Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Applesauce Classroom

We took a few days off from school last week to make applesauce. I'm not much for gardening or canning but I just can't tolerate that watery jarred stuff that passes for applesauce at the store. I was starting to panic because our freezer was almost starving. A couple of bags of frozen kidney beans, a few loaves of bread and the last two quarts of applesauce from our last extravaganza. It looked like we were going to have to drive for hours to find an orchard but I finally found an apple orchard just one short hour's drive on the back country roads. We came home with five bushels and got busy.

Here's a clean pile of Arkansas Black apples. They make a good thick sauce and a pretty decent apple pie as well.

John and Charlie on apple washing duty.
Charlie helped a bit but mostly he assigned himself the job of taste testing.
Lauren was my girl Friday during the four days in the kitchen. Without her help, I'd still have four bushels of apples in my closet waiting for attention.
It looks calm here but the children passed the time by singing a drinking song from Lord of the Rings in many different voices. "Let's try it this time in French Pea..."

You can search far and wide,
You can drink the whole town dry,
But you'll never find a beer so brown,
You'll never find a beer so brown,
As the one we drink in our home town,
As the one we drink in our home town...

"Again! Let's sing it as a funeral dirge."

Adventures in Odyssey finally calmed them down. We chopped and steamed and baked while listening to the story of Horatio Spafford, the author of the hymn "It is Well With My Soul."

The little girls soon abandoned their post at the applesauce grinder and went out into the backyard where they discovered an enormous caterpillar. All work stopped while we researched their find (a tomato hornworm) and made a cozy place for the little critter to reside. Faith went over to our neighbors in search of tomato leaves because apparently that is the catepillar's food of choice. We had to let him go after a few days because he was getting awfully skinny even with a whole bug box full of tomato leaves.

John takes a turn. He's pretending he's a galley slave.
And here he rises above his position as galley slave to take issue with the cook.

In the midst of all this the doorbell rang. The mailman delivered John's new writing curriculum, The One Year Adventure Novel. John promptly put in the first DVD and we all got two or three lessons in creative writing. Then he rushed off to the computer to do the accompanying assignments and called me away from the kitchen to check his progress. (This curriculum will eventually get it's own post but not until we've bonded.)

While the apples steamed and baked we read chapters and chapters of Escape Across the Wide Sea. It's a story of a Huguenot family who escaped from France on a ship and ended up in New Rochelle, New York after a stop in Africa to pick up slaves and another stop in Guadeloupe to sell them to the sugar plantations. Claire loves a good "woe is me" story so this one was right up her alley.

I'd post a picture of our final sixty bags of applesauce but they are frozen in lopsided piles and they don't look at all like a work of art. If you need to see beautiful pictures of other people's winter provisions you can look here, here and here. If you want to join me in the guilt trip while you stare open mouthed at their industry, feel free. And then you can also join me in a little praise to the Jolly Green Giant. Got to love that guy. Even if you only get like six peas in a bag.

So, we're back to our regular school schedule. I wonder if we'll cover as much ground as we did during the applesauce "vacation" ?


Kim said...

Great to hear from you, thanks so much for your comment. I was thinking of you last night as I managed to read two books this week. That's more than I've read in the past year. The hotel purchased a whole bunch of books for a small library, a mixture of contemporary fiction and classics (Faulkner anyone?) so I'm going to work through it during our time here.

Pining for some fresh vegetables and fruit here.


Meridith said...

OH YUM!!! Homemade applesauce sounds so good!!

Just found your blog on LWG blogroll and wanted to pop in to say hi!!

Off to

Mama JJ said...

Those dark apples look so yummy. And I'm impressed at how you incorporated the kids in your work and still had your head screwed on straight enough so that you could read and talk and sing. It doesn't sound like your freezer is starving any more!


Mary@notbefore7 said...

CAn I please come to school with you all? Sounds like a hoot! Oh said that wasn't school...sure sounds like they learned a ton!

I'd love to learn to make applesauce. I feel so inept in this area as "homemaker". The kitchen is not my strength by any means. Can you make it without an applesauce grinder? Have you ever made blueberry applesauce or strawberry applesauce?

40winkzzz said...

Wow. Sounds like homeschooling at its best. I'm jealous. :-)

My kids & I *love* that AIO story. We actually created a power point presentation to go along w/it for our church Kids' Club a couple yrs ago when we were doing a "heroes of the faith" theme. (Spafford was the hero that week.) It was a lot of work and even more fun. Now that I think about it, I guess that is "homeschooling at its best" at *my* house.

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

First of all, I don't think I've ever actually had homemade applesause. Would you mind sending me your recipe so I can try?

Secondly, sometimes I wish I could be a fly on the wall in your house. Your kids are so creative and interesting. I especially love all of TLOTR references...LOL!


Jennifer said...

That sounds like a WONDERFUL day. The heart of homeschooling. :)

Sarah said...

Hey Kate - Those apples look muy delicioso as Sculpey Hair likes to say. I bet your applesauce came out really pink! It looks like we have several more days of homeschool "vacation" ahead of us as there are still 3 bushels of apples in the shed.

Let me know how you like John's writing program. Maggie is working on her novel and could use some help!