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Apple Pie & All My Thanks

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Those who know my family well know that we take our pie seriously.

It’s requested at every birthday party (what cake?); family get-togethers routinely involve my mom and her siblings bantering in the kitchen about who makes the best version of Grandma’s recipe; and when I mention someone new to my parents, the list of questions might go something like, “Is he kind?” “Does he make you laugh?” “Does he… like pie?” Not that it’s a deal breaker… but there’s always friendship.

Every year on Thanksgiving, my extended family gets together at a cousin’s house. My mom is the youngest of 11 siblings (her parents weren’t satisfied until they had her, or so she tells me) so it makes for a house full of cousins, aunts, uncles, games, laughter, noise and shenanigans.

And every year, it’s the same process for pie. As the adults congregate in the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on the turkey, rolls and mashed potatoes, while an assortment of pies lines the corner of the room, one of the adults eventually casually suggests, “What if we just had a slice of pie to tide us over?” The others look up, eyebrows raised, interest piqued.

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And then, my Aunt Jeanette, the one who married into the family and has therefore maintained a sense of sobriety about this pie business, admonishes, “What, pie before dinner? You guys…”

But by then, it’s too late. Someone has already brought the pumpkin pie to the kitchen island; another has pushed the green beans to the side in favor of the apple; and another has started cutting into the cherry. My Aunt Jeanette’s defenses are a formality, really; I’ve seen the same ritual play out year after year — while peeking into the kitchen from around the corner as a little girl, and now from inside the kitchen as an adult.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for so many things. I’m thankful for getting to be near my parents and, for the first time in eight (!) years, my sister. For a job that I love. For pieces of my heart beating in so many places around this big ole’ world. For getting to visit the city where I left the biggest part of it, New York, in just a few days. For so many deep, meaningful friendships. For a healthy body, and those of my family. For this beautiful city that I am still getting to discover for the first time. And, of course, for pie.

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Apple Pie Recipe

Part I: Crust

2 c. flour
1½ t. salt
½ c. canola oil
5 T. ice cold water

1. Sift together flour and salt.
2. Pour oil and cold water into a measuring cup (do not stir).
3. Add, all at once, to flour mixture.
4. Stir lightly with fork.
5. Form dough into 2 balls and flatten each one between 2 sheets of waxed paper.
6. Put flattened dough in refrigerator while preparing apple filling.

Part II: Apple Filling

8 c. Cameo apple slices
3/4 c. sugar
2 T. flour
1 t. cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch salt

1. Combine sugar, flour, spices and pin salt; mix with apple slices.
2. Line 9” pie plate with 1 of the flattened pieces of dough.
3. Fill with apple mixture; dot with butter.
4. Moisten edges of crust with a little milk.
5. Place top crust over apple filling, cutting slits for escape of steam; seal.
6. Moisten top of crust with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar.
7. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-50 minutes or until done.

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