My neighbors, Carol and David Bibelhausen, began the tradition of Apple Pie Day twenty-seven years ago. They had an abundance of apples from the tree in their yard in Fort Wayne, Indiana, so baking a pie was definitely on the agenda. Daughter Megan, then four and son Joe, then two, each made a crumb crusted, apple pie from the Cooking from Quilt Country cookbook by Marcia Adams.
And they have been celebrating Apple Pie Day ever since.
The next year a friend of Megan's joined in and pie making spread like thick maple syrup over warm pancakes.
Apple Pie Day followed multiple moves to Milwaukee, Cincinnati and eventually to Trout Valley, IL.
By the time the kids were in high school, thirty-two pie bakers came to create an apple pie from scratch. This is not a typo. 32 teenagers came to their home to make a pie. Often done outdoors, an assembly line formed as each kid made the crust directly in the pan, peeled and diced apples and topped it off with a crumb crust. Carol and David offered gentle directions and guidance but tried not to interfere with the process.
The kids behaved. It was creative, unique, something different to do. Hey, I actually just made an apple pie all by myself. And now my family will eat my creation. I can make something that tastes delicious. I may have gotten a D in Algebra but I succeeded in making a pie. I feel proud today.
That felt good. Friends would bring along more friends. Every fall, everyone anxiously anticipated this culinary cooking spree. It became the hottest ticket in town.
Clear your calendar, it's Apple Pie Day. You can't miss this afternoon of cinnamon, sugar, butter and a whirling apple peeler.
Parents were skeptical. My child actually made this apple pie?
Yes, Ann most certainly did with her bare hands and doesn't it taste divine!
Soon the kids were off to colleges all around the Midwest. Did that put an end to Apple Pie Day?
No! That would be outrageous, we can't cancel this annual fall ritual just because we are college students. But now Apple Pie Day evolved into Apple Pie Weekend at the Bibelhausen's home. Blow up the air mattresses, stock up on groceries, all hands on deck, we've got pies to make and a ton of catching up to do.
Now adults, twenty-five pie makers came for the most recent Apple Pie Weekend. Joe and Katie flew in from Portland, Oregon. Pastry experts gladly drove from Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Chicago. Twenty-five people thought so highly of Apple Pie Weekend they carved time out of their hectic lives to gather together for a well-loved tradition.
Carol has wrapped up the cookbook, pie plate, apple corer and peeler and given this to Pie Participants as a wedding gift. They say it's their most cherished gift of all. Dan and his wife Christine, a childhood friend of Joe's, created their own version of Apple Pie Day while living in Nashville. Copies of the recipe flew out their door.
Everyone wonders with Granny Smith anticipation when the next one will be held. Apple Pie Day has steamrolled into a floured and fragrant phenomenon that's engrained in their DNA.
When I first met Carol and she explained this whole Apple Pie Day thing, I was enthralled with all the history and evolution of something so simple as making a pie.
But is Apple Pie Day really about the pie?
No, I think not.
It's the story of generous and willing parents opening their loving home to their children's friends so many years ago. Go ahead and make a huge mess, fill our kitchen with boisterous laughter and here's a Band-aid for that cut on your finger. Remember to be careful with that sharp knife. The comradery of a group making the trek to come together for a weekend that has woven its magic into each of their lives.
You never really know the reach of how making an apple pie with family and friends can linger in your memories, fill you with goodwill and inspire you to pay it forward.
Carol and David recently celebrated Apple Pie Day with their eighteen-month-old grandson Wesley. Soon, newborn Hannah will follow. It's never too early to get out the stained cookbook, now worn, stock up on apples and guide the next generation of pie makers.
And so, thankfully, this tradition continues.
Recipe: Cooking from Quilt Country by Marcia Adams
Pat-in-Pan Pie Crust
(Pastry for an 8" or 9" pie)
1-1/2 Cups plus 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons cold milk
Place ingredients directly in pie plate and mix with your hands. Pat dough up the sides and bottom of pie plate.
Peel, slice and cut seven tart apples and pile in bottom of pie plate. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon.
Topping: (This is Carol's mother's recipe)
1/2 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted cold butter
Crumble mixture with your hands. Pat on top of the apples.
Bake pie at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.
Congratulations. Now you are an official Apple Pie Day baker and can start your own traditions. Observe and watch how it quietly changes lives, one pie at a time.
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