Catching star dust – or, a meditation on apples and eggs

We are Omni-ligious here at Inherit the Spoon, and in a couple days I’ll be posting about our attempt to make artisan matzoh to take to a seder we are attending. But for today, it was all about the eggs.

At the grocery store, we picked up the cheapest, brightest white eggs we could find (18 for $1.69! I know, I know, but no one is eating them, and it’s only once a year!). I told Jacob that they were his Easter eggs and the poor boy, having no recollection of Easter egg dyeing, opened the carton when we got home and was devastated. Here were just plain old white eggs. He wanted colored ones! With candy in them! (Like the ones he does remember, with much fondness and surprising detail, from the egg hunt that he attended at his friend Ellie’s house last year). He got teary, and asked me if we could make plastic eggs instead. Eventually, he grudgingly agreed to try dyeing these ones, and then wait and see if Easter morning brought any of the other (obviously better) kind.

Once we got going with the different colored dyes in their little cups, various dipping tools, and his duck apron, he cheered up a bit.

When I was small, Easter mornings consisted of (very early!) sunrise ceremonies protesting against nuclear weapons out at the Lawrence Livermore labs. There, we read The Butter Battle Book and sang We Shall Overcome. We would return home and my mom would read us that outstanding feminist parable about Easter bunnies, The Country Bunny and The Little Gold Shoes. And then we would receive our Easter baskets.  They were not huge glittery packaged things, and we never thought any kind of bunny brought them. Ours were small, soft-sided, and had been handmade by Grandma Roe before we could remember. Stained and worn with love, they were filled with hard boiled eggs we had colored ourselves, real carrots, fake grass, and candy.

After my mom died, I searched frantically for the box that held those baskets, even though it was December, not spring time – but those baskets were for some reason the only things I was immediately worried about finding. Months later, for their first Easter, Jacob  got Dan’s red truck-emblazoned one while Sonia got mine, yellow with pastel flowers. Grandma Roe would have preferred this division. They hold just enough: a couple dyed eggs and a chocolate bunny fit quite nicely, along with a handful of jellybeans and a tiny stuffed animal. Perhaps, nestled down in some plastic easter grass, Jacob will find a hard, candy filled treat in the shape of an egg. This year, he and So will share their baskets for the first time with Lucas and Alma. We will read about the country bunny. And traditions, such as they are, will carry on.

Much as I loved seeing Jacob’s eggs (and I do think they are gorgeous – we had a tip from a friend to rub them with a tiny bit of vegetable oil once they were dry, and wow! do those colors pop!) my favorite thing we made today was roasted apples, inspired by Luisa Weiss and her lovely post musing on how to enjoy what fruit is left to us in the grocery store while waiting for summer’s bounty to arrive. Last fall’s apples are turned from a mealy disappointment into something really special with a recipe so simple it seems like magic: heat them with the tiniest slivers of butter, mash them with just a hint of sugar and salt, and with a splash of cider vinegar you have created something so delicious, it is an instant classic here. Thanks Luisa. (our adapted recipe is below)

OK, I think we can all agree that there is a good chance, maybe even a degree of certainty, that Thoreau wasn’t talking about Easter eggs or roasted apples when he wrote about star dust and rainbows. But if you asked Jacob what the true harvest of his life was today, and he actually understood what you meant, well – I have no doubt what his answer would be. And for me, life is emitting a fragrance a lot like roasted apples right now – sweet, homey, filled with both memory and promise. We greet this new arriving spring with joy, and eggs, and last fall’s apples … and that is our success. Happy Easter, happy Passover, and enjoy the spring, and the chance for renewal that comes this weekend. Cheers :)

If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
~ Henry David Thoreau
from Walden; or, Life in the Woods

Roasted Apples, mashed not sauced
Adapted from Judy Rodgers’ roasted applesauce recipe as shared by Luisa Weiss – find the original recipe here

10 Pink Lady apples, cored and thick sliced but not peeled (we really like the tartness that the Lady adds here – last week we tried Gala, and they were delicious, but these were better)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon light Muscovado sugar
A splash of apple cider vinegar

Heat oven to 375 F. While it is heating, core and slice the apples. Spread the apples in a shallow baking dish – Luisa recommends a single layer, we had some overlap and it worked out. Top the apples with little slivers of the butter. Cover your pan (we used foil because we couldn’t find our lid) and bake until the apples start to soften, about 20 minutes but this depends on your apples.

Once they have started to soften, remove them from the oven. Raise the heat to 500 F – we had to wait about fifteen minutes for our oven thermometer to register this high. Once you are at 500 F, uncover the apples and return the pan to the oven. Roast them for about 10 minutes – they will get a bit dry and start to color. When the ends of the slices start to turn brown, remove from the oven and dump into a bowl. We mashed them with the pastry blender that we use to cut in butter – a fork would also work, Jacob just really likes that pastry tool.  Season with salt and sugar to taste, then add just a splash of apple cider vinegar. Stir and taste – amazing, right? Adjust your seasonings. Serve warm, and have leftovers with these waffles for breakfast.

Keeps for a week in the fridge, though each time we make this it is gone within a day.

It smells great, too :)

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