Foggy morning walk

January 27th, 2011

National Pie Day

January 23rd, 2011

It’s time to bust out those rolling pins, America!

I just love living in a country that sets aside a day each year to celebrate my favorite dessert.

What could possibly be better than pie? Not that I don’t love cake, cookies, cupcakes, candy, and sugar in all its many wondrous forms, but there’s something special about pie.  For one thing, it’s, well, baked into our history. Humans were making pies as early as 9500 B.C., when those clever Egyptians wrapped honey in an oatmeal crust.

Pie is baked into my family’s history, too.  I come from a long line of great pie bakers — and pie eaters.  I remember my mother telling me of the day she left Canada for “the Boston States,” as Nova Scotians used to call New England.  It was a big step for a small-town girl fresh out of nursing school, and as she boarded the train in Halifax that would carry her into her future, she was filled with mixed emotions: excitement, trepidation, self-doubt.  My grandmother saw her off at the station with homemade goodies to keep her well-fortified until she reached her destination:  a Thermos of beef stew, oatmeal bread, and apple pie, her favorite dessert.

I don’t know if the apple pie had anything to do with it, but my mother survived the journey and flourished in her new job in Connecticut.  On her days off, she’d board another train — this one bound for New York City, where she’d shop a little, explore a little, buy herself a ticket to a Broadway play, and then take herself out to lunch someplace fancy — I remember her mentioning Sardi’s as being one of her favorite spots.  And yes, she’d have pie for dessert.

Marie MacDougall Vogel (left) in Times Square, circa 1955

Isn’t she something?

Gotta love those white gloves.

And so, in honor of National Pie Day, and in honor of my darling mother, here’s the Frederick family’s favorite recipe for apple pie!

FRENCH APPLE PIE

Unbaked pie shell

6-7 cups tart apples (we use Granny Smith’s), peeled, cored, and sliced paper thin

1 c. sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

A little extra butter for dotting on the apples

Topping:

½ c. butter

½ c. brown sugar

1 c. flour

Preheat oven to 425.  Roll out pie crust and pat it into pie plate.  Crimp edge.

In a large bowl, mix sliced apples with sugar and spices.  Pile into prepared crust and dot with half a dozen or so thin slices of butter.

In a separate bowl, cream butter and brown sugar, then add flour, working it in until the mixture begins to come together and the crumbles are about the size of peas.  Sprinkle over pie.  Cover loosely with tinfoil (this prevents the crust from burning) and bake at 425 degrees for 1-1/2 hours.  (Yes, it needs to bake that long!)  It’s a good idea to either cover the rack you’re baking it on with foil, or place the pie plate onto a cookie sheet or something to catch any drips.

Remove foil.  If topping is golden brown, pie is done.  If not, let it cook without the foil for another five minutes or so.

Cool and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Yum!

Book signing this Saturday!

January 20th, 2011

Calling all Portland-area friends!  You’re invited to “Elevenses with the Authors” this Saturday, January 22nd, at 11 a.m. at A Children’s Place Bookstore.

I’ll be joining my good friend Susan Blackaby as we celebrate National Pie Day (well, almost — it’s actually Sunday) and Groundhog Day (a wee bit early).  We’ll both be signing copies of our new picture books, Suz’s wonderful BROWNIE GROUNDHOG AND THE FEBRUARY FOX and my BABYBERRY PIE.

Please join us afterwards as we head down the street for treats cooked up specially by the bakery wizards at Eclectic Kitchen — yum!

Saturday, January 22nd

A Children’s Place
4807 NE Fremont Street
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 284-8294
11:00 a.m.

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