|Carol put together an album that is studded with adorable pictures of her as a child.|
Every Christmas dinner there were at least six pies that proudly stretched across the table as soon as the dinner was cleared from the table. There was a pot of coffee brewing as adults bellied up to the table and the kids ran through Grandma's house. Carol, my grandma, my dad's mom was the most natural homemaker (yes, homemaker) I have ever came across. Upwards of eight different pies and a cheese cake for dessert were guaranteed and seemed effortless. If someone had a favorite pie, she would make sure it was there Christmas day. It was what we did, it is what I miss.
Pumpkin, apple, cherry, mince meat, sour cream raisin, pecan.
Lemon, key lime, peanut butter.
Each pie was picture perfect, homemade pie is like that, always pretty, welcoming, easy. Crust flaky from fat, filling sweet with love.
She had a way of puling a fresh pie out of the oven within an hour of me dropping in unexpectedly. Seriously, just baked a pie she chimed as she would whip cream to dollop on top and pour coffee to wash the mess down. Years later as we grew closer and she grew sicker she would impart small words of wisdom to me. You can freeze a few unbaked pies and put them directly into the oven. She showed me how to make meringue while generally demystifying the kitchen. Putting a slice of bread in the cookie jar keeps the cookies moist. She was as strong as she was confident.
If there was one place I could snap my fingers and go back to it would be her kitchen. The smell, the worn counter tops, the abundance of dessert, the love.
I look at a pie and I am reminded of my Grandma. Warm thoughts fill me, I calmed and I carry on just as she would want.
Several years have passed since I last sat down and shared a cup of coffee with my Grandma but a day does not pass that she does not cross my mind. Life is like that, she has left my life a little sweeter, I am grateful. These days her son, my dad, has baked enough pies that come fall in the Pacific Northwest apples get tossed with some sugar and cinnamon, tucked inside the same crust that carol used and an hour later he has a perfect apple pie effortlessly cooling on the counter.
Grandma's Apple Pie
Grandma put together several cookbooks, this recipe comes from Home Cooking is a Family Affair. When the house burns down I will have this cookbook clutched under my arm. My copy is cherished, slightly falling apart, stained with butter and dusty with flour. The recipes in this book are vague, understanding my Grandma's habits make sifting through the recipes easier. The pie crust recipe has just a few steps and doesn't specify what it yields. I know that Carol would have made enough crust for several pies to tuck into the freezer so of course this recipe for crust will have you prepared for the event that you need to bring a pie.
Don't fret while making pie, it will be harder than it should be. It might bubble over, it might not be uniform, it didn't come from a machine.
Enough for two pies with tops
4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups butter, cold sliced into small pieces
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white vinegar
8 tablespoons cold water
Cut butter into flour and salt in a large mixing bowl until it resembles a course meal. In a small bowl beat egg and add vinegar and water. Add liquids to flour mixture and mix until it evenly combined. Divide dough into four equal pieces and shape into disks. Roll out on floured board to fit into a deep dish 9" pie plate. Extra disks of dough keeps well in the fridge for a week or tightly wrapped in the freezer.
6 cups apples, cored and sliced
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients except butter, pour into an unbaked 9" pastry shell, dab with butter. Moisten edges and cover with top crust. Press and turn edges to seal. Slit top crust in several places. Brush top of pie with a little water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 45 to 60 until crust is golden and apples are tender. Cool before slicing.