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
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.
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
•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.
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?