Thursday, February 25, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: Mom's Apple Pie

Obviously Rachel and I aren't the only ones with food memories, so we will periodically feature other people writing about their feelings on Food for Thought Thursdays. Kicking it off for us is Kaja Reynolds — elementary school teacher, potter, runner and cross country skier, one of our relatives (obviously the last name was a giveaway), and a wonderful cook who was inspired by my post last week about my father and pie crust to write this.

Kaja here: I could relate to the image of the tall apple pie your dad made because my mom also made an amazing apple pie. I remember slicing the apples with her and mixing in a little of this spice and a bit of that spice. My mom rarely would measure out those kinds of things; it was all by feel and by taste. As a result, I, too, cook in a very similar way. However, when baking she would always measure the important ingredients like the baking powder, butter or the flour. My mom taught me how to make her delicious, flaky pie crust, and now I make it mostly from memory. She said the key ingredient (which her mom told her) was to use frozen butter and ice water. When she taught me, she was using a food processor and that made working with the frozen butter easier. Then, when adding the ice water to the butter/flour mixture, you only poured in one tablepoon at a time, so that you would not make the dough too sticky. I still make pie crust the same way, and now one of my favorite pies to make is pumpkin pie, which I make every Thanksgiving. I have tried whole wheat flour and rice flour, but the best is the good old unbleached white flour. I love any pie with rhubarb, too, and of course, I still love good old apple pie.

Since my mom is no longer alive, one way I connect with her is through cooking. I have such lovely memories of us cooking together in the home I grew up in, and also in the home I live in now. Another way I remember her and keep her memory alive is by sharing the way she cooked with my two daughters. Whether it is making a pasta sauce, a stir-fry, a Swedish birthday cake or baking any kind of pie, I always feel like a part of my mom is there with me. I think cooking and the wonderful aromas that go along with each dish evoke such visceral memories. Sharing recipes and memories is a wonderful way to connect to your past and to your family.

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