The 2012 Apple Challenge continues with a trip down memory lane

April 1, 2014 | 1:48 am

My sister will graduate from high school in May.

The ceremony is months away, but I’m already thinking about graduation gifts. Knowing my sister, she’ll want cash. Knowing how quickly she spends money, I think it would be best to get her things. A shower caddy, flip flops and laundry basket aren’t the most exciting presents in the world, but they’re what you need when living a dorm. Of course, I try to tell that to my sister and she rolls her eyes.

She’s 17 and the youngest of six. She’s very good at eye-rolling.

I still remember one of my high school graduation presents: A collection of gift certificates to stores and restaurants in downtown Iowa City, courtesy of my aunts and uncles.

My dad and his sisters all graduated from the University of Iowa, so they were thrilled when I was accepted, too. Freshman orientation was basically Dad showing me all the places he hung out at when he was a student. I couldn’t find the English-Philosophy Building on my first day of classes, but I knew how to get to John’s Grocery.

With gift certificates to places like Cookies & More, Hamburg Inn No. 2, and Bushnell Turtle, I was able to orientate myself in my new town, plus grab lunch or a snack with each visit. It was the perfect gift for a cash-strapped college student.

When my family returned to Iowa City in 2006, I was sad to see that some of the places I loved had closed during my absence. Many great stores and restaurants have taken their place, but I felt like my dad as a pointed out to my kids where these restaurants and shops used to be.

(They’re pretty good at rolling their eyes, too.)

I came across a copy of Bushnell Turtle’s cookbook at the Iowa City Public Library. I can’t remember if I ate the apple cake when the restaurant was open, but it was great to be able to make it as part of The 2012 Apple Challenge.

Apple Cake served with Butter Sauce

Cream together butter and sugar. Add the egg. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Add the apples.

Pour into greased bundt pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the butter sauce, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup half and half, ½ cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar. Cook until it boils, then add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Serve the butter warm over apple cake.

Source: The Original Recipes of Bushnell’s Turtle by Ed and Sherri Zastrow (G & R Publishing Company; 2009)

 Note: This is a dense cake, so keep a close eye on it while baking.

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