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Do you know the story of Johnny Appleseed? Born in 1774, he was a true American hero who planted apple seeds and then sold the seedling trees for pennies so that early settlers could grow apples. I guess we could call him one of America’s first nurserymen.
I don’t know all the details about that long-ago gardener, but I do know why there are so many peach trees growing on a particular street in Brooklyn.
As young parents, my grandmother and her husband bought a one-family home on a tree-lined street in Brooklyn. It was a two story house with a small garden plot in the back. And I know that the patch of dirt in the backyard of that house was a very special place for my grandmother. For her, it was an escape when the frustrations of motherhood were overwhelming and a haven when the toils of housework called for a respite.
My grandmother told me that one day she had bought several pounds of peaches at the market. After preparing them to use as filling for a peach pie, she held the pits in her hand, imaging the peach trees they might become. Making up her mind, she put them in a paper bag, grabbed a small shovel and went outside to her backyard. My grandmother proceeded to plant several peach pits in the rich earth. Hurrying to the small plot of dirt next door, she planted a few pits there. Her mission for that afternoon: find a home for each peach pit…and she continued planting pits in every backyard on the street.
I don’t know how many pits grew into peach trees…I do know that I picked many peaches from the tree behind my grandmother’s house…most of them wormy because she didn’t use any insecticides. The next-door neighbor and my best friend who lived across the street also had peach trees in their backyards…probably equally as wormy. 🙂
As a child, I spent many blissful hours on my knees in that dirt, helping my grandmother plant and weed…learning much more than just how deep to plant a daisy seed or which weeds to pull up. I learned to:
- Care about and respect nature
- Care about and respect others
- Care about and respect myself
Another valuable lesson I learned from my grandmother was a love of cooking. From my new parenting book, here’s a lovely child-friendly recipe for a healthy fruit-laden cake that calls for apples, but you could substitute peaches if they are in season.
CHILD-FRIENDLY APPLE CAKE
The wonderful aroma of apples and cinnamon baking in the oven…ahhhhh!
You will need: 2 cups all purpose flour, ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 cup sugar, ¾ cup canola oil, 2 eggs beaten, 2½ cups apples (peeled and sliced thinly), ½ cup applesauce, ½ cup raisins, a large bowl, a 9×13 inch greased baking pan and a spatula.
- 1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and ¾ cup sugar.
- 2. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the oil and eggs and mix well.
- 3. Add the apples and raisins and stir until well distributed.
- 4. Spread the batter in the greased pan. Smooth with a spatula and sprinkle with ¼ cup sugar.
- 5. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes.
- 6. Insert a toothpick in the center of the cake…the cake is done if it comes out clean.
- 7. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- 8. Serves 12…refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container.
Stop by tomorrow for the last installment of The Grandma Chronicles: The Summer of the Black Cat.