The remains of the 60 pounds of apples we picked in Michigan are sitting in a tub in the corner of my kitchen. No longer crisp they are begging to be made into a pie or applesauce or a crumble. Indulge them I did this morning as Mary, Kate and I peeled and sliced eight or so and made one of Mimi's apple pies. Mimi made the best apple pies, perfect crust, just enough cinnamon, nothing goopy, just warm and delicious apple pies. I try every year to duplicate them, I get close but my pie is just never as good as the ones she and my grandfather made every year.
In September Mimi and Bopaw drove out to Stephenson's Apple Orchard in Kansas City for barrels and barrels of apples. Bopaw peeled and sliced, as I snuck pieces of crispy apples, while Mimi prepared the crusts for a dozen or so apple pies that went into the basement freezer after scenting the entire house while baking. Sunday dinners required a pie be pulled out and left to thaw next to the stove while Mimi cooked dinner. By the time the warm pie made it to the dinner table it was without the flaky crust around the edge, certainly the work of the mouse who lived in their house, a small mouse who loved Mimi's pie crust, or so she led me to believe, as I stood with crust crumbs all around my mouth.
And now I make apple pie with my girls, watching Mary and Kate roll out the crust with Mimi's rolling pin, and knowing these people are no longer here to be a part of their life, it is my privilege to make them real for my children. I believe in generations, I believe in tying children to their past as surely as I believe they are tied to their future. I believe in giving them roots and stories and family, in making them a part of the biggest picture there is, to teach them humility and purpose, and to create their stories to have as their own. I believe in my children and their ability to be a part of our tree, generation after generation coming together. And I am in awe of what they will become and how every one that came before is now a part of them. It's a heavy load but one that they will carry with grace.
And I believe in apple pie.
Mimi's Apple Pie
2 cups flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 cup butter (real butter, European butter, Irish butter)
1/2 cup shortening
7 T. ice water
1 t. vanilla
Mix dry ingredients, add butter and shortening, ice water and vanilla. Wrap in flour coated parchment and put in the refrigerator while preparing the apples.
Peel and slice apples, toss with sugar and cinnamon. How much? I have no idea, what looks right.
Divide crust in half, roll out bottom, fill with apples, and top with remaining crust. Cut vents in top to release steam.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350, and bake for 30 minutes, or until top is lightly browned.
p.s. The large hole is courtesy of my husband who clearly thought this was a good looking pie.