Last week I was talking to my neighbor, Jim. He’s a wonderful neighbor, we couldn’t wish for more. I was in the process of pruning the rose bushes in front of our place and wanted to know if he would like me prune his as well. This was my first attempt at pruning roses and my fear was that my black thumb would prevail and I would kill the roses. I was willing to risk our rose bush, but not his without permission.
He assured me that it was difficult to kill a rose bush and that he would appreciate the help. He mentioned that it has been four years since his lovely wife, Joan, had passed away. He also told me that Saturday was his 84th birthday. I asked him if was doing anything special and he said no, that those days had past.
After pruning the roses and scraping up my forearm in the process, I talked to Dave and decided to make Jim a treat for his birthday. A cake is more traditional, but my thoughts were still on the mincemeat pie I made for Lee’s birthday. I opted to make an apple pie. It’s been years since I’ve made one and selfishly, the idea of one appealed mightily to me.
I found a recipe in my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. It called for cider which I already had purchased for the mincemeat pie and a variety of apples. I used a combination of Granny Smith and Pacific Rose which is crisp and sweet. I used my nifty apple peeler to quickly peel, slice and core the apples.
The pie was lovely when I pulled it out of the oven after 55 minutes, however the apples were still quite firm inside. I poked them with a paring knife to test. The last time I made an apple pie for a dinner party, the apples were underdone. I covered the pie with foil and kept baking, testing every 15 minutes. I had to bake the pie an additional hour before it was done. Another indication of the apples baking long enough is that the pie will start to ooze a dark amber liquid. Make sure to have a baking sheet below the pie to catch these drippings. I used a parchment lined baking sheet and still had to soak the sheet to remove the bits of paper. I may use tin foil next time. The foil protected the crust and the pie was perfect. It is the best apple pie I have ever made.
On Saturday, we called up some of the other neighbors and made an impromptu house call on Jim. He was delighted, both with the company and the pie. His birthday is now in my calendar. We hope to have him as a neighbor for many years to come and hope to be able to celebrate those birthdays with him.