homemaking: apple time

this is the second post in our new series about homemaking. this note comes from far away Maine, the beautiful place where the Wienges family now call home. madrona and jacob and their four children were involved with Arrow from the beginning, and Madrona also led our Morning Garden class for parents & children for two years. her influence on some of us is immeasurable. we miss them dearly, but are lucky to have her "with" us today.


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Hello Dear Friends & Families of ARROW,

Rinne has asked me to sprinkle in some blog posts through the next handful of seasons.
I am happy to be back in some form of communication with the dear families of Athens. I miss seeing all of your faces and growing little ones. For now, I look forward to spanning cyber space connecting with y’all here.

With the days of summer now firmly shed, we in New England have been soaking up the crisp golden days of Autumn. Everywhere around us the beauty and bounty of the season bless us with plenty to be thankful for.  One well loved and especially delightful harvest to share with the young children this time of year :: Apples!.   Apples are a lovely fruit and culture to celebrate as a community...or with your family.  As we familiarize our young ones with the local tastes of the season it encourages them to embrace and enjoy where they are in the cycle of the year.

Every Autumn it is a family tradition to make a day trip to an Apple Orchard with my boys. While we were in Georgia, we would wake up early and drive up into the mountains towards Dalohnega.
We would load up baskets, and a picnic and set off for the afternoon soaking up the beautiful day and strolling through the rows of apple trees. It is an endearing task to pick apples straight off the tree. To marvel at the big red fruit against the green and golden leaves.
The food that we create from our hard work is some of the most nourishing and simple foods one could ask for. Apple pie, Apple crisp, Apple cider, dried apples, and one of our favorites...Apple Butter.

Children quickly will decide their favorite variety and it is nice to taste the difference between tart, crisp, sweet, storing and baking apples.

Often if you look around, you will find an orchard that has cider for sale as well...which is nice served warm in the cooler evenings.

There are many finger plays, songs and stories as well as recipes that accompany this time of year. ARROW has also enjoyed hosting the Apple Festival the last two years and will do so again this year!

In our home a family favorite recipe for our apples is Apple Butter. It fills the home with the scent of warm cinnamon and cloves.  Wonderful on biscuits, toast,   oatmeal, or can be  shared  as a homemade gift. It is a personal joy to pull some out  of the pantry in late February and recall the autumn day in the orchard.

Apple Butter - No Sugar Added
3 litres / 3 quarts of apples (about 10-12 medium sized apple)
6 cups of apple cider or unsweetened apple juice (reduced to about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (or sodium bicarbonate)
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves

As with many things in the kitchen this is an activity to include little helpers ... especially chopping.
Before chopping apples, pour apple cider/juice in a large saucepan with arrowroot powder, whisk to combine. Put on medium heat and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the apple cider has reduced to half. The reduction of the apple cider adds an extra sweetness to the apple butter.

While the cider/juice is boiling, chop the apples.. you can leave the cores intact as they add extra pectin. Also leave  the skins on they will be discarded when you puree the apple butter.

Toss the chopped apples into your slow cooker and sprinkle with spices.

Pour in apple cider or apple juice. Cover, put on low heat in slow cooker for 12ish hours or overnight.

Puree the apple butter with a hand mill. This is a fun task for little eager helpers. If it is still a bit runny, keep it at a low temperature and cover again, leaving the lid slightly ajar. You could also reduce the liquid by bringing the apple butter to a slight boil in a pot. Using a sweeter variety of apples will yield a sweeter result. Maple syrup or honey can be added to taste if you like super sweet, but honestly, I think the apple butter is great without the added sugars. Especially if you are going to be using it in recipes or eating on toast.

A sweet little poem that is fun to share with gestures...

“ Now we come to the Orchard.
 Apples shine in the sun.
We pick juicy apples and eat them
mmmmm yummm

Now we gather the apples
and bring them to Mother
She stirs them and stirs them.
Its Apple Butter!”

I will leave you with with a favorite little story that I love to share with the younger ones this time of year.  I keep an apple and little knife by my side for the ending. When the story is finished. Slice the apple through the center and open the two halves to show the children. In the center you will find the seedlings star. Be sure to slice it with the stem on top. :)

The Little Red House with No Windows and No Doors and a Star Inside
There once was a boy who was tired of playing with his toys. So he went to his Mother “Mother, What shall I do now?” he sighed. His Mother answered “I know of a little red house with no windows and no doors and a star inside. Why don’t you go out and see if you can find it”.
The boy went outside and began walking and there he came across a little girl.
“Do you know where I can find a little red house with no windows and no doors and a star inside” he asked.
“Why I’ve never heard of such a thing” she exclaimed. “But go ask my father. He is a farmer and knows lots of things”. The girl pointed to the field behind her farmhouse.
The boy walked through the rows of corn and when he reached the farmer he said “Do you know where I can find a red house with no windows and no doors and a star inside”?
The farmer raised his brow, “why I’ve never heard of such a thing” he replied.  “Go up the hill to Grandmothers house. She has lived a long time and may know the answer”.
The boy climbed up the hill and saw Grandmother sitting on her porch.
“My mother told me to look for a red house with no windows, no doors and a star inside”.
Grandma crinkled her brow. “Why I’ve never heard of such a thing” she answered. “But the wind has been around a very long time, it goes everywhere and has seen just about everything”.
The little boy went outside and he asked the wind. “ Do you know where I can find a little red house, with no windows and no doors and a star inside?”
And the wind said...”OHHHH! OOOOOOOO!” And it sounded to the little boy as if the wind said. “Come with me.” So the little boy ran after the wind. He ran through the grass and into the orchard, and there on the ground he found just the thing! A little round house.- the little round house, with no windows, no doors and a star inside. He picked it up and it filled both of his hands
The boy ran all the way home with the apple in his hands.
“Mom!  Mom! This apple looks like a little red house with no doors and no windows, but where is the star?”

So this is what his Mother did. (cut the apple across the middle from side to side
The boy’s mother took the apple and cut it in half (Take an apple and cut it from side to side not  top to bottom)
“ Now I see the Star!”
Do you?

Many blessings,