These days, the word “homemade” doesn’t mean the same as it did for my Grandma Hilda. She taught me that homemade meant fresh, natural foods, and a lot of work.
My grandparents had many fruit trees on their farm, and my Grandma taught me to make pies with the fruits from their trees. We had to peel piles of apples since we didn’t have all of the current fancy kitchen tools like apple peelers and corkers. It was Grandma, me, a pile of apples, and a couple of small paring knives. We had the best time visiting and peeling and slicing – the kind of time love and family is built on.
While Grandma made her pie crust with vinegar to sour her milk (which did make the crust nice and flakey), I choose to make mine with Crisco and iced water because it keeps my pie crust consistent. When it comes to the filling though, that’s where you taste the homemade difference. Grandma made everything from scratch, never measured anything, and yet always made the best cherry pies. With two cherry trees on their farm, we would pick the cherries and hand-pit them for the pie filling. Grandma’s cherry pie was amazing not only because of the combination of almond extract and vanilla that gave it the perfect flavor, more so because you could taste the love she put into it.
It wasn’t until I went to New York that I had a pie that wasn’t homemade. I would go to farmer’s markets in the City where the vendors would claim their pies were homemade. I’d take them home and in the first bite, I could tell they didn’t taste right. I’d visit more farmer’s markets and buy more pies searching for that homemade taste. After many failed purchases, I realized they were using canned cherry pie filling. Folks, it’s not homemade if the filling is from a can.
Folks, it’s not homemade if the filling is from a can.
You can skimp on quality but that will always mean you skimp on taste. Skimping on quality and taste is simply not an option for me. Grandma taught me to do things well, and to do things well creates an experience that stays with you.
Thanks to Grandma Hilda, I learned the secret to a successful pie at a very young age. To this day, I make my cherry pies from fresh tart cherries and I like to think that mine are just the way Grandma used to make them.
Stop in and ask me about Grandma Hilda’s pies the next time you stop by the Omaha Bakery!