Aunt Liz’s Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

filling:
2 Red apples
1 Green apple
2 Yellow apples
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

topping:
1/2 c softened butter
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c flour
1/2 c quick oats

also needed: graham cracker pie crust (either 1 large or several mini)

directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix together the ingredients for the filling in one bowl. Peel and dice the apples, then toss in the dry mixture.
3. Blend together all ingredients for the topping.
4. Spoon filling into the pie crust(s), then add the topping on top. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees, then 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

My mom never really cooked when we were growing up. I remember eating chicken nuggets and french fries a lot during my childhood and not a whole lot of other things. I’m sure we must’ve, but for whatever reason I can’t remember many meals from when I was little. What my mom did well in the kitchen, however, was bake. We grew up knowing how to make everything from brownies to cheesecake, muffins to sugar fudge. (I know somewhere in there we covered “cookies,” as our pantry was stocked with dozens of cookie cutters, but I haven’t been able to bake them correctly in my adult life.) One of my mom’s favorite things to make was her older sister’s pie recipe. She wouldn’t bake it while we were awake, most likely because keeping track of four small children and using a sharp knife at the same time seem like a bad decision. I remember waking up in “the middle of the night” (also known as 10 pm) to the sweet smell of cooking apples. My mom would be sitting on the couch, watching that day’s episode of “Days of Our Lives” that she had taped. My room shared a wall with the family room and I’d sit as quietly as I could next to the door frame, watching the actors on the screen, (thankfully) not understanding what was going on. Inevitably I’d wind up in the family room with my mom, whether it be because she heard me making noises (small children are never actually as quiet as they think they are) or because I got brave and walked in. She’d give me my favorite midnight snack, those handisnacks cheese and crackers with the bright red plastic stick, and I’d sit on the couch and wonder if Bo and Hope would ever be together and why Sami was so mean to her sisters.

We grew up Catholic, and as such, had godparents. Honestly, I’m not very familiar with how many different sects have godparents, but I know that we did and the idea was that if anything ever happened to my parents, we’d be sent to live with our godparents. Only, none of us kids had any godparents in common; in fact, my parents ran out of aunts and uncles so Kelly’s godparents are our cousins. I remember asking my mom if the four of us would actually get split up if anything happened to her and dad. She explained that we’d all go to live with my Aunt Liz, mom’s oldest sister and my godmother. I didn’t know a lot about my Aunt Liz except that she lived in Salisbury, MO on a farm with my Uncle Don and their two kids, Amy and Danny. Every few years we’d pile into our van and drive the 20 hours from Orlando to St. Louis to see grandma before hopping back in the car for the 3 hour drive to Salisbury. I have great memories from the farm, of picking strawberries, going mudding and playing in the corn silos.  We would visit all the animals, especially the pigs, and light fireworks at night. And while it was fun to visit in the summer time, I knew I never actually wanted to live with my Aunt Liz. Not just because Florida winters were already cold enough for me, but because I knew that living with my aunt and uncle meant something had happened to my parents.

Last night I decided to bake my Aunt Liz’s pie recipe. I love baking and hope one day to have a house big enough in which to hold dinner parties. In the meantime, I try to make my apartment feel “cozy” rather than “tiny” when I have people over. My kitchen has never actually been big enough to prepare anything in, and as a result my cutting board is more often found on the coffee table than on the counter. I sat down to watch House and peel apples, trying to see how long I could get the peel to be before it snapped and broke off. When we were younger, we were told an old wives’ tale about peeling apples. The idea was however many pieces you had after you were done peeling the apple was how many kids you’d have. I always wanted a large family so I would “accidentally” break the peel or cut the knife at too sharp an angle in order to increase my fertility. I finally finished peeling, dicing and mixing so I put my mini apple pie creations into the oven. I have learned over the years that you need to have a foil-lined pan underneath your pies. There is always some spillage and it’s easier to buy a new cookie sheet than it is to pry the burnt cement-like topping off. Last night was no exception, as 10 of the 12 tarts had produced an overflow, and even required me to move all the tarts to a third pan to avoid the oven lighting the spilled topping on fire. But, they survived and now sit in my fridge, awaiting visitors.

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One thought on “Aunt Liz’s Pie Recipe

  1. Your aunt’s apple pie has made it all the way into the deepest parts of my memories. I will never forget a fateful day that this recipe found me on a west coast beach, making an awful day just a little bit better. Thank you, Kyla. Thank you, Aunt Liz.

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