Traverse City Record-Eagle

Edna Shaffer: Grandma's Kitchen

October 5, 2008

Grandma's Kitchen: Autumn brings out apples

I just came in from cleaning the garage, which is a job I hate above all others. So for lunch I'm rewarding myself with two beautiful big brown eggs scrambled in a little BUTTER! I'll have two pieces of crunchy toast and sliced tomatoes from my deck garden -- and top it off with a juicy Bartlett pear and some hot coffee. Ah, yes -- life is good. Later this evening I'm making my first apple pie of the season; it's part of the rite of passage into fall.

How I love apples! When I drive past the fruit stands and see bushels of every color and variety imaginable, I have to stop and buy a few. Who among us does not have wonderful memories tied to apples? Maybe it's the little sour green apples we snitched as kids that our mothers said would kill us. For me it's a vivid memory of my aging mother-in-law and her sisters who got together every fall to make apple butter outdoors in a big black iron kettle, as old as they were. These girls had been singing together since they were toddlers -- that close harmony that only families are famous for.

So on a crisp breezy fall day, with leaves swirling and dishpans piled high with apples, the work began. As the fire kindled and the smoke rose skyward, their voices, blended in sweet harmony, rose with it -- and once again the Hendershot sisters were kids back home in West Virginia. As one stirred the sweet spicy concoction with the long homemade paddle, two of the others would be cutting loose with a do-si-do around the steaming kettle in time with the homegrown music. It was simple down home group therapy for the sisters, a good show for the onlookers and the apple butter was always delicious.

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