Flournado: The “Pie of the Storm,” reared its ugly head in my kitchen last night in a massive flurry of white powder and shortening, but I gained the upper hand and made an apple pie, so all is well—until the sequel, which I hope won’t happen any time soon. I must confess: I don’t like to make pies, but Nate’s birthday was yesterday and he didn’t ask for any presents. However, he did ask for a homemade apple pie. He also did not ask me to post, “Nate is looking great at 48” on Facebook—or on this blog. That’s just an extra special surprise I like to throw into the mix.
When it comes to making pies, though, I don’t like surprises. I like recipes. Nice, predictable recipes, but there are so many to choose from. I ended up consulting at least three different sources—including the original “apple pie” source, compiled in 1390 by “master cooks” of King Richard II and released in Samuel Pegge’s The Forme of Cury in 1780, which was published from a manuscript by a Gustavus Brander. “For to Make Tartys in Applis,” which is entry number XXIII in the “Memorandum” section of the cookbook, provides the following instructions:
XXIII. FOR TO MAKE TARTYS IN APPLIS. Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and reysons and Perys and wan they are wel ybrayed colourd  wyth Safroun wel and do yt in a cofyn and do yt forth to bake wel.
Keep in mind that the entry number XXIII appears several times in the manuscript and that the actual ingredients for the crust or “cofyn” for the pie, are somewhere near the beginning. This entry was fascinating to read, but completely useless to me at that moment. When it comes to pie making, I need to be hit over the head with step-by-step instructions and illustrations. Nate also wouldn’t want an apple pie that contains saffron or the term “cofyn” as in, “Here’s your birthday ‘cofyn!’ All the little ‘applis’ pieces are ‘maken myrge’ in a ‘gode potage’ of ‘Spycis.’ Huzza!”
Then, I remembered that there was a recipe for the apple pie filling that came from a Cooking Light Magazine in July 2002. This filling was the perfect balance between sweet and tart, so I went looking through my magazines, which sent Nate into a panic:
“No—I don’t want a reduced fat pie—please! It’s my birthday,” Nate said.
“It’s just the filling—I promise I won’t skimp on the crust—or the butter crumble on top. I’ll make that part really super unhealthy. I mean, they don’t call the crust on top a “cofyn” for nothing. I’ll use all the shortening in the house and when I run out of that, I’ll use butter,” I said.
Nate looked skeptical and even offered to make the pie himself, because of the two of us, he really is better at making pies, but I already had the cookbooks out—and the flour. There was no turning back.
The Cooking Light July 2002 apple pie filling calls for 8 medium sized apples, peeled and sliced. I had six large green “Granny Smith” apples, which worked out well. I mixed the peeled/sliced apples with one tablespoon of lemon juice, 2/3 cup of granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour, ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt—all according to the recipe.
Betty Crocker’s 40th Anniversary Edition Cookbook held the secrets to the piecrust and the crumb topping. The instructions from this cookbook follow below:
For a 9-inch pie crust:
Mix together 1 cup of flour and ¼ teaspoon salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of shortening. Add two-three tablespoons of very cold water and mix together until the dough just starts to form a ball. (Over mixing or stirring could make the resulting crust tough and not flaky.)
After following the instructions above, I used my hands to kind of push and shape the dough into a ball.
Then, there were all kinds of illustrations and tips for rolling out the crust into a perfect circle. I ended up making some kind of ratty-edged rectangular oval of sorts. Then, I plopped it into the bottom of a glass pie plate and pressed it into place. (In fact, I’m not even sure why I bothered rolling it out. I could have probably just pressed it, piece by piece, into the bottom of the pie pan.)
When I was done, it looked far from professional and would not have won any contests. In fact, I imagined myself getting yelled at by Anne Burrell, Tyler Florence, and Gordon Ramsay.
“Where’s the passion? The skill?” they’d ask—and I’d just stand there with a blank expression on my face.
“I swear I clean out the refrigerator and organize the pantry,” I’d say. “The kitchen would pass a health inspection.”
And Ramsay would shout back, “My God! You’re standing knee deep in flour and Crisco! Clean as you go! Clean as you go!”
I really wanted to launch into my jilted reality show contestant tirade by shouting, “You don’t know what you’re talking about” in my head, but it was getting late and I needed to preheat the oven to 425 and get going on the crumble for the top. Betty Crocker’s 40th Edition Cookbook came in handy with this three-ingredient recipe:
Mix together ½ cup of packed brown sugar, ½ cup of cold butter, and 1 cup of flour.
Once the filling was in the crust and properly covered with its sugary, crumbly “lid,” I popped it into the oven for 40 minutes. Then, I covered it with aluminum foil and baked it for 10 minutes more.
The whole house smelled absolutely divine and the pie won warm approvals from both Nate and Alex.
There was the aftermath to deal with though—Flournado parts tend to get everywhere. These parts are now safe in the belly of a handheld Shark vacuum, but somehow I don’t think I’m in the clear. This morning, I discovered that the pie is almost gone and I’ve got two fans demanding at least 6 more sequels. Stay tuned.
In Other News: A new short story of mine was accepted for publication in The Sirens Call eZine, issue 40. It’s called “The Fires that Burn Near Sapphire Lake.” If you click on the title of the story in the previous sentence, you should be taken to a PDF link of the magazine. Happy reading!
Your Turn: Are there any foods/recipes you enjoy eating, but NOT making? Share and discuss below.