Back in September I went through my mom's recipes with the intent of throwing them all away. I ended up keeping seven of them... which was five more than I had anticipated. Most recipes are either meat-based entrées or sugar-based desserts, neither of which I eat.
What I wanted to find was her Applesauce & Walnut Bread and Spanish Rice recipes. What I actually found was these...
The apple pie is one of the few recipes that I have experience making with the originator. My grandmother let me help her make her signature dessert numerous times. Everybody who tasted it fell in love with it. I tried to encourage her to enter it into an apple pie contest, but she never would. So one year I tricked her into making me a pie "for a bake sale" and entered it into a contest for her.
She won first prize, as I knew she would.
Making a seriously good apple pie is more of an art than the science of following a recipe because the apples are always different. Sometimes they are sweeter... sometimes they are more tart... sometimes they are small... sometimes they are big. And sometimes the variety of apple you want isn't available so you have to use something entirely different and make it work. My grandmother always tasted the apples before deciding how she wanted to proceed. Sometimes she uses extra sugar, sometimes less. Sometimes she added lemon juice. Sometimes she altered the spices too. Decades of making apple pies taught her just what she needed to do to get a consistently amazing pie. And she tasted and re-tasted every step of the way.
In order to develop the skills my grandmother had, I would have to make a pie a week for five years. Maybe even a decade. It's a lot of trial and error, and she's not here to offer advice on dealing with the crazy-huge number of variables.
Which is why I haven't made a single pie since she stopped baking them.
I thought I might give it a try after she passed, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it. And every apple pie I've ever eaten that's not hers falls short by comparison, so I stopped eating apple pie.
What I eat instead? Pepperidge Farm apple turnovers...
These things are better than they have a right to be. And, since they are frozen, I can cook up just one as a treat when I have some room for carbs available. Easy and delicious.
But one of these days... one of these days... I will make my grandmother's apple pie again. Or try to.
Because "Pepperidge Farm Remembers," but so do I. And what I remember is how amazing my grandmother's apple pies were.