By Mary Abo For The North American Post
When I read about the Golden Apples of Hesperides in elementary school, I imagined those apples as precious as gold. Years later, I saw a real version of those golden apples growing in my mother-in-law’s yard in Olympia. She had a huge Gravenstein apple tree that was covered with golden apples every fall. I have never seen another Gravenstein apple tree growing in anyone else’s yard and have never even seen Gravenstein apples for sale in the grocery store.
In the summer, when my family visited Grandma and Grandpa Abo, she’d lay bamboo mats for us to sit on under the shady apple tree for a bento (lunch) of onigiri (rice cakes) and tamagoyaki (rolled egg omelet). Above us, we’d see a hundred little green apples. In the fall, they’d become a luscious gold. When we bit into a ripe Gravenstein, our mouths would fill with sticky sweet juices.
Grandma made the best apple pie from these Gravensteins. She had her special pie making equipment: a Tupperware plastic mat marked with red rings for different crust sizes, a wooden rolling pin, a pastry cutter, flour and sugar in tin canisters, a large can of Crisco, metal measuring cups and spoons, a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup and a large Pyrex pie pan. In a large bowl, she slathered the apple slices with sugar, cornstarch and salt.
I think her pie success was due to her precise measurements and orderly steps. It also seemed like she always wore the same red gingham apron. When the pie came out of the oven, we could hardly wait to eat it.
Everyone always said, “Grandma makes the best apple pie.”
The crust was always flaky and the Gravenstein apple filling was seasoned with just the right amount of sugar. Each bite was exquisite.
Grandma and Grandpa have long since passed and the house with the Gravenstein apple tree has been sold. Recently, I came across Grandma’s apple pie recipe in her index file. The recipe card reminded me of her Gravenstein apple pie coming out of the oven with its caramelized juices spilling out over the crust and the sweet aroma filling the kitchen. I know everyone in our family, like me, has enshrined Grandma’s Gravenstein apple pie in their memory as the best apple pie ever.