As readers of my column know, I wrote this past week about the Emmy Award-winning television composer Earle H. Hagen, 88, who died on Wednesday, May 28.
Hagen wrote memorable theme songs for more than 2,500 classic television shows, including the little whistling ditty of a theme song for my grandparents favorite Monday night television program, "The Andy Griffith Show."
The name of the show's unforgettable theme song, which both my grandfather and father were caught several times whistling when they alone in the garage, was "The Fishin' Hole."
The show was so important to my Papo and Grandma Iva Lashbrook, they bought TV trays so they could sit in the living room and watch it while eating their dinner.
They enjoyed the antics of Sheriff Andy Taylor, bumbling Deputy Barney Fife, Opie and all the other characters of that iconic small town.
But my Grandma Iva's favorite character was Aunt Bee, as portrayed by Frances Bavier. She saw in Aunt Bee a reflection of herself.
They were both the matriarchs of their spotless households. They both understood the value of sitting down at the dinner table and enjoying a down-home cooked meal together. I think it was because they were both great cooks. (Except for Aunt Bee's kerosene cucumber pickles!)
My grandmother was always happy when Aunt Bee appeared in an episode.
"Wish there was a place to get her recipes," my grandmother would say with envy when Andy or Barney talked about her pot roast or fried chicken.
My grandmother desperately wanted a recipe from the show for apple pie baked in a paper bag, but could never find it.
In 1991, thanks to authors Ken Beck and Jim Clark, "Aunt Bee's Mayberry Cookbook" was released to the public. Inside, on page 186, was the recipe, but, as fate would have it, it was too late. My grandmother passed away in 1987.
Although it was available, I wasn't able to get my hands on a copy of it until recently.
I was expecting something incredible, but in all honesty there is nothing different about the recipe except the pie is baked inside a large paper bag.
But the cookbook is filled with other interesting recipe gems.
As for this blog, I will share my grandmother's apple pie recipe.
The day before you want to make the pie, make the buttery pie crust.
Use a fork and a butter knife to cut two sticks of unsalted cold butter into two cups of all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup of sugar and a pinch each of salt and cinnamon until it forms little pods of dough the size of peas. Then gently add 1/3 cup of icy cold water into the mixture until it becomes loose crumbles. Divide the dough into two balls, wrap in a layer of aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The day you bake the pie, peel, core and slice four-five Granny Smith apples into thick pieces, put in a large bowl.
Add a 1/2-cup sugar, a 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and ground nutmeg in a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces) before adding the apple slices.
Lightly dust a working surface with flour and roll out one of the two dough balls to form a circle that is about an 1/8-inch thick which is at least 2 inches larger than your 9' or 10' inch baking dish. Do the same with the second dough ball, folding it in quarters to make it easy to move later.
Line the baking dish with one of the dough circles, smoothing out any wrinkles as you place it, and letting the dough hang over the edge of the dish a bit. Cover the baking dish with a piece of plastic wrap and then place the second dough circle inside, then refrigerate for about 15 minutes when you assemble the pie.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, while waiting.
When ready, dump the apple slice mixture into the prepared pie shell. Brush the overhanging edges of the dough with a small amount of melted butter.
Carefully cover with the rolled-out top crust and pinch the edges together, turning them under all around to make a thick edge. You an just pinch the sides of the dough under and continue, but my grandmother's delicious pies were equally beautiful.
Here's one of her tips for making those pretty decorative edges, use your fingers to make a V-shape in the dough by pushing with another finger all the way around the pie.
My grandmother had silverware that had very decorative details on the ends, but any fork with a pattern on the end will work. She would use a fork to press the pattern into the center of each V-shape all around the pie, and then use the other end to press small vent holes in V-shapes around the pie.
Brush the pie dough with a mixture of a small amount of melted butter and a few drops of lemon juice and then sprinkle the top lightly with a touch of sugar and a dab of cinnamon.
Slide the pie into the brown paper bag and fold the top down. Staple or paper clip the bag shut and place it on a sheet pan.
Bake for one hour, and then remove the pie to cut a large circle in the top of the bag. Return to the oven and bake about 15 minutes more, until the crust is golden brown.
Remove and let the pie cool at least 30 minutes before serving.
Serve warm or at room temperature.