This week is parent teacher conferences at my daughters’ school. This also happens to be book fair week. Smart, how they arrange that to happen in the same week, huh! Some schools arrange grandparent’s day around the same time as a book fair so they can really do some business! This year, I signed up to volunteer at the book fair. You must know, this was my very first time ever helping at a book fair. My husband was working so our youngest joined me at the book fair. She loved it. She was exploring the library, checking out the little reading nooks and tents and staying out of trouble. She had been well warned before we entered the building that her behavior better be good, or she would be in BIG trouble! She loves visiting the girls school and pretending to be a big girl. She’s actually taller than some of the kindergarteners so she fits right in.
Since we are new to the school, I had never even been inside the library yet so when I arrived for my shift, I looked for the librarian who I spoke with on the phone and she warmly welcomed me. There was another mom there who had helped at several book fairs so the librarian had her explain everything to me. Basically the children who brought money with them during their library time could browse the book fair and we were there to help navigate them and make sure they purchased books that were their level and help them decide what they could afford and help make those tough decisions between a book mark or erasure when it came down to that last dollar. There was a little cash register with a touch screen, credit card swiper and scanner gun. She went through how to ring up a sale and I tried to keep up. The first couple classes that came through were quiet and only a few kids brought money so it was slow and easy to handle. I helped them choose books and the little fun items like pencils, cupcake looking pencil sharpeners, huge bendable erasures, and whatever else they could buy with their money. The other mom ran the register part so our system worked well. Then another Kindergarten class came in and this time more kids had money so it was a little more hectic. One little girl was set on buying a Shopkins sticker book. Oh those darn Shopkins. Our youngest loves them too! What’s the big deal? They are just little rubber food and other items with faces on them and cutesy given names. I don’t get it! This little girl that I was helping at the Book Fair really wanted this Shopkins Sticker book, but she didn’t have nearly enough money. I bent down to try to explain this to her and unfortunately it was the only Shopkins item at the book fair and she had her little heart set on it. Then she started to cry and say she wanted her mommy. I tried to comfort her, but it just got worse. Great, so I’ve made a kid cry at the book fair! There were other little kids waiting for my help so the librarian stepped in and tried to explain to the crying girl that she could come back to the book fair with a parent at conferences and maybe get the book then. Those darn Shopkins!
So this class made its way through the book fair and a few made purchases. I was able to ring up a few and got the hang of it. Now after school, this is when the book fair can get a little crazy! The other book fair pro mom explained that usually one adult will stand at the door and make sure no bags or backpacks are brought in and only allow a certain number of kids in at one time so we are not overwhelmed. So she was the “bouncer” at the door and I was the cashier. Since now it was older kids and those who were younger were with an adult, we didn’t have to worry too much about helping them choose books and items. I was ringing up a few, but the credit card swiper gave me a little trouble for one mom’s purchase. It kept giving me error codes which I didn’t know what they meant. The mom was getting a little anxious and assured there was money on the account. I assured her it was probably my error so I had a little help from the librarian. Finally it went through and the mom and daughter were on their way, but the line was backing up. Meanwhile, my girls came to the library after school since they knew I was working at the book fair and they are bugging me and asking if they can get this book, how about this book, come on, mom, can I get this book? I give them that mom glare and tell them I’m busy now and they will have to wait until everyone is gone. More and more folks are lined up and asking questions. Some kid wanted a poster with a red Ferrari on it, but was disappointed because I could only find a poster with a green Lamborghini on it and I went through the box of posters three times, feeling angry eyes on me the whole time! He didn’t think my suggestion of the kitten poster was too funny either! Tough crowd! I started feeling my cheeks get as red as my cardigan. Was the heat on full blast? You know that feeling you have on your first day of work and you think you know your stuff because you’ve practiced in training, but then on the spot nothing seems to be working right. It was like I was a new McDonald’s worker back in high school and things are going pretty smooth and I think this job isn’t so bad until about 10 minutes before your shift is over and you see a huge bus pull up and endless hungry kids – bigger, scary, intimidating kids from a big city start lining up at your register and you’ve got this blinking error code that you can’t get beyond. Ahhhhhh! As old Frank Costanza would say, “Serenity now!!!!!!” Luckily another mom that helps in the school and knows the book fair stepped in and helped me out! I would have been a mess without her! I’m not sure they will want me back for another book fair, but maybe I should practice those cashiering skills just in case so I’m ready!
