Friday, September 26, 2008

A Johnny Appleseed Friday Five

I'm hosting the Rev Gals & Pals Friday Five today, so I think I'll write about someone who has interested me since my childhood. Raise your hand if you know that today, September 26th, is Johnny Appleseed Day! September 26, 1774 was his birthday. Johnny Appleseed" (John Chapman) is one of America's great legends. He was a nurseryman who started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania, but he was among the American settlers who were captivated by the movement west across the continent. As Johnny travelled west (at that time, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) he planted apple trees and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. A devout Christian, he was known to preach during his travels. According to legend, Johny Appleseed led a simple life and wanted little. He rarely accepted money and often donated any money he received to churches or charities. He planted hundereds of orchards, considering it his sevice to humankind. There is some link between Johny Appleseed and very early Arbor Day celebrations.

So, in honor of this interesting fellow, let's get on with the questions!

1. What is your favorite apple dish? (BIG BONUS points if you share the recipe.)
This is not my favorite. I mean, there's apple pie, and apple crisp, and apple strudel, and apple bread...but it is really good! It seems an appropriate little recipe to share, this being the home of Cheese Heads.
Cheesy Baked Apples

4 medium apples - peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
In a shallow dish, arrange apple slices. Sprinkle with water and lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Sprinkle over apples. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until apples are tender. Uncover, top with shredded cheese, and bake 5 minutes more or until cheese melts. Great side dish!
Serves: 6.

2. Have you ever planted a tree? If so was there a special reason or occasion you can tell us about?

Yes, I planted a plum tree in the backyard of my childhood home in California, with help from my dad. Never was any tree treated so tenderly, watered, fertilized, and the second year we watched with anticipation to see how many plums we would have. Nothing happened. Finally, late in the summer, one small plum appeared. We were excited, and we watched its purple progress with thoughts of juicy Santa Rosa plums dancing in our heads. We were scheduled to take a vacation to Texas, so we gave the tree a good soaking before we got in the car. We calculated that the plum would be ripe about the time we arrived back home--still the only plum on the tree--but everyone decided that Daddy and I would be the ones to eat the "fruit" of our two years of labor. When we arrived home I ran out back right away--THE PLUM WAS GONE!

I cried. (I was only 8.) Later that day we discovered that a no account, shiftless, bum of a neighbor (I guess it still bugs me) had helped himself to our one and only plum. That poor tree--it never produced another one.

3. Does the idea of roaming around the countryside (preaching or otherwise) appeal to you? Why or why not?

Oh yeah! That's one of the reasons I was fascinated by Johnny Appleseed stories. I liked the wandering idea then, and I still do. Have you read "A Walk Across America?" Well, I think I'd prefer an RV, but I'd love to hit the road. Preaching too? What else could a preacher woman ask for?

4. Who is a favorite "historical legend" of yours?

I know this is cheating, but it's my F.F. and I already picked him. It's Johnny Appleseed, of course. Even the little we know is fascinating. How often does one encounter a truely selfless, kind, singing, tree-planting person, after all? I always wondered just what made him "tick" and why he thought planting trees was so important.

5. Johnny Appleseed was said to sing to keep up his spirits as he travelled the roads of the west. Do you have a song that comes when you are trying to be cheerful, or is there something else that you often do?

I sing. Sometimes I sing the Johnny Appleseed song. Really. Here it is.


Sally said...

What a fun Friday 5, I am going to try your recipe! Your plum tree story is kind of sad though!

Processing Counselor said...

Great FF and the recipe sounds like a good one. Non-cooking me is going to try it!

Auntie Knickers said...

I found the same version of the Johnny Appleseed song -- great memories of camps and retreats where it's a favorite grace. I'll have to try that baked apple thing. Apples and cheddar -- a great Wisconsin (or Vermont?) tradition.

Silent said...

I thought I knew the "Johnny Appleseed" song, but I only knew the first verse. Thanks!

Lori said...

I love Johnny Appleseed too! My son did a report on him last year. Did you know that he was always bare footed? Even in winter. And he only got sick once in his life and that was when he died. Amazing and wonderful fellow.

Anonymous said...

great play and a very fun FF! thank you!

the video & song totally made me smile!

Rev Kim said...

Great play! Those cheesy apples sound yummy!

Barbara B. said...

Cheesy baked apples... now I'm hungry!!!

Lesley said...

Thanks for a great FF - that cheesy apple bake is definitely going to feature on my table some time very soon!