Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.
My dad has 'latched on' to a couple of food-related things over the years. There are a couple of conditions that needed to be met, and then he would be a machine. The main things I can remember are: Cherries; Apple Sauce; and Shortbread. I have a theory that he was looking for certain things and found them in these foods; he wanted to be able to mass produce, something that was extremely cheap, well-liked/appreciated, and could freeze or store well. Then he would make a shit tonne. I think the making of it was important too, it needed to be easy busy-work style that didn't take too much concentration, so that he could talk or watch TV at the same time.
Cherries: Growing up we had a huge cherry tree in front of the house in Paris. For a few years my dad sprayed it so bugs wouldn't get it, and my mom would hang out on the pouch and yell at the birds and squirrels that tried to eat them. (But only those on the lower branches, they could have the upper parts.) They were sweet cherries, not the baking kind and it was so fun to pick them all as a family. Then my dad would spend days cutting them in half and pitting them to freeze for the winter. I guess this only happened a couple of summers but when it did I can remember him sitting on the pool deck with a big bucket working at it, or with a bowl of them in front of the television at night.
Apple Sauce: My mom used to make apple sauce, which was great, and homemade lemonade, which was terrible (never enough sugar, give me the frozen pink stuff any day.) When Dad discovered you could use the worst apples and that you could get them in huge quantities - he took over. He would spend so much time cutting up apples in the fall, piles and piles and piles of them. Then he would cook them in big pots, with a bit of cinnamon (and that is it, so healthy, and it stayed a bit chunky not like the smooth store stuff.) These would then be put in recycled plastic tubs in the freezer.
I am sure that Mom will make it again at some point, or I will. Since it such an affordable way to make a lot of something so delicious. However, all that peeling and cutting will feel like tedious work, I don't need to have something like that to occupy my time. While both Dad and I have spent lifetimes dealing with ADD, he had a much harder time relaxing than I do. I am pretty comfortable being lazy and doing nothing. He, on the other hand, needed to keep busy.
Shortbread: Back in the day when my parents did 'cookie exchanges' around Christmas time, they would always bring British Shortbread (it is the crumbly type, not the Scottish melt-in-your-mouth type.) Dad took over make it each year recently when he learnt that there are less than 5 ingredients, none of which are expensive. I think it is basically butter, sugar, and flour. He burnt it more often than Mom did, at least at the start, and it required more concentration but kept him less busy. So it wasn't a perfect fit. Apple Sauce was really his forte.
A couple of days ago I had some of the Apple Sauce and it was amazing. I have a huge tub of it in the back of my fridge which I had just been given in early November. Then he died on the 27th. I came back to Toronto soon after, Teri and Jason helped me pack some things for a larger stay at The Cottage. I was clearing out the fridge with Teri and I saw the tub and just burst into tears - "He is never going to make apple sauce for us again." At the time I felt so stupid/crazy for crying over something like that, but 4 months and many many many tears later I realize that it can truly be anything that sets me off, and his apple sauce is a relatively normal thing to get upset by.
The big tub is still in the back of my fridge (however, the one I ate this week was from a small tub and was dropped off by Mom before she left for France.) I am scared to look into my old big tub, and find it all molded and in need of going in the compost. It is crazy, but I am not ready to part with that apple sauce. And, yes, thinking about it now makes me cry - crying about Apple Sauce. (Which is a bit crazy of me.)