Recipe: Silly Boys….Saucy Apples

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It seems like forever ago that I was a Christian preschool teacher.  Our school served youngsters ages three to five.  Our enrollment was almost always full with a total capacity of 60 students per week.  I really loved each and every one of those precious children.

Preschool children do not have a lot of filters and can be very honest.  Some of the things shared with their teachers, I am sure would make their parents blush forever. If your little one has seen you without apparel chances are details of that experience have been or will be shared with an early childhood educator.

Little brains work very well and are fertile ground for both good and not so good.  What seems logical to a small child in may cases would give nightmares to most adults. Take for example these two five-year-old cousins.  These were good Minnesota boys…adorable, respectful, busy, smart and obsessed with the game of hockey.  At snack time carrots became hockey sticks and halved grapes pucks.

While their parents worked, Grandma did daycare for both of these boys. You could tell she loved it!  Who wouldn’t.  The boys were as close as twins and so much fun. They were like puppies together.

As I sat next to them at the art table one day, the boys began to chat.  They were very excited that the weather had grown colder and the temperature was finally below freezing. Hockey season was here!

However, it did not take long for their happy hockey talk to take a very serious turn. Distress and disappointment was written all over those sad young faces. Slowly shaking their indignant little heads, they discussed how they were just not getting enough ice time!  The boys had reached the conclusion that they were both victims of age discrimination.  They could not understand how the normally reasonable adults in their lives could be so completely unreasonable as to think that two five-year-old boys walking several blocks alone to a community ice rink after dark to play hockey was just not safe.

So, these two munchkins, put their heads together, the light bulb’s came on and a plan was concocted.   Their plan was to flood their grandmother’s basement.

Their plan was to distract grandma before preschool on a day when she was to stay and volunteer.  While one tot kept his grandmother’s focus on his antics, the other lad was to go into the basement and open all of the windows.  Then, push the garden hose out the open window. They knew that the hose had to be in the house so it would still work and not be frozen solid…genius!  Then, the worker boy would have to somehow get outside without being detected by grandma, hook the hose up to the outside faucet and turn the water on full blast.  As the water covered the floor, the cold air would rush in the open windows and freeze it solid. Why, their indoor ice rink would be ready to skate on by the time they returned from preschool.

They felt their plan met all of the worry-ridden adults safety criteria.  They would not be going outside in the dark.  They would not be going outside at all.  As they now knew how to tie their skates themselves, the boys figured they would put their skates on in the basement, and not walk on the stairs with them on, therefore eliminating any nasty fall potential.  As they were big boys now and had brand new hockey helmets and pads to keep them safe, it would less work for grandma, because they would at be right in her house so she wouldn’t have to even watch them. That would give her plenty of free time to bake them cookies for snacks while they played hockey in her basement.

When their grandmother came to pick the boys up, I quietly shared their plan with her.  Her eyes sparkled.  She laughed. Then said, “That explains why they dragged the hose into the basement!”

As this story clearly illustrates listening is an important skill for both adult and child.  A lot can be learned by being quiet and just listening. The Bible even instructs us to be good listeners,  “Be still and know that I am God.”

At a preschool the first big test of listening and staying in a straight line always comes during that first fire drill. The next big test is the exciting field trip to  local apple orchard. Each fall our school would visit an apple orchard.  After learning about how apples are pressed into cider, apple pies are made and taste testing a few different apple varieties each child would get to pick an apple. Then, the parent’s would buy bags of the fruit and we would return to our school.

The very next school session would bring a close to our unit on apples. The lesson plan always ended with making our orchard apples into applesauce for our snack.

Children love to help in the kitchen and cooking at school was always a big hit.  However, rules had to be strictly followed and no child was allowed near a burn source or sharp. For this recipe the children would help wash the apples, saw chucks of apple flesh off with plastic knives and help measure the sugar, water and spices. Then, they would put all of the ingredients into a big cooking pot.  Each child getting a chance to stir before it went onto the stove.

As the children participated in other learning activities, a volunteer parent would stand right by the stove and cook up the apples.  As soon as they were sauce, they would be cooled, then served with crackers for snack.

Homemade applesauce is really delicious and when warmed it is a fantastic topping for vanilla ice cream.

Homemade Applesauce

8 peeled, cored and sliced tart apples. (I prefer Haralson apples.)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup sugar.
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

In a large cooking pot add apples and water and bring to a boil on medium heat.  Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until the apples are soft.  Stir the mixture occasionally. It will take about 20 minutes to cook the apples.  With your wooden or plastic spoon, break up the soft apples as you stir.  The apples are done when the mixture looks like the applesauce you buy at the store only a little bit more chunky.

Once the apples are cooked, add the remaining ingredients…sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.  Simmer for at least another 2 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream, chill in the refrigerate and use within a couple of days, or preserve for a long time by canning.

This recipe makes about eight cups of applesauce.

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