PONDERING WITH PJ: Apple pie baking adventures

It has been brought to my attention in the past few weeks that I am not normal.

I know, for most of my readers, this isn’t any great revelation. Just bare with me while I explain.

It isn’t unusual for me to produce things in large quantities. I’m going to have to clean up the kitchen when I’m done anyway, so what difference does it make if I make more than a normal recipe calls for? Exactly, I knew it would make sense to someone!

Such was so the year we had a bumper crop of apples. There were three varieties and eight bushel total that needed attention. It wasn’t that hard to figure out that I should make apple pie.

Not wanting to keep all that fun to myself, I invited three other couples to come up and help with the harvest. I told them we were going to make apple pies and everyone could take one home with them.

Well, what man wouldn’t jump at the chance to get a fresh apple pie?

So, bright and early on a Saturday morning, two by two, the help arrived.

I hadn’t mentioned I planned to use up all eight bushel of apples.

I appointed two men to run the apple peelers — the kind that spin the peeling off, slice and core all at the same time — and after an orientation period, peelings were flying in all directions!

One of the ladies was in charge of quality control and made sure there wasn’t any livestock in the peeled product before it was dumped into a large stainless steel bowl to wait for processing. Occasionally she would have to do a little trimming, but for the most part, the guys were getting right into their work.

Another lady had apple washing duty prior to the peeling stage and then had to try to keep the peelings from piling up too high on the floor. It was definitely a hardhat area.

Now, even though the crust recipe was a secret, we did have one guy who passed security clearance and was allowed to mix pie dough. Even though this was several years ago, he still has renewed his certification yearly just in case we should ever need him again.

He was quite proud of himself when he finished the first batch and he did a fantastic job.

However, that was only enough dough for 10 crusts, and being a math major at Malcolm Tech, even I could figure out that was only enough for five pies. We would need another batch — actually many more batches.

The ladies in charge of the rolling pins could be easily recognized; they were the two with the most flour on their bellies, as well as on everything else in a three foot radius of themselves. Everyone present knew it would be unwise to criticize a woman with a rolling pin so the kitchen atmosphere remained cordial.

Actual pie composition created a more caustic atmosphere.

The lady in charge of that area is very meticulous by nature and therein created the first “majority rules” situation.

With the volume before us, it was decided that the three varieties of apples did not need to be placed in alphabetical order in each pie pan.

The recipe was somewhat simple: Dump in sugar, dump in flour, dump in cinnamon, dump in apples, sprinkle more sugar, sprinkle more cinnamon, a gob of butter and done!

The top crust was positioned and then passed on to the “finisher”.

After the first 30 pies, the finisher was becoming less creative and more inclined to get-er-done! We all agreed we weren’t taking these to the fair for Homemaker of the Year recognition so, in no time at all, zip lock bags full of pies were filling every available open space, including counter tops, end tables, stair steps, chairs, etc.

Well, by mid afternoon the pie making project was done. They were being divided up and sent to each respective workers’ home to be frozen and then baked and served another day.

In all, we made 116 pies.

All of those people are still friends, but I don’t hear from them much in apple season any more.

Anyone want to make pie?

As Usual, PJ

Author of “Uncommon Sense”

Pj646@centurytel.net

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Posted by Pauline Jaquish

Pauline Jaquish is the author of “Uncommon Sense.” You can reach her at Pj646@centurytel.net.

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