Last week, I met some friends I used to work with at AAA Michigan. Kathy Vander was one of them. A gifted filmmaker with several awards to her credit, Kathy has branched onto the Internet and, with some friends, created a site called SavoryTales.com. It’s a recipe site, but with a twist. Savory tales provides short videos featuring the stories behind its recipes.
Most families have recipes they trot out on special occasions, recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation or which have a story attached to them that makes them special. Making the dish and sharing it with family and friends helps connect generations and tickle memories.
Two desserts sprang to mind as we talked. Both are pies, one cranberry and the other apple cream. The former comes from my mother and the latter from an aunt, my mother’s sister. Both the bakers have passed on but their recipes remain. Both pies are delicious (at least to my mind) and both bring back strong memories.
My mom used to make cranberry pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m not sure where the recipe came from, maybe from her family of Mennonites. It was just one of those menu items that would grace the table after the main course —well, except for one holiday.
Cranberries pie has to be refrigerated. Since refrigerator space was at a premium just before a holiday at our house, my mom would sometimes store pies in an uninsulated entry way we had right off the front door. One holiday my brother came over with his dog. A big dog. A bouvier. When we sat down to eat, we needed to put the dog somewhere so she wouldn’t be a pest as we ate dinner. Someone suggested the entry way.
We ate dinner, the dog ate dessert.
As for the apple cream, my aunt, my mom’s sister, used to make it for me whenever I’d come to visit her at her home in Indiana. She was a great cook, baker and candy maker. Even after her husband died and she grew feeble, she still made me an apple cream pie whenever I came down. The pie was wonderful in and of itself, but having her make it for me made me feel very special and made the pie that much tastier. Mine is good but not as good as hers. Maybe it was the love she added.
I don’t think either recipe is original, although I’ve not been able to find my mom’s version of the cranberry on any other recipe sites. I’ve offered up both to Kathy along with the stories. I offer them up to you.
Apple Cream Pie
5 c. apples sliced (preferably a dry apple such as yellow transparent)
Put into an unbaked 9” pie crust
Mix together and pour over apples:
o ¾ c. sugar
o 1/3 c. flour
o 1 c. cream or half and half
o ¼ t. salt
Combine 1 T. sugar and ½ t. cinnamon and spread over pie.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes and 350 for 45-50 minutes or until middle bubbles.
Cool. Keep refrigerated.
Have a baked pie crust ready.
Boil together for 5 minutes:
o 2 c. water
o 2 c. sugar
Add 4 c. washed cranberries. Boil until mushy and some of the liquid has boiled away. (Time not given on recipe).
Strain into bowl to remove pulp.
Dispose of pulp. Return strained mixture to stove and heat to boiling. Make a thickening of 2 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch with just enough cold water to turn into a paste. Add to cranberries and cook until thick. Don’t overcook or mixture will start to thin. (Time not given on recipe.)
Put mixture in baked pie shell. Refrigerate. Serve with whipped cream.
Keep away from dogs.
The last is my suggestion and not part of the recipe.
That’s all for now, folks.