Friday, October 22, 2010

Lutheran Apples

One of the reasons I'm such a huge fan of autumn is that it's the season for apples. You already know I have a "thing" for fruits, and apples are the king of fruits in our country. Apple pie. Applesauce. Apple juice, which is a common sweetener for nearly everything, such as juices that claim to be "100 percent fruit juice" but need sweetening anyway.

But this time of year, especially, we think of hot cider and of caramel apples. And bobbing for apples! --That's only done at Halloween parties, right? And personally, I think of going on a nice, long hike, and carrying an apple in my jacket pocket. You know what I mean--those days when you think, "Life can't get much better than this."

We just received a big bunch of apples from my mom, who received a much bigger bunch of apples from the Lutherans here in Jeff City. There's a new parochial school--Calvary Lutheran High School--and they're raising funds for constructing their own building.

Mom told me that Principal Erich Ahlers personally helped load the apples into her car.

Where did the apples come from? It turns out that Christine Hollingsworth (nee Rasa), the mother of a recent CLHS graduate, has family in Lexington, Missouri, who are apple growers. (Lexington, by the way, has a fascinating history--plus it is perhaps the state's oldest and largest apple-growing region.)

Hollingsworth's grandparents, Robert and Laura Rasa, founded Rasa Orchards in 1933, and the orchards are now being run by three of their five children. They have a retail market open during both peach and apple seasons. Their apple market will be open through November. But call first; see comment #1 below. (Suddenly, a trip to Lexington for history and apples sounds like a great idea, doesn't it!)

So naturally the school has an annual apple sale. They take orders around early October, and the apples arrive about the middle of October.

The Lutheran school sells 'em by the bushel, half-bushel, or peck, and this year they offered five varieties: Granny Smith, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Jonathan. I don't think they're organic--so it's not a perfect world--but they are lovely apples, not banged up and bruised, and absolutely fresh.

They were also selling pints and quarts of apple butter, so you don't have to stand around a backyard campfire all day, pushing a big sassafras spoon around a copper kettle full of apple mush. So convenient!

Mom, who is basically "once a Lutheran, always a Lutheran," got a half-bushel each of Jonathans, Fujis, and Golden Delicious. Whoa! I think they must be making bushels a lot bigger than they used to. That's a lot of apples for Mom and Dad to eat on their own! . . . So they share. My parents are incredibly generous.

I'm excited about it. I put a bunch of them into a nice basket out on the back porch--just because they look pretty. They look delicious out there. I can stand in the kitchen, doing dishes, and look out the window, and there they are, smiling at me, those luscious apples.

But it is a bit of a challenge--a glorious challenge--to find ways to enjoy them before they get tired and brown. Fortunately, apples lend themselves to all sorts of applications, sweet and savory. I can make a kuchen. They can disappear into bread. They can go into a stir-fry. Ever make "Himmel und Erde"? It is exciting to think of the possibilities. I shall become the George Washington Carver of apples!

What a hardship!

What a treat!

P.S. Oct. 25: I've amended this post slightly, since Christine Hollingsworth set me straight on some of my facts. Thank you, Christine! And best regards to the CLHS community!


Christine Hollingsworth said...

Hi there, I enjoy reading about your Missouri travels...and thanks for blogging about the apples! It's a great fundraiser for the school.

Just some corrections....the apples are from Rasa Orchards in Lexington (no relation to Principal Ahlers). There were actually 5 varieties available in the school fundraiser - Granny Smith, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Jonathon, as well as pints and quarts of apple butter. The orchard itself has additional varieties throughout the fall such as Gala, Cameo, Jonagold, Braeburn, and Winesap. The orchard was founded in 1933 by my grandparents, Robert and Laura Rasa, and is still in operation by 3 of their 5 children. And yes, the family is Lutheran. :-)

The orchard sells both wholesale and retail, with the retail market open during peach season and through November. Before making a trip to Rasa Orchards, please call their retail market at 660-259-4228 to make sure they are open and have the variety of apple you're interested in buying.

Christine (Rasa) Hollingsworth, mom of Robbie, 2009 CLHS graduate.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Thank you, Christine, for correcting my errors. I'd never go around telling people I'm a "journalist"--more of a "journaler." Or a storyteller!

I'm changing my post to reflect reality. I'm glad I was a little close, at least. Sorta.

I'm also going to tell some of your family story in my post, and I hope you don't mind.

And you're absolutely right: it's a GREAT fund-raiser for the school. Much, much better than selling candy, superprocessed cheeze products, or any of that kind of thing we used to sell when I was in school.

Thanks again,

Christine Hollingsworth said...

Thanks Julie, for updating the post!

Julianna Schroeder said...

Hey, no problem! I don't mind tellin' "stories," but I certainly don't want to be telling any *lies*!