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Archive for October, 2011

I love teaching during the colorful days of autumn.

Over the past week, the students in my class have been busy finding autumnal inspiration to include in their poetry.

We’ve spoken a lot about letting our senses speak through poetry.

We can see the lovely bold colors and the days getting darker.

We can feel the days getting cooler.

We can hear the leaves tumbling in the howling wind.

What about the taste of autumn?

How are they to understand the smell?

Don’t worry, I’ve got that one covered.

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Covered in puff pastry, that is!

Any excuse to get these kids in the kitchen, people.

During my prep lesson yesterday, I practiced baking these delicious caramel stuffed, pastry wrapped baked apples.

I photographed the steps in hopes of preparing a guide for my students, but once all was said and done, I realized this wasn’t the recipe for my class. 

I ended up going with a simpler baked apple recipe, but I still wanted to share this gem of a dish with all of you!

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The ingredients were pretty basic: puff pastry, caramel, brown sugar and cinnamon, an egg and apples.

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To prepare, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

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Create and egg wash by beating an egg and 1 Tbsp. water together.

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Slice off the top of the apple, leaving the stem intact.

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Remove the core, being sure not to go all the way through the bottom of the apple.

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Carefully get in there to get out all of the seeds.

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Peel the whole apple. I did the cutting and coring first because I didn’t want the kids working with knives on slippery apple flesh.

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See? Core removed but base intact!

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Remember that bowl of cinnamon sugar? Now’s its time to shine. Roll the apple around in the brown sugar to coat completely.

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Carefully place two caramel cubes into the hollow of the apple core. Again, be sure you don’t push too hard and pop out the bottom of the apple.

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Is your mouth watering yet?

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Next, I joined strips of puff pastry and wrapped them around my prepared apple.

By this point, I realized:

  1. Cutting, coring and peeling would be a bit too much for my kiddos.
  2. Our school kitchen wasn’t equipped with enough peelers for each student anyways.
  3. Making long snakes of puff pastry, an item which needs to be kept cool, would be difficult for my hot-handed pupils.
  4. There were simply too many steps to remember and rewrite in recipe form later in the week.

Even though I knew by this point that my students wouldn’t be making this recipe, I still wanted to finish it off.

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Create two leaves out of the puff pastry.

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Carefully place the leaves on the apple so they look like they’re coming from the stem.

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Brush the pastry with the prepared egg wash.

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Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, being sure to leave space between the pastry and foil. Place in the refrigerator to cool for half an hour before baking.

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Bake the covered apples for about 20 minutes before removing the foil and continuing to bake until the pastry is puffed up and golden, about 20 minutes longer.

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Gosh darn it, the puff pastry idea may have been out, but those leaves were too cute not to include in my students’ version!

The flaky, crumbly, sweet and gooey qualities of these baked apples were incredible! Almost like a personal-sized apple pie, I highly recommend this recipe.

So, my practice apples turned out great but weren’t going to work for my students. You may be wondering what they did during our baking lesson today.

Well, let me give you a sneak peak into our school kitchen. I’d love to share the photos of these beamingly proud kids, but can’t, so their busy little hands will have to do.

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After watching my “demonstration,” the kids cut, cored, stuffed and decorated their apples on their own.

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When he saw my fully wrapped apple the previous day, a little boy said with amazement, “Wow, Ms. Brady, that looks like a professional cook! You should go on TV!”

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Creating their own “professional cook’s” pastry leaves was a highlight of the activity for many of the kids.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be watching them on Food Network one day!

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They were all so very proud of their apples.  PA121863

Two of our baking dishes, ready for the oven!

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Sadly, my battery died before capturing the final product, but I assure you, the apples were stunning… and tasted as good as they looked!

Baked Apples with Puff Pastry Leaves

If 8 year olds can make this dish, so can you!

