Before Grandma and Pap-Pap were married, Grandma was a Diehl, and the Diehls were German. German food and customs reveal a very strong connection to faith, farm life, food preservation, and traditional cooking, and there is a fierce and deep-rooted commitment to family and community. These values are also reflected in the lifestyles of the Amish and Mennonites (also German) who live nearby and naturally influence rural community culture. It is not surprising, then, that many of our family’s ways include recipes and events that are also near and dear to the Pennsylvania Dutch. One example is our family’s treatment of the Holy Grail of fruit…the apple.
Apple-picking time came around in September in the Allegheny Mountains, and every year there would be some kind of schnitzing, which is just a Pennsylvania Dutch term for an apple processing social. The men and boys would gather in the cellar of The Farm House to peel and core the apples and (sometimes) make cider, and the women would sit together in large groups on the porch and cut them up for making apple butter and apple sauce, and for packing in freezer bags to make pies, dumplings, and cakes all year long. With the scent of cider, bonfire smoke, and crispness of chilly Fall evenings, it was a blissfully exciting time of year.
Copyright 2018, Christine M. Snow