By Ruth Clagan, of the Clock Shop Mysteries by Julianne Holmes
I will confess, until last Thanksgiving I hadn't made one of her pies since she'd died. I couldn't bear it. But then last November Nancy Reed asked me if I had her recipe. "I've never been able to recreate Mae Clagan's apple pie," she'd said. "She gave me the recipe once, but she must have left something out."
After all that the Reeds had done for me, how could I refuse? Nancy offered to make it with me. "I'm going to watch you like a hawk and find the secret," she'd said.
"I hope I remember how--I haven't made it since she. . .since she passed."
"Oh Ruthie, if the memories are too much--"
"Then you'll be with me," I'd said. "It will be fine."
And it was. Nancy and I both choked up when I took the 4x6 card out of the recipe box I'd inherited. It was stained by years of use--apple drippings, butter smears. But her handwriting was still visible.
"What is the star by the cinnamon and nutmeg mean?" Nancy said.
"That's the secret. Triple the amounts."
"Instead of one teaspoon of cinnamon, make it a tablespoon. Rather than a half teaspoon of nutmeg, make it a teaspoon and a half."
"Minimum. Trust me, that's the secret."
And it was. Making the pie brought forth a few tears, but even more happy memories. It also helped me make new memories, since Nancy requested one of Mae's apple pies for every occasion last winter.
Every time I make an apple pie I hear my grandmother's voice, reminding me to use ice water in the crust and extra spice in the filling. While it is baking, the wafting scent brings her back into the room with me. Who knew apple pies were magical?