There are four or five apple trees at home, trees that my siblings and I have climbed on for years. There used to be a sand box under one. A years before that, when my grandparents lived on the farm, there was a red slide leaning against a tree branch that made for great fun.
Come every fall, little red apples would fall to the ground. And we’d walk around with a pail and collect the little guys to make pies and apple sauce. Mom and Grandma would work together for hours, filling the kitchen with that sweet smell of cooking apples. One would make pie crusts while the other would peel and core buckets of apples. They would make dozens of pies and canned apple sauce, which were all saved for the winter.
I never realized at the time how lucky I was to live in a household where loving hands made so many treats from scratch. We ate fresh and local throughout my whole childhood. It was about being self-sufficient and making the most of what resources we had on the farm to feed the family as economically as possible, a tradition my parents espoused while many other kids my age were probably fed mass-produced, boxed candies, cookies and other fast foods.
For us, it was normal to have a fresh-baked pies on the table for dessert. We thought nothing of it.
It recently dawned on me that after all the years of helping my mom in the kitchen, I had never attempted making pies on my own. While I used to help mom by making cookies, cakes and other baking, I never made pies, aside from slicing the apples.
This fall, with the bounty of beautiful apples and pumpkins, I had an urge to make pie, just like Mom’s and Grandma’s.
Mom uses the Tenderflake recipe, which seems simple enough, but requires just the right amount of dough-handling. This weekend, following Mom’s phone instructions, I made two apple pies, using New Brunswick McIntosh apples, one pumpkin pie, using a local pumpkin, and froze two extra pie shells.
The endeavor took my full attention for a good three hours. I can’t imagine how my Mom did it (and still does) with several children running underfoot and my dad calling for cow records, amongst other distractions.
Now, when I take a bite, it’s a little taste of home.