September is here and as they say all good things come to an end… Back to school and back to the office! But let’s not panic, every season has its own beauty. It’s the beginning of the fall with all the nice things it will bring.
Download the free weekly school schedule we designed… a gift to wish a nice and creative new school year to everyone! (Print it easily on A4 paper size.)
The first day at work is hard but there are worse: the first day of first grade in primary school for the (ex) kindergarteners. The transition from preschool to primary school is a huge event for kids, a cosmic change of their microworld.
“Imagine our very own school!” said Pooh. “I wonder if we’re up to it” “Can we bounce in school?” asked Roo. “Of course you can, little buddy!” said Tigger. “School’s the bounciest place there is!” “There’s no bouncing in school,” said Eeyore decisively. “None?” asked Tigger. “School is work. No time for fun,” said Eeyore. “Not even a little?” asked Tigger. His shoulders drooped. Eeyore shooked his head knowingly. “Oh,” said Tigger in a very small voice for a Tigger. “Maybe Tiggers don’t like school after all.” He and Piglet were about to tiptoe away when Christopher Robin called out, “Time for school to begin!” “Oh, d-dear,” said Piglet.Pooh’s First Day of School (Winnie the Pooh), Catherine Weidner Zoehfeld, 1997
The transition from preschool to primary school is really a big deal. In a Greek scientific book on the matter (Η ομαλή μετάβαση των παιδιών από το νηπιαγωγείο στο δημοτικό, Βαλμάς κ.α. 2006) we found that the term transition is used to describe a period of important changes for children and families. In a paper we read that there are two different approaches to this phase: one that faces it as a necessary challenge for children’s maturing, and another that emphasizes the need for a sense of continuity.
As Sink, Edwards and Weir point out in their article, in primary school children will face completely different conditions, which they will come to realize since the very first day. They will enter a structured educational environment with strict social roles and rituals, where they will have to follow an externally imposed learning path. They will have to focus more, relax less and sit still in their desks. In other words, they will have to adapt to a totally different situation than the one they were used to in preschool. Therefore, support from parents and teachers is crucial, so that any stress and anxiety goes away and children succeed in making the leap to this new phase or their lives.
Having thought about all that we wanted -what else?- to share a little recipe to make the return to school sweeter. Then, some preoccupations we used to have came to our minds: when will children finally eat healthy at school? When will we realize that many kids’ packaged snacks sold in the supermarket (such as cereal and juices with their favourite animations) are packed with sugar that there is no reason for children to consume? When will schools stop selling and serving unhealthy snacks, sodas and confectionaries?
We have no global perspective on the matter, but we are proud to say that in Greece an important step has been taken in recent years. The Diatrofi (Greek word for nutrition) program under the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs offers every day school meals to pupils in underprivileged areas of the country and promotes healthy eating habits. The meals contain milk, yogurt, fruit, pies and sandwiches prepared with local ingredients, virgin olive oil and no preservatives. Given that in our country the economic situation is tough and that it goes without saying that no child should be left with no food, this initiative is really important. What we would like to add is that except for satisfying the primary need for food, it is also important to cultivate good eating habits. For children, this can happen only on the condition that what we promote is truly understood by them, is meaningful to them, and even better if it makes them happy. We understand that something more may not be possible at the moment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a vision…
So, let’s travel with our imagination a little further… what if children’s meals were not only healthy but also fun? We are really impressed by the British Chefs in Schools program, which aims at promoting healthy eating in schools. This initiatives is responsible for the recruitment of successful chefs in the kitchens of primary schools in London. There, school meals go into another dimension and become exciting for the kids, by learning how to prepare their own food with fresh produce from the school’s garden. The program also includes chefs’ and cooks’ training to work in school kitchens and teach pupils to cook, as well as theoretical and applied research concerning healthy school meals.
We firmly believe that such efforts are extremely important and we wish with all our hearts that a healthy lifestyle takes over our country too. But what about the sweets that we love so much?? Fortunately, we managed to keep our temper and looked for information on how we can incorporate desserts into an everyday healthy diet for children.
On the Chefs in Schools website we found brochures by the School Food Plan run by the British Department of Education. There, we read that desserts can be part of a healthy school meals plan, as long as they contain nutritious ingredients, such as cereal, rice, semolina, fruit and egg or dairy based custards. The recommended portions for such sweets (fruit pies or tarts, puddings and jelly) is 80-100 gr for 4-10 year-old children, and 100-120 gr for 11-18 year-olds. For cakes, muffins and donuts quantities are cut by half, and for cookies they become even smaller. Also, it is very important that cereal bars -which we incorrectly tend to consider healthy- are not permitted, as are confectionaries and anything containing chocolate (cocoa is permitted).
To be fair though, in reality there is much more to do in the UK too. The famous chef Jamie Oliver, after 13 years of campaigning for the promotion of healthy school meals, admits that his efforts have failed. Why? The chef believes that public opinion still considers healthy eating as a middle class privilege. Jamie Oliver opposes that, stating that in poor places people eat better, as they know how to use their ingredients right.
Greece has many such examples to show, such as the well known Cretan diet. On our part, as we love both desserts and nutritious ingredients, we prepared a healthy version of our childhood’s favourite: an apple pie to make the return to school a little bit sweeter…
But first, because as usually we wanted to learn everything, we couldn’t resist enriching our knowledge around the history of apple pie. When we stumbled upon a real mystery story, we knew that this was the one we should focus on!
