Monday, November 03, 2014

Old-Fashioned Apples

I love autumn.  And I love apples!  Apples, pumpkins and squash seem to be the grounding foods during this time.  My grandfather was a market farmer, which I've mentioned before.  One of his crops was apples of course. He grew a nice variety of apples on his small farm in West Hamilton. Somewhere I have a photo of a row of his apple trees in blossom, and although it's only a black and white photo, you can still get the beautiful frothy effect those blossoms give.

A few years before she passed away, my mom showed me some apple stencils that had belonged to her father. I'd never seen them before, and I have no idea where she had these hidden away.  Perhaps she didn't want my dad finding them and ruining them. They're simple thin copper plates with the names of apples stamped into them, which Grandpa would use to label his apple crates ready for market. They still show signs of the paint he would have used on them. Mom wanted to pass them along to us, and I think they're a wonderful little bit of family history.

My mother allowed me first pick of the seven stencils she had.  It was a tough decision, because I wanted to get my favourite apple names, but also one of the old-fashioned apple names.  These are the three I chose:

Greening and Russett apples are considered old-fashioned.  I still see Russetts available at our local apple orchard, but I've never seen Greening.  Northern Spies are a favourite of mine for both the name, and also they make great pies!!  

I forget now what other stencils Mom had, but I know MacIntosh was one.  My one sister displays them in her kitchen (as I do ... I just have them down whilst painting the kitchen), but my other sister hides all these heirlooms away somewhere, and I never see them again (an annoying thing, but there it is ... it would be nice to look upon these little treasures when I visit, but I never get to see them again).

I live in an apple-rich area of Southern Ontario, and we have numerous apple orchards to choose from.  I like to buy my apples from the orchard rather than the grocery store (better quality).  This weekend, my husband and I picked up some Cortlands for eating (another fav), but also some huge Northern Spies.  We could not believe the size of these monsters.  Even the lady at the cash commented on their size.  My plan was to make a pie on Sunday.  Spies are very tart and although they're great for pies, I don't like them for straight eating, so I picked up six spies just for the pie. These spies were really tart, and when I had a slice to try, boy did they make my mouth pucker and water!!

Can you believe I only needed two apples to make the pie?  Just two, and they filled the pie plate to heaping before baking.  And the pie?  It was absolutely delicious!! 

So if you want to make a pie yourself, look for those Northern Spies for some great tangy taste.  We used to frequent a local orchard up the road from where I lived in Milton, and they had the best apple cider (no preservatives), and they also recommended Wealthy apples for pies. I used to buy them for pies, but when we moved I was unable to locate them at our orchards here.  They're an early apple (and an old-fashioned, hard to locate apple), and are only around at the beginning of the season.

So here's to market farmers, apples and good old-fashioned apple pie!

Apple Pie

5 - 6 cups apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1/2 cup of sugar
1 - 2 tbsp flour (only if apples are very juicy)
2 tbsp butter


3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened

Mix the flour and sugar together and toss apples in this mixture.  Layer in bottom of pastry shell in a pie plate. Dot with butter. Mix topping ingredients together, and sprinkle over the apples.  Bake at 450'F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350'F and bake for another 35 - 45 minutes until apples are soft when tested with an inserted knife.

Thanks for stopping by!


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  1. oh the cupper plates are fabulous !! I love apples too and pies ... are my favorite dessert !! Thnaks for the recipe and for sharing your treasures !! Have a lovely day !

  2. Wonderful post, and those apple stencils are real treasures!!

  3. What a treasure those tins are! I can't imagine hiding them away! I'd have them displayed too. I've never heard of most of those varieties. That's interesting! I love fresh apples. They're SO different than anything that comes from the store. We were at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah this Fall and they have orchards there that are open for picking. We made sure to visit the orchards every single day we were there and enjoy fresh picked apples and pears. Delicious! And, I love being in the orchard too. It's such a peaceful, beautiful place. Enjoy your apple pie! Sounds like you'll be able to make more with those big apples. :-)

  4. Hi Wendy,

    So enjoyed reading about your grandfather's apples and the wonderful vintage stencils! My, no wonder you love apples so, coming from a family of growers! That black and white photo sounds enchanting and I can completely see the frilly blossoms on those rows of trees, looking like finely dressed gentlemen with their ruffled collars and sleeves.Your pie looks delicious. Thanks for the lovely visit.

    Happy November!


  5. How wonderful to have the apple stencils. I would never store them but proudly display them. Gorgeous pie and so many apple names I'm not familiar with. We pick apples at a local farm. LOVE AUTUMN!

  6. The apple stencils are a real treasure to have and display. I've never heard of greenings either, wonder if there are seeds for them in a gene pool somewhere since they're a heritage variety. My grandparents and relatives all grew corn which they were well known for where I grew up.
    Since I've been making apple pie with a crumble topping I don't think I'd go back to pastry on the top again.
    Your pie looks yummy, pie and tea this afternoon at your place? :-)

  7. The stencils are wonderful, both in themselves and in the memories they invoke for you. I am sure that they must be very pretty hanging in your kitchen - in fact, I was going to suggest that to you and then you said you already do it! A very unusual, but lovely, piece of family history to have. xx

  8. Oh that pie looks amazing!!! And just 2 apples!! That is crazy pal!!! Those stencils are amazing!! Oh my I love them and would have them displayed front and center in my home!!! What a gift to have those pieces of history in your home! Thanks for sharing the recipe friend and happy apple days to you! Nicole xo

  9. The copper stencils are really neat, a nice treasure from your family.. I love anything made with apples, yum! Your pie looks delicious! Have a happy week!

  10. The copper stencils are such a wonderful family treasure to possess, lucky you! It's too bad your other sister doesn't have them out. I was fortunate enough in inherit a small apple orchard along with my cottage from my Godmother, so I don't have to buy apples...yet, anyway. They're really struggling in this terrible drought. The orchard is all MacIntosh, but I have about ten trees around my cottage, a few of which I've never been able to identify. That apple pie made my mouth water...

  11. I LOVE those apple templates! So lovely - I'd have them out on display too :-)
    You've got me craving apple pies now :-)

    Sarah x

    PS thanks so much for your lovely comments on my blog - I did receive your chicken one and have published and replied to it, just so you know your computer didn't eat it :-)

  12. Nice pictures - apples with real colour and real flavours are a treat!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  13. That apple pie looks sooo delicious! I wish I could have a slice! The stencils are beautiful; such wonderful pieces of family history for your mother to give you! I picked some Greenings at the orchard we occasionally work at earlier this year.

  14. Those apple stencils are a treasure! And a family heirloom! I just made a crisp out of Northern Spies this weekend. It was wonderful. I've never used that variety of apple before, but certainly will again now that I've tried it.

  15. What a lucky girl you are to have these family herlumes. I like how you are displaying them together like that. I understand how you feel about your sister hiding hers away. My take on this is, why not enjoy using/viewing family herlumes while we sttill grace this world of ours. It seems like such a waste not to.

    Oh the apple pie looks so tasty! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Hope your week is going well.


  16. You have some wonderful treasures from your grandfather's orchards! It is so nice that some farmer's are working to preserve these heirloom varieties. I have never had Northern Spies, but they sound wonderful. Thank you for the recipe - it looks and sounds delicious! xo Karen

  17. I love the stencils too and I never saw anything like that. The apple pie recioe loos so good and I would love to try it sometime! I love fall too and soon the leaves will be off the trees and it will be winter! Take care.

  18. The stencils are beautiful, especially with their history. And you have reminded me that it's time to drive over to the orchard for more cider :)

  19. Those stencils are so beautiful. What a lovely thing to have.


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