We picked 65 pounds of honey crisp apples this year, plus I bought 10 lbs of cortland apples for freezing. We went through a bunch of the honey crisp already, but I knew I had to start using them up before they started to turn bad or I’d be in a timeout for sure by my husband. You spent how much on apples???
I thought applesauce would be an easy way to make use out the apples, and would be good for a year since I was canning it. I’m definitely not a pro when it comes to canning, but since I ventured into the world of canning strawberry jam this summer, I am eager to see what else I can preserve in those pretty jars! My mom always canned applesauce when I was little and I remember some of the jars had pink applesauce or rosy applesauce as she called it. She said she used red hot candies in the apple sauce to give it the cinnamon taste and it turned it a pinkish hue. I definitely wanted to make a few varieties. If I’m going to make the kitchen messy, I’m going to go all out and get some variety into the mix. I thought both strawberry applesauce and blueberry applesauce would be good since I had plenty of frozen strawberries and blueberries in the freezer from my slightly obsessed summer orchard picking. I also choose to keep the skin on my apples. I just cored and sliced them with a little handy apple slicer and dropped them in a big pot. I don’t want to leave out all the vitamins and fiber in that beautiful apple skin. The skins are easily broken down and pureed by my trusty immersion blender. To clarify, this is not the same immersion blender which I’ve now reserved and use for making laundry soap. I guess a good washing would make the same blender fine to use in either application, but I certainly don’t want to chance my applesauce tasting like patchouli! Ha! So I have a cooking one and my old one which has a little handy electrical tape on the cord from when I accidentally got it in the burner flame. Oops!
Here’s the recipes:
You may need to adjust the amount of water, based on the juiciness of your apples and your preference on your applesauce consistency.
I used wide mouth quart sized jars.
16 C apples – cored and sliced. Leave peels on if you like.
4 C water
1 – 1 1/2 TBS Cinnamon (more or less per your preference)
12 C apples – cored and sliced. Leave peels on if you like
2 1/2 C water
3-4 C fresh or frozen strawberries – stemmed.
12 C apples – cored and sliced. Leave peels on if you like.
2 1/2 C water
3-4 C fresh or frozen blueberries.
You can also add a little cinnamon to the strawberry and blueberry applesauce varieties if you like. Add in whatever fruit you like, I just used blueberry and strawberry because that’s what I had and I knew my girls would love it. Peach or pear variety would be yummy too!
Prepare your jars and lids by washing, rinsing and then simmering in hot water.
Add apple slices and water to a large pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer for another 15-20 minutes until all apples are tender.
Add blueberries or strawberries if using and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes on low until all the fruit is tender.
Blend apples and fruit with immersion blender until smooth or to your desired consistency.
Add in cinnamon if using and blend until incorporated.
Ladel applesauce into prepared jars. A funnel may help. Fill to 1/2 inch from the top.
Wipe the top of the jar with a clean cloth.
Place discs and rings on jars and set aside. Once all the jars from the batch are filled and lids are in place, place the jars in a large pot of warm water. The jars should be submerged in the water. (I need to invest in a larger pot.) This may take a few batches especially if using large jars like I did. If you happen to have a jar that isn’t quite filled because you ran out of applesauce, just put the lid on it and it can go directly into the fridge to be eaten first without going through the boiling process.
Bring the water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes and then carefully remove each jar from the pot and set aside. Be careful to not disturb the lid. You may hear a pop during the boiling process or soon after. Let the jars sit for at least 12 hours and then check the seals to make sure all are sealed. Lid should be concave and the bubble should not be up.
The sealed canned applesauce will last up to a year in your pantry. No need to refrigerate until the seal is broken and the jar is opened. Once it’s opened, refrigerate and use within a few weeks.