Song of the Day – Don’t Sit under the Apple Tree – Glenn Miller Band – click here for music link
Like many people I don’t make apple pie, I make apple crisp, but once a year I will try, using store bought crust and apples from the local farmer’s market, so at least I can say I made a homemade pie….sort of. Pie crust is a lost art, drilled out of my generation by decades of warnings about saturated fat and heart disease. With apple crisp you use oatmeal which is supposed to be good for you. Now things have changed again and they say it’s sugar that’s bad not fat. Unfortunately, apple pie has both, but moderation is also the key, so I think the occasional piece of apple pie could be justified, in view of the newer guidelines. I am just trying to convince myself that anything made with lard could be good for you.
My attempts at pie crust have produced a rock-like substance, which is why I stick with the crisp, but my mother’s pie crust was light and flaky…. she used Crisco, but I prefer butter, at least you can get some omega-3’s. Unfortunately, my mother says she has lost her knack for pastry, (it’s an art form that needs to be practiced regularly), although every once in awhile she will make a crust for a turkey pie, which is still better than anything you can buy in the store. I remember when we were kids my mom would make three pies a week and a dozen butter tarts (I have used her recipe for butter tarts with great success but with store bought shells), and it would all disappear. My father was a prolific pie eater, but as he did a lot of physical work he never gained an ounce. I remember an old man dropping by the homeplace one day unannounced in search of his roots. I think his grandmother was a sister of my great grandmother Ellen, but as this was long before I had any interest in genealogy I didn’t pay much attention, although even then as a teenager I was interested in history and stories. My mother was in the middle of making her weekly pies, her board and rolling pin all in a flurry of flour. He stayed for supper and said it was the best apple pie he had ever eaten and it reminded him of his mother’s baking. (No one had the heart to tell him there was a picture of his relative upstairs in the attic, riddled with holes, from where my brother had used it as a dart board). Later we went to visit Ellen’s homeplace, a farm with a big old yellow brick farmhouse set high on a rolling hill just outside a city about eighty miles away (ie prime real estate). A doctor had bought it and was renovating it so his daughter would have a place to ride her horses. It was a beautiful spot. The only thing I know about Ellen is that she was a school teacher who had married a local farmer fifteen years older than her in 1870 and she raised nine children in our house. My great grandfather John was by the few accounts we have, a gruff old man, and when her mother was sick and dying he refused to take her to visit, so she decided to walk. Such is the family folklore, but I hope someone might have offered her a ride part of the way. This is an old picture of the homeplace and Ellen out front with two of her daughters and grandchildren. I still have the chairs they are sitting on, and the matching antique dining room table which folds out to seat twelve.
How many weekly pies you would have to make to feed nine children, as well as all the threshing crews. Like I said, it is a lost art form. I wonder what will happen when all those older women who make the turkey and fruit pies for the church bazaars are gone. Homemade pie will be a memory of the past. No one has time to make pie now, it’s easier just to buy one. Although I have never had much luck with store or bakery pies as they usually have corn starch as a thickener and I find it gives it a peculiar taste, but then I am comparing it to what I grew up on. Although in a pinch President’s Choice sells a perfectly acceptable frozen apple crisp, made with Northern Spy apples, and you still get the benefits of a lovely smelling house. I am sure all those cooking shows must have some instructions on the perfect pie crust, so one of these days I’ll have to tune in….and practice, practice, practice.
Scoop of the Day: The local farmer’s market sells crab apple jelly, from BayField Berry Farm, and last month when I was at a craft sale, amongst all the crocheted and quilted offerings, there were a couple of tables selling homemade jellies and jams, including crab apple, which is made from the pressed juice, so I would not even attempt it…..besides which I am all jammed out for this year – this jam session is over.
PS. The fruits of my labour…
Quote of the Day: Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.” (Jane Austen)