Early Day Heim Orchard

Early Day Heim Orchard
by Lloyd Heim  
 For a boy to be born at the precise time Grandpa’s six acre orchard first began bearing fruit, was the essence of good fortune.  Add to that two acres of cherries and two acres of pears and you have a recipe for good health!  I grew up with an apple in each hand.
   Jonathan apples were medium size, bright red, pleasantly tart and were yummy good all winter, even until April, in Grandpa’s fruit cave.  Most of the trees were Johnathan.  Ben Davis variety was especially recommended for pies and apple dumplings.  The apples were quite mealy, poor keepers, less apt to be eaten raw.  But when cooked, Wow!
   Grandpa also included in his orchard some more exotic varieties like Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Grimes Golden.  These were all “delicious” when eaten with a bowl of popcorn.
   For a few years in the early 1920’s harvest was of sufficient size that apples were shipped by rail to Chicago by the carload.  This was a fruit business that employed 4 to 8 men during harvest.  The business developed as a “social security” program which permitted Grandpa to “retire” from farming by turning the reins over to my Dad, Emerson Heim. For 16 years Grandpa seldom missed a day in his orchards.  Prunning trees, spraying with lime sulfur for scab, or arsenate of lead for worms and bugs, and picking cherries (one hundred bushels in an average year) were jobs he could do in a timely manner.
   Grandpa was Joseph Gross Heim.  He furnished the apples but Grandma Rosie created the apple dumplings.  How I wish I knew the recipe.  I’ve been at her elbow, literally, during the making, so I can guarantee they were made from “scratch”.  Suffice it to say, the most precise recipe could not hold a candle to the apple dumplings Grandma used to make.

   Grandma’s Apple Dumplings:

3 large apples
2 cups flour
2 – ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp. Salt
2/3 cup shortening
½ cup milk
2 cup brown sugar
2 cups water
¼ cup butter
¼ tsp. Cinnamon
Peel and core apples.  Cut in half. To make pastry, sift flour, baking powder and salt together.  Cut in shortening until particles are approximately the size of peas.  Sprinkle milk over mixture and press together lightly, working dough only enough to hold together.  Roll dough as for pastry and cut into 6 squares and place 1 piece of apple on each square. Fill cavity of apple with sugar and cinnamon.  Pat dough around apple to cover.  Fasten edges of dough on top.  Place dumplings 1 inch apart in greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan.  Bake in moderate oven.  When finished baking you are ready to serve…pour sauce over them. Yummmmmm, I can smell them now!
Sauce:  Combine brown sugar, water and spice.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add butter.  Bake apple dumplings a 375 for 30 – 35 minutes.  Baste occasionally during baking.  Serve hot with rich milk or cream.