Grabbing six year-old Henry around the waist, Nate lifted his son Henry up into the branches of the apple tree to pick an out-of-reach apple.
“I got it, Dad. I got it,” the first grader announced, holding the apple as he slid down his father.
None of the grandchildren grabbed an apple to eat. I did. I bit into one remembering the year we picked several bushes of apples to take home. The aroma of fresh apples permeated the house. They smelled delicious and that first bite of an orchard fresh apple tasted so wonderful that I kept eating apples until my stomach ached.
After picking a couple more apples Henry urged, “Let’s go to the playground.”
The ‘You-pick’ orchard’s astronomically high price for simply entering the orchard also included access to a free playground for the children. Once they finished helping their parents they knew John Deere pedal tractors and tricycles awaited them.
Henry raced his older sister and brother. We watched and snapped pictures.
Little brother wanted a lift to the tree and a ride around the block. Big sister wanted to make a pie. She had talked about it all weekend.
Others helped peel and slice apples. Not just any apples. According to the orchard manager “The Enterprise is a late ripening apple that comes from the McIntosh, the Rome and the yellow Delicious. They hold their shape well when baked, a bit tart but they mellow in storage.”
He brought up the texture and taste because I mentioned the Northern Spy apple of my childhood. It took a visit from my cousin for me to realize ‘why’ apple pie always disappointed me as an adult. Cousin Suzie brought a half a bushel of Northern Spies. I made an apple crisp, took one bite and I smiled. I had finally found the perfect apple for baking. Firm, a bit tart and yet sweet.
“Try the Enterprise and see how it compares,” he urged.
Sophie tried. With a pile of apple slices ready, she pulled out an industrial looking mixer to make the crust. She patted and rolled out the dough and started to lift it to the pie plate.
“It helps if you sort of fold it over the rolling pin,” I showed her what I meant.
The sticky dough flopped into the pan. She pressed it up the sides and slid it into the oven to partially bake. The dough slumped down into the pie plate before we rescued it and patted it up the sides. While it baked Sophie measured spices, flour, sugar and a touch of butter. We took out the partially cooked bottom crust, added the prepared fruit and a much less sticky top crust. It baked forever before the fruit bubbled, announcing its readiness. Firm apples take longer to bake. Bedtime came before the pie bubbled enough to declare it “done” but still hot.
Left in the oven all night, the ambient heat continued to do its magic. We went to bed with the delightful smell of cinnamon and apples.
I guess it worked its magic on Sophie and Henry’s mom and dad because we had apple pie for breakfast. Nothing like dessert for breakfast especially if you ask their brother Sam. His sweet tooth is legendary. He grinned from ear to ear and relished the treat.
So did I. It tasted great. Not exactly a Northern Spy but close enough that I came home and made apple crisp from our Enterprise apples. I did not care that we had only the two of us to eat it. I didn’t want to share it anyway.