My daughter and me making Mom’s apple pie.
May 2019: Mother’s Day was always a big holiday at our house. We spent the day celebrating my mom, starting with making her breakfast in bed, pinning a corsage to wear to church, and treating her like the queen she was for an entire day. I am the oldest of three girls, and our mom was a homemaker who didn’t work outside the house. Well, that’s not really true. We lived on a ranch, and she often worked outside, even though she preferred to be indoors. She didn’t exercise a day in her life (on purpose), and she detested getting hot or perspiring. However, when she and my dad decided to leave the city life and move their three daughters to the country, well Mom was forced to spend some time outside. The day our bull got out of the pasture into our backyard was a vision I will never forget. Mom ran out with her dish towel and swatted that 1200-pound bull across the backside until he ran through the gate back into the field full of laughing heifers. She rode the John Deere lawn mower all over the yard with a wet towel to wipe her face. She decided to take up gardening one year, and Dad tilled an abandoned horse corral where we planted rows and rows of vegetables. Guess who got to water and weed those rows all summer. It was not my mother. Fortunately, I loved being outside, so I bargained with my sisters, and they took the indoor chores while I basked in the sun and sat on a bucket weeding rows of bean and tomato plants. However, when it came to cooking all those vegetables, once they were ready for harvest, well that was a different problem.
You see, my mom did not like to cook. We nearly always ate dinner at home every night, but Mom wanted to spend as little time as she had to in the kitchen. That was during the 1970s when canned food and tv dinners were all the rage. Cake mixes and Rice-a-Roni came in a box, and all you had to do was add water. We thought we were eating delicious food, and it wasn’t until I was in college that I found out you could make brownies homemade, not from a box.
Mom feeding the cows.
There was one thing my mom would make about once a year, and that was apple pie. She made her own pie dough, and I remember her frustration rolling it out and fitting it into the pie pan. She served slices of her pie in soup bowls because we ate it swimming in a pool of cold milk. It was delicious!
My daughter is now grown, and she grew up in a very different kitchen environment than I did. She’ll remember her mother spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and our house usually smelled like food, although not always pleasant. The days I cooked fish or roasted chiles were days my children preferred to be away from home. They loved visiting their grandmother during their childhood, particularly because she served them hot waffles with margarine for breakfast. It was years before they realized those were Eggo Waffles, and not homemade.
My daughter, Meredith and I often cook together, and occasionally we make my mom’s apple pie. I wish I had a photo of my mother cooking, or forcing that dough into its pan, but we’ve got plenty of photos of Mom working outside. I wish every mom a happy Mother’s Day, with hopes that your children remember the silly stories.
Apple Pie with Milk
• 3 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 sticks butter, cold and cut into 1/4” cubes
• 1/2 cup ice water
In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add the cold butter pieces, and cut into the flour, using a pastry blender or two knives. Alternatively, you can put ingredients (except water) into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 20 times. Add cold water and gently blend into the flour mixture until you have a soft dough. You may need to add a bit more water, but don’t let the dough get too wet. Do not knead the dough, just work it together with your hands into 2 equal size discs. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
When ready to assemble the pie, remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll one out on a floured board. Roll into a circle that will fit into a 9” pie pan. Lift the dough and place into the pan, pressing lightly into the bottom and up the sides. Roll the second disc in the same way, but slightly larger than the first.
• 7 or 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced thinly
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/3 cup flour
• 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour into crust and dot with butter pieces. Place the second dough over the filling and seal the edges, crimping or pressing with the back of a fork. Using a paring knife, cut slits on the top of the pie to allow steam to escape during cooking. Cover the rim of the pie with aluminum foil pieces or a metal ring made for covering the crust during baking (to prevent burning). Bake for 45-50 minutes, removing the foil or ring after 30 minutes of baking. When the pie is golden, remove from oven and cool completely. Serve in slices with cold milk.
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