I was peeling apples for applesauce, and I was transported back to my youth. Come with me won't you?
When I was a wee little lady, I spent many many afternoons cooking and baking with my Gramma. I have memories of stove top popcorn popping everywhere, pots that over boiled, watching the oven and willing the food to cook faster, measuring and mixing, rolling and cutting. I even remember her letting me help her make her beloved sticky buns. They were a family favorite, so she brought them to every event. I only wish I could remember how to make them...
One that came rushing back in waves today was peeling apples. She taught me how to hold the knife, and how to twist the apple with my other hand, while taking off the peel in circles. While I struggled with that maneuver, she would tell me tales of how she and her sisters would have apple peeling contests when they were little girls.
Then she would tell me that one of the criteria would be that the peel couldn't be too thick. Meaning, you wanted it to just be the peel, with as little apple as possible. So, with my tongue firmly planted between my lips, I would set to work on another apple to see how thin I could make the peel.
And then while I worked on that technique, she'd tell me the next rule. You had to try to make the longest string, w/o breaking it. Finally, the trick was to be the fastest! So, whoever had the longest, thinnest string of apple peel--first--would win! It was only for bragging rights...until the next contest, but that didn't stop a little girl peeling apples with her Gramma from practicing until her fingers were numb and blistered. When we raced together, she always won. Sometimes she even gave me a head start, and she'd breeze right by me, doing 2 apples just to show off.
In an age where everything has to be faster and easier, I haven't peeled my apples that way. I have used my apple corer and peeler to do it quickly so that I can get on to the next step. Not tonight though. I practiced on each apple, somehow, I just don't think I will use my handy dandy speedy peeler anymore. It wouldn't be the same. I think I'll do it this way from now on, and maybe I'll even teach the boys. Maybe I'll tell them the stories that she told me while I practiced and practiced.
I will always have fond memories of my time with her. Unfortunately, I am afraid my Gramma is slipping away. I saw her in the grocery store the other day, and as I approached her, she stepped away because she didn't know who I was. She didn't recognize me. She was in a hurry, so I had a brief conversation with her before she hurried away. I didn't finish my list that day - I checked out what I had, and then I sat in my car and cried. After more than 65 years of marriage to my grandfather, he passed away last year...she hasn't been the same since. Her memory is fading, and time is catching up with her, and she seems to be the only one who doesn't know.
While I will likely never get the chance to beat her at peeling apples, I will cherish those memories.