Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

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Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How About Them Apples?
My husband has been bringing home bags of windfall apples collected from a co-worker's apple orchard. I've been busy making pies and fresh applesauce, and of late, apple-oatbran muffins. As I peel these diminutive (this is a kind term) beauties, I have plenty of time to think back to earlier days in my life. Splendid, golden autumn days; crisp as the apples on the trees, and just as tangy sweet. Mom had been through the Great Depression, so we never wasted anything. And we knew how to can. Dad had planted a mammoth garden; at least it seemed that way to me, as the designated weeder and hoer. We had rows and rows of Blue Lake beans, Golden Jubilee Sweet corn, his favorite Beefstake tomatoes, and don't forget the spuds! I loved digging those spuds out of the ground. It was like searching for buried treasure. If I was really lucky I'd convince mom to take the small potatoes and make creamed potatoes, sweet peas and baby carrots for supper. The apples, however, grew next door in the Attolini's orchard. This orchard was my personal fast-food playground. The Atollini's didn't mind. I suppose that today if one was lucky enough to have an orchard, visions of lawsuits would dance in your head; should your little neighbor girl be seen swinging tenuously from the uppermost branches, straining to reach the most humongous apple she'd ever seen; which of course was always at the top of the tallest tree. Sometimes I fell, but usually not-and I am alive to tell the story! Ah, for simpler days! Forgive me the digression. The Attolini's were generous folks, and always offered us all of the apples that we could pick. So mom would send me over with several paper bags we'd saved from the Safeway store, and I would pick apples until my arms ached from reaching. Getting those bags home was no small task, for a bag full of apples is quite a load for a little girl. Invariably some fell out, and these became my juicy reward for all of my labor. It usually took me about 30 minutes and 4 eaten apples to finally drag my bags of apples into our kitchen. We'd dump them, bag by bag, into our old porcelain kitchen sink filled with water. Then we'd set our old gray-vinyl and aluminum kitchen chairs right next to the sink, along with two bowls- one to peel into and one to put the peeled apple slices into. Dad and I sat and peeled while mom cooked the applesauce. Dad used his favorite jack-knife, and I used the old wood handled paring knife. In case you wonder, yes, I did cut myself a few times; just part of the educational process-and I learned pretty fast! Finally, we poured the steaming applesauce into jars as mom carefully wiped each rim so the seal would not be broken. Into the waterbath they went. Then out. It was a suspenseful time as we waited for the 'POP, POP, POP' of the jar lids, indicating that the seal was good. The kitchen was a cinnamony steam bath by the time we were done. It's hard to remember, but I seem to recall that we usually canned 50 quarts or so. Enough to eat all winter long for lunch or supper, and plenty to share with friends and neighbors. If you were sick, or down on your luck, you could count on getting a few jars of our applesauce along with other tasty preserves from our garden. It's all we had to give. But it was always enough.
Apple Oat-Bran Muffins
(an adaptation of Gibb's Oat Bran Muffin recipe from "Simplify Your Life")
2 1/2 c. oat bran (not bran flakes)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp chopped nuts (your choice)
handful of raisins
1 1/4 cup nonfat milk
1 egg
about 1 cup of pared, slice, then grated apple
cinnamon to taste
Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Blend all other ingredients into a puree and add to the dry ingredients. Spray muffin tins with non-stick and fill with apple mixture.
Bake at 425 until top of muffins are brown, about 12-15 minutes. Eat fresh or freeze for later use.

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