My first Apple Pie and a Tribute to Grandma

My grandma made wonderful apple pies.  She often had a pie in her refridge, usually either apple, lemon, or chocolate.  To her, making a pie was easy as...well, pie.  My mother makes equally good pies--only, her approach always involves a little drama over if there will be enough pie dough to cover the pie (there always is) or whether the crust will come out okay (it always does).  And then there's me.  A little wary of attempting the same recipes my mother and grandma made with so much success, I steered clear of baking pies.  But it's high time for pie time, and in honor of the AMAZING women in my family, a few months ago, I attempted my very own apple pie.

My Grandma is the type of person who keeps going and never looks back.  Before she became severely ill with Alzheimer's disease, no matter how difficult her life got, she never felt sorry for herself.  When times got tough, she got tougher.  She loved to dance and never missed a polka dance at her church.  She always listened to the Saturday morning polka program on the radio and danced in her little living room.  She loved dressing up at Halloween, and frequently told us about the time she went to her church Halloween party as "Apple Annie" complete with wig and mask, and nobody knew who she was.  Her house on Christmas Eve was just about as close to heaven as I've ever experienced.

Grandma had a lot of sayings and advice, both famous and infamous in our family.  Here are a few "Grandma-isms":

     On love, a job, or pretty much anything: "Say a novena."

     On men:  "Kick him in the pants!"

     On marriage, to her daughters: "Never let a man know you can do anything, or you'll be doing it the rest of your life."

     On politics:  "That darn Constitution!"

     On the top health/beauty cure-all:  "Bag balm."

     On general frustration with the rest of the family: "You people."

     On good apple pie: "Use 20 Ounce apples."

And so a few months ago, my Grandma in mind, I opened up my mother's recipe book and took a look at the hand written recipe.  The recipe contains minimal instructions for the pie and none for the crust.  Nevertheless, I forged ahead.

I decided to deviate from the recipe a little and used half whole wheat pastry flour for crust (I consider fruity desserts a "health food" and usually try to boost the health factor by using whole wheat flour.)

The pie came out wonderfully, and I can honestly say I have conquered my pie fears.  I don't think my pie was as good as Grandma's, but I don't mind that.  Grandma can hold the title for Best Apple Pie Baker forever, as long as I am concerned.

Apple Pie

Pie Crust for Double Pie

2 cups flour (I used half whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp salt 
3/4 cup Crisco
1/4 cup cold water

Mix the salt and flour together in a large bowl, and then cut the Crisco in with a pastry fork.  Sprinkle in the water.  Form two balls of dough to roll out.  Lay one half of the dough in a pie pan, and use the other half to cover pie.

Pie Filling

4 large 20 Ounce apples (I used 5)
3/4 cup sugar 
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
If apples are ripe, add a little lemon juice.
1 tbsp butter

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, and flour in a small bowl and set aside.  Peel and slice apples into a large bowl, then stir in sugar mixture.  Add lemon juice if necessary.  Pour apple mixture into prepared pie pan.  Dot butter over apples, and cover with other pie crust, folding the edges.   Brush top crust with egg yolk, if desired.  (I didn't do that, but I'll try it next time.)  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then 350 for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  


  1. Nostalgia up the wazoo! I can remember mom(grandma) baking pies late on Saturday nights. She'd make a pie, then wash the kitchen floor and cover it with newspapers. (Why did they do that?) When the floor was dry (around midnight), we'd enjoy big slices of pie.

    How I miss that!

  2. Awesome Mary! You're right - I remember Grandma almost ALWAYS having a pie in the fridge.

    And don't forget one of the all-time famous Grandma-isms: "Priests should be allowed to get married so they can know what hell is REALLY like."

    your Bro'

  3. I was fortunate to have a slice or two of Mary's inaugural pie. Scrumptious with light flaky crust. Perfect with coffee.
    Thanks Mary.

    I love you,


  4. You might try adding some cloves, allspice, or raw sugar to the spices you use to flavor the apples.

    I sometimes add a teeny sprinkle of chilli powder. I just shake a little dust out of the chilli powder jar into my palm, and then put it in the bowl (just in case I shake out "too much").

    The chilli powder and the cinnamon both go well together (surprisingly).


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