No More Stupid Snacks

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett
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Ordinarily, I see a few movies per decade; I’d much rather read a book than have a story told to me on screen. I’ve smashed all my movie-going records in recent months, though, with the revival of a downtown movie theater that shows classics for $3 a ticket. I’ve seen Judy Garland marvel at Oz, had a “Gone with the Wind” date night (complete with supper at intermission), and, on Sunday, met friends for a toe-tapping “Mary Poppins.”

Unfortunately, my toes keep tapping, because I can’t get “Sister Suffragette” out of my head. Which came in handy this morning, when I read yet another reference to New York City’s bizarre decision last week to ban banana bread at school bake sales — but hey, sell all the Pop-Tarts you like.

“Though we adore men individually/We agree that as a group, they’re rather stooo-pid…”

Now, the Panel for Educational Policy does have a few women on it, but when they joined this group, apparently the stupidity infiltrated their brains, too. No homemade goods at bake sales, just processed trash?

Maybe they need to hear the next line of the song: “Cast off the shackles of yesterday…”

What, pray tell, could these people be thinking? Processed food is so yesterday. We don’t need studies to prove that homemade sweets are most assuredly not the cause of childhood obesity in this country. Apparently the poor educators (who need some serious educating themselves) fear they can’t control the portion sizes of homemade goods — but hey, they know the calorie count for a pack of Doritos.

Right. So, selling the more-expensive, worse-for-you junk, in the process demolishing any chance of kids baking in the kitchen with their parents, now counts as good policy in a city that is brimming with people desperate to learn how to butcher their own bunnies, render their own lard and can their own pickles.

While we wait for New York’s panel to smarten up, this has me back to thinking about snacks. I just peeked at the apple butter that simmered away all night, ready to garnish a slice of bread for today’s snack.

This, my first shot at making apple butter in a slow cooker, proves to be another cooking experiment perfect for children. It couldn’t be any easier: fill the pot with peeled apples, stir in some sugar and spices, and let it simmer for a long, long time. The apples break down and the whole mixture turns deep brown, thick, and so scented it’s almost satisfying enough just to stand over the pot inhaling deeply, never mind tasting it. You can even make it educational, explaining the science of pectin to your children, if you can’t stand to let an educational opportunity pass.

Better yet, this is a snack that satisfies, in so many ways that a pack of chips never will. After so much response to last week’s snack column, I think we’ll make this a weekly installment: Satisfying snacks, fresh from your kitchen. Let me know if you have suggestions!

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

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