Seasonal cookbook is a community effort
As spring arrived last week, many thoughts turned to gardens, changing to lighter clothes, and cooking different kinds of meals.
Stew-weary cooks anticipate the arrival of fresh greens, tender vegetables and early fruits.
To welcome spring and all the other seasons, the Apple Blossom School and Family Center on Cannon Road has published a collection of recipes, From Family to Feast — A Seasonal Cookbook.
Two women with children in the Waldorf-style school, Amy Schallop and Camille Lawrence, acted as editors, soliciting recipes from other parents and members of the school community.
The book is illustrated by Erika Loker Vass, the teachers — Marcia Marquis, Kimberly Carr and Jessica Khoshabo — contributed essays, and a poem introduces each season.
“We have these great potlucks,” said Ms. Schallop when asked about the genesis of the book.
“We seem to have a community that’s very gourmet,” said Ms. Lawrence. “People who cook whole foods and enjoy getting their fingers dirty with their children.”
The school sponsors potluck dinners before the school year starts, during the year and at graduation, where everyone brings a dish.
“The tables are very heavy with food,” Ms. Lawrence said, “and everyone is asking, ‘What’s the recipe?’”
Many people contributed family recipes to the endeavor.
“Food is very important in the classroom,” said Ms. Khoshabo, who teaches the parent-toddler and nursery class. She also leads the enrichment program for 6-year-olds.
“The children play outside, and when they come in they’re hungry and they get an organic snack,” she said, which the children help to make. That could be barley soup, porridge, or the Apple Blossom bread pictured on the cookbook’s cover.
Ms. Khoshabo was one of the three early childhood teachers who started Apple Blossom School in an effort to offer a Waldorf education to families here. The philosophy supports children’s mental and physical growth through play, artistic activities and language development with song, puppetry and storytelling.
Food not only nurtures the body but is instructive as well.
“The children know the day by the snack,” Ms. Lawrence said. “They will say, ‘This is bread day,’ ‘This is soup day.’”
So a cookbook seemed a good fit in coming up with an idea for a fund-raiser.
There are about 25 families with children in the school and 25 more in the nursery program. There is also the extended community of families whose children have graduated but are still connected through friendships.
It took Ms. Schallop and Ms. Lawrence about two and a half months from start to finish to produce the book. They used a program called CreateSpace.com, which is on the Amazon website.
They asked people to contribute a recipe, note what type and season it was for and offer any anecdotes or personal comments.
“There is such a variety of recipes,” Ms. Schallop said, “and I’ve made a lot of them. It’s the stuff you make all the time, the things that are tried and true.”
“The simplicity is the key,” Ms. Lawrence said. “All the families have small children.”
There is one salad recipe made for a child’s doll’s birthday party, an herb recipe donated by Ms. Khoshabo’s Iranian husband, Ms. Schallop’s mother’s coffee cake recipe. Ms. Lawrence’s husband, who is from the South, submitted his “tried and true ribs and South Carolina barbecue sauce and baked beans, that are not wholesome but absolutely delicious,” according to his wife.
There are familiar-sounding recipes, such as Banana Bread, Chicken Pot Pie and Butternut Squash Soup. Then there are such offerings as Buttermilk, Lemon and Poppy Seed Quinoa Pancakes; Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squashes; Raspberry Balsamic Chicken; and “Even the Dads Ask for It” Green Juice. And if you are looking for recipes for chia seeds — the latest “super” food to be in the news — there are two recipes here: Chia Seed Pudding and Powerful Pancakes.
There are also four “school” recipes: Oatmeal Apple Crisp, Apple Blossom Bread, Snickety-Snack (Dried Apple Rings), and Vegetable Barley Soup.
Apple Blossom Bread is the food families associate with the school, the women said. It is the bread parents and children make in the parent-toddler class.
“The 2-year-olds are handed warm dough and they pat it and roll it and they have their own bread,” Ms. Khoshabo said. “They roll it so their whole hand is stimulated. They all like pounding it.”
The bread is baked during class and then the children eat it warm with butter.
“As human beings we are surrounded by rhythms; rhythm in our lives gives us security and strength,” Ms. Khoshabo wrote in the introduction to the book. “For the young child, rhythm translates into a sense of calm and security and the firm foundation from which they can grow. When we do something every day, every week or at a certain time of the year with particular attention, it gives the child the sense that this is important, it matters and that we matter to each other.
“Nature offers us the all-surrounding rhythm of the seasons …”
That is the essence of From Family to Feast. The book is available for $19.95 on amazon.com or at the school office at 440 Cannon Road from 9:30 to noon.
Books may also be mail-ordered through Ms. Schallop. Email your order details to firstname.lastname@example.org and send a check to her attention at The Apple Blossom School, 440 Danbury Road, Wilton CT 06897. Add $3 per book for shipping and handling.
Information: appleblossomschool.org or 203-493-4003.
Apple Blossom Bread
1 1/4 cups boiling water
About 1 cup cold tap water
1 Tbs. honey or maple syrup
1 1/2 Tbs. yeast
6 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for kneading
1. In a large bowl, mix boiling water with the honey or maple syrup. Add cold tap water until mix is warm to the touch; it should be a little warmer than body temperature. Add yeast and stir; set aside for 10-15 minutes in a warm spot of the kitchen until bubbled up.
2. Once it’s bubbly, add 6 cups flour. Knead the dough a little bit and set aside for 20-30 minutes in a warm spot until risen.
3. Knead, adding flour bit by bit until it has a kneading consistency, shape into loaves, and place in two oiled 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Set aside for 15-20 minutes. (Or shape into buns or six mini-loaves, see cooking times below.)
4. Bake at 400°F for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. (The internal temperature will be around 190-200°F.)
For buns: Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.
For mini-loaf pans: Bake at 400°F for 20-30 minutes.