Grazing Along the Crooked Road - Sample Cookbook Recipe

Sample Recipe / Story

I Called Her Aunt Ethel
Pat Houck - Founding Member, Wilderness Road Dulcimer Club - Rose Hill, VA

“She wasn’t my Aunt, but I called her that. I called her husband Uncle Mel. They were my neighbors when I was growing up in the 1940’s and 50’s in Ewing, VA, in Lee County. Their house sat just across Indian Creek from where our house sat and I saw them almost every day of my life. They didn’t have children and I often wondered why because they would have made great parents. I know, because they were good to me.

Aunt Ethel was a musician. She played the piano. As far as I know she never performed for anyone but Uncle Mel. In the evenings, after the day’s work was done, she played for him. I think she never knew, but she played for me as well.

Like most kids my age, I had a bicycle and I had a mother who watched over me carefully. I was allowed to ride my bicycle along a route my mother specified. The route she chose for me was the country road, which ran in front of our house, across Indian Creek, and around a curve where Uncle Mel and Aunt Ethel’s house sat.

On those summer evenings long ago I was treated to the sound of melodies that the evening breeze carried to me through open windows as I rode my bicycle past Aunt Ethel and Uncle Mel Thompson’s house. As I passed by I could see her at the piano and I could see Uncle Mel sitting in his favorite chair. During those times, I believe Aunt Ethel wouldn’t have felt more satisfaction had she been playing the piano in a packed concert hall. After all, she was playing for the love of her life and who could be more important than that?

Long after Aunt Ethel and Uncle Mel died and long after I was no longer a young girl riding my bicycle on a route designated by my mother, I learned to play the Appalachian Mountain Lap Dulcimer. When my husband gave it to me for my 60th birthday I learned to play simple melodies. As I played the dulcimer for him in the privacy of our home, my thoughts carried me back to the white frame house where Aunt Ethel played the piano for Uncle Mel.

In 2005, I, along with Joan Porter of Rose Hill and Pam and Terry Lewis of the Wheeler Community, founded the Wilderness Road Dulcimer Club in Rose Hill, VA, Lee County, in an effort to preserve that part of our musical heritage.

Apple Crisp
Pat Houck – In memory of Aunt Ethel – Rose Hill, VA

4 - cups pared, sliced apples
1/4 - cup water
3/4 - cup all-purpose flour
1 - cup sugar
1 - tsp. cinnamon
1/8 - tsp. salt
1/2 - cup butter
Ice Cream for topping

Place apples in lightly greased 10 x 10 x 2 inch baking dish and add water. In bowl, sift flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt, using a pastry blender; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples and bake at 350˚ for about 45 minutes. Serve hot with ice cream. Yields: 4 servings

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