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!
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.
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