The draw of dumplings

Sweet treats are a favorite at annual apple festival

Sweet treats are a favorite at annual apple festival

October 10, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -The line wound through a cluster of picnic tables, down a small slope, beyond the wagging tails of a 4-H club's seeing-eye dogs and past the gardeners' and spinning and weaving booths.

Standing near the end of the long line was Sheila Hoover, 45, of Greencastle, who had an empty foil-lined baking pan tucked under her arm.

Hoover was one of the many people seeking to take home freshly baked apple dumplings Saturday at the Tayamentasachta Environmental Center during the 22nd annual Apple Festival and Antique Engine Display.


"I stand in line every year," she said. "This is the longest I've seen it."

Hoover planned to buy five dumplings at $2 apiece.

"They'll be gone today probably," she said.

Proceeds from the festival benefit Tayamentasachta.

In the kitchen of a farmhouse on the property, a group of volunteers was putting together the dumplings.

Locally grown Jonathan apples first were taken out of a wooden crate, peeled and cored. They then were handed to volunteers such as Ena Verdier, who demonstrated the way to make a dumpling.

On dough rolled out the night before, Verdier placed a peeled and cored apple atop a spoonful of sugar. A cube of margarine was placed down the core, followed by a sprinkling of salt, cinnamon and another spoonful of sugar.

The dough then was folded over the apple and the dumplings were placed onto large baking sheets. From there, the pans were handed out of a kitchen window and loaded onto a wagon, where they were taken to Greencastle-Antrim Elementary School to be baked in the school's kitchen.

Fifteen hundred dumplings would be baked by the end of the festival, said Charles White, director of Tayamentasachta.

Dumpling buyers could decide whether to add syrup, which was made from melted cinnamon heart candies, water, sugar, butter and salt and thickened with corn starch.

"That's what makes the apple dumplings," volunteer Bea Flemmings said of the syrup.

The dumplings were taken from the house to the nearby elementary school kitchen on a wagon towed by a red lawn tractor.

Behind the wheel was Nancy Henry.

Henry, 56, of Greencastle, said that around 12 years ago, she was helping in the kitchen when the person who was driving the tractor had to leave.

"They said, 'Would you do it?' I've been on the tractor ever since," said Henry, who has heard, likely only half-jokingly, that she can retire from her job as a kindergarten teacher only if she agrees to continue driving the tractor.

In the school's kitchen, the dumplings were baked in a convection oven, which cuts the baking time to about 30 minutes.

Assisting Henry in the kitchen was fellow kindergarten teacher Deb Shank. Henry previously did all the work herself - loading the pans onto and off of the wagon, into and out of the oven - until Shank volunteered to assist.

"She's been a mentor to me," Shank said.

As for Henry - the tractor lady - she spends a day surrounded by dumplings with little to show for it.

"Do I eat apple dumplings? No," she said, holding her hand up, though, with justification. "But my husband does."

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