The applesauce kitchen

The applesauce kitchen

Say "eck STAY vee yuh." That's the sound of my favorite childhood winter dessert. I have guessed at the spelling.  Ecstavia does not appear in google, not once. Mother called the dessert "ecstavia," and I have to trust she knew her food names, even though this one sounds a bit like a province in Eastern Europe.* I had ecstavia on my mind last summer as I struggled through several sessions of applesauce making. Buying the apples from Reed Valley Orchard: joyous. Facing up to the task of chopping, cooking, Foley Food Mill-ing, tasting for sweetness, packaging, freezing, cleaning up: character-building.

It gets late. Sauce drops cover counters, sink, stove. Large pots and bowls are sticky-dirty. Kitchen tools I can barely recognize crowd all surfaces. I long for a kitchen buddy, someone good at light teasing, stories, comfort.

Anticipating the taste of ecstavia helped me finish the Applesauce Sessions of summer and fall, 2009. Anticipation and recall swirled together, the anticipation based on long experience of how the sweet-tart taste and smooooooothness of homemade applesauce brighten any meal.

Ecstavia for dessert rescued many meals in my childhood. It's a bit like an instant applesauce pudding-pie with a graham cracker crust.

Here is the "recipe:" Hold half a graham cracker (or more or less) over a bowl and crush it fairly fine with your hands and fingers as you drop the fine crumbs into the bowl. Spoon on your own runny-thick, homemade applesauce, as little or much as you want. Top with one or more plops of homemade, hand-whipped, sweetened, vanilla-laced, (and always lightly salted) whipped cream.

It's hard to describe why it works so well or how the three ingredients produce such complex delight in the mouth. The dessert reminds me of a jigsaw puzzle solved, each piece fitting into its tight place among the others, nothing missing, nothing left out.

In my present life, I usually eat homemade applesauce solo. When the applesauce is particularly fine, perhaps from one of the batches of sweetened Reed Valley Earligold sauce I made this year, ecstavia's additional tastes -- dark caramel and vanilla silk -- sometimes hang around the edges like taste ghosts, welcome at my table.

I can give those ghosts real form any time. Homemade applesauce from fine apples is just as tasty as it was in the past. Ditto homemade whipped cream from real Bluegrass cows. Graham crackers seem unchanging.

I hope my great-grandchildren will introduce their grandchildren to ecstavia, a fine Kentucky farm winter dessert that tastes as good in the fresh food desert of March as it did during the lush September harvest season.

*Googling an alternative spelling, "ekstavia," produces four documents. Ekstavia is a drug approved by the European Union (see??) for multiple sclerosis.