No self-respecting Thanksgiving preparation day would be complete without the making of pies. It's a tradition I have carried on for the last 30 years, when I first ventured into the pie baking world. The past 20 years I have done so with the help of my great-grandmother's rolling pin.
Her name was Lottie Collins until she married my great-grandfather, then she became Lottie Asquith. Lottie had two daughters, Margaret and Bernice, my grandmother. I don't remember Lottie at all. But this rolling pin connects me to her and, in a way, I know her because of it. Her hands held those handles. smoothed flour onto the pin, rolled out pastry that would cradle apples and hold hearty meat fillings.
My grandmother, Bernice, carried on that tradition. She made the best apple pies. Truly. I can still picture her standing in our kitchen carefully peeling each apple, slicing it with a paring knife towards her thumb. I slice mine the same way, probably from watching Grammy doing it for so many years. She never cut herself and neither have I. Which is a bit of a miracle because I am somewhat of a klutz! Grammy's pastry was superb- light and flaky and delicious. There is no recipe for me to replicate it- she never measured anything. It was all done by eye. You can't compete with that. My mom was able to make her apple pies just like her mother's. I did not inherit that talent.
So, I put my own twist on this family classic. I peel and slice my apples, put them in a heavy-bottomed pan and add butter, sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, a little salt and, my secret weapon- a little ground black pepper. It adds that little something that causes you to think about what you are eating. A nice little surprise that you can't quite put your finger on. The apples cook until just fork tender and then I put them in the shell. My pie dough recipe? Betty Crocker pie crust mix in a box. Don't judge me. The result is the same- a yummy apple pie. That's all that matters.
I love using the tools that were used by my family. I love that my hands fit where their hands did. I love that the traditions that they started are still being done today and will, hopefully, be carried on for generations to come.
I also really love apple pie.
I hope all of you have a very happy Thanksgiving!