[Nameplate] Overcast ~ 58°F  
High: 70°F ~ Low: 52°F
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A good week - one worth reliving

Sunday, October 28, 2012

There are times when it would be good to have a rewind button for our lives. Last week was one of those.

My younger son was home for a visit. He couldn't have picked a better time. The weather was good. The autumn colors were spectacular. The apples were ready to be turned into apple butter. And we found a persimmon tree loaded with fruit, so now we know what winter will be like.

After the most miserable summer I can remember, a cool autumn would have been wonderful even without the cooperation of the trees. But, in spite of dire warnings that the drought would produce little in the way of colorful foliage, the trees put on quite a show last week.

Our schedule included trips to Perryville, New Hamburg, Murphysboro, Alto Pass and Giant City State Park. Every direction we went seemed to be prettier than the previous one.

Reds were scarlet. Yellows were gold. Some of the leaves were burnt orange. Others were crimson.

Obviously, the color show couldn't last forever. By the time we headed to the St. Louis airport Sunday, the browns had started to take over.

Now we are dealing with the falling leaves. Cape Girardeau's new leaf-pickup plan is outstanding. It recognizes that trees don't understand schedules. So now leaves will be picked up in every neighborhood during the pickup season. Good move, city.

A bushel of Jonathan apples will produce 25 pints of delicious apple butter using our family's favorite recipe from "What's Cookin' in Sweet Springs, Mo." published by the W. S.C.S. of the Methodist church. The cookbook, from my wife's hometown, was published a long time ago when telephone numbers were still two digits.

The Delicious Apple Butter recipe is from a Mrs. William Sampson. Over the years we have adapted the recipe for a slow cooker, resulting in this:

Wash, quarter and core 1 gallon of apples. Leave the peel on. (Our old Crockpot just happens to be one gallon.) Add 2 cups sugar, one-fourth cup cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt. Do not mix. Cover and heat on "high" for one hour. Stir. Do this before you go to bed. Turn heat to "low" for 12 hours. The next morning, stir and press mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Discard peels. Stir in one tablespoon cinnamon. Return mixture to cooker for one hour on "high." Put in pint jars with self-sealing lids.

We borrowed a slow cooker with a one-and-a-half gallon capacity and adjusted the recipe accordingly. Together, the two cookers produced about eight pints of apple butter. Three batches used up a bushel of apples.

When we went to our favorite orchard to buy fresh-picked Jonathans, we mentioned we were making apple butter. Instead of paying $40 a bushel for eating apples, we paid $20 for a bushel of utility grade apples, which worked out just fine.

There's nothing finer than a glob of homemade apple butter on a hot biscuit.

During our wanderings last week, we stopped in at one of our favorite places, the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in Altenburg. It's a wonderful place, thanks to director Carla Jordan and all the wonderful volunteers. Pretty soon the museum will be having its annual holiday display with 40 decorated Christmas trees.

Right now, the museum is featuring an exhibit of photos taken by Cape Girardeau native Ken Steinhoff. His work spans nearly half a century, including photos taken while he was a staff photographer at the Southeast Missourian.

For the exhibit, Ken chose mostly photo stories. They are some of the best I've ever seen. It takes a while to absorb the emotions the photos represent, so take the time to absorb those messages.

If you're interested in local history, particularly from the perspective of Southeast Missouri's Lutheran settlers, the Altenburg museum is a must-see.

After leaving Altenburg, we drove to Tower Rock. The river was up again, so we couldn't walk out to the massive tower of stone in the Mississippi River.

But shading part of the parking area was a small grove of persimmon trees. We picked up a few of the nearly ripe fruit, and my younger son managed to open some of the seeds without losing any finger bits.

What did we find? A spoon. According to one Internet website, that means we will be having a lot of heavy, wet snow.

OK. Drought in summer. Wet snow in winter. Looks like Nature is still managing to even things out.

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

R. Joe Sullivan
R. Joe Sullivan