Every summer, from the time I entered junior high until I graduated from high school, I went to a one-week camp in Leesburg — Florida’s Methodist Youth Camp.
I have some great memories of those days at camp, and right or wrong, none of those memories center around prayer or the “reason for the season.”
All of them are memories of wonderful times with a bunch of kids from around the state; kids I’d only see for a week once a year.
There’s the summer my girlfriends and I really disliked our counselor so we filled her bed with chocolates and Sugar Babies between the sheets hoping she’d see nothing but bugs when she pulled her covers down.
And the time my friend and I entered the talent show singing, tumbling, and dancing while wearing our dirty, old gym suits (back then a gym suit was a one piece white bloomer).
There was also the year I was sent home early because of playing the air guitar while singing “Wild Thing” and jumping up and down on the top bunk. (I’m sure there’s more to that story than I care to remember.) It was a very quite ride home to Miami with my Dad at the wheel.
I fell in love with a boy one year, and then the next year I fell in love with a counselor. Every year I’d make new friends with girls from around the state and we’d write letters until school started, then we’d just get too busy.
One year I even found my voice — the one that makes us brave enough to speak up and speak out. That was the year we learned the lake that we all enjoyed swimming in had been polluted by an orange juice company.
When I got home from camp that year, I began my first efforts at being a community organizer, encouraging our church membership to boycott the orange juice company. Many did — I still do.
Among so many other memories of summer camp is that of marching into the mess hall for meals. Always — ALWAYS — sitting on every single table was a big plate of bread and three bowls, each filled with a Methodist Youth Camp necessity…
Apple Butter, Peanut Butter, and Butter Butter
And thank goodness for those three bowls, because the meals were awful. We lived on apple butter, peanut butter and butter butter sandwiches — breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The apple butter was dark brown and cinnamon-ly delicious. The peanut butter was practically liquid and would pour from your spoon onto a slice of bread. It didn’t taste great, but the apple butter and a mound of butter butter made it scrumptious. The three together made a heavenly sandwich that was fit for a king.
Ever since those days at Florida’s Methodist Youth Camp, I’ve loved apple butter; everything about it. Its sweet aroma takes me back to a time when life was innocent; a time when I could be carefree and extremely foolish — unclouded. (And we could toilet paper houses without being arrested.)
I’ve been making my own apple butter for about 10-years. In fact, when I realized how simple it is to make it, I nearly fainted. This is the time of year I make it, naturally, because it’s apple season (somewhere, but not in Florida).
For me, making apple butter kinda’ kills two birds with one stone, so to speak. It reminds me of some very happy and playful times in my life, but it’s also one of the “things” of fall, which happens to be my favorite time of year. Yes, even though I live in Florida.
My recipe for apple butter is going to fill your house with the aromas of fall, and you’re going to love it!
So, what is apple butter?
Well, it’s not butter – that’s for sure. It’s actually like applesauce, but cooked longer which is what gives it that darker coloring and rich apple flavor.
Of course, you’ll try it on your toast, but you might also like it on your pork chops. Experiment!
Like I said earlier, I was quite surprised to learn how easy it is to make apple butter. I first learned how to make it when I met an elderly lady who was passing out samples to shoppers at a gift store in central Florida. She so willingly showed me her recipe and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I’ll tell you this, though — the secret is in the fabulous Apple Peeler, Corer, Slicer that I have.
With my magical apple peeler tool, I can cut up 6 pounds of apples in no time. Simply put, it’s wonderful!
You toss everything into the slow cooker and go about your day, or — better yet — go to bed and wake up to the aromas of fall. I promise, it will automatically put you in a good mood.
You can use any apples at all.
I just happen to be a very lucky girl, because my friends spend their summers in northern Georgia and when they return to Florida, they bring me a giant 24-pound bag of apples. This year it was a mixture of Mutzu, Winesap, Honeycrisp, Gala, Jonagold, and Pink Lady.
Here’s the Recipe
6 (about 24 small to medium apples) pounds apples – peeled, cored and sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar and 3/4 cup of light brown sugar
1 tbl. ground cinnamon (Feel free to be generous. I’m always generous with the spices.)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg 1/4 tsp. ground cloves 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbl. pure vanilla extract
- Place the sliced apples into your slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, combine the sugars, spices, salt, and vanilla. Then pour it over the apples and mix well.
- Cook in the slow cooker on low for about 10 hours, stirring occasionally (if you want to), until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the apple butter until smooth, or put the mixture into a blender and puree.
- Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, then cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze.
That’s it! That’s all there is to it!
It’s fun to think back to my days at summer camp.
I might not have been the model camper, but that’s definitely where my foundation for my own spirituality was laid, it’s where I slowly began my journey into adulthood, and it’s where I discovered my voice.
To my first camp counselor (Thelma) that I despised enough to fill her bed with candy, I’m so very sorry.
Bon Appetit, friends!
Let me know how you like your flavors of fall.