Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Memories of Pie

The smells and sounds of Grandma’s kitchen in the morning amazed me at the age of 8; the crackle of the eggs frying up for breakfast and the salty smell of the bacon that she made every morning for Grandpa, the bright yellow lemons on the tree outside her kitchen window, and the smell coming in through the open patio doors, of hot wet dirt as the garden sprinklers dampened the ground before the California sun began to beat down. Grandpa would give a tug to my pigtails, still damp from my mother’s wet comb and so tight that the skin of my neck felt stretched. Uncle Bill would be sitting at one end of the giant formica table dipping toast in a glass of milk, his navy blue security guard uniform and his slicked back hair telling me he would soon be leaving for work. By this time, we had already made the long journey to our new home in Washington, so visits to Grandma’s house were not as often as they used to be. This visit signaled the annual family reunion where, in my 8 year old mind, grey haired relatives with bony fingers would arrive with plates full of deviled eggs and sliced ham and stories of life in Kansas where grandma and her 12 siblings grew up. I knew the real reason they all came though, and it had nothing to do with stories and eggs but everything to do with Grandma’s amazing pies.

Grandma could turn an apple into a wondrous thing. I remember her doing the same with peaches and strawberries but the apple pie really stood out for me because of the way she could peel all the skin off the fruit in one long twirly strip. I would sit between mom and grandma with knife in hand and teeth gritted as I tried to get that skin off without breaking it. At the end, my apple always looked like I had used a chainsaw on it with random bits of red skin still attached and chunks missing while theirs were naked and just as round as when they had started. Even though I still have a hard time getting the skin off in one piece, every time I peel an apple for one of my kids I remember sitting at that table and being included in that kitchen ritual with the two most important women in my life.

Pies have become a celebration staple in my own house. Anytime a birthday, holiday or picnic comes around; it just wouldn’t be the same without a pie on the table. So here are a few of our favorite recipes to try in your own kitchen.

Grandma’s Apple Pie 
(Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, 1950’s) 

6 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg dash ground cloves
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

In a large mixing bowl toss apples with lemon juice. Combine granulated sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add to apples and toss until apples are coated. Transfer apple mixture to pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter or margarine. Trim pastry even with pie plate. For top crust, roll out remaining dough. Cut slits in top crust. Place top crust on the filling. Seal and flute the edge. Brush with milk, if desired. To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the pie with foil. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil; bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or until the top is golden brown and apples are tender.

Blue Ribbon Cherry Pie 
 (Vintage Vicksburg Cookbook) 

• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon butter, softened
• 2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans pitted tart cherries, drained and reserving 1/2 cup juice
• 1/4 teaspoon red food coloring
• 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• 1 pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Combine cherry juice, food coloring, almond extract and lemon juice. Add to dry ingredients, mixing well. Add cherries and mix well again. Add butter and let stand for 15 minutes. Pour cherry mixture into pie crust and finish top with lattice work pie crust. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.

 Lemon Cake Pie 
(Sunset Cookbook)
Mixes all together but when it bakes it becomes a lemon curd on the bottom and a light cake on top) 

• 1 9-inch deep dish pie crust
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 1/3 cup flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
• 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 3 eggs, separated
• 1 1/4 cups milk

Put rack on lowest position in oven. Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, stir together melted butter and sugar. Stir in flour, salt, lemon peel and lemon juice. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks with milk until well blended, stir into lemon mixture. In another medium sized bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until they hold distinct but moist peaks. Gently fold egg whites into lemon mixture. Pour filling into pie crust. Bake on the lowest rack of the oven until the top is browned and the center jiggles only slightly when pan is gently shaken (45-55 minutes). If the crust begins to brown excessively, drape it with foil. Let cool before serving.

 Simple Peach Pie 
(Lynd Fruit Farm, Ohio) 

• pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie
• 5 cups fresh peaches, sliced
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/3-1/2 cup flour
• 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Stir together flour, 1 cup sugar, and cinnamon and set aside. Wash, peel, and slice fresh peaches. Mix together peaches with the combined dry ingredients. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan and dot with butter. Cover with top crust, cut slits in it, seal the edges. Sprinkle top with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Cover the edges with foil to prevent over browning; remove foil for the last 15 minutes of baking. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the crust.


{ MELBOURNE ROAD } said...

Hi Gayle :o)
Your post took me right back to watching my Grandma peel an apple in one long twisty peel too. Great memories!

Rustown Mom said...

Oh, I so love pie, too! Can't wait to try that lemon one (: