Soul searching, apple picking, and comfort food

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Nothing says “Fall” like apples.  Apple crisp, apple pie, apple sauce.

Last week we went apple picking at Carter Mountain, the local favorite apple picking spot.  We thought that we missed our window of opportunity, however they had a really amazing selection of Stayman, Winesap, Granny Smith, Jonagold, and Golden Delicious.  

I feel like in the past year, while caring for Mon Cœur, and now Mon Amour, I have abandoned activities that I want to do – keeping Millie’s Garden updated and planting new flowers, blogging, keeping up with my bullet journal.  And although I know in my heart that I was prioritizing what needed to be taken care of, I also neglected that which was in my soul and needed nourishing.

I took on a new opportunity teaching preschool part time, and I am trying to be the patient parent I am with MC with a whole class of many little humans with a range of needs and emotions.  It has at the best of times, been an amazing experience and taught me so much, and at the worst of times, tried my patience and made me wonder if I am good enough to be their teacher.

I come home and focus on little more than getting dinner on the table and preparing for the next day. My one luxury is that I make coffee so it’s ready to brew the next morning. And I’m always grateful to not have to do anything more than push a button to get that rolling.  

I have let Millie’s garden be consumed by weeds, I didn’t add my asters or mums like I wanted. The daffodil bulbs I purchased back in August are still in the bag out in the shed.  These past couple of days, we have gotten out and MC has helped trim up some plants, dead head some flowers, and clear out some weeds.  Mon Amour has been quite content to relax in the stroller, surprisingly since he is mobile and curious.

I have been tongue tied and unable to type out anything that I would feel of value in this internet of so-much-information.  Looking for a focus, waiting for the right opportunity to jump back in, it’s almost like watching the double dutch ropes circle round, and I’ve been swaying forward and backward watching and waiting, immobile to just try to get in there.

And I haven’t kept track of the beautiful memories with the family and daily gratitudes, which honestly, has made me less grateful and more of a grump.  How horrible is that?  I am working on getting back into the groove. Even if I don’t note it in the book, I acknowledge my gratefulness to myself and we talk about the best part of our day.

All of this rambling and explanation to say… we had an unexpected family day last week, and we pounced on the opportunity to go apple picking.  We really weren’t sure that there would be much of a selection, and I am happy that we were wrong.  I was reminiscing that this time last year, we were at Carter’s Mountain and I was very pregnant with MA.  This year I was wearing him…and when we got home Chou Chou and I compared our baggages: he had a 26 pound ½ bushel box of apples, and I had a healthy, 23 pound 12 month old boy!

It was nice to get out in the fresh air, to be a family, and to pick apples.  We’ve read a book a few times now, and if I ever find a copy, I’ll be snagging it – Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson.  This is a sweet little book about a family tradition of making apple sauce.  How the taste and color change throughout the season, and what to eat the applesauce with.  The illustrations are by Mordecai Gerstein, and are so lovely.  At the end there is a recipe for the apple sauce (although we had to remember lots of details from the book how the family makes the sauce – should we quarter the apples or cut them into sixths?)  We decided we were going to buy apples for applesauce and apple crisp.

Over the weekend, MC and I finally had a chance to try the recipe for the applesauce, and she loved trying out the food mill, making the cinnamon sugar, and noticing the coloring of the applesauce (it was pink from the skins!).  It was good for my soul to make applesauce with her, and whenever I need a slowdown, comforting snack, I’ve been grabbing the applesauce.  

The crisp did not make it past two days- I love it for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. And dessert! 

Applesauce recipe: (modified from Applesauce Season)

Ingredients:

Six pounds of apples (we used Winesap & Stayman) (They suggest using three different types at least)

2 cups of water

¼  cup cinnamon sugar

½ Tbsp butter

pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Wash & cut apples into sixths or eighths and place in a heavy saucepan.  Add liquid & cover.  Cook approximately 20 minutes over medium heat (until apples are soft).

Remove from heat, uncover.  Grind apples through a food mill placed over a large bowl.  Add butter, salt, cinnamon sugar. Bon appétit!

Apple Crisp recipe: (modified from thechunkychef.com)

Ingredients

6 apples, chopped (or sliced thin using a mandolin)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 + 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
pinch of kosher salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.  

Grease an 8×8 baking dish. 

In a large bowl, add chopped apples, granulated sugar, 3/4 tsp of the cinnamon and lemon juice.  Stir to combine, then transfer to prepared baking dish.

In a separate (medium) mixing bowl, add topping ingredients (brown sugar, oats, flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, salt, and diced cold butter).  Cut the butter into the oat mixture, using a slight downward twisting motion, until mixture resembled pea-sized crumbs….or until you grow impatient and say, “Looks good enough!”

Spread topping over apples in baking dish.  

Bake 30-40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the apples are bubbling.

Bon appétit!

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