There was a time in America when small towns were just that - small. These were rural places surrounded by farms which fed their communities, and where those that lived in town would have gardens on their properties and in their backyards. If someone wanted to make an apple pie, all you would have to do is walk outside to your field or garden, pick some apples, and make a pie.
Of course we all know how that all changed with industrialization, and how those small towns turned into small cities and then into even larger cities that become unrecognizable to anyone born and raised in the earlier, semi-rural environments. The farms became housing developments and shopping centers, and the backyard gardens went by the wayside.
I live in such a city.
But there are places around our city where remnants of that old way of life are still visible. We may be driving somewhere and pass an open field, and just by the placement of a group of trees, it's obvious that there used to be a farmhouse tucked amongst those trees. Sometimes we'll see traces of an old house foundation surrounded by a large field, or even houses completely caved in and nearly swallowed up by blackberry vines!
A few weeks ago James and I were driving in a part of town we hardly ever go to, and as we passed by a shopping center, my eyes lit up! There it was - an old green apple tree, long forgotten, growing right on the fence line between a parking lot and an old farmhouse.
I convinced James that we had to turn around and go check out that apple tree. And sure enough there were ripe apples just falling off the tree. James found a grocery bag in the car and there I was in high heels and a skirt, shuffling through layers of ivy growing all around the base of the tree, picking apples. James held the bag for me and also helped me pick the apples.
I don't know why, but sour green apples from old trees make the best pies.
And the best pie crust is made with butter. My favorite pie crust recipe is this Pate Brisee from Martha Stewart.
For the filling, peel, then cut tart green apples into bite sized pieces and add a small amount of sugar - about 1/4 cup, and a lot of cinnamon! A sure fire way to know the right quantity of apples to use is to put the cut apple pieces into an empty pie pan until you've filled it a bit over the brim. Remove them from the pie pan and place in a bowl. Add the sugar and cinnamon and toss to combine. Roll out your chilled pie dough and place in the pie pan. Add the apples. Fancy up your top crust and bake for 40 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees.
Let cool and then, dig in and enjoy!