catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 5, Num 21 :: 2006.11.17 — 2006.12.01


Rhythms of delight

Just before five p.m., my daughter turns on the porch light for me, so I can take out the compost. I have already served an embarrassingly early dinner to the children, and I am sneaking up on dessert, too, homemade applesauce bubbling on the back burner. When the smell is too delicious to bear, I will serve it up in dessert dishes, not even whispering that we will eat warm applesauce instead of the traditional ice cream.

My mom made “stewed apples” once a year, when she could get a bushel basket of apples for nearly free. But she didn’t serve them: she pressed them through a cone-shaped sieve with a wooden tool made for pressing applesauce. Then she would freeze the strained applesauce in translucent plastic freezer boxes, lining the deep freeze in the back porch. We carefully used the antique apple peeler prior to cooking the apples, hanging the long curly peelings in a sunny window for “pioneer candy,” dried apple peel. Some batches were better than others. Some applesauce was flavored with “red hots” candy, rendering it an unnatural pink and a little spicy.

For my “stewed apples,” a rustic applesauce, I cut three or four pounds of apples a little smaller than wedges, and drop them, peels and all, into the pot — the peel gives a lovely color. I use Julia Child’s recipe: juice of half a lemon, two curls of lemon peel, too, two cloves, a cinnamon stick. (If you don’t have a lemon, no worries — no one will know except you. Use just a tiny bit of water to cover the bottom of the pan, instead. Be bold.) Simmer until bubbly. Once, I threw in a half glass of shiraz I was drinking, to fabulous effect, the dessert taking on a deep and mysterious red. “Finish” with a teaspoon of real vanilla extract and a tablespoon of butter stirred in. Serve with ice cream, serve with granola, just serve and watch it all disappear. No sugar is necessary, truly, but if your constituents beg, sprinkle brown sugar on the top, lightly, or add just a drop of maple syrup. But I bet no one will ask.

They gobble it up, tonight, without question and then settle into coloring mandalas, our latest art foray, again not mentioning that we are not reading the traditional chapters of the penguin book their Dad so enjoys. We share the watercolor pencils and I color a very complicated mandala while they take on easier Celtic knot designs. “Your pictures are always so cool!” my daughter says. “I will just watch you, mama, I am too tired to color any more,” my son says dramatically as he leans his head on the table.

The early darkness saddens me, true, but it has circadian benefits: they drop into bed at seven-thirty, half an hour later than usual but quite settled, with no arguments. Somewhere along the line, they brushed teeth, made beds and changed into pajamas, just as I asked, and I wonder if it’s because I offered to color alongside them or if it’s because I filled their bellies with warm food. It is too rare to take for granted, in any case. I sit at my desk just outside the bedroom door, satisfied with my solo parent evening, while these two drift off to sleep.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus