Monday, June 18, 2007
A Day of Remembering, and a Recipe to Remember
Bedstemor and Weaver Aunt, celebrating their joint birthday in about 1987 (above)
Elfin Cousin and Horsewoman (Weaver Aunt's daughter) on Horsewoman's Farm (below)
Yesterday was Father’s Day, and I wrote about my father. For most of the past 35 years, though, Father’s Day was not a big deal at our house. This was partly because, I think, Onkel Hankie Pants’ father was not a big fan of this commercialized holiday (although he often hosted a restaurant gathering on Mother’s Day), but primarily because we had a much bigger celebration that always fell at about the same time. Bedstemor and Weaver Aunt, the mother and aunt of Onkel Hankie Pants, married to brothers, also shared a birthday, June 18, one year apart. Some years we also got to celebrate with Elfin Cousin, who also shared that birthdate. Owing to work schedules, the celebration was usually on the Saturday or Sunday of the Father’s Day weekend, and that less personal holiday was put aside.
Shortly after our marriage and brief honeymoon, when Onkel Hankie Pants had returned to duty in California and I was about to leave for Berlin (stay tuned next week for the full story, if you haven’t heard it before), my mother told me “You’re lucky, you’ve got a wonderful mother-in-law.” She was right as usual. Although we differed in many ways (Myers-Briggs type being not the least!), Bedstemor (actually I called her Mom, but the children called her Bedstemor) was always gracious and helpful without being interfering. She had all the housewifely skills in abundance, honed to efficiency by the years spent in domestic and institutional housekeeping before her marriage. Although the Depression and some eccentric ideas of her father’s kept her from formal education beyond eighth grade, she enjoyed reading, discussing, and thinking about both fiction and non-fiction as well as current events. She loved sewing and needlework, and many were the beautiful dresses she made for our daughters (SonShine got some pretty cute overalls, too). Cross-stitched tablecloths and bellpulls she made are cherished heirlooms now in our home and her daughter’s.
I like owls, so Mom cross-stitched this for me.
In her honor and memory, here is my version of a recipe she often made, and shared with me. I’ve evolved my own way of making it over the years, but it’s essentially the same.
Æblekage (about the best pronunciation I can come up with is : Eh-bl-kaah)
This is a good nearly-last-minute dessert if you use purchased applesauce. But the version below is even better.
Peel, core, and slice 2 lbs. Cooking apples. Put them in a saucepan with about ½ cup water and maybe 1 Tablespoon sugar. (More or less, to your taste). Cook gently until soft, stirring frequently, adding a little more water if you need to. Set aside.
If you live in the Midwest, you will be able to get Jacobsen’s Toasts. Use the Original flavor, unless you are in a situation without spices, in which case get the Cinnamon flavor. If you are not in the Midwest, you may have to get Zweiback in the baby food section. The bags of Jacobsen’s Toast are larger and one bag should be enough. For the Zweiback users, you will need at least 1 ½ packages.
Pulverize the toasts in whatever way you can – blender, food processor, or put between waxed paper sheets and roll them with the rolling pin. If you are not using the cinnamon flavor, add a teaspoon or two of cinnamon to the crumbs and stir to combine.
Melt two sticks of butter (I suppose margarine could be used, but those imitation diet margarines won’t work) in a large skillet and then add the crumbs, stirring with a wooden spoon until all the crumbs are nicely moistened.. Turn off the heat.
Get out a nice glass bowl, if possible a clear one. Here's the one I use:
Then start layering the crumb mixture and the applesauce, starting and ending with crumbs. You can then refrigerate this if you will be serving it quite a while later, otherwise it’s not necessary to do so.
Whip ½ pint heavy/whipping cream with sugar and vanilla to your taste. Spread it over the top of the æblekage. Traditionally, the whipped cream was then decorated with dabs of red jelly – currant is more traditional, but raspberry or strawberry would do – to match the colors of the Dannebrog.
I have brought this to many potlucks and people always enjoy it.
For a few years now, we have had nothing special to do on June 18 but remember. Bedstemor died in 2003; Elfin Cousin died too young in 2001, and Weaver Aunt in 1993. But they did leave us with a lot of good memories. I hope you will make the æblekage and enjoy it!