A GRACE FILLED JOURNEY • Perfect Apple Pie And Family Traditions

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Growing up in my house, Columbus Day was not just a school holiday, it was one of my favorite days of the year.

My Grandma and Grandpa Hutson would come and spend the whole day at our house making apple pies. We would end the day with 18-20 pies, putting most of them in the freezer for later in the year.

But it has always been one of my favorite traditions, and even though my grandma and grandpa have passed away, it's a tradition my mom and I try to keep up when we can. We never get nearly that many pies done anymore, but we always have a wonderful time.

I think one of the reasons we used to get so many pies done is that grandma and grandpa would cut up the apples the night before while they watched Wheel of Fortune together. My Grandma Hutson always said that Jonathan apples made the best pies.

Then, when they would come to our house the next day, we were ready to go!  It still takes me forever to peel and cut up the apples, so I'll never know how they got it done so fast.

Another thing that was always fun was that we always made homemade pie crust, which I have learned over the years gets much better with practice. The first time I tried to make pie crust on my own, it was way too thick. But I have gotten better (well, a little).

We spent the day in mom's kitchen, rolling out pie crusts, sampling pie filling (that was my favorite part) and making lots of wonderful memories together.

As I went off to college and moved away from home for a bit, it was a tradition that got put on hold for awhile because I wasn't always home on Columbus Day. But the year Grace was born, I was still on maternity leave on Columbus Day, so mom and I decided to start it up again.

Grace was only a few weeks old, so she slept most of the time, but mom and I made a few pies and took lots of photos with Grace. I even had a friend make matching apple aprons for all of us one year.

And although it hasn't worked out every year to make pies together, we always enjoy our time together. After Charley was born, the four of us girls made an apple pie to auction off at the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce one year.

And I'm still hoping we get to make some pies together this fall. Charley is definitely getting big enough to be a helper (and a taste tester). No matter whether we make one pie or 15, just spending time together, laughing and sharing stories, makes it a tradition to treasure.

Pie Crust

Ingredients

5 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups shortening

1 egg

1 tablespoon vinegar

Water

Sift flour and salt. Add shortening and mix well. In a cup, beat the egg slightly, add vinegar, and fill to 1 cup with cold water. Mix with flour and shortening and roll into pie crusts.

This recipe can be frozen in pie shells, or can be frozen unshaped to be taken out and shaped at a later time.

Perfect Apple Pie

Ingredients

6-8 tart apples (pared, cored and thinly sliced - 6 cups)

3/4 to 1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Dash ground nutmeg

Pastry for two-crust 9-inch pie

2 tablespoons butter

If apples lack tartness, sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Combine sugar, flour, spices and dash salt; mix with apples.

Line 9-inch pie plate with pastry. Fill with apple mixture; dot with butter. Adjust top crust, cutting slits for escape of steam; (my grandma always poked an "A" on the top with a fork); seal top crust.

Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes or until done.

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