Tis the Season for Apples (and yummy Crumb Cake)

Fall is a great time of year. Not only with the warm sunny days and crisp fall mornings, but the fall harvest and abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits that are available.

We have an apple tree in our backyard so each Fall we have an abundance of apples. So many that I don’t always know what to do with them. And with each year the amount of apples increases as the tree grows. We usually end up with an apple crumble every other day, apple pie, as well as I make homemade applesauce and apple juice from them. The kids will also eat them right off the tree but there is no way that they can eat them fast enough.

This year I decided that I wanted to try some new things with our apples, as though pie and crumble are good, well you can only have so much (can’t you?). I have been trying various apple cake and apple muffin recipes; and though good were only using 2 apples at a time. Then I remembered, when I was growing up my Mum used to make this crumb cake which is originally a recipe from my Oma. I remembered that sometimes she put apples or plums in the cake, which made this delicious cake even better! Perfect I thought that this would use up some apples for sure! So I decided to pull out the recipe and make apple crumb cake.

Apple Cake Muffins

I was surprised at how much sugar was in it! I knew it took a lot for the crumbs, but I didn’t think there was that much in the cake. I knew though that I could make the adjustments. Deciding on coconut sugar as the substitute, I set out making the cake, in hopes that it would not only turn out but that I could use a good amount of apples in it as well.

Only 4 apples and a short time later, I had the cake in the oven. Matthew had taste tested the dough by licking a beater, and informed me that it was yummy. (I always find that if the dough tastes good that is a good indication that your cake/ cookies will be). Things were looking good.

As it started to bake and the smells were wafting through the house, Chloe wandered into the kitchen saying “Oh something smells good!” Another excellent indicator.

It looked good too, looking like I remembered when my Mom used to make it. Now it was just the taste test. The timer beeped indicating it was done, everyone’s mouths watering in anticipation. I let it sit for about 20 minutes to cool (and to have supper) before we cut into it.

Everyone devoured their cake and quickly asked for seconds. Luke’s mouth still full as he asked for more. I found that it tasted very close to the original and was pleased with how it turned out. The only change I would make would have been to add another layer of apples on the cake before putting the crumbs on top. I like to be able to taste the fruit and though you could, a few more apples would do the trick.

I think next time, I will try using honey in the actual cake, still using coconut sugar for the crumbs, just to see what the difference, if any would be. I am always curious and like to see which sugar substitute is the best. Though sometimes the one I choose is good, another choice is much better. Regardless I know that coconut sugar works and is a very good choice as the twins have been going on about apple cake. Matthew even said that he would be the envy of all his friends at school when he has some in his lunch today, because it is so delicious!

Though it did not use as many apples as I would have liked the cake was a hit and like my aunt said, “That’s 4 less apples than you had before” which is true. My quest for using up my apples continues, looking for unique and delicious ways to do so. (So if you have some good apple recipes to share please send them my way!) The baking frenzy continues…

I know I can slice and freeze the apples, the trouble is I tend to forget about them down there in the freezer…maybe I should get into dehydrating?

Apple Crumb Cake (sugar free and dairy free)


apple crumb cake

Crumb Cake

1 c. coconut sugar

3 1/2 c. flour

3 tbsp. baking powder

juice from half a lemon

1/2 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

4 eggs

2/3 c. rice milk


1/2 c. Earth Balance Vegan spread

1 1/4 c. coconut sugar

1 3/4 c. flour

Dough: Cream Earth Balance, coconut sugar and eggs. Add flour and baking powder, mix well. Then add rice milk and lemon juice creating a soft dough. Press or roll dough into a cookie sheet sized pan.

Crumbs: Mix flour and coconut sugar in a medium sized bowl. Cut Earth Balance into sugar/ flour mixture. Form large crumbs and spread over dough.

Thinly slice apples and place on top of cake, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle cinnamon, coconut sugar and a little Earth Balance on top of fruit, then add crumbs on top. You can use other fruit such as plums for this cake. If choosing plums omit cinnamon.

Bake at 350 C for 1 hour.

A Preschool for Luke and Chloe

I can hardly believe that the twins are going to be 3 next week! Walking, talking, running and playing they are truly little people now with their own distinct personalities! Luke is very sensitive, quiet and observant, while Chloe is more robust, energetic and fiesty! They are both cute as buttons of course and are very good kids.