One of the most famous apple pies around the world is tarte Tatin, our favourite upside-down apple pie. Its name comes from two sisters, Stephanie and Caroline Tatin, who owned a hotel in a village just outside Paris, named Lamotte-Beuvron in the beginning of the 20th century. As described in the hotel’s website, the story goes like this: one day Stephanie (Fanny) Tatin forgot to add the dough to a sweet with apples she was baking. To avoid wasting the fruit, she added the dough on top. After baking, she flipped the tart and the famous dessert with caramelised apples was born.
It is said though that the sisters never wished to create a signature tart and that they didn’t even call it tarte Tatin. In the book La Tarte Tatin, Histoire et Légende written by the historian Henri Delétang, according to a French article, the author states that there is no written document of the sisters’ restaurant’s menu. The first mention is traced in an article by the politician and writer Gabriel Hanotaux in1899, where the dessert is described as the tart of mademoiselle Tatin.
A little later, in 1903 the tart appears again in the writings of Lucien Jullemier, lawyer and writer. There, Fanny Tatin is credited as its creator. We crossed information with an official website devoted to the tarte Tatin and learned that the writing was a description of a two-day trip around the region by the Geographical Society of Cher (on the website this one is considered the first written reference of the tart). It contains the following: “Since it is late in the winter, it is also the last tarte Tatin of the season for the hotel, which makes it taste like a slice of history!”
The next clue we found is a note at the end of the first handwritten -even though undated- recipe for the tart by Marie Souchon, a close friend of the sisters: “This recipe was invented by the cook of the Count of Chateauvillard, who passed it on to Fanny Tatin”. The Count is a real person who lived in the 19th century, but there is no written information about his cook anywhere. Which means that this also doesn’t solve the mystery at all…
What is a fact, according to the historian Delétang, is that Marie Souchon’s recipe was copied and published in a magazine in 1921 by the poet Paul Besnard. There, he named the tart La Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin, which means the tart of the misses Tatin. The same recipe was published by the famous food critic Curnonsky in a book of his in 1926. However, the historian notices that the fame of the recipe remained local and its execution tough.
And the myth goes on… We found out that Louis Vaudable, the owner of the parisian restaurant Maxim’s, at the end of the 30s (or the 50s according to Delétang) added the tart to its menu and its fame became huge. He claimed that he had stolen the recipe from the sisters, when he managed to infiltrate their kitchen (or to send a spy as is stated elsewhere) by posing as a gardener. Nonetheless, such a thing would be impossible, as Vaudable was born in 1902 and four years later the sisters retired from cooking and sold the hotel! As Delétang claims, Maxim’s recipe was no other than the decades ago published recipe by Curnonsky. According to the restaurant’s website, in the 50s the restaurant was visited by famous personalities, such as Aristotle Onassis and Maria Kallas, and we guess that they may have tasted the dessert we’re discussing.
Everything points to the fact that the famous tart was not invented by Fanny Tatin, as, according to Delétang, a recipe for an upside-down fruit tart dates back to 1894, published in a book written by the cook Urbain Dubois. In his article Stephen Harris also notices that the region was at the time known for preparing an upside-down fruit tart called tarte solognote (the region’s name is Sologne).
Now, whether the Tatin sisters re-invented the recipe from scratch or if they learned it from someone, that we might never know… What is for sure is that their name will remain in history forever!
Although we may have failed to provide a solution to the mystery, it definitely increased our appetite! So, let’s wish a great school year and a very happy fall to everyone with our homemade, healthy and super easy apple pie!
Healthy apple crumble pie
Ingredients for the dough
|Olive oil||100 ml|
|Orange juice||60 ml|
|Honey||60 gr (3 tbs)|
|Vanilla extract||4-5 drops|
|Self-raising flour (sifted)||270 gr|
|Walnut flour||120 gr|
Ingredients for the filling
|Brown sugar||50 gr|
|Corn flour||1 tbs|
|*for a more “adult” version|
a shot of brandy or liquer
1/2 tsp of ginger, allspice,
clove or other spices
How to make the apple pie
Mix the olive oil, orange juice, honey and vanilla extract in a small bowl. In another one combine the solids: the self-raising flour, walnut flour, salt and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Pour into them the olive oil mixture and work with a spatula or a wooden spoon until fully incorporated. Split the dough into two parts (the one slightly bigger that the other) and wrap them in clingfilm. Put the smaller one into the freezer and the other in the refrigerator for an hour.
While waiting, grate the apples with the grater (or use the blender but be careful not to smash them). Add the raisins, cinnamon and corn flour. The corn flour’s role will be to suck up the extra humidity and protect the dough’s crispiness (if you use liquer add a little more corn flour).
Take the dough out of the fridge and line some tart pans, pushing the dough by hand from the centre to the sides so that it covers them perfectly. We used five individual silicone molds for tarts. Add the filling and press it with your fingers to spread evenly. Take the rest of the dough out of the freezer and grate it by hand or on the grater until it becomes a crumble. Pour it on top of the tarts.
As we had some excess filling and crumble, we decided to dedicate it to the mysterious, upside-down tarte Tatin. We took four heart-shaped mini molds, added some filling and some crumble on top and created our own little tarte Tatinis!
We baked everything in a preheated oven at 180 oC for 25 minutes. Suddenly, the room filled a sweet, warm scent, just wonderful… So, enjoy and have a great first day back to school!
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