By Brenda Owen
If you want to know what kind of person Eula Edith Morgan is, ask her family. They’ll tell you she’s the apple of their eye.
Morgan was recently selected as the winner of the local “Search for Granny Smith,” a contest sponsored by Kroger supermarkets and the Washington State Apple Commission, billed as a search for the world’s greatest granny.
Morgan did not win the national contest, but Ed Marshall, produce manager for the Kroger store at Barnes Crossing, presented her with a $75 gift certificate, and her child, grandchild, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren say she’s tops to them.
Morgan’s daughter, Gwen Garrett, said in her nomination of her mother, “Even though she spans five generations, she fits in all five. Mom holds on to those tenets that are pertinent to any generation but accepts constructive change and growth. She is 87 years of age, but because of her positive attitude, she is young, both mentally and physically.”
Garrett should know. She joins her mother for four-mile walks every weekday.
“We walk at the Barnes Crossing Mall every day, Monday through Friday,” Garrett said. “I have to work hard to keep up with her.”
Morgan, a native of Saltillo, still lives in the house in which she and her husband raised their daughter.
“It’s in the country near Elvis Presley Lake,” Morgan said of her home. “I’ve never had any desire to live anywhere else.”
Morgan, widowed for the past 27 years, taught school in Mooreville and Auburn for 41 years. “I taught fourth grade mostly,” she said.
Her daughter, also a retired teacher, commented, “Everywhere we go, she sees somebody who was in one of her classes.”
Morgan said she enjoyed teaching, and wonders aloud if teachers today get as much satisfaction from their jobs.
“It was a pleasure to teach back then, but times have changed drastically,” she said. “I hope teachers today still get the joy from teaching that I did.”
These days she turns to gardening for pleasure and recreation.
“I work all the time in my yard and garden. I do anything I want to,” she said. “I just tire a little easier.”
Actually, Morgan’s “recreation” would tire most people half her age. Clicking off the list of her morning’s gardening chores, she said, “I planted my corn, onions, cabbage, mustard, radishes, and potatoes. I could buy as many of these vegetables as my family will eat for what the plants cost, but I just like to grow them.”
Her daughter laughed, “She outdoes me. Not only physically, but she keeps me informed about what’s going on in the world. She reads the paper and keeps up with current world events. She’s concerned about more than just her own family.”
Garrett said her mom often bakes food for sick or homebound friends and neighbors.
“She’s given away more banana bread than anyone I know,” Garret said. “And her apple pies are unbeatable.”
Like most old-fashioned cooks, Morgan has never written down her apple pie recipe, but she says cooks who need to follow one can simply adapt a basic apple pie recipe by adding their own touches.
“I can my own apples,” she said. “But you can make a pie from the fresh apples you get from the grocery.”
To make a two-crust apple pie, Morgan uses plain flour, salt, and shortening to make the crust, then she sprinkles sugar and cinnamon over the apples.
“I just fill the bottom crust with apples and add a pinch here and a pinch there of sugar until it suits my taste, the more tart the apples the more sugar you’ll need, unless you like the tart flavor,” she said.
She adds about three teaspoons of cinnamon per pie and bakes it in a medium oven until apples are tender and crust is golden brown.
“The best way to cook is to experiment,” she said.
For instance, with her banana bread recipe Morgan learned through trial and error, that she could add thinly sliced bananas and beat them into the mixture a few at a time until the bananas were thoroughly cut up and well blended.
“This is easier than mashing them beforehand,” Morgan said.
Following is her recipe for banana bread, but she encourages cooks to add their own special touches.
“You can add nuts if you wish,” she said. “I usually don’t if I’m giving the bread as a gift because a lot of people can’t eat the nuts.”
Pecans or walnuts are especially delicious in the bread, she said.
banana nut bread
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3 medium bananas, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup self-rising flour
Cream shortening and sugar together with mixer. Add thinly sliced bananas and beat them into mixture a few at a time until bananas are thoroughly cut up and well blended. Add eggs. Beat well, then add 1 tablespoon vanilla, Gradually add flour stirring well between each addition. Pour into loaf or bundt pan and bake at 315 degrees for about 45 minutes until well-browned. Do not overcook or bread will be dry.