An octogenarian Minister friend of mine passed on yesterday morning, surrounded by his life partner and family. My father, who passed on two years and three days ago, was also an octogenarian. In fact, Miles and Dad almost made it to the next decade designation. This is the season for these events -- it's holiday time. Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner.
It is, also, the fall harvest season and I'm reminded by nostalgia that this is apple season. You remember that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away!" I can still hear my Grandma Lester repeating those words. And my personal favorite is hard, crunchy, juicy Delicious Apples. Barb and I still do a few of the things with apples that our grandfolks used to do with the bushels of apples that we could not possibly ever eat fresh.
We don't go out in the yard and pick them off the tree anymore, but it gets very difficult to pass by those autumn fruit stand bargains.
To make her apple butter, Great Aunt Em used to send us children out to the orchard to pick "early ripers" off the ground. For her apple butter she wanted very ripe apples. Grandma would always "room ripen" them for at least a week if they had just been picked off the trees.
The apples needed to be washed thoroughly, peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces. They were then put into the kettle with enough water to keep them from scorching and "simmer" cooked until they were mushy. We used potato mashers to mash the "mess". Sugar and a "pinch" or two of cinnamon was added and the "mess" was simmered more, with us "small fry" doing the "constant" stirring until the mixture became smooth and thick. I remember "sampling" the "mess" to pronounce its consistency and flavor.
I think we "skimmed" it before it went into canning jars to be stored for use during the winter and spring.
Now that the mind is working. I remember that 'apple butter' always tasted better spread upon warm "johnny cake". Johnny cake was a cornmeal bread. Let's see if I can remember -- a cup of flour, a cup of cornmeal [yellow, of course], a couple of tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of salt, four teaspoons of baking power, a quarter cup of bacon drippings, an egg, a cup of water and finally two cups of grated apples. Upon mixing well and poured into a greased loaf pan, pop it into a 400 degree oven, for 30 minutes or so, until a tooth pick can come out "clean. [Oh, I still collect bacon drippings. <grin>]
Golly, now I need a "crock" of baked beans to go with this.
Grandma and Aunt Em used to can apples for use as pie fillings during the cooler months. And, then there was apple drying. Sitting by the old wood burning cook stove we would string apple slices into long, dangling chains, or "apple-dapples". They were hung up behind the stove to dry. These dehydrated slices were put in paper sacks and stored in the "root cellar" to be used for snacks or baking in other recipes.
I have for a very long time submitted these stories to a small panel of "editors" to check my grammar and spelling, and even then things slip by, however, in this case my friend Ginger reminds me that "nobody in the family [is] able to duplicate her talent, even with her recipe. It's as if the magic passed on with her, but the wonderful memory resurfaces every year in 'apple butter season'...." This is to say that the flavor is in the memory. <VBG>