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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Apple Butter Day

Fall is a busy but fantastic time in our family. We usually visit an apple orchard and generally have many family related fall outings. One that we do every year when possible is called Apple Butter Day. Apple Butter Day is hosted by Gerald & Mary Jane White of Tennessee, IL. Gerald is a retired math professor at Western Illinois University where Amy and I went to college. Mary Jane is related to almost everyone in Mcdonough County. They are also the parents of one of my closest friend and the PIL's of one of Amy's closest friends.

In 1976 the White's celebrated the bicentennial by making Apple Butter in the same cauldron that according to Gerald's grandmother was used by her grandmother for the same purpose. This became an annual event on the White's farm each fall. The Whites would invite family, neighbors, church friends, WIU associates and students, and assorted others to a pot luck dinner and especially to take turns stirring the apple butter throughout the day. As the afternoon progressed the apple butter is put into glass containers and distributed to the guests. I have attended about a dozen times in the last 20 years. The above picture is of Amy and I from an AB day in the early 90's.

There are many distinctives about Apple Butter Day and these distinctives have evolved with the event, and as Amy and I have made the transition from college students to family friends. The highlight during my student days was playing football and volleyball and getting off campus. After we graduated, going was more of an opportunity to catch up with old friends. The past few years as our family has grown, the focus has also included keeping tabs on 3 kids and making sure they enjoy themselves. Our friends (Gerald's son & daughter in law) has 10 children and AB day gives Amy and I a chance to hang out with their family. The main highlights for our children besides hanging with the other kids, are eating funnel cakes, going on a hay rack ride through prairie land that Gerald is developing on his property and hunting for geodes.

Geodes are a type of geological formation common in volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The geodes that we find at the White Farm are part of a creek bed. The geodes have crystal formations that have developed within rocks. At first glance it is difficult to know whether you have found a geode or just a rock. A geode will break much easier than a rock and the crystalline formations are a give-away. Here is a picture of a geode found at Wikpedia. Here is a picture of a geode we found this past Saturday . . .

Apple Butter Day is generally held the first or second weekend in October and the weather is usually unusually gorgeous for the event. This year, according to Gerald the weather was the worst in the history of the event. It was actually below freezing when we left our house 5:45 Saturday morning. It warmed up to about 50 degrees and sunny but much chillier than we have been blessed with in the past.

Geodes aren't the only precious commodity that is easier for our family to get their hands on in Mcdonough County. Each year we stop my Macomb's Hy-Vee super market on our way in or out of AB Day and snag the following essentials: Caffeine free Mountain Dew and Sterzing Potato Chips. Now not everyone agrees with my gastronomical choices. Many people, including my dear sister, wonder why you would ever want to put up with Mountain Dew if not for the caffeine. I actually enjoy mountain Dew for the taste and there is little discernible difference in my opinion between the caffeine free and regular variety. For whatever reason caffeine free Mountain Dew has not been available in the Chicago area since the late 80's early 90's.

Sterzing's Potato Chips (click on the chip bag for more product information)are made in Burlington Iowa and are are in my opinion one of the seven wonders of the snack food world. They are a kettle cooked variety of chip that people either love or hate. Amy hates them I love them. They developed a less fat variety a few years back which are okay but since I am 4 hours away from being able to eat them on a regular basis, I don't mind at all getting the not-so-good variety once every year.

Apple Butter Day is a fantastic day for our family. Enjoyable day outings anchored in family traditions certainly work for us. Going down memory lane for junk food is just a perk. Special thanks to, Katherine at No Fighting, No Biting, for featuring this at the Carnival of Home Schooling; to see what works for others head on over to We Are That Family.

Next Time: Three Fears Thursday


  1. Looks like so much fun. We have an apple butter cauldron in our family, as well, that my great-great grandmother used.


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