Saturday, October 8, 2011

Crisp is in the air

Was it just last week we were frantically making lemonade to cool down the kids? Today it’s just plain cold. Rainy and clean and… cold. I guess the plan to make apple crisp in the solar oven isn’t going to pan out under these heavy clouds. But thanks to the ongoing efforts of our previous garden teacher, we have a propane oven in the kitchen so we can be crispy rain or shine.

Wild Child’s moment of the week:

“I’m bored. Cutting up apples is soooo boooring.” Chop, chop, chop. Blood-curdling scream.

For the novice garden helper, the blood-curdling scream might bring visions of a blood-filled cutting board, a finger messily half-removed by the combination of the dull paring knife and third-grade energetic chopping. But I barely even look up. The scream seemed, well, not 911-worthy.

Wild Child has dropped both knife and apple on the table. “THERE’S A WORM IN MY APPLE!” she informs us. Loudly.

As if we haven’t been totally immersed in the removal of worm-damaged sections of the gleaned organic apples for the last half hour. Somehow, the possibility of an actual worm in the wormhole hadn’t occurred to her. This little white inchworm is actually very cute, a fact not lost on the other kids.

“Sorry sorry sorry for screaming,” says Wild Child sheepishly, as the other kids in the kitchen group launch into a rousing chorus of “Inchworm, inchworm, measuring the marigolds, seems to me, you’d stop and see, how beautiful they are.” The song belts out over and over as if someone pressed a “repeat” button on the third grade. But the apples somehow all get chopped. Loudly.

Apple Crisp (gluten- and dairy-free)

Rotate tasks so that at each moment, most of the kids are chopping apples, as that will be the bulk of the work. Other tasks: Squeeze two lemons into the apple bowl. Grease a casserole pan with non-dairy butter substitute. Make crispy topping. Task not to give to kids: periodic addition of brown sugar to both apple bowl and topping. Take it from me: handing any random third grader a bag of brown sugar is usually a bad idea.

To make topping (note: please substitute any and all ingredients for ones you like better or are not allergic to), put a handful of walnuts and a handful of hulled sunflower seeds into a large bowl. Hand a kid a flat-bottomed mug and have them use the bottom of the mug to crush the nuts and seeds against the bottom of the bowl. Then add handfuls of almond meal, rice flour, brown sugar, and a few handfuls of quick oats. Mix. Slice in a half stick or so of the butter substitute, and mash in with a fork.

Mix lemony cut apples with brown sugar according to your sweetness preference and the natural sweetness of the variety of apples you have. Stir in as much cinnamon as the kids want. Fill the pan with the apples.

Cover the top of the apples with the topping and bake at 350 of you have all the time in the world, or 400 if class time is getting shorter and you want to eat it sooner than later. Bake for an hour or until class is almost over, whichever comes first. Nod and smile whenever someone walks by the kitchen, because they invariably, without exception, say “Wow, that smells great.” Hand each kid a warm bowl of hot crisp.

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