With the approach of their third birthday it was time for me to start considering preschool for them. I know some people don’t believe in preschool -and they say why should I pay to have my kids go do crafts and games when I can do that with them. The reality is, for most of us, do we actually do the crafts and games on a regular basis? The other thing is is preschool is more than crafts and games and has a variety of benefits for your child from promoting social and emotional development, learning to share, making choices, learning how to function in a structured environment and preparing them for kindergarten. And these days there is lots of choice in what preschool you can register your child in.

When we registered Matthew in preschool I just went down to the local one closest to us, looked around, felt happy and registered him. Only now do I wish that I had looked around a bit more and learned more about the different preschools that were available as I feel that there was a better choice and fit for Matthew due to his learning ability. But hind sight is 20/20 and he was my first child etc. So this time, not only did I know when to start looking/ registering for preschool, I took my time checking out a few preschools in the area and touring them all.

I kept it reasonable and looked at 3; and after googling preschools in Calgary selected Leap n Learn, Montessori and Apple Tree to go and take a look. Luke and Chloe got to come with me each time which I feel is very valuable when selecting a preschool for your child. It is important to see how they take to the environment and if they like it there. Also children have a strong intuitive sense, so if the energy is off or negative then they would pick up on and display it right away.

Luke discovering animals

Preschools have really changed now too with many offering 3 hour classes up to 5 days a week. You now provide your own snacks for your children, where as the school used to provide this, but I believe that with the growing number of people requiring special dietary needs that this was the best way to address this. There are specialty programs such as French Immersion or a strong music component, some are more academic (believe it or not) while others are your traditional beginning learning and getting them ready for school. All have their benefits and all have their place and it all depends on the child. The best fit for one child may not be the best fit for another.

One of the things I really liked about Matthew’s preschool is that we could walk to it. I found this to be a great benefit and we walked all through the winter to and from. Being more particular this time, this was one benefit I had to give up if I truly wanted the best fit.

Leap n Learn has a great program, they offer 3 hour classes and a French Immersion option. They also have a great music component.

Montessori is a great program for children who are self motivated and individual learners. The montessori approach is a wonderful one but is not for all children. Their philosophy is that they provide a solid foundation for children as they enter kindergarten. They do not offer music per se, and only a little bit of beginner French once a week.

Apple Tree is what I would describe as a regular preschool. Though it has been voted one of the best preschools in Calgary by Calgary’s Child, I did not find that it stood out. It was just a regular preschool in what I considered a fairly stark environment actually. I don’t believe French was offered here at all. But they do have Sonata Yamaha School of Music come in to do their music component.


Needless to say we did not go with Apple Tree, though it was the one we could walk to! For us I felt that Leap n Learn and Montessori were the best choices, and were very close, but ended up choosing Montessori. I felt that it would be a better fit for Chloe especially and that Luke could thrive there as well. I did though choose the Montessori preschool that was a little bit further from us – as there was one 5 minutes away. I caution parents if you are going to do Montessori to still check out a few Montessori schools. Though the program and philosophy is the same, with all teachers being Montessori trained, they are individually owned and run, so vary slightly. We toured the one closest to us and though outwardly there was nothing wrong with it, it was not as bright as the other one, the energy was not as good and overall something just did not feel right. So I went with my gut and we are going a little bit further (15 minute drive) to one that I like and feel better about.

Choosing a preschool is very much an individual decision and I would strongly encourage you to tour a few of them so that you can see and make an informed decision that best fits your child. In summary here are things to keep in mind when choosing a preschool:

  1. Tour more than one school
  2. Tour each school – make an appointment where you can go and see the rooms, talk with someone about the program and able to answer any questions you have. Make sure that the kids can come with you
  3. Consider things like fees, monthly and registration, if there is a discount for a second child, etc.
  4. Is it clean? Bright and with natural light. Do you get a good vibe there? do the kids like it?
  5. What options do they have? 2 or 3 hour programs? French or other language, music
  6. Teacher training – what are their requirements for staff/teachers

Regardless of which preschool you choose for your child it should be one that is the best fit for you and your child. Make sure they are ready, gather all the information you need to make a sound informed decision, use a little intuition and take your time. Don’t dilly dally but don’t rush into it either. You want your child to have a positive experience in a positive environment.

Are you planning on registering your child for preschool this fall? What preschool have you chosen? Please comment and share below.