May 25, 2010

Free Apples or Not

Mrs. Wall was a lady that lived a the very end of the street we lived on up north. She told my mama that she had an apple tree that she was not going to need all of the apples. Mama being a mama regardless of the ciaos that accompanied everything she tried to do realized that taking us to pick up apples would be a treat as well as something that would be fun for her two children to do. The day we were to go pick up the apples was something that we were looking forward to; Mama had really talked the adventure up to us, much the way a good mother would. The three of us; Mama, my little brother and I set off walking to the end of the street with paper sacks to put the apples in. I was pulling a red wagon; this was Mama’s idea in case we got more than we could carry. I was five so toting a sack full of apples would have been impossible for me; my little brother was only three so he might have carried one. The wagon made it even more of an adventure.

When you are little everything seems bigger and farther away than it really is; the short walk seemed I know to me very far and even darker than it really was. It seemed even as if fog settled around the house that Mrs. Wall lived in. Mama had been invited to pick the apples up so knocking on her door was something she did not think she needed to do. After we arrived she talking to me or thinking out loud decided that she would let the old lady know that we were there to pick up the apples. The deal was we were to pick the apples up off the ground; not get the ones off of the tree. Mama knocked on the door for what seems like forever, Mrs. Wall did not come to the door. Mama made the decision that she has told me I could get the apples so we will just pick them up off the ground, there can’t be a problem with that.

We made went across the side yard into the field area that the apple trees were. I don’t even think we had picked up an apple when a police car pulled up at the end of the drive. It was a long driveway and curved to the house the police passed us before getting to Mrs. Wall’s house.

The cops got out of the car and walked though the tall grass and walked straight to my mama. She was shocked that they had gotten out of the car at all much less came to where she was just about to get started picking up apples. The police were not at all mean to her. They said that Mrs. Wall had called them and told them that mama was trespassing and stealing apples from her. She also told them that Mama did not have permission to be on her property. The old women had been in the house the whole time she was knocking on the door and purposely did not come to the door. She had maliciously planned to cause my mama another form of difficulty. The police after Mama told them that the old lady had told her to come and get apples then drove the rest of the way up to Mrs. Wall’s house knocked on the door she must have told them that she had give anyone permission to get apples; the police then drove to the distance we had walked back toward home telling mama that she should not go on her property again.

Mama talked about this for years, not understanding why the old lady had called the law on her for picking up apples that she said she could get. Mama probably would not have baked a pie or baked us any apples, so it was just as well that we did not take fill my red wagon up with apples that day anyway. This is such a typical way that lonely people get; mean to others because they are so miserable themselves.

Mama did not get the apples that day. That story was one she told over and over. Possibly because she had a run in with the law. We did not have apples to eat that day. Anything apple has always been my favorite. Baked apples being the top of my list. I do them but I can and never will be able to make them the way my grandmother did. She did not measure, she just did it. Butter, butter, butter, sugar, sugar and more sugar. The sugar was a crunchy candy on the outside of the apple, that I have never been able to copy.
This is the recipe that I use. That still does not come close to the not using a recipe my grandmother's baked apples were.

6 med. apples (Granny Smith or Golden Delicious type)
1/4 c. sugar blended with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon (more, if needed)
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 stick melted butter

Quarter, core and peel the apples; cut the quarters into lengthwise thirds to make slices about 1/2 inch wide. Toss in a bowl with sugar, then lemon juice and finally with melted butter. Let sit 3-4 minutes to render juices and absorb flavor; taste and fold in more sugar, if needed. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Turn apples into 6x9 inch baking dish and set in middle of oven, basting every 8-10 minutes with accumulated juices. Apples are done when slices are tender but hold their shape. They should color lightly and be perfectly delicious; baste with more seasonings if necessary.

If juices haven't reduced to a thick syrup, remove and boil down in a small pan; pour over apples. Serve as is or with heavy cream, sour cream, whipped cream, custard sauce or ice cream. Makes 3 cups. Serves 4.

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