Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm thankful for apple pie.

It can be a happy thing when an experience fails to meet your expectations.*  
Making pie, for example.
At some point I got it in my head that making pie, especially the crust, was difficult, and best left to experienced pastry-makers. The plethora of ready-made pie crusts available at grocery stores fed into my belief. It must be tricky or time-consuming, if so many bakers opt for the pre-made version.
I decided to test that belief this year, and volunteered to make apple pies for Thanksgiving. After briefly browsing through cookbooks, I went to the source of all my kitchen knowledge: Mom.
As usual, she came through, and showed me the pie crust recipe she's used for decades. As I copied it, I was astonished: four ingredients, five basic steps. Could it be that simple?
As for the filling, her instructions were even easier, and not even written down: add chopped apples, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. I could do this.
Yesterday I made my first attempt. Following the simple instructions, I had pie crust dough within minutes. 
I filled the crust with the apple filling, topped it off with the rest of the dough and popped it in the oven. About 40 minutes later I opened the oven door and voila! I had pie!
  Giddy with success, I called my mom to tell her -- and to thank her for all her kitchen mentoring.
This morning I did it all over again, and now I have two apple pies to bring to the Thanksgiving feast at my folks' house. We'll all be there: Mom, Dad, two brothers, my sister, plus spouses and grandkids. 
And those are the ingredients for a most happy Thanksgiving.
I wish the same to you and yours.
*In writing this, I couldn't think of a word that means the opposite of "exceed," the usual word used with "expectations." I searched the web and found I'm not alone in the hunt for that elusive word. Some writers have proposed "deceed." What do you think?

Last but not least, here's the recipe:

Mom's Apple Pie
(Makes dough for 1 covered apple pie.)

  Put 3/4 cup of Crisco in a mixing bowl.
Pour on 1/4 cup boiling water, and add 1 Tablespoon of milk.
Whip with a fork until smooth and thick like whipped cream.
Sift in 2 cups sifted flour and 1 teaspoon salt.
Stir quickly until you get a nice, smooth dough.

Peel and chop about 4 Macintosh apples.
Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon to taste.

Grease pie plate with Crisco.
Split dough in half.
Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface.

This next step is a neat trick from my mom, which I wouldn't have thought to do:
Once the dough is rolled to the needed size, gently roll it back onto the rolling pin. Rest the rolling pin on the top edge of the pie plate, and unroll the crust into the plate. It works!
Fill the crust with the apple mix gradually; sprinkle a bit more sugar and cinnamon onto each layer.
Roll out the top crust and lay it atop the apples. Crimp edges with a fork, and use the fork to gently poke vent holes in the top crust. Trim excess dough from the edges.
        Optional: Gently brush top crust with an egg wash (one egg, mostly whites, beaten with a bit of water).

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
Reduce to 425 degrees and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes.

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