So let's talk about pie. I was raised on margarine-and-Crisco crusts; but once I moved into my own apartment, I saw the light and switched to all-butter crusts. Although a lard crust does have a lovely flaky texture, I prefer the flavor of butter. I also think that a buttery crust means that the filling can be less sweet.
My favorite local orchard donated a bushel of utility Macintosh apples for the purposes of this pie caper. I do not usually use Macs in pies, but these are big firm good-looking ones. They do tend to cook down into sauce rather than hold their shape, and I prefer chunks of apple in my pies. (Macouns and Cortlands are nice and chunky, while early yellow apples such as Ginger Golds are an excellent base for a ginger-lime apple pie.) However, in this instance, a bushel of free apples is a good thing, and I will make due.
Flavoring the filling: I use 2/3rds of a cup of natural cane sugar (such as turbinado or Demerara) per apple pie, adding more sugar if the apples are very tart--not the case with Macs. Even though these sugar crystals are coarse, I like the slight caramel taste of a brown cane sugar, and it melts nicely into syrup during baking. I do not add flour; apples have plenty of thickening power on their own. Often I use nutmeg rather than cinnamon, but with the Macs I'll probably stick with cinnamon. I grate lemon peel into the mixture and mix in 1 to 3 tablespoons of butter, depending on how rich a syrup I want. (Probably I'll use the lesser amount for the pie caper, just to save costs.)
Usually I don't sugar or egg-wash my top crusts. They're pretty that way, but sometimes they get tough.
Okay: that's apple. Because I am running out of time, I will merely remark that, even for this pie caper, I could not bring myself to buy canned pumpkin for the pumpkin pies. So yesterday afternoon involved a fair amount of squash baking, seed scraping, and food-mill grinding. Fortunately Paul helped me pass the time by reading off all the names of this year's baseball free agents, and we enjoyed a sweet shared pipe dream in which Oswalt and Wilson were trotting onto the field as Red Sox starting pitchers. . . .