Every year, my husband, ever the rural gardener (NOT!), decides to plant fruit trees. Cherries, peaches, apricots, apples, you name it. And every year, he has high hopes of a bumper crop. Unfortunately, we live in an area where the wind blows right about the time the blossoms are popping on the tree, blowing away any glimmer of fruit off the branches. And, we live at an elevation of 7,000 feet where it can easily snow into the month of May, freezing the fruit. If the wind and the freeze doesn’t get the apples, in late August, the coyotes come and feed off of the trees. Needless to say, at best, we might be able to pick a dozen or so of token apples, just enough to bake a pie – a small pie that we can claim the apples grew in our garden.
One year, we were able to gather two huge baskets of apples. I left them on the high kitchen counter to use at a later date. Each day when I came home from work, I noticed the pile of apples was getting significantly smaller. Naturally, I assumed my husband was pigging out on apples. To our surprise, we learned differently….
Our two movie star felines – John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe, had co-op’ed with our three Berners: Tiamo, Amore and Dolce. Together, our sweet little kitties would jump up on the counter to the basket of apples and knock down the fruit with their paws to the floor, where three canines were eagerly waiting. In one chomp, the apple would disappear down the throats of the dogs. They were all in cahoots together! In less than a week, the apples were gone. Watching the antics of three dogs madly scrambling to catch the apple before the other two could was hilarious! Watching the cats toy with the dogs, knowing they were in control, was more so. You could see the cats thinking; “silly dogs going crazy over shiny red balls”. Watching the five of them playing together was worth losing two baskets of apples.
This year our apple tree is loaded with fruit. Having survived the wind and any possible freeze, the branches are lowering to the ground with the weight of its produce. Only now it’s not the coyotes we need to worry about – its Dolce! The little stinker has learned a new trick. The apples are low enough for her to burrow into the branches, sniff for the perfect fruit, grab the apple and run to a safe spot to eat it. She loves the snap of the fruit as she is pulling it off the branch. She knows at that exact moment, the apple is hers! When the branch springs back from her tug, when the water droplets on the leaves from the recent rains splash onto her face, when the resistance of ownership transfers from the tree to her mouth, she knows she is the victor. And, let me tell ‘ya, she is one happy camper! Shiny bright eyes, a mouth full of apple and believe it or not, a grin of pure happiness.
Here’s to all the apple-snatching dogs in this world!
DOLCE’S APPLE PIE
- Pastry for a 2 crust 9″ pie
- 7 cups of apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 -1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup brandy
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. lemon juice or vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- a little bit of milk
Divide half of the brandy and pour into a brandy sniffer. Sip a few times to be sure the brandy is good enough to be used for the pie. Sip again throughout the baking process to ensure the pie was worth the effort of making it.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out 1/2 of the pastry and line the pie pan. Add the apples to the pie pan, layering the slices evenly. Add lemon zest over the apple slices.
Combine all of the remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly. Pour evenly over the apple slices. Roll out remaining half of pastry dough and arrange over the apples and filling. Flute the edges and cut vents in the top crust. Combine the egg and milk and brush over the top crust. Place prepared pie on a baking pan and place in oven for one hour or until done. If the pie crust is browning too fast, tent foil over the fluted crust edges to slow the browning.
Great with the remaining brandy!