Japanese Pumpkins and Homemade Applesauce

I foolishly clung to the hope that an overnight rest would magically loosen up my pumpkin pie, but the next day, the filling was dense and dry as ever. I spoke with Lynn, who confirmed my suspicion that Japanese pumpkins are a lot drier than the American(?) varieties. If I ever again try making pie with fresh Japanese pumpkin, I think I'd have to halve the amount--but I wonder if this would mess up the proportion of the other ingredients. Perhaps I should just stick to the canned stuff.

On a happier note, I made a fruitcake today with the dried fruit that I put in a bottle of brandy over a year ago. This was a bit scary, since I don't really know how long fruit can safely sit preserved in alcohol. Thankfully, the cake tasted very good and I'm not dead yet from food poisoning. Though that's not the happy note. The recipe required applesauce, but I didn't have time to make a trip to an imported food store. I decided to try making my own, and this turned out to be laughably easy to do. Even more surprising was how good the fresh applesauce tasted, thanks to good apples (I'd forgotten it's apple season--what perfect timing) and a splash of the vanilla essence I made a while back, which has tons of little vanilla seeds happily drifting about in Polish vodka and which has mellowed a lot since the last time I tried it.

I used a yellow Japanese variety of apple. I don't know what the name is in English, but they're tarter and larger than Golden Delicious, and two apples yielded about 1 1/2 cups of chunky applesauce. I didn't use any sugar or lemon juice or any other stuff usually called for. I simply skinned the apples and chopped one up into little bits. The other, I finely grated with my Japanese grater (which happens to be incomparable for grating ginger)--this made all the juice come out and so I didn't need to add any liquid, aside from a splash (about 1 tablespoon, I guess) of my vanilla essence, when I brought the apples to a boil in a small, heavy pot. Then I simmered the apples, covered, on low heat for about 15 minutes. That's it! There was such a bright flavor, and the sauce was the perfect sweetness.

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