My grandmother, Lucille Smith Glover, had a few apple trees that she had planted in the field below the chicken house and barn, when she and granddaddy Vernon Bowman Glover had built their house and moved out of his parents’ house in 1940. They had already been married for a few years, and my mother was just a little girl. Grandmother Lu had planted varieties of apple trees called Transparent and Early Harvest. They produced soft yellow apples, small to medium size. The flesh was soft and broke apart easily. These were not like crisp, hard, and tart Granny Smith apples. I never saw any of them in the grocery store. These were my grandmother’s apples, or at least they were to me. But they may have gone back even further than that. My great-grandmother’s people were German, with the last name of Garst. Great-grandmother’s great-grandparents came to America by way of the Netherlands and lived in Penn’s Woods, in Pennsylvania, for awhile. They may have brought the apples with them. Mother said my great-great-grandfather had lots of apple trees.
When the apples would get ripe and fall off the trees, we would take a bucket or paper bag and pick them off the ground. Sometimes they would be bruised, have a worm in them, or have a bad place. We would cut that part off as we peeled the apples. They had the best flavor and were good cooking apples. Grandmother would fix them for special occasions and every day, too. They were delicious on hot biscuits at breakfast, used just like apple butter would have been, or just as a side dish with dinner or supper. They were good hot or cold. If my grandmother cooked a mess of apples for breakfast, whatever was left over was eaten for dinner and maybe even used for a supper of cold biscuits, cold apples, and vanilla ice cream. The apples also made wonderful pies, cobblers, crisps, applesauce, and jelly.
6-8 apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup water
Heat an 8-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add butter and let it melt enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add all the other ingredients, except the vanilla, and cook for about 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to simmer and continue cooking until the desired consistency is reached. Stir in the vanilla a few minutes before the apples finish cooking. The longer the apples cook, the more like applesauce they become; so, if you want the apples to hold together, don’t cook them too long.