Crisscross Applesauce

After this lovely holiday weekend, I will embark on a new journey teaching college freshman at the University level. The day I spent at the orchard yesterday has me thinking back to a time when things were simpler. By simpler, I mean I was flat broke and still in graduate school. I worked as a substitute teacher during those years in a futile effort to make ends meet. It was the experience that showed me how much I wanted to teach. Though I spent my share of time with my beloved angst-ridden high school students, I spent more time with kindergarten and pre-K. In the district where I worked, I taught. There was no such thing as a stand-in body for these classes. I was left lesson plans and I always had teacher’s aid in the class with me. The experience was amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

My favorite time of day, besides nap time when I was not allowed to nap, was story time. The children would gather around in a circle, usually in little assigned spots on the carpet, and be captivated by the story. After each page, one must pause for questions and as the book progresses, they get closer and closer to you. In an effort to avoid having 27 pre-K or kindergarten students in your lap by the end of the story, you simply say, “Crisscross applesauce” and they return to their original positions on the carpet. It’s simple, yet effective, much like this applesauce. There is no added sugar. I just let the apples tell their story.

This recipe is for my kindergarten and pre-K students, whom I know have gotten so big by now. I will never forget the time I spent with them. They kept me sane when I was going through the nonsense that is inherent in graduate school.

2 large Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and cut into quarters
1 cinnamon stick
1” long piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
Juice of one lemon
About two cups of water

1. In a bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice.

2. Place apples and lemons in a large saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Add the ginger and the cinnamon stick.

3. Reduce and simmer the apples for 20-30 minutes.

4. Strain out the cinnamon stick and the ginger and take a potato masher to the rest.

5. Serve immediately or scoop into individual containers and save for a sweet treat to go along with your lunch this week.

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