I grew up in Upstate New York where apple picking was a highlight of my childhood. My parents favored Macintosh apples at the time, and we would pick several bushels each fall. Most of them were meant for eating straight up which we all did with gusto. However, my mother would create apple magic by transforming others into a wonderful-cinnamon laced, slightly chunky applesauce. Coming home from school to that smell filling our kitchen was nothing less than heavenly. I now live in Colorado where there are plenty of wonderful apples but not any u-pick in my area. Nonetheless, I have made cooking applesauce a tradition in my home, and my family happily gobbles it up. I usually make a large batch hoping to freeze half for later (I never did learn how to can, so the freezer is my big-batch friend). I might start with a dozen or so apples, Fuji being my apple of choice, or more recently, a mix of Fuji and Honeycrisps. I peel and slice them on this great peeler I picked up at Williams-Sonoma a few years back. I put them in a big pot, add a cup of apple cider (when I have it) or water, throw in a plump vanilla bean which I have split and scraped into the apples and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Once the apples are good and tender -some may even have fallen completely apart- I remove the apples from the heat, take out the vanilla bean and puree the whole thing in my food processor or with my immersion blender. Then I taste it for sweetness, adding at the most 1 tablespoon of sugar and give it a sprinkle of cinnamon to taste. Careful there...too much is not a good thing! Many times I even throw in a handful of frozen or fresh cranberries to the pot along with the apples, which once pureed gives the sauce the most beautiful rosy hue. My kids love to eat it hot from the pot, but it lasts a good week in the fridge. It brings me back home every time I make it and makes me have that same cozy feeling I had as a kid. Try it with pears too! See if you can get some over-ripe ones for cheap, omit the cinnamon and just use the vanilla bean. I doubt you'd need any sugar at all. You might even want to squeeze in a few drops of fresh lemon juice to balance the sugars. The pear version happens to be my family's favorite, but for me homemade applesauce is the dish that says fall and all is well in the world.