These damp chilly days leave us extra thankful for occasional sunshine. I had promised the children I’d help them rake leaves in the woods, making winding trails uphill and down like I did when I was a little girl. I can still feel the freedom of all my little worries melting away, as I breathed the cool air laden with the smell of crisp maple leaves, running hither and yon through our maze of paths.
On our to-do list for this autumn, there are also a dozen chickens to cook over a fire in the big iron skillet and put in the freezer and some to can.
Then there were our 10 bushels of apples. We found a nice day to make applesauce in the backyard while the children played on the swing and trampoline. The Golden Delicious apples were turned to what we call regular applesauce. It’s a shiny yellow sauce with a bit of salt and a pinch of Stevia to sweeten. A few bushels of Jona-golds were used to make my favorite sauce: chunky apple with a dash of cinnamon and a bit of Stevia. This type of sauce may be served hot or cold or is yummy when adding a handful of red hots. The rest of the apples are used in baking or enjoyed fresh.
Now we’re on the last peck of apples — that is, besides the bushel, we put in our neighbor’s root cellar to keep for this winter.
The children prefer having their own whole apple, rather than having them sliced up in wedges like I usually did when I was a girl. If you know me, you understand the noteworthy tidbit that the children have all learned to enjoy eating fresh apples with peelings. (After they’ve been washed.) I’ve always idealized having little children chop down fruits — peelings and all. I have found memories of when I was four or five years old, standing next to Mom and eating peach peelings as fast as she peeled them to can. Well, you know how it goes, despite of my best ambition and sweet talks of the peelings having more nutrients than the rest of the fruit, I thought it would never happen. Today as I handed out shiny red apples with the peelings, they all gratefully accepted it, and never mentioned the peelings (besides one-year-old Joshua). Mama smiled. Maybe my efforts are paying off, after all?
I’ve learned that having them ripe enough, yet not overripe helps, and also that it’s not worth coaching them to eat the peelings of plastic-y grocery store-bought apples. For some time we compromised; I’d run my little peeler around each apple, peeling about half of them, then with an optimistic, “Okay, here you go, you may eat this with some peelings on, and some off.”
Yes, apples do make a perfect afternoon snack, yet I’ve been racking my brain for some more healthy snack ideas. As the old saying goes, “An apple a day should keep the doctor away,” but who doesn’t like variety?
Baked goods between meals are also off the list. It’s way too easy to eat way too much sugar. Though I enjoy discussions about healthy eating, I’ll hang on to that subject for later; after all, Christmas time just doesn’t seem like the best time to dwell too much into healthy diets. Let’s dig into the sugar barrel and scoop out some old-fashioned goodness crafted into these amazing Christmas candies. Daniel recalls his dad helping them as children make these candies on Christmas Eve.
Homemade Christmas Mints
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 pound powdered sugar
Peppermint oil to taste *
Several drops food coloring of your choice (optional)
Mix cream cheese which has been softened to room temperature, with powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and creamy. Add peppermint flavoring and coloring.
Now roll into small balls and dip into melted chocolate or roll in granulated sugar. If desired, the sugar-coated version may be pressed into molds. They will not need to dry in molds, as they will keep the shape as soon as formed.
Chill and enjoy!
* The amounts of peppermint oil and coloring will depend on what brands you will be using.
* If desired, the peppermint oil may be mixed with melted chocolate instead of cream cheese mixture.
Gloria Yoder is an Amish house-wife in rural Illinois. She is the third writer of The Amish Cook column since its inception in 1991. Yoder can be reached by writing: The Amish Cook, P.O. Box 157, Middletown, Ohio 45042.
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