When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A is for apple

Matt, the boys and I recently went on one of our absolute favourite fall excursions: to a local orchard to pick our own apples. For many years now, we have all loved strolling through the rows of dwarf trees under a brilliant blue sky, hearing the swish-swishing of the long green grass beneath our feet, and smelling the cool woodsy-scented fall breeze while munching on perfectly crisp, tart fruit.

The boys love apples more than any other healthy food and are very enthusiastic pickers, so it's easy to get carried away and leave with more apples than we planned on! As usual, we lugged home several large bags full this trip, and I've been looking for ways to incorporate apples into our meals this week to help use them all up.

Homemade applesauce is easy to make, and I think it has wonderful flavour and texture compared to store-bought varieties. I use this method from The All Natural Allergy Cookbook by Jeanne Marie Martin to make it:

Peel and core approximately 5 pounds of apples. (Include some Spartans or MacIntoshes.)
Chop the apples into 1 inch pieces and place them in a pot with a tight-fitting lid.
Add 2-3 tablespoons of water.
Turn the heat to high for one minute only, staying close by the pot.
Turn the heat to low and simmer the apples for approximately 30 minutes or until they are tender enough to mash.
Use a fine, small-holed hand masher and mash the apples well.
If you wish, add cinnamon to taste.

At our house, we love to eat this applesauce plain for snacks or dessert, or as an accompaniment to roasted pork. Its natural sweetness is delicious!

I also put extra apples to good use by pairing them with the squash that are so abundant this time of year. Try this simple vegetable side dish the next time you have a butternut squash on hand:

Peel one butternut squash and chop it into 1 inch cubes. Peel and core one large apple and chop it into 1 inch cubes as well. In a bowl, toss squash and apple pieces with a small amount of canola oil and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Place in a glass baking dish and roast in a 375 F oven for approximately 45 minutes, stirring once during cooking time.

Matt and I love this squash-apple recipe and I serve it often alongside roasted chicken or sausages. The boys are not big fans of squash, but when I add the apple and cinnamon to it, the odds of them eating it increase exponentially!

Spending a weekend afternoon at a fun-filled apple orchard and then enjoying the fruits of our labour is something we're likely to keep doing as a family for many fall seasons to come. If we keep eating apples at the rate we are this week, we may be back to the orchard much sooner than waiting for next fall....

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