While I was peeling more apples than I cared to count, Emery was out working in the garden, turning the rich brown earth, making it ready for the fall planting. I took a break from peeling, and set the spicy brown syrup to simmer. The entire house smelled of cinnamon and nutmeg. When things felt under control, I stepped out onto the back porch for a bit of a cool off. The kitchen was steamy hot but outside felt cool with a light breeze and a gray sky.
My red homespun check skirt caught the breeze and whipped around my legs, had I been walking I think it may have made me stop to unwind myself.
Emery waved a hello from the other side of the garden fence and leaned on his shovel for a minute. He turns the entire garden by hand with only a shovel. No tiller for him, he loves to turn the ground deep and weed out any old roots. Cats following me I headed out to say hello to him and check his progress. I had a few minutes to spare. He looked deeply at me, as he always does and said, "you know, you have given me the life I have always wanted." He took his hat off and gave my cheek a tender kiss. I know just what he means. I feel the same. The simple quiet life, full of hard work, endless chores of one sort or another. In fall stacking wood and in winter hauling it in every day. In spring, planting and preparing for new animal babies. In summer, weeding in the hot sun, canning, and getting bit by fire ants as I hang clothes each day.
But no matter how hard the work, or how my hands seem always calloused with dirt under my nails, I love this life.
Apple pie filling all made and on the shelf, neat rows of jars with pretty lids. Spicy Apple Bars in the oven. They will be supper, served warm with cream.
These little apple bars are one of the first recipes I ever made as a child. The recipe in a copy of Yankee magazine when I was about 12. I begged my mother to let me make them all by myself. She said yes. I carefully copied the recipe out on a little card and headed to the kitchen. Written out in childlike cursive 40 years ago now. Faded and stained. I still use it. On the back of the recipe card, sealing wax, copper color tried and retried. A new seal (Sunbonnet Sue) and several colors of wax was a birthday present that year.
How well I can remember my mother teaching me to peel an apple with one long curly peel. Breaking it would spoil the fun of the task. Even with all the apples I peeled for the pie filling, I tried hard to keep each peel one long curl. Smiling while I did each one, remembering the challenge so long ago.
The spicy apple bars are calling my husband through the screen door, carried on the breeze to where he is working in the garden, he hollers to me, " are they done yet ?" " Just about !" so time to set out the bowls so the whipped cream can melt and run into a little pool of white goodness under the cake like bars.
Yup, I do have life just as I always dreamed.
Along with half gallon jars, I filled a few quarts with pretty lids to use as gifts and keep at the front of the shelf !
Here is the recipe for the Spicy Apple Bars
SPICY APPLE BARS
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 unbeaten eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups diced apples
1/2 cup nuts (optional)
put all ingredients except apples and nuts in a bowl and mix well. Stir in apples and nuts, bake in greased 9" pan Bake at 375 for 25 minutes