A relaxing, rainy weekend at home was just what the doctor ordered for our family; each kid got to host a sleepover, complete with French toast and sausage breakfast.
Since we’ve agreed that I’ll knit for the kids on Sunday, here’s the latest Sunday Project:
Li’l Buddy’s own personal computer! This was his top pick from Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi.
Even though he’s getting so big, on seeing the finished mini-pc, Li’l Buddy yelped with happiness, and tonight he took it to bed with him, carefully setting it on his pillow.
A Hundred Pounds of Apples
The kids’ music teacher won a grant to start a Healthy Snack program at school, and we’ve been busy with that, too.
My dad knows of a derelict apple orchard, and a last weekend, a small group of us picked semi-wild apples.
The kids climbed into the branches and shook the trees, and my dad and I crawled underneath to harvest the apples.We took as many as we could carry, and there were plenty left!
Li’l Buddy and his good friend kept urging me on, and at their insistence, we made seven batches of applesauce. Those kids cut and cored apples for two-and-a-half hours! We tried the crock pot (good, juicy sauce, but turned browner), the pressure cooker (my favorite method, resulting in pretty, pink sauce) and the stove top. It took three hours on High in the crock pot, 10 minutes of steaming in the pressure cooker, and about a half hour on the stove top.
When we served it to the kids, we used little paper cups on trays, with little spoons sticking out of each cup, and amazingly, reaction was overwhelmingly positive, even though it looked different than store-bought. My favorite was the second-grade class; we told them the skins gave the sauce extra nutrients so they’d have lots of energy, and several of the little guys cried, “Give me the energy! I want more energy!”
A number of generous parents volunteered to cook up apples at home, and it ended up being enough applesauce for 125 kids (plus a little to keep).
Here’s our basic method:
Brown Sugar or Maple Syrup (optional)
Using an apple corer-slicer, remove the cores, but leave the skins on! You can see that we had many varieties, red, green and yellow, some of which were the size of prune plums, some like small supermarket apples. I recommend using cooking apples like Macintosh or Granny Smith, but whatever you’d like to try will probably be delicious.
Fill a medium-sized mixing bowl with apple pieces, then throw these into your pot of choice. If using a crock pot, no extra liquid needed; if using a pressure cooker or stove top, about a quarter cup of water or apple juice makes it smoother.
Cook your apples until soft; if using the stovetop method, make sure to stir it often to keep the apples from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Next, you want to mush the apples in some way. Other parents used a food processor, which probably is easiest. We don’t have one, so I used a bit more labor-intensive method, putting the apples into a stand mixer and mixing them well, until it loosened up and looked like very chunky sauce, then hand-straining with a food mill into a big bowl (this part is very funny if you have kids, who clamor to have a turn straining and laugh uproariously when the apple puree squirts them in the eye). If using a food processor, just process until it looks like apple sauce you’d like to eat!
Now, in a big bowl, stir in a couple teaspoons of lemon juice to preserve the sauce a bit. If you aren’t going to eat it within about a week, you may want to freeze your extra sauce. If you’re using tart apples, you may want to balance this extra citrus with some maple syrup or brown sugar. For the schoolkids, I added about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup to a batch of applesauce.
Now it’s time for the kids to perform a crucial role: taster. Our guys would take turns shaking in cinnamon, and we had a row of plastic “tasting spoons” out for them to try the sauce, until they pronounced it, “The best applesauce ever!”
For the sauce we kept ourselves, we added brown sugar to taste, but the sauce was really yummy without it, too.