A Story and a Recipe

By Dorothy Johnson


Everyone has his own opinion, but to me, March is the cruelest month of the year. One day we are prodded with the promise of spring, warm sunlight, the sight of grass and more singing birds.  The next day we are reminded of the fierceness of winter in Maine, cold days, raging winds, the smell of snow in the air and frozen, dirty piles of snow.  The last snow of March will be a “lamb killer” as my aunt called it because the lambs have been born, but are not yet ready for the cold, wet snow as March shows its true traitorous colors.

I remember one March on Robbinston Ridge.  It was the winter of 1962-63 and it had been a winter of much snow.  My aunt and uncle lived on a hill and their garage was located on the opposite side of the road.  In those days no plow ever touched the steep and winding driveway so we had a shoveled path to the road.  

The path was steep and narrow so my uncle built steps in the snow over the tall snow banks made by the plows so the path would not be too slippery as the snow melted a bit during the day and froze again during the night. That winter we had thirteen steps to get to the road and my uncle wanted them to last until spring really came.

My aunt and uncle would go up and down over those steps without problems.  They carried groceries and water up over them without a misstep.  When I went up or down over the steps, I usually had problems.  I might step too close to the edge and knock a small piece off the step.  I might step too hard coming down and put a hole in the step.  That was the worst step of all because it endangered the passing of others.

As the edges were worn away and holes became more numerous, the path became more slippery and treacherous for those carrying staples up the hill.  My uncle gave me some grief over the condition of the snow steps, and I wondered why I was the only person who could not navigate them without problems. Still it was worth the hassle to get to Aunty’s table and find out what magic she had made in that shiny pot on the woodstove. 

Last week I promised the recipe for an Apple Johnny Bread to go with the delicious Tomato Chowder.

Apple Johnny Bread


One cup flour

Three-fourths cup yellow corn meal

Three teaspoons baking powder

One egg, slightly beaten

One-fourth cup sweetened condensed milk

Three-fourths cup water

Four cups apples, cut in small, thin pieces

Four tablespoons melted butter


1. Mix and sift dry ingredients.

2. Dilute milk with water. Blend well.  Combine egg and add to dry ingredients.  Beat well.

3. Stir in apples and melted butter.

4. Bake in a shallow well-greased pan at 350 degrees for thirty plus minutes.

5. Serve with the Tomato Chowder.

6. Step lightly over snow steps.