Posted by: Kath Usitalo | September 15, 2010

Fall Cleaning Suits Me To A Tea

Tea for me: Applesauce bread and the tea set I can't part with

It’s a beautiful, sunny day with a hint of autumn in the air—the kind of weather that inspires Fall Cleaning. I am having difficulty, however, parting with Stuff, which is a problem in our cozy home. In the kitchen, for example, a gold rimmed tea set is taking up precious countertop space because I don’t know what to do with it.

So I decided to turn my attention to baking applesauce bread; see the recipe below. It was a good choice; Paige came home from school and said, “yummm….smells like fall.”

Still, I can’t avoid a decision on the fate of the tea set and Fall Cleaning forever. We have to address the Stuff that is everywhere.

After sorting through the household goods at my childhood home in preparation for its sale (yes, we did sell the family home just three weeks after listing it in July!) I vowed to come back to our house and pare down the Stuff we’ve collected over the decades. My plan was to keep only things we truly use, or that it makes sense to display.

Of course, I made this Fall Cleaning plan as I toted home several items that mom had collected and I couldn’t bear to part with at the estate sale. On top of the Stuff  TJ and the kids and I have accumulated, and the must-haves from my youth, we are still trying to find places for treasures we retrieved from TJ’s family home when we sold that many years ago.

That’s where I found the tea set, tucked away in the china cabinet. It may have belonged to TJ’s grandparents; he’d never seen it before. So although there is no personal attachment to the set I feel compelled to keep it.

Then, inspiration struck.

Instead of making my afternoon tea in the utilitarian mug I’d also sip it from, I decided to use the precious tea set. I’m not sure that teapot has seen hot water since the 1940s, but it could be nice, I thought, to have an afternoon ritual that just might make the tea taste better and make me feel good.

So I tried it. I set up the tea set and sliced the warm applesauce bread. It looked and smelled heavenly. I enjoyed the little ceremony of pouring the tea from the pot; I even used milk and sugar (I usually drink tea black). Everything was delish.

However, the experience might have been a tad more enjoyable without the accompaniment of the screeching electric saw, the pounding on posts, and the shouting of the guys installing our backyard privacy fence (a final phase of the reconstruction project following our garage fire).

I guess I’ll just have to hold onto the precious tea set a bit longer and try tea time again. Fall Cleaning will just have to wait.

This recipe, submitted by a reader to Michigan Country Lines magazine, is called Apple Bread but uses applesauce, not fresh apple chunks, which makes it that much easier to make. I like the addition of molasses. (Tip: measure the oil first and using the same spoon to add the molasses and the syrup will not stick to the utensil.)

Apple Bread

3-1/2 C all-purpose flour (I substituted a cup of whole wheat flour for one of the all-purpose)
1-1/2 C sugar
3 T molasses
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 T vegetable oil
3 eggs
3 T baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C unsweetened applesauce (I used chunky style)
1/2 C chopped pecans or walnuts
3-4 T milk, water or apple juice

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and nuts. Stir in Molasses, oil, applesauce and eggs. Add milk a little at at time. Batter will be very stiff. Line two bread (loaf) pans with aluminum foil. Divide batter evenly between pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Recipe Author Carl Parney, Grand Rapids



  1. Kathy @ Lake Superior Spirit often talks about synchronicity in life and I had to smile as I read Paige’s comment about your home smelling like ‘fall’ as I had just commented on her blog about pumpkin cookies in honor of fall! The bread looks delicious and I’ll try it this weekend.

    I, too, have a problem with my ‘treasures’ which I can’t bear to part with. Of course, going to auctions and finding other treasures doesn’t help! As far Fall Cleaning, any ole excuse works for me!


  2. Yes, pumpkin baked goods are up next.

    I often do my fall cleaning in spring 😉

  3. Ohmygoodness, Cindy mentioned me! Smile…hi Cindy. Here is another synchronicity: Barry’s friend Nancy at work just gave us small pumpkins from her garden. May be time to make something pumpkin-y and get the house smelling like autumn.

    This getting-rid-of-stuff can be such a challenge. I think the key is whether it’s still in our heart or if it’s simply that our mind is insisting we keep it. If it’s still in our heart…if we’re still loving it…it should stay. If it doesn’t ignite our spirit and love, out it goes, no matter how much the thoughts protest. (It’s a theory anyway!)

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