Wednesday, October 16, 2013

College Days Apple Bread

It's these crisp overcast days that take me back to the joy of an unexpected college care-package.  It's these fall days with yellow brown leaves fluttering to the ground.  They cause me to remember trips to the post office hoping to turn the dial on my old-fashioned glass and metal mailbox door to discover a ticket to exchange at the window for a cardboard box packed full of love from home.  It's these days when I'm longing for the perfect apple bread because I recall peeling back tinfoil and cutting into the crispy sweet edges and lightly spiced moist apples cooked soft in the center of Mrs. Cantrell's bread.  Rhonda was my roommate all four years at Radford University, on campus and off, and all four years we were blessed with her mother's apple bread a couple of times each fall.

Over the years I've tried this recipe and that recipe but none tasted similar or even came close.  No sugary crisp edges, no moist chunky apple center.  Several years ago I reconnected with Rhonda on facebook. The fall soon after, (when I remembered that delicious apple bread), I sent her a hopeful message asking for her mom's recipe.  Instead of a long remembered recipe, I learned that Mom Cantrell had passed away and no recipe was around.  I was devastated for Rhonda's loss and I was determined to bring that apple bread back to life one day.  For myself and for her and future college students in my life.

This fall, it happened.  The leaves are orange, red and yellow and they're busy fluttering down in the breeze, the air is crisp, the sky is overcast, my coffee is steaming next to me on the counter and I was yearning for a bite of that apple bread.  I stumbled across several recipes on Pinterest.  One recipe's photos looked  just about right but soon another recipe followed and the ingredients read like it could've also been just right.  This morning I pulled out everything I needed to begin.  I was SO excited about trying a combination of these recipes, that I forgot to take a few photos as I carefully peeled three apples and diced thick uneven chunks and stirred ingredients.  (My Ugandan friends, Violet, Mariah and Titus would've been proud of my paper thin apple peels with a paring knife!)  

This chunky batter looked like no batter I'd tried before so I knew I was onto something a little special.  I hemmed and hawed over self-rising vs. regular flour, over the scent of cinnamon versus allspice or both. I eyeballed the cups of sugar: too much or not enough? And in the end this treasure bread is sliced gold.  It's not exact, but it's the closest I've come.  And may I just say, Yummmm?  Emphasis on mmmmm.  If you find an hour to try this recipe, maybe, just maybe you'll want to send it to a college student somewhere whom you know and love.

College Days Apple Bread

3 medium apples, peeled and diced (I had Honeycrisp on hand.)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice

Peel and dice apples, place in large mixing bowl.  Add eggs, oil, milk, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir with a spatula till well-blended.  Add flour, seasonings and stir again till well combined.  (No self-rising flour on hand? Make your own by adding 3 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp of salt to your 2 cups of flour.) Use shortening and dust the pan with flour before pouring batter in.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or till a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for five minutes, run a knife around the edges, then turn out onto a baking rack.  Makes one loaf.

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013

There's a real hesitancy when it's time.  He's worked hard filling out and editing an online college application for days and then it's time to finally press Submit.  Hubby and I are the proof-readers. We've combed over and re-saved online pages to make sure questions are answered correctly, everything's filled out to the nth degree.  And when there's nothing left to do but say a little prayer as he sends the application out into dark internet space, we stand back and watch under his shoulder. (We would check over his shoulder but he's closing in on 6'7".)

Tonight a hiccup occurred.  He tapped Submit and instead of a Thank You followed by a page to download for our files, the site responded that he appeared to be 25 years or older and could not apply with this application.  You haven't heard three people gasp or seen three sets of hands go for the keyboard quicker! (Strangely, it turns out we did fill his birth date in correctly, but the site somehow responded in this way to let us know he hadn't waived the right to review any teacher or counselor recommendations.  Age and recommendations... Hmmmm.  Thankfully between all of us we got it figured out in less than 5 minutes before REAL frustration set in.

I still can't get over the fact that he's filling out college applications and I am the parent who has the honor of editing them. That I am the second (or third) set of eyes hoping to tweak this just right, or catch that little mistake, or add this bit of detail over here.  Some of the questions keep him on his toes or make him wonder about what they're {{really}} looking for in an answer. (My theme song? Best thing since sliced bread...? My most treasured possession?  Super power I'd like most to have? Gadget that needs inventing?  Biggest little worry?)  These have all been questions he's wrestled a bit with.

In the end I know he will be accepted to and study at the institution the good Lord has planned for him. That, and that alone, makes it easier to watch him press Submit, when the application is finally finished to the best of his ability.