Deep-Dish Pie: The time my little sister ate something and liked it

It is 3/14. You know, Pi Day.

A day about math.

Pi is numbers. A whole string of numbers that tell us the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its


And math also is letters, as if life isn’t enough of a struggle. Letters and infinite numbers coexisting in an alternate universe where I always have a headache and everything is chaos. That’s math.

Thankfully, Pi and Pie are letter combinations that are homonyms and the second one has sugar to stimulate my soul and butter to drown out all previous mentions of numbers.

It turns a day about math and mayhem into a day of dessert and delight.

Oh, my. Pie. Apple pie. Apple pie with caramel. A pie with caramel and apples soaked in bourbon.

First, a story. {I promise it will come full circle back to the pie. And the bourbon.}

Long ago, I crowned my little sister as our version of Randy from “A Christmas Story.”

Remember Randy?

“Every family has a kid who won’t eat. My kid brother hasn’t eaten voluntarily in three years.”

That’s my Krissy. She ate her spaghetti without sauce, her cereal without milk, her potatoes without gravy, her burgers without vegetables.

And she ate nothing without crying until she was 24.

OK. 22.

Eggs were a no. She basically wanted to subsist on bologna sandwiches {hold the cheese, the condiments and the crust} and crackers {hold the cheese and peanut butter} and cookies and Little Debbies {Nutty Bars only, please}.

If Mama put anything on the table that was tomato-based, our table became a war zone. She pouted. She sniffled. She cried her little heart out while she scooted her fork around on her plate, like she was plotting out the positions of her infantry, separating the food so it looked like she actually had eaten.

Supper was always full of negotiations between Krissy and Daddy. And well, let me put it this way —  did General Patton ever lose?

I’m sure Krissy secretly wished child services would kick the door in and save her from the piping hot, nutritious meal that had been provided for her in a warm home by loving parents.

How dare they, right?

Krissy was convinced she was the most mistreated kid on the planet. And it was all because she had to eat food.

Full disclosure: I ate everything in sight, and most of it ended up on my shirt.

Krissy is 33 now and has evolved. 

I, however, still dribble food on myself.

So, a couple of years ago, when my grown baby sister nonchalantly told me, “By the way, that pie you made on Thanksgiving was the best pie I’ve ever eaten,” I gasped. I literally gasped so hard I nearly choked.

“What did you say?” I asked with amazement.

The world as we know it stopped in its tracks. God even was surprised.

Now here’s where the bourbon comes back in.

It’s a tiny ingredient that enhances flavor in an apple pie like our ancestors used to do. It is not going to get you drunk, no matter what grandma says the preacher says.

I can’t poke fun at grandma too much, because truth be told, I only buy liquor once a year — the day before I make this apple pie. And I park my car at the restaurant two doors down, then I walk through the alley behind the liquor store to go inside. This is an example of things small-town, goody-twoshoes, tee-totalers do in order to escape becoming a lyric in a Harper Valley PTA remake. But really, everyone probably sees me going in the back anyway and thinks I am so drunk I walked to the store and stumbled through the alley so I could take another swig out back before going inside.

Oh, well. I get pie out of it, so being known as Jordan Valley’s Shirley Thompson is a small price to pay.

It was four years before I got up the nerve to tell grandma there was bourbon in the pie she’d been eating on Thanksgiving. And to my surprise, she didn’t call the preacher or activate the church prayer chain.

Just like sissy Krissy… she ate it, and she liked it. She really liked it.

And I hope you like it, too.


Photographic proof she was a well-adjusted and happy child of the 80s, despite being forced to eat arsenic spaghetti. She’s still that cute, too.




Deep-Dish Caramel Apple Pie


This recipe will fill a deep-dish, 9-inch pie pan

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (peeled, quartered, cored)
1 1/2 pounds Gala or Fuji apples (peeled, quartered, cored)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 Tablespoons flour
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 Cup water
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
3/4 Cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Cup bourbon


1. Peel, core, quarter apples. Place in large bowl. Toss apples in 1 Cup of bourbon. Let it marinate for about 30-45 minutes or while you make the rest of the filling and crust.

2. Melt butter in pan over low heat. Stir in flour to thicken. Add white sugar, brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for a few minutes. Add lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt. Remove from heat.

3. Coat apples in sugar/butter mixture in the large bowl. Toss well.


I always have used (and so does mama and grandma) Betty Crocker’s age-old pie crust recipe. Some things just don’t need to be improved upon. Just like numbers and letters. Leave them alone and let them be.


Betty Crocker’s Double Pie Crust

2 Cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 Cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
6 to 8 Tablespoon ice-cold water


Preheat oven to 375.

1. Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture forms coarse crumbs the size of small peas. Sprinkle with the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened.

2. Gather pastry into ball. Divide in half; shape into 2 flattened rounds on lightly floured surface. Wrap rounds in plastic wrap and refrigerate 45 minutes.

3. Using floured rolling pin, roll one pastry round on lightly floured surface into a round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch pie pan.

4. Fold pastry into fourths and place in pie plate or roll pastry loosