If ever there was a woman worthy of sainthood, it was my Great Grandma Rose. At least she deserved this title in my mind. Grandma Rose was my dad’s mom’s mother. She was born in 1895 and passed away in 1991 at the age of 96! I can only pray God blesses me with health like hers- she lived independently until she broke her hip at age 94 or 95, then moved to this sweet, women-only assisted living facility until she passed. Had she not broken her hip, we all agree she would have lived to be 100+.
Grandma lived in a little apartment close to a park and just down the street from the best rootbeer on the planet-Oogie’s Drive-in. I remember olive green carpet and a very 70’s art deco room divider. She had a toy ironing board and iron that we would play with. And the smell of her perfume. I found out many years later that her perfume of choice was Chantilly, and on the rare occasion I smell it today, it takes me right back to my childhood and I would swear Grandma Rose was standing next to me. I cannot describe the comfort that smell brings. Almost 30 years after losing her, I sit with hands on keyboard, wiping away tears. Every time we went to visit, she made us all tea. I can still see the mugs. She used to dip her teabag into the mug for a whopping 10 seconds before removing it. She basically drank hot water with a drop of tea. And there was always pie. That woman made a pie like no other, but she never ate a bite. We always went home with a fresh pie. I remember one time there were 2 pies for us. When asked why 2 pies, Grandma confessed that one pie was just for my brother- the last time we were there he had apparently asked if next time she would make him his very own pie. Mom was embarrassed and apologetic, but Grandma was quick to say how sweet his request was and that she didn’t want him to get in trouble.
My dad and his brothers grew up staying part of the summer and many many weekends at Grandma’s house. My aunt and uncle bought her old house when she moved into her little apartment, so Grandma Rose’s house stayed in the family for most of my life. The boys have very fond memories of being there with her while growing up, eating everything she would make, and spending time with her. Grandma was a widow for 36 years, which is a terribly long time. Grandpa died at age 57 when my dad was about 7 years old, so his childhood memories are mostly of Grandma. The stories those boys could tell of her spoiling them rotten! Her house was nearer to a busy train tracks than she liked, so the reality of death by train was something she always preached when the boys went out to play. I remember getting the same talking-to years later when visiting my cousins at that same house.
I remember Grandma Rose being at my dad’s parent’s house every holiday. She would spend the night before the holiday, help Grandma get everything ready, stay overnight on the holiday, and go home the next day. She was quiet and sweet, patient and loving. Every year for Christmas Grandma Rose crocheted each of her 3 grandson’s families a new blanket. They were beautiful! The handiwork was exquisite, and there was love in every single stitch. We always used them to snuggle on the couch at home. She taught any of us who wanted to learn how to crochet, but a scarf was about the limit of skill we all peaked at. It is something I remember doing when I was growing up, and knowing Grandma taught me how is something I treasure. I still have the baby blanket she made for me when I was born, there is no way I could part with it.
Sometimes we would go pick her up and bring her back to our house. I remember making strawberry freezer jam and her famous chili sauce. I guarantee it’s not correct, but in my 7 year old mind, there was a fruit stand right next to her apartment building where we would buy flats of strawberries for jam. She used to let us kids pick out the biggest strawberry we could find every hour and eat it. It was a great way to get us to help and not eat all the strawberries as we cored them. One time she came over to help mom make and can her famous chili sauce. Of course we all wanted to “help” because Grandma was helping, so she gave us a job. Chopping onions! Let’s suffice it to say Mom and Grandma cooked in peace while us kids steered clear of the kitchen. But there was no way she was going to tell us no. That was her way- kind, gentle, and oh so smart.
And she was tiny! One of our very favorite things to do while growing up was measure ourselves against her and see how close we were getting to passing her up. There’s no way she was more than 4’6″ so it wasn’t long before we outgrew her. When you finally reached your goal, she was so happy and excited about your “accomplishment.” I can still see her so vividly in my mind- her tiny petite frame, salon-fresh white hair, her pearl earrings, wrinkles on her cheeks, and the smile on her face. I don’t believe I ever saw her in anything but a dress, and she always wore an apron when she cooked. All of us kids had aprons that she made us, mine is in my apron drawer with Little Guy’s. It was visited by a mouse about 25 years ago and has the battle scars to prove it. But there’s no way I would ever get rid of it-too many tasty memories made in that apron. Maybe that’s why Little Guy and I almost always bake together wearing our aprons. I could go on for quite some time about the magic that was Grandma Rose, but I have had more tears roll silently down my cheeks in the past couple days than I was prepared for.
So, why take an incredible recipe that is flawless and try to make it into something else? Why not! My dad says he only likes 2 kinds of pie- hot and cold. Pie is always a winner. Apple crisp is not something you can exactly cut into perfect portions, nor can you stop yourself from eating more than 1 serving. That is where the idea for this pie came from. Every end of September when the apples are in season and it is around Grandma Rose’s birthday, I make apple crisp and apple pie. It’s something I have done for years, and is just how I remember her birthday and this recipe. This year I figured I would try to combine these 2 delicious recipes. I can tell you it is harder than it sounds to combine 2 desserts while maintaining the best parts of each. So 3 tries later, I got it. Thank the Lord people are very willing to try my guinea pig recipes. I am so grateful for their sweet teeth. Superman was a very happy taste-tester, and was sad when the pies were gone. It starts with a pie dough recipe I have been using for over 20 years. I got it from a lady I knew, but have no idea where she got it. So it is simply known as Wanda’s pie crust.
Wanda’s Pie Crust– makes a 2-crust pie
- 1 1/2 C Flour
- 1/2 Cup + 2 T butter, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 Egg, beaten
- 1/2 T Vinegar (7 mL)
- 40 mL Water (1/2 of 1/3 Cup)
Combine flour, salt, and butter in medium bowl. Cut butter with a pastry blender until it is small to medium crumbs. Combine liquids in a small bowl, add to dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Let rest 10 minutes before rolling out.
Apple Crisp Pie
- 2 1/2 lbs Granny Smith or Jonathan apples- peeled, cored, sliced thin
- 3/4 – 1 C sugar (depends on sweetness of apples)
- 1 1/2 T Cinnamon
- Generous sprinkle of Nutmeg
- 1 C Flour
- 1 C Sugar
- 6T Butter, softened
- 1 1/2 T Cinnamon
- 1/2 T Nutmeg
I use the Pampered Chef apple peeler/corer/slicer. Get one if you don’t have one! Cut the cored/sliced apples into 4 chunks each. Place in large mixing bowl, add sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then toss and mix with your hands to ensure it all mixes well. Pour into pie plate. Place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. You may need a pan under the pie plate- my apples were very juicy and overflowed.
In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Then cut in butter until small to medium crumbs. After 30 minutes, remove pie from oven and top with crumb topping. Return to oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Store leftovers (if there are any) for 2 days in refrigerator.
I think Grandma Rose would be very happy to know I used her recipe to create something new. I have to make this pie for my dad so he can give it the thumbs up or thumbs down. Something tells me he won’t be upset, especially if I also bring vanilla ice cream. Thank you, Grandma Rose, for all of the love and wonderful memories, and the delicious recipes.