Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Local Culture

I've blogged about Amish culture before. And, I'm not sure why, but it looks like we'll be spinning a web around PA German Culture this year, including the Amish.

Last week we visited the Quilt Museum and Heritage Museum in downtown Lancaster (more specifics in November's E-zine). Growing up in that area, with a mom who was raised "plain" and friends who were Mennonite, I had acquired some knowledge about PA German culture and language. I don't have the accent, but I do have the melody and sometimes I still end sentences strange vonct. But after attending the program with my kids, I was really intriqued by how much I didn't know. It is kind of like that cashier or bank teller you see every week (okay, with ATM and self-checkouts this may not be a good analogy, but that's another blog). There is a familiarity and comfort level there, but if you ever actually get into a conversation, you find out they are much more complex and interesting than you imagined.

All kinds of things are catching my eye (fractur, springerle, the belsnickle, quilts, coverlets, scherenschnitte). The web is being woven and as always the best way to catch my children in its threads is to bait it with a little food. You know, those PA Germans really do know how to bake. Central Market in downtown Lancaster is a good place to start. But, making Grace Hostetter's Apple Crumb Pie is an authentic bit of PA German culture you can bake right in your own kitchen.

5-7 Tart Apples (Rome Beauty preferred)
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon and 2 tsp potato starch (or use corn starch)

Crumbs: 1/2 c sugar, 3/4 c. flour, 1/3 c butter (nope, not margarine!)
Crust: 1 1/2 c flour, 1/2 c Crisco, 1/2 tsp salt, 7 TBSP cold water

Cut the crust ingredients together until the mixture is pea sized balls. Add water until flour forms into a dough. But just enough, just until it holds together. Roll out dough on floured surgace and place in pie pan. Trim and pinch edges to crimp.

Cut crumb ingredients together until mixture forms small lumps. Peel, core and slice apples into crust. Sprinkle Cinnamon/sugar/starch over. Pour crumbs on top - carefully.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45- 60 minutes until crumbs are brown and apples are softened. (Sorry, you just have to judge it yourself.)

Go ahead, have another piece, it is good for breakfast too.

I'm planning on arranging a little trip to the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center in November to see their fractur, look for details in the November E-zine email.


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