Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Abuelo Agustin's Apple Pie

While I was planning for my birthday party, I was debating what I'd make for dessert. My usual go to is cupcakes. They are my favorite. But this year, the few days before my birthday were a little hectic and cupcakes didn't seem like the right choice for turning twenty-six. Apple pie seemed like the right move. Yep, apple pie. If you know me kinda well, you might know that not only do I not like pie, but I hate it. An old friend of mine used to laugh because I would not eat cooked fruit. We've lost touch, but if she was around to know that I didn't just eat apple pie, but I chose to bake it and eat it, she'd be proud!

I have never, ever baked an apple pie or any other pie before… at least on my own. I've helped someone else in baking a pecan pie or a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but that is the extent of my pie baking history. While I was making the pie on Sunday, I thought to myself, "I think this will be my first and last pie I bake." I didn't think it was going to go over well. I was wrong. I will certainly be baking this recipe again. I just need an excuse to make it.

Now, I have to tell you the history that goes with this pie. It's not just any old recipe from some modern cookbook. It is a recipe that was learned generations ago and baked with love many times over. I'm happy to be part of this family and can then tell our kids about the recipe and pass it to them and keep the love of Abuelo Agustin's pie alive for years to come!
Now, getting to the history behind the pie. I hope I am getting this right. Forgive me (family) if I don't and you'll have to correct me!
First I will tell you the family members involved.
Bello: Mono's grandfather
Bella: Mono's grandmother, Bello's wife
Abuelo Agustin: Bello's father
Abuela Sofia: Bello's mother
Rosa: Bello's family's maid, turned cook, but really, an adopted out of love, member of the family
Nina: Mono's aunt/godmother
Mami: Mono's mom

Mono's family, on his mom's side, is from Cuba. They are Cuban through and through and I just love to hear about life in that beautiful country. They have some amazing stories and I just close my eyes and picture what life was like their during the years of the beginning of this pie. When Mono and I were flying to Aruba on our honeymoon, we flew over Cuba. That was big for both of us, especially him. We weren't over the area that they lived though. That is what I was really wishing for. I really wanted to get a glimpse into what their home was like. 

Abuelo Agustin and Abuela Sofia both had a love for cooking, and were very good at it from what I hear. After eating this pie and many of their recipes, I know they were good in the kitchen! Their family hired Rosa as their maid and Bello's mother taught her how to cook when she came. Rosa picked up the skills and she also became a wonderful cook in their house. She took over the cooking for their family. I'm not sure how Abuela learned how to cook, maybe it was passed down from her family. I do know that Abuelo learned to cook in college. We think he may have hung out in the kitchen a lot while at school. That is where this pie originated. He learned how to make this pie while he was there. 
Some years have passed and now it is time to bring in our sweet Bella. She always had a love for cooking ever since she was a young girl. While she may not have been the one that actually did the cooking, she loved to play in the kitchen and watch her family's cook. But it was when she met Bello and spent time with his family, that she learned to cook, from Rosa. And to this day, Bella is one of the very greatest cooks I know! What she can do in the kitchen amazes me and makes me hope that one day, I can be half as good making meals for my family.

The first time I had this pie, it was made by Nina. It was delicious. But every dessert I have tried made by Nina is fabulous. Her chocolate mousse, her rum cake, the apple pie. All delicious. I thought this was just another one of her good recipes. I saw how much Bello loved it and that is when I started to pick up little bits and pieces about the pie and where it originated. 

So this year, for my birthday, being the first one where I am officially part of the family, I knew it would be okay to take on the pie. I asked Nina for the recipe and with a little coaching from Nina and Mami, I think I did a pretty good job on Abuelo Agustin's pie. It came out watery because I used the yummiest and juiciest of very favorite, honey crisp. Nina and Mami warned me that it could be pretty juicy, but being my first pie ever, I didn't know how much flour would be too much so I figured a little apple juice wouldn't kill us, or ruin the pie. And it didn't. In fact, I think I liked it that way.
Now you know how special this pie is in our family.
Do you have any special recipes that have been passed down from one generation to another?
I am so thankful, for not only the family I was born into and grew up in, but for the family I am married into. I cherish Mono's family just like they were the family I was born into. I am enjoying learning new things about my whole family every day.
Learning about your family history is a gift. Never, ever take that for granted. If you have grandparents that can sit down and share their past with you, sit and listen... and remember it.

On my Mom's side, there were two things that I learned when I was in my late teens-early twenties that shocked me.
One. My great-grandmother's (Mom's grandmother) real name was not Nannie. Everyone called her Nannie. Everyone. So I thought that was her real name. I never new her name was Jane.
Two. My Aunt Agnes and Uncle Al lived together in my great-grandparents house. I always thought they were married. Wouldn't you? Well, they were not married... but they are brother and sister. Aunt Agnes and Uncle Al are my Popa's (Mom's dad) siblings!! No wonder they all looked alike! hehe.
On my birthday, I learned two big things about my family, again from my mom's side.
One. Back to Nannie again... She eloped. At sixteen! Yes, she ran away with my great-grandfather and didn't tell their family. They took a two day honeymoon and went back to their family and the rest is history. At some point they were married in the Church, but we don't know all those details. I wish we had someone that would remember.
At sixteen, I still can't get over this.
Two. Popa's dad was an orphan. I have a real soft spot in my family for children without a family to love them, so I was touched to hear that we actually have someone in our family who was orphaned. 

I have learned a lot these past few days, about family and about baking apple pie.

157. a cherished and delicious family recipe
158. grandparents to tell us their history
159. beautiful weather to enjoy outside
160. comfortable maternity clothes (so happy I don't have to squeeze into my old clothes)
161. family, past, present and future

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