Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pie Memories

By Ruth Clagan, of the Clock Shop Mysteries by Julianne Holmes

One of the best memories I have of my grandmother Mae Clagan is making pies with her for the holidays. She always waited until I arrived to start the baking. Since I loved spending time with her, I was happy to help even though it meant were were a pie factory for thirty-six hours.
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."
"Triple them?"
"Instead of one teaspoon of cinnamon, make it a tablespoon. Rather than a half teaspoon of nutmeg, make it a teaspoon and a half."
"That much?"
"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?


  1. I would have never thought of putting triple the spices in apple pie. I'm going to try that, the next time I have apples for pie.

  2. My Mom had a secret similar to this. Her pumpkin pies were out of this world. I have the family receipe but cannot bring myself to make it yet. I preferred to cook them with my Mom laughing together but she is long gone and I just ignore holidays now.

  3. Wow I will have to remember that the next time my husband and i make pies. My grandmother taught me the joy of making spritz cookies we used to have so much fun and between eating them and decorating them it was just a one of the many memories that she left me with.

  4. I love have recipes in the handwriting of loved ones, they are so special. Makes you feel like they are right there with you while you are baking.

  5. My grandmother's blonde brownies were amazing. Nobody in the family has been able to make them as good as her.

  6. Love apple pie but aren't much of a Baker!

  7. So wonderful that you can now have wonderful memories again while getting close to her. Good luck with the pies

  8. Love to bake. no one in my family is a baker.

  9. For the first time, I recently added two tablespoons of maple syrup to my pumpkin pie recipe. My husband raved over it. I made another one for our church Thanksgiving luncheon. Several people wanted to know, "Who made this delicious pumpkin pie?" I felt sorry for the other people who made pumpkin pies for the luncheon. I guess I will keep this new ingredient to my pumpkin pie recipe.

  10. Cinnamon is my favorite spice and I always like to add a little extra!.

  11. Sounds delicious, I have to do some experimenting. doward1952(at)yahoo(dot)com