October's bright, blue sky has turned cloudy and gray, with cold, drizzly rain coming down all day. The landscape looks muted and dreary, with October's gold trying vainly to shine through the mist. It is a perfect day to stay inside and bake or conjure up a pot of hot vegetable soup.
My mind settled on apple pies, and as I assembled the ingredients I wondered how many housewives still make pies from scratch. (One of my long-ago neighbors asked me once what making something from scratch meant. He asked, "Does it mean you scratch while you make it?" He wasn't raised in the country.)
I hope that pie-making isn't one of the arts that get lost by the wayside in our fast, modern world. I was always under the impression that most every woman in my age group knew how to make pies. I was flabbergasted some time ago when we planned a party for our youth group, and decided to have each lady in the congregation make a fruit pie so we could serve pie and ice cream.
One of the older ladies (well, older than me, anyway) came up to me and confessed, "I've never made a pie in my life!" I might have expected that out of the younger wives, but this woman was a grandmother!
I was mulling over this as I went about making my pies, just as my mother taught me. I peeled and sliced the apples, added sugar, spices and tapioca, and let it set while I made the crusts. Mom used lard while I use Crisco, but I will have to admit that lard makes the best pie crust.
Out came the dough board and rolling pin, and then came the shaping and patting the crusts into the pie pans. The apple slices were dumped into the bottom crusts, pats of butter added, and the top crust put in place. Into the oven they went to bake. Then came the fun part -- cleaning up the mess. As I was washing the utensils and wiping flour off all the surfaces, it came to me that there must be an easier way.
The grocery stores stock frozen pie crusts, and a couple of cans of apple pie filling are all you need. Or, you can buy frozen pies that are ready to be popped in the oven. Simplest of all, go to the deli section and purchase a pie that is ready to cut and serve. While I was thinking along this line, the spicy, cinnamony fragrance of baking pies drifted past my nose.
As I took the beautifully browned, fragrant pies out of the oven, I realized that nothing can make a housewife feel more proud and fulfilled than baking a pie from scratch. Mom always said there was another chore that brought immense satisfaction on a cold, dreary day -- ironing a bushel of clothes. I'm afraid I'll never know about that -- I'm allergic to ironing.
This kind of fall weather calls out for a pot of brown beans simmering on the stove. Lawton Posey's wife Bridget sent her recipe for WV brown beans, in her own words.
Receipt For West Virginia Brown Beans
One pound of brown beans
One med/large onion
Bacos (You will need to buy two tea strainer balls unless you have them