This happened many years ago. I was not yet a mother.
A woman I had worked with for years lost her teenage daughter, her only child, to a car wreck on one of the many dangerous 2 lane highways in Sonoma County. I had no words to offer. What can one offer in such a grave situation? This was long before the bakery existed and my cooking skills were not practiced. I had a few things that I knew I made well and a background in herbal medicine making. I decided to make this grieving mother applesauce, a strange offering I know. But, it seemed like an easy to eat thing and it was something I loved. I made her a case of it, with herbs good for the heart folded in and handed it to her with a hug. Months later, she came up to me and explained that it was one of the few things she was able to eat. I was grateful that I could give something to her that provided comfort.
The kitchen has since become my primary place to create for people, to offer comfort, and to nurture. Whether it's in applesauce, a cake, or a pot of soup, food often gives more than words ever could.
Hawthorn & Rose Applesauce
10-12 sweet and tart apples, Gravensteins if seasonal, peeled and sliced
1/4 c. - 1/2 c. of butter
lemon juice from 1 meyer lemon
2 Tbsp. of rosewater
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cardamom
10-12 hawthorn dried berries in a muslin tea bag
1/2 c. - 1 c. brown sugar
pinch of sea salt
Melt the butter on medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add the apples and hawthorn berries and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and water just to cover the apples. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Apples should be very tender. Add the sugar (more or less to your desired sweetness), spices, salt, and rosewater. Pull out the hawthorn berries. Let cool.
Blend the mix to your desired smooth/chunky preference using a food processor or hand blender.