Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Autumn is in the air and my thoughts turn to spicy breads, cakes and pies made with apples, pears, pumpkin and zucchini. I’ve grated lots of zucchini for the freezer. I’ve dried my first batch of pears. Any pumpkin I use will have to come in cans. And I’m experimenting with the country apples at Gilbert.

Looking southward
The apple trees look dry and brown with sparse leaves, though they were beautiful when they bloomed last spring. Of course, the trees are all old and I have no idea what varieties Johnny Appleseed planted here. Sunday (Sept. 18), while Mike rode his bike to Craigmont (just for the exercise), Nellie and I hiked over to “Uncle Ben’s” to look over the apples there. I love that particular hike because of the views it affords of the homestead and surrounding countryside, and I paused to take a few pictures. Anyway, I carried a gallon pail. The grass under the tree is well trampled by the deer. I had to be inventive in order to pick a few apples from the lowest branches. I think maybe it’s too soon to pick. I’ll wait a week or so and then invite Mike to help me.

As we walked back to the farmhouse, I stopped again at the “awesome” tree. The deer are in evidence in this place as well. A cute little bird with a clean white breast, a red patch on the back of his head, and black eye slats was quite willing to share this tree with me. I’m thinking he was a sparrow of some sort. Maybe someone knows.

Then – in our lane – small red and green apples against a backdrop of pine boughs caught my eye. The apples are mostly worm-free, and – best of all – reachable. I topped off my pail with them.

Back at the house, I washed the little apples and cut them into pieces for the pot. When they were good and mushy, I ran them through a sieve, then re-heated with sugar. Delicious!

My favorite apple cake recipe appears in The New Pillsbury Family Cookbook, published in 1975. This cookbook was a wedding gift – in 1975 – and has been one of my overall favorite cookbooks all these years. Now in a worn state, it still proudly proclaims itself to be “new.”

¼ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup sugar (white or brown)
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups chopped apples
½ cup chopped nuts
½ cup raisins or chopped dates

Preheat oven to 350. In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Remove from heat. Blend in sugar and egg. Add remaining ingredients; mix until blended. Turn into greased and floured 8-inch square or round pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes nor until top springs back when slightly touched. Serve warm or cool, topped with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

I made apple cake and a little applesauce with apples from the “awesome” tree, and I have to say both products were – well, awesome! KW


Leah said...

Picking apples to cook is akin to going in the woods to cut down your own Christmas tree. A feeling of satisfaction that you don't get from the grocery store. I don't think any dessert (except maybe chocolate cake) is better than apple cake. The spices and texture make every bite delightful.

The yummy applesauce cake recipe that my mother-in-law gave me in the 1950's was the best. She made hers with lard, but when I copied the recipe, I substituted shortening. I'll have to admit...the cake made with lard was much better. In her day, everyone used lard. Even in the mid 1950's people became aware of the fact that lard wasn't a healthy choice. An now shortening has a bad name.

Your old apple cake recipe looks wonderful. Photos, please.

drMolly, the BeanQueen said...

Well the cake looks like it would be great. I have this recipe from a dear friend of my mum. We call it Hazel's Apple cake. But I'm always ready to try another good sounding one.

Chris said...

I love apple cake, too. My recipe is from Goldie Adams and called Dutch apple cake. I've been know to swap out the apples for rhubarb with favorable results. Times like this, I wish I had a small fruit orchard. I guess I could have one, but somehow haven't planted one. Now that I think about it, it's puzzling why we haven't. Hmmmm...

Kathy said...

Sorry, Leah. The apple cake is gone -- no photo. I'm often embarrassed to take photos in my kitchen / house. I'm a clutterer.

And Chris, you *should* have an orchard. All it takes is planting a tree or two -- and then a little care. Good job for Dan who understands these things.

Surprised to hear that so many people make apple cake from old, loved recipes.

Leah said...

Taking a photo of food fresh from the oven need only be close up. Move other things behind you and the "subject" will look lovely.

I do this all the time when taking photos in the house. I put my clutter behind me and click away.

Funny footnote to photos & clutter. I always tidy up when someone comes to visit. I take things on my desk or where ever and put in drawers all over the house and my house looks like a magazine photo. Then when they leave, I go looking for the stuff that I hid. Once I hid my car registration, which had been on my desk, before someone came to stay for a week. After they left, I turned the house upside down and never did find it. So much for my brilliant idea of "cleaning house."

Kathy said...

I have also misplaced important things when tidying up, and that's one of the reasons we're a cluttered household.

My trick to staying focused with my many interests is to put things on the guest bed -- remnants, yarn, patterns, books -- you name it, that's where it goes. Then when someone comes and the bed is needed, I found myself angry as I cleaned off the bed -- mostly angry at myself. Recognizing that a system that works most of the time isn't going to change, I solved the problem by putting all the clutter into a large laundry basket to be stored in the shed until said guest leaves. Then when I deal with the content of the baskets, I'm in a better frame of mind and make better decisions.

I tried a box but that didn't work. Then the stuff was out of sight and out of mind. But the open basket works for me.

Leah said...

Kathy, you're absolutely right. Putting all the clutter you want to hide from guests into one place is better than what I do. I'll try that next time. See, you really are organized!

Leah said...

You've got to do a "clutter" piece. Everyone can relate to that.

In case my feeble brain forgets, I'll tell the story of Aunt Lorraine & Uncle Vince. One time before they went on a trip, they asked a neighbor to take in the mail and water the plants. When they returned, the neighbor told them that she had to call the police while they were gone because someone broke into their house and it was an awful mess. When Aunt & Uncle went inside, they realized that no one broke in. The mess in the house was the way they left it when they went on vacation. Guess they had to tell the police there wasn't a burglary. How embarrassing was that?

Joanne said...

It is very satisfying to harvest your own fruit and then make something yummy from it. You have a beautiful life there in the country.

Clutter is always a problem for me too. I just try to have a set place for things of the same kind--a file, a drawer, a box in the attic, basement or garage. I try to keep things picked up once a week except for projects in progress. I just leave those out in a corner or somewhere not in the way too much. The idea of an open basket or box is a good one too.