Pie #13: Apples Peels & Memories

Pie #13: Salty Caramel Apple Pie

My step-daughter and her husband just celebrated their 5th year anniversary, which if you look it up is wood. Wood? Since I can't whittle, I offered up a pie instead. I already had a bag of green apples, so I chose to make this salty caramel apple recipe in my Pies and Tarts cookbook. It is a basically a typical apple pie with less sugar but layers and layers of caramel. I actually made homemade caramel according to the directions which is just butter, cream, brown sugar, and water. After heating, I stirred until the mixture was thick, bubbly, and registered 240 degrees on my candy thermometer. It was kind of fun and super sweet! I then poured it between layers of apple slices. There was even some left over for drizzling. Rachael's text was, and I quote, "The pie was AMAZING!" This brings a grin to my face. Much better than a wood carving.

The most time-consuming aspect about baking an apple pie, though, is peeling and slicing the apples. Every time I begin this process I always think about that scene in Sleepless in Seattle when Tom Hanks tells his young son the story about how his late wife could peel an apple in one long, curly strip, AND we later see Meg Ryan at her kitchen table peeling an apple in a singular swoop. My mother has told me that my Nana could do the same thing. As I make my way through a bag of apples, I carefully guide my knife against the skin of each one as the green peel curls onto the counter. I don't always succeed, but I love the attempt.

Our memories link us to the past and to those people who touched us. My dad couldn't peel an apple, but he sure could tell a story. When I took him out for coffee he would regale me with accounts of his days at Decatur High School, trips to Schafer's Bowl, and hanging out at the corner drug store. He called us all "Big Nut," and loved his family with a fierceness that couldn't be duplicated. He almost loved his zoysia grass as much as he loved his children. He adored my husband, and at family dinners you could see the two of them at the end of the table with their heads together. My dad was a constant worrier, mostly about the four of us. He was known to pace the floor until we walked in the door. When my boys were younger, he walked them to the bus stop every day. When they felt they were old enough to go on their own, he stood on the front porch and carefully watched until the bus came down the street. Occasionally I can still feel his hand on my shoulder as he did when we stood together at family gatherings.

These memories are precious and sacred. I hold them close to my heart, but I love sharing them with anyone who will listen. That scene in Sleepless in Seattle is essential because the character of Jonah is afraid he is forgetting his mother. Tom Hanks tells his son this anecdote to remind him his mother was extraordinary. I imagine adult Jonah sharing this with his own children. Our stories guarantee our memories live on in others. What stories will you tell?
(Oh, and my dad LOVED my apple pie!)

"Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it." ~ L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl