What I'm knitting, sewing, cooking, baking...maybe other stuff too.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pies and Memories

My husband's grandfather planted an orchard sometime around 1910, that's still suppling apples to our community. When my husband was born, his grandfather planted a McIntosh tree in the backyard of his daughter and son-in-law, and their new baby son. That beautiful tree is still producing McIntosh apples, but sadly, we couldn't move it with us when the family home was sold several years ago.A few days ago, my husband visited the orchard his grandfather planted 100 years ago, gave the present owner a sepia photo of his grandfather standing proudly in front of rows and rows of little apple trees in his newly planted orchard all those years ago. Of all those trees, today, only two remain, the others were replaced as they aged and died. As a thank you for the photo, the orchard man offered my husband a basket of McIntosh apples. Yesterday I peeled and sliced apples, added sugar--both white and brown--cinnamon, nutmeg, a little flour and dabs of butter, heaped the mixture into a pastry crust, and baked a pie for my husband. The apples aren't from his own tree, but they're from the orchard his grandfather started, so I like to think there's still a family connection.

Last week my mother sent me two small wooden fruit crates--neatly lined with fresh newspaper--filled with golden pears from a tree on the farm where she and I grew up.Pears ripen quickly and rot even more quickly, so I had to use them while they were good. Half the pears, I sliced thin and dried in my dehydrator. No saving them for winter like our ancestors would have done, we gobbled up those precious little bits in a couple of days; drying fruit does some kind of magic that concentrates the sweetness of fruit, turning it into leathery candy, impossible to resist.
The other half I peeled and cut into small chunks, added them to a mixture of sour cream, egg, sugar and vanilla, then baked it all in a pie shell, to make my favorite pie. There's something about the smooth, cheesecake-y texture and flavor of the sour cream combined with the grainy sweetness of ripe, juicy pear--oh!, and I almost forgot to mention the crunchy, buttery, crumbly topping--all baked together in a flaky crust, that just has it all as far as I'm concerned. Lucky for me, I'm the only one in the house who feels this way, so once a year, when I've got ripe pears from home, I feast on Pear Pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner, until it's gone...till next year.


Joanna said...

Hey! you've made me hungry! ;-)
I loved to read the story about the orchard of your husbands grandfather!

melaine said...

Glad I made you hungry, if we lived nearer each other, I'd offer you a piece of pie!( ;

clarabelle said...

What brilliant stories! I love everything about people's past histories, even if I don't know them; there's always something to find that's of total inspiration.

Thanks for this, Melaine; it's made me feel less of a freak for being obsessed with my family history.


Mommabear7@sbcglobal.net said...

Wow I love your blog! This story brought tears to my eyes. I had a grandmother who love to grow a garden and had several fruit trees in her modist yard. Warm and fuzzy thoughts came to mind. Isen't it funny how certian foods bring back all of this? Thanks for the feeling!!! Huggs marion

aquamarine said...

I enjoyed reading your orchard story. Apple trees connect me with the old farmhouse where I grew up - old apple trees are so 'clime-able' - good places to sit and wonder about things.

We've planted a lot of fruit trees over the years on our own place. Just now I'm pondering what to make of the last of the persimmons. These are very small 'native' persimmons, and this is the first year we've had a good crop. Last week I made my first ever buttermilk persimmon pudding - delicious, but a bit sweet.

Any ideas?