With Fall came the appearance of apples in the markets on the East Coast, with numerous varieties to choose from, most of which were grown in Upstate New York. As a child, my father took great pride in his ability to peel an apple in one uninterrupted motion, rotating the apple and keeping the knife steady in his hand as the peel slowly curled off the fruit. I was fascinated by it and he always chuckled as I looked on. In the evening, my mother would serve a snack of cut-up apples alongside sliced rye bread and butter, or she would steep slices of apple in hot tea. Occasionally she made baked apples or an apple cake. My father would encourage me to eat apples, stating how healthy they were, maybe because he actually believed that “an apple a day kept the doctor away” (my father typically believed what he read in print) but I was allergic to raw apples and so eventually I just stopped eating them.
I envied my parents and sister, and later on, my husband and children, who took such pleasure in eating this seemingly perfect snack that actually didn’t require peeling. I loved watching them take that very first bite when you could hear the crunch and that pop of juice. I would watch the expressions on their faces as they formed an opinion, was the apple too mealy, too tart, too sweet or just perfect. I still find myself drawn to the apple stands at the farmers markets. I might ask the grower about new varieties, pick one up and weigh it in my hand, look for blemishes, gently squeeze it to see if it feels firm and then buy a few to take home. I have a bowl full of apples in my kitchen right now, purchased for no reason other than that they looked so pretty.
My daughter recently went apple picking in Upstate New York and she brought some of the apples home with her on Thanksgiving. Like everything in life, things may not be exactly as we wish, but we adjust. I accept that I will never experience the pleasure of biting into a just picked Northern Spy or an Ida Red, but I can take those apples and turn them into apple pie, home-made, double crusted and perfect.
Old Fashioned Apple Pie
Crust (enough for a double crust)
2 Cups all-purpose flour
3/4 Tsp salt
1 Cup Crisco
2 Tbs cold water
1 Tbs white vinegar
6 baking apples ( I used a combination of Ida Red, Macoun and Empire)
3/4 Cup sugar
2 Tbs flour
1 1/2 Tsp cinnamon
Juice of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Add Crisco to flour and using your fingers blend until mixture resembles large peas. Beat egg, water, and vinegar together and pour into flour mixture. Stir with a fork until blended. Divide dough in half and shape each portion into a ball. Flatten each into a 4″ circle, wrap in Saran, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Dust rolling-pin and board with flour. Roll one portion of dough out to fit an 8″ pie plate with a 1″ overhang. Carefully place dough into greased pie plate.
Peel, core, and slice apples and mix with sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Place apple mixture in pie shell. Roll out second piece of dough and place on top. Crimp edges or just fold over for a more rustic looking pie. Cut slits in the top crust to allow for steam to escape or use a pie bird. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, until pie is fully baked and apples are tender.