sad disease, but I cannot imagine having parent with it after so many years of them caring for you and then they no longer are there as they once were. I am happy that you are able to look at the future in a positive way.

    God bless you and your family,

  24. Just found your lovely blog and I'm so sorry to hear about the passing of your mother!

    Having treasured items such as your silver helps so much to help us feel connected to the ones we love and have lost!

    I'm a "Katherine" too!

    Kat :)


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.