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Apple Pie
10/25/2008 - Michele Moore

One of my favorite rites of passage every autumn is baking the first apple pies of the season. First I have to hunt for the only piecrust recipe I use. Since the file system for my recipes is as disorganized as my underwear drawer and the top of my desk, it was remarkable that I found it after only a couple of minutes. Truth be told, I could probably produce the same crust from memory, but I prefer the security blanket of a list of ingredients.

Before beginning, the atmosphere must be just right. I turn on the stereo and put on a Manheim Steamroller Christmas CD or my annual favorite holiday music, “An Evening in December.” Music playing, I am ready to commence my culinary ritual.

I mix the dough for the crust and my mind is flooded with so many Thanksgivings...as a child they were always in Pennsylvania. My grandparents had a camp along the Black River near Clarion. It was rustic, set back in a hollow of trees. The scent of smoke from fireplaces wafted in the cool air outside, and with every step, was the crunch of leaves and acorns and pine needles. There were grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. There was the hammock that the older cousins pushed the younger cousins in, sometimes spinning us all the way around. There was the thud-clink of the uncles playing horseshoes. There was laughter at the grown-up table as well as the children’s table. The dough is finished now, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and placed in the fridge to chill.

I take out the apples. These are Cortland apples I picked myself just three weeks ago when I went up north for a long weekend visit. I have saved them for just this moment. I cut them in quarters, core them, and peel away the crimson skin. I slice each section into the big yellow bowl I always use. The music still playing in the background, I slice, slice, slice thinking about the beautiful, sunshiny day we went to the orchard to pick. Between my sister-in-law, my nieces, and me, we picked fifty pounds of apples, nearly half of them flying back to Florida with me the following day. To the crispy tart white-flesh fruit I add a little flour, some cinnamon, and a generous measure of sugar, and stir it all together.

I roll out the bottom crusts and fill them with the succulent apples, dotting butter atop the fruit, then gently lay another crust on top, tucking and pinching until they are sealed and ready to slip into the oven. In no time, the warm aroma of apples and cinnamon begin to fill my house. It is autumn again and the rituals of the season have begun. In a few short months the time-honored traditions of the coming weeks will be another set of memories. But for now, and the days ahead, I will revel in each and every one as I have for so many years before. I love this time of year.

13 Comments From Other Members
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10/25/2008 Jan Bridgeford-Smith from Newark NY wrote:
Oh, Michele. This is a wonderful essay. I love your descriptions and easy flow. Thank you for a piece that positively comes off the page in a cloud of wonderful aromas!
10/26/2008 Susan Terbay from Dayton OH wrote:
Michele - absolutely beautiful and thank you for sharing for a piece of your 'memorable apple pie!' No sweeter taste in all the world. I love this time of year as well!! commonness abound!
10/26/2008 Anne Mudd from Wheat Ridge CO wrote:
Thank you for this, Michele. I found a beautiful sense of innocence baked into that delightful apple pie. (Do you wear aprons? I'd swear I saw one as you floated by.)
10/26/2008 Michele Moore from New Port Richey FL wrote:
I do like to wear aprons, Anne! They don't have to be pretty, but they have to be practical...otherwise I end up wearing every ingredient I use. : )
10/26/2008 CJ Golden from Newtown CT wrote:
My apple pie ritural is similar. Except I use Oranoque Orchid frozen pie crusts and canned apples. But sometimes I add extra cinnamon all by myself. Hmmmm. Maybe I've been missing something here - I might try your memory this year and make it one of mine.
10/26/2008 Robin Avery from Miami Shores FL wrote:
I love this time of year too, Michele. Thanks for your delightful descriptions of family gatherings, celebration and the delicious aromas of Holiday cooking. You are blessed with incredible memories.Your story is an inspiring example of how family life and love can be. I'm not a good baker but I love to eat. I dare ask, may I have a piece of pie?
10/26/2008 Michele Moore from New Port Richey FL wrote:
Robin, if you were sitting at the table in my house right this minute, I would be happy to give you a slice of pie! With my family, however, they smell pie from a distance, like a shark smells blood in the water. Suffice it to say, yummy baked goods do not last long here. On a comical side note...on the occasions when I bake something to take to work and don't let my husband or, in particular, my son touch it, I hear, "How come you're always baking for someone else?!" Cj: maybe we can arrange for some tutoring! Pie Baking 101. Smiles to you!!!
10/26/2008 Mary Allan Mill from St. Petersburg FL wrote:
What's nicer than to walk into a kitchen and take a deep (calorie-free) breath of apples, cinnamon, sugar and autumn? It brought back very special memories and a tear or two. Thanks!
10/26/2008 Michele Moore from New Port Richey FL wrote:
I know the question was rhetorical, Mary, but what's better, you ask? A big juicy slice, that's what! I'm happy to have elicited fond memories and tears, so long as the tears were not sad ones.
10/26/2008 CJ Golden from Newtown CT wrote:
Isn't it amazing and wonderful how we equate so many happy memories with the foods associated with them. The apple pies; turkeys; my oh-so-dense and hard matzoh balls. This is the stuff that joy is made of. And the most joyous are those recipes that have followed our families from generation to generation. My chicken soup is made in my grandmother's soup pot. My favorite cake recipes are my mother's. And so, Michele, will your children remember - and sometime far in the future attempt to duplicate - your apple pie. Food is love. Always was. Always will be.
10/26/2008 Susan Terbay from Dayton OH wrote:
Do you mind if I bring some homemade vanilla ice cream for the hot apple pie- yum!!!! Yes I use to make homemade ice cream - however I find now that I'm older and wiser local dairy farmers do a wonderful job!!! I'll sign up with CJ for pie baking 101 - did it so many years ago from scratch - lost the 'touch'.
10/26/2008 Michele Moore from New Port Richey FL wrote:
It's like riding a bicycle, Susan...you'll get the hang of it again...and YES bring that ice cream. And, Cj...I love the connection to the past that family recipes and ways of doing things gives us. I have a mill that my mother used forever to strain her applesauce (we cook the apples with the skins on, then run them through the mill to separate the skins form the good stuff), and I still use it when I make applesauce. My kids call me for recipes because they want to make their food taste like what they know and love. I am a happy camper in the kitchen, creating expressions of love there!
10/26/2008 Michele Moore from New Port Richey FL wrote:
I must submit a retraction of sorts. After speaking with my parents this evening, my mother corrected me as to the location of my grandparents camp. She should know, since these grandparents were her parents! The name of the camp was The Black River Stop. It was situated on the Clarion River between Clarington and Cook Forrest. There...I feel better now. I do so like to have my facts straight. Just a short walk from camp, at the edge of the river sat what we cousins called The Big Rock. It was a massive boulder we sat on and watched deer come to the water's edge across the river. Ah, memories.

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