Ingredients

1 tart apple

1 heaping teaspoon raisins

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 dash nutmeg and cinnamon

1/2 Tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Puff pastry

1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Cut off the top of the apple, being sure to keep the stem intact.
  3. Carefully remove the core of the apple. Take care not to cut all the way through the bottom.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the raisins, brown sugar, nutmeg and dash of cinnamon.
  5. Stuff this mixture into the hollow of the apple, again, be sure not to push the stuffing through the bottom!
  6. Top the stuffing with the butter.
  7. Place the apple in a baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  8. Replace the top of the apple.
  9. Using a sharp knife, cut two leaf shapes from the puff pastry. Add the veins of the leaves by gently pressing half-way into the pastry with the back of a knife.
  10. Next, place the leaves on the apple.
  11. Whisk together the egg and water to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the pastry with the egg wash.
  12. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving room between the foil and pastry.
  13. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes.
  14. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the pastry has puffed and is golden brown.
  15. Cool before serving.

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I was so proud of the way these kids worked today. Even when two other teachers came into the kitchen and started making a racket, my students were so focused in apple baking mode that they didn’t even look up. I find this photo so funny!

If you’re a parent, I beg you, get in the kitchen and get to cookin’ with your kids. You will both leave the kitchen with happy hearts, full tummies and wonderful memories!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

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I’m still loving my weekly organic box deliveries. Summer provided plenty of zucchini and tomatoes, but as we ease into autumn, the box has also changed to reflect the new season.

Last week, that meant carrots and pumpkin amongst other autumn fruits and vegetables.

Yesterday was cold and damp, the perfect day for a smooth, warm, comforting soup.

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Carrot and Pumpkin Soup

Adapted from Eatliverun

Ingredients:
1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped

1 cup pumpkin puree (mashed roasted pumpkin)

2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 shallot, minced

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1 Tablespoons olive oil

Croutons, pumpkin seeds and flax oil to garnish

Directions:

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the minced shallot and sauté until tender, about five minutes.

  • Add the ginger and sauté for another three-four minutes.
  • Add the chopped carrots, pumpkin puree, broth, coriander, garam masala and salt, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until carrots are tender.
  • Carefully transfer to a blender and puree. Serve with croutons, pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of flax oil.
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    Simple and scrumptious!

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    I woke up yesterday morning to news that my Grandpa passed away. He’s been very sick and unable to care for himself, so his death comes as a blessing.

    I’m not really sad about his passing as I believe in the hope of Heaven, but I do feel very far from my family right now.

    I wish I could be there to talk to my mom and hear happy stories about her childhood; to celebrate his life with whole family.

    It may sound ridiculous, but one thing that brought comfort yesterday morning was my breakfast. The flavors in these pancakes remind me of my mom’s pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

    Although I might not have been sitting in my mom’s kitchen yesterday morning, I brought her here to join me through pumpkins and warm, comforting memories.

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    Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

    Ingredients

    • 1½ cups flour
    • 3 Tablespoons white sugar
    • ½ teaspoons salt
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 2 whole eggs beaten
    • 1 cup almond milk
    • 2 ½ Tablespoons maple syrup
    • ¼ cup melted butter
    • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
    • 150 grams roasted pumpkin (or puree)

    Method

    1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
    2. Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. The color will be a fantastic bright orange.
    3. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until combined.
    4. Heat a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the prepared skillet. Flip when bubbles begin to rise and the bottom of the pancakes are golden brown.
    5. Serve with maple butter icing.

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    We’ll miss you, Grandpa.

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    We have had such a resurgence of beautiful, summer-like weather in Germany.

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    The sun has been shining brightly for almost two weeks now, and I have been busy trying to enjoy the amazing weather while it lasts.

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    On Sunday, Sebastian and I joined several friends on a train journey to the tiny village of Mayschoss to celebrate the wine which is produced in the region.

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    The town was bustling with music and the wine was flowing.

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    We shared several bottles of local wine while relaxing under a walnut tree beside a football field.

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    Thanks to Krasi, we had freshly foraged walnuts to accompany our wine.

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    Relaxing and laughing with good friends… PA021494

    I could not have asked for a better way to spend the lovely autumn day.

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