Since having children, everything I used to do really quickly, now takes forever to complete. I recognize that I’ve completely lost perspective for how long a task should take. Or, rather, takes a person without small children. Anyway, I decided to buy a peck of apples with aspirations of making applesauce AND baking an apple pie. I’d had a bad week and wanted to accomplish that would feel concrete, visible. Not like a visible pile of clean, folded laundry. No. Something like apple pie!
Because I have a preschooler and a wee baby, I assumed this vision would take my whole week. In my mind, it would take one entire day to buy the apples, another day to peel and chop them, probably a whole day to make the applesauce, maybe even 2 days to prepare and bake the apple pie. I decided I’d better map my whole week around these objectives. I mean, just finding the moment to call my aunt and ask about what type of apples Nana used to use for applesauce–just that phone call took all day.
I imagined it’d take a week, because everything I do seems to get broken up into stages. An hour, say, to plan or prepare tools or find a clear bit of counter or table. Then, a break to nurse the baby and change someone’s diaper. Another hour to get started and carefully make sure to always be near a stopping place because what if the baby needs to nurse?? Or sleep?
My baby always seems to need to eat while I have raw-meat hands.
While I was describing my desire to make applesauce, a friend told me she could lend me her corer-peeler-slicer. That sounded very much like something my preschooler would enjoy, so I was glad to snag it en route home with my peck of apples.
My son loves a good gadget, so we walked in the door with the apples and, without even taking off our rain boots, set up the device on the counter. I popped an apple on there and told him to give it a crank, to see what would happen. Imagine my surprise when, 20 seconds later, my three-year-old had peeled/sliced/cored the apple, popped the rings in the pot, and pulled the core off the machine. All by himself! It was like a miracle.
The baby started to get fussy (it was for sure time for a nurse and a nap), but my older son was churning out apples like a factory. We filled the stock pot in moments. It was nothing to add an inch of water, a cinnamon stick, and set it over a low flame before I took everyone upstairs for nursing and napping.
By the time I came downstairs, the apples had simmered to total mush. I didn’t even need the immersion blender–I just had to drag a slotted spoon through the goop and pluck out the cinnamon stick. Bam! Applesauce. A half hour after I walked in the front door. (This was a record-fast nurse/nap session)
I am so excited to have prepared this food I associate so strongly with home and childhood, a food I imagined would be laborious and time-intensive. Instead it was simple, fun and blazingly fast! It’s so wonderfully adaptable to fit in between nursing, napping, diapering cycles while helping to entertain an older child.
I wish I had known this earlier. When I had my first baby, I was desperate to do something that felt normal to me, that offered a whiff of my former self. If I’d discovered this apple tool earlier, I probably would have made freezers full of sauce.
I was so high on my apple sauce success that I quickly cranked nine more apples through the machine and dumped them into the store-bought pie crust with a wee bit of sugar, spices, and flour. I plopped the other store-bought crust over the top and into the oven it went.
My sons woke up from nap to bowls of applesauce and an apple pie cooling on the stove.
Who had any idea these things were so straightforward? Who knew that a simple tool could revolutionize the process of making iconic American foods? I will definitely be adding this apple tool to my arsenal for those days where I feel like I can’t finish anything but nursing.
What are the small pleasures that give you a boost on tough nursing days? Do you share my fond memories of apple foods? Leave us a comment and share your story!