The day was off to an ambitious start when I decided just after breakfast that this would be a great time to get started on making a dent in all of those apples we picked last weekend by cooking up the first batch of apple butter. Jeremy had taken Xavier to Milwaukee for a weekend-long father-son adventure and, while it is quite routine for me to have Quinn and Ada all to myself, I felt inspired that, despite the rainy forecast back here at home, we should have a little adventure of our own. So once the apples were on the stove and the little girl was down for her morning nap, Quinn and I got to work on a fall sensory bin.
Filling the bin is half the fun, so Quinn helped dye three batches of rice yellow, orange, and red. We added popcorn kernels and then went in search of farm animals and people to play in our fall scene. We also added some almonds in their shells, acorns, some silicone cupcake holders for filling, and a couple of funnels.
When Ada woke up, I moved the bin outside to the porch so she could play, expecting lots of scooping and dumping out. The measure proved completely unnecessary, as she was only interested in the larger bits–the almonds, mostly, which she transported back and forth and in and out of the bin like a little squirrel tucking away her winter feast here and there for safe keeping. When the rain began, we moved the bin inside and Quinn and I made acorn muffins and sang “Happy Birthday” to each lucky playmate in turn. Ada was all smiles during our singing, but quickly returned to the important work of transporting her almonds.
After all that back and forth play (Did I mention the breaks we for took for smashing apples through the food mill, loading the slow cooker, and getting that apple butter cooking?), we needed some sustenance. And since this was an ambitious kind of day, I decided this was the perfect time to try out that black bean brownie recipe I had my eye on.
With the sometime exception of Ada, I can’t seem to get the kids to eat beans in any shape or form (except for hummus, of course, but only because Xavier remains unconvinced–or perhaps is willing to overlook the fact–that it actually contains chickpeas). And when your vegan kids don’t eat beans, it definitely limits your repertoire, to say the least. Quinn tends to be fairly open minded about trying new things and had no reaction whatsoever when he saw those beans go into the food processor. It probably helped that we had never made brownies, so he may have figured this was your typical brownie ingredient. I wasn’t eager to set him straight. The recipe couldn’t have been easier and the brownies turned out fudgey, rich, moist, and not too sweet. (In fact, if we’re being honest, I could have used a bit more sweetener in them. These might do well with a slather of peanut or almond butter or some ice cream if you’re looking for a decadent dessert. They’re low enough on the sweet scale that I might even grab one for breakfast.) Quinn gave them two chocolately hands up.
With the kids finally in bed and my late dinner finally served, I was able to finally can the apple butter that had been cooking up in the slow cooker all day, filling our day with cinnamon and cloves (which is really the only way to do apple butter). For such a packed day, it was also a relaxing one. We didn’t leave the house (and I didn’t leave my pajamas) and there was ample time for collecting acorns, combing through colored rice with our fingers, and licking spoons. I’ve come to this season kicking and screaming so far, but this fine fall day might be just the kick start I needed.