Friday, September 26, 2008

A Johnny Appleseed Friday Five

Singing Owl at RevGalBlogPals asks us to:

Raise your hand if you know that today is Johnny Appleseed Day!

September 26, 1774 was his birthday. "Johnny Appleseed" (John Chapman) is one of America's great legends. He was a nurseryman who started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania, but he was among those who were captivated by the movement west across the continent.

As Johnny travelled west (at that time, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) he planted apple trees and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. A devout Christian, he was known to preach during his travels. According to legend, Johnny Appleseed led a simple life and wanted little. He rarely accepted money and often donated any money he received to churches or charities. He planted hundreds of orchards, considering it his sevice to humankind. There is some link between Johnny Appleseed and very early Arbor Day celebrations.

So, in honor of this interesting fellow, let's get on with the questions!

1. What is your favorite apple dish? (BIG BONUS points if you share the recipe.)
Any apple dish I've ever had, at the time; but to make, and to eat, my favorite is Danish Aeblekage (say Ehhh-bl-kahhh).  And here is the recipe, which I got from Onkel Hankie Pants' mother, The Best Mother-in-Law Ever, with suggestions for people who don't live in the Midwest.  Quantities are approximate.
One package of Jacobsen's Cinnamon Toasts, or plain toasts; if you can't find these, get two packages of zweiback from the baby food section

Your favorite variety of cinnamon (yes, there are different kinds)

A little sugar

One or two sticks of butter.  Personally I would not use margarine, and I don't think the tub varieties work well here.

One big jar of natural-style applesauce (chunkier the better) OR, MUCH BETTER, peel and core six to eight apples, depending on size, and cook them with a little water and sugar until they are soft, but don't strain or puree.

Whipped cream, and, if you like, red currant jelly (traditional) or other red jelly for decoration.

In a blender or food processor, or with a rolling pin between sheets of waxed paper, pulverize the toasts/zweiback to small crumbs. You will probably have to do this in batches.

Take a large skillet and melt the butter gently.  When it's all melted, put in the crumbs, cinnamon, and sugar (less of the latter if you got cinnamon toasts).  Stir gently with a wooden spoon until all the toast crumbs and butter are mixed together moistly.

Take your nicest serving bowl, preferably glass.  Layer the crumb mixture alternately with the applesauce, starting and ending with crumbs.  You can put the whipped cream on top now, if you are ready to serve, or you can chill the aeblekage and top it just before serving.  It is traditional to decorate the whipped cream with small dabs of red currant jelly, or another red jelly could be used if currant is unavailable.  Although I am a convert to the make-your-own-applesauce practice, anyone who sometimes has need for a special dessert in a hurry would be wise to keep applesauce and toast (and don't forget the whipped cream) on hand.

2. Have you ever planted a tree? If so was there a special reason or occasion you can tell us about?
Oh dear, I believe we planted a few, but they didn't do so well. But this was just as well. When my children were small, they would often bring home a pine seedling from school around Arbor Day. However, our small city lot had plenty (or even too many) trees already. It was like taking coals to Newcastle.

3. Does the idea of roaming around the countryside (preaching or otherwise) appeal to you? Why or why not?
Yes and no. To be like Johnny Appleseed, always roaming and never settling, is not appealing. But to spend some time traveling about would be fun. I don't think I would do much preaching, though. (This makes me think of one of my favorite books, Cold Comfort Farm, in which one of the characters' dearest wish is to travel about in "one o' they Ford vans" preaching. The movie is pretty good too, but don't miss the book. It's by Stella Gibbons.)

4. Who is a favorite "historical legend" of yours?
I have a soft spot for Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and the band of merry men in Sherwood Forest.  I grew up with Roger Moore's version on TV and Howard Pyle's book, and more recently have been enjoying the historically inaccurate, seemingly allegorical Dominick Minghella one on DVD.  

5. Johnny Appleseed was said to sing to keep up his spirits as he travelled the roads of the west. Do you have a song that comes when you are trying to be cheerful, or is there something else that you often do? 
Well, the Danish Hiking Song works pretty well.  You can listen to a line or two here. We sing it at Family Camp.  
And speaking of singing and Family Camp -- we usually use the Johnny Appleseed grace at least once, and here is the original Disney version.


Silent said...

What an interesting recipe.

Sally said...

mmm, my mouth is watering, I need to try aeblekage! I am checking out that link you left me thanks.

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

So glad you put the pronounciation in the post...not at all how I would of said it. Fun play.

Barbara B. said...

"Quantities are approximate" -- LOL, that sounds like all of my grandma's recipes!

Singing Owl said...

My mouth is watering too! Mmmm!

I LOVE Robin Hood and Maid Marian! If you dare, get the original book by Walter Scott. Not easy reading, like all books of the era, but fascinating.

Thanks for playing!

DogBlogger said...

Wow, I've never heard of aeblekage before... and it sounds yummy! Thanks.