The Delicious Smell of Autumn in the Kitchen

It was warm in our kitchen. The oven was preheating to cook the deliciousness awaiting it. My little cheeks were sprinkled with flour as my momma and I rolled out the dough. A handful of sugar, a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg, a dollop of butter.

My momma was known for her pies. They were a delight to all who partook. She had a fine balance of flake and density to her crust. She never handled it long in her hands. Instead, she would cut at the dough with knives until the butter and flour mixed in nicely together.

When making apple pie, there always had to be two kinds of apples in it; one tart and the other sweet to balance the flavours.

She would delicately place the top crust over the apples and pinch along the sides, sealing the crust and making fancy little ruffles along the edge. She would cut a fancy pattern into the top with a knife to give ventilation for the apples. Then she would brush a light bit of butter and sugar on top and place it in the oven.

Since I could walk, I would be in the kitchen with my momma when she was cooking. She placed a little toy kitchen set in our actual kitchen so I could pretend to cook with her.

One of her favourite memories when I was one year old, was watching me try to solve a problem. I wanted to fix my dolly a meal, but realized I couldn’t hold onto her and feed her at the same time. She needed to sit upright to eat, so I wedged the neck of my doll in between the side table of my kitchen set and my little play ironing board. The doll dangled while I pretended to feed her, content with my problem-solving abilities!

When I was a wee bit older, I got an elite version of an Easy Bake Oven! It was metal with little round metal dishes for baked goods. When Momma baked her pies, she’d make a little extra so I could make my own little pies too. I was so excited! Pretty much anytime Momma baked something after that, I had to make a little version of it. Cakes, pies, muffins, etc.

Growing up, we continued to enjoy baking together.

Our youth group joined with other churches in the area once or twice a year for some fun and connection. One year, we had a pie competition. Each youth group from the various churches had to prepare and bake an apple pie in our time together. Each group was judged at the end based on presentation, team effort, flavour, and clean up. Our team quickly went to work, and I instructed them of my momma’s fine pie baking tips. And it all paid off. Our youth group won that competition!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m reminded again of my momma’s delicious pies. To this day, apples and cinnamon are some of my all-time favourite scents.

In fact, I would say they are some of my favourite things to eat as well.

My dad’s mom made the best applesauce. Whenever we had pork chops, every one would pass the apple sauce and take their portions and then finish passing the bowl to me last, because they knew I would eat the rest of it, even if half the bowl was left. It was SO good! There’s just something beautiful about the mixture of apples, cinnamon, and sugar.

Working on the farm and feeding lots of hungry men, my grandma would make pies every week. You could guarantee she always had them in her freezer ready and waiting to serve their farm hands, and anyone else who would come for a visit.

Michael’s family has a tradition at Thanksgiving to go to a local apple orchard. Their relatives gather there, pick a bag of apples, and enjoy a treat from the café. Each year I go, I can’t help but think about buying two varieties so we can get the best flavour in our baking. I smile as I pass by my momma’s tried and true choices.

Do you have a favourite Thanksgiving or holiday dessert? Do you have a precious memory growing up of baking a delicious treat with a family member?

(Momma – May I request an apple pie for Christmas dinner please?)

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