Family Secrets—Sshh . . . Don’t Tell Anyone

The Apple Pie and Fool-Proof Crust Recipe

I love October because I get to visit family I see only once or twice a year. In early October, we have a family reunion. In late October, we travel to my aunt’s church homecoming and see cousins and other people that make up a Southerner’s extended family. This includes people to whom we’re not actually related but who were grafted in because somebody married into the family line. And despite not being blood kin, we all grew up together and enjoy getting to see each other. We have a lot of fun and it’s never a dull moment with that crowd.

I know this sounds complicated—but if you’re a Southerner, you get it. And did I mention the food at these gatherings? My children have been known to get weepy at the thought of these upcoming feasts. Barbecue—pork and vinegar-based; cornsticks, Brunswick stew; butter-beans—lima beans for the Northern brethren among us; ham biscuits; coconut cake; pineapple cake, etc . . . I’m going to stop now before I break down, too.

Here’s a sure-fire winner of an autumn recipe—from the family I married into.

Fool-Proof Pie Crust
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups vegetable shortening
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 egg
½ cup water

Mix first 4 ingredients with a fork or pastry blender. In a separate dish, beat the remaining ingredients. Combine the 2 mixtures, stirring until all ingredients are moistened. Shape dough into a ball. Chill at least 15 minutes before rolling into a crust. Dough can be left in the refrigerator up to 3 days or frozen until ready to use. Makes 2 pies—4 top and bottom crusts.

Apple Pie
6-8 apples—I’ve used Rome, Granny Smith and Magnabonum
Juice of half a lemon
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. butter

•Heat oven to 425 degrees. Peel, core and slice apples into ¼” pieces. Place apples (6 cups) into large mixing bowl. Pour lemon juice over apples.
•Add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg. Toss well. Spoon spiced apples into piecrust and dot with butter.
•Roll out top crust. I like to also cut out piecrust dough ornaments to add to top crust. Cut slits in dough to allow the steam to escape. Brush the top with milk for a glaze.
•Place pie in oven. I put the pie in an aluminum-foiled tray to catch drips. Bake for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and juices bubble.
•Let the pie cool and slice into wedges. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!!!!!

Do you have family reunions or church homecomings? What recipes do you look forward to each year? Do you have a family recipe you could share?

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Loving Me Some Autumn

It’s October and finally beginning to feel like autumn. Autumn is special–my favorite season—and we shouldn’t let it pass us by without a celebration.

So I’ve ventured to the Farmer’s Market—one of my favorite autumn activities—and decorated the exterior of my house.

Autumn is my excuse for buying mums, pumpkins, chai tea, apples and apple cider. Farmers from the Blue Ridge and Great Smokies come to Raleigh and sell from their mountain orchards a variety of apples, perfect for applesauce or pie.

When my girls were small, every autumn we planned a long weekend to a different corner of NC and camped. Okay, my version of camping—renting a cabin with electricity, indoor plumbing and preferably close to a larger lodge to which to walk for all meals.

But we had a fireplace, made s’mores and I lugged some of my favorite autumnal children’s books with me to read aloud to them in front of the fire and after the s’mores. Books like Miss Suzy by Miriam Young from my own childhood; Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey; and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen—which we re-enacted all over the cabin.

These weekends included hikes to lacy, cascading waterfalls and picking our own bushel of apples from a local orchard. We tried to do something for everyone so for mom that included visits to mountain quilt shops.

But with busy, social butterfly teenage girls, my mountain vacation has been reduced for now to a stay-cation involving a stolen afternoon with the girls and a trip to the Farmer’s Market. This year, we bought Magna-bonum’s (ranked as one of the ten greatest Southern apples) and here’s the apple pie that resulted.

How do you celebrate the arrival of autumn? I’d love for you to share your memories and what traditions you built with your families.

If you’d like a list of my favorite autumnal children’s books to share with your children and grandchildren or to try my Foolproof Piecrust and apple pie recipe, email me at lisa@lisacarterauthor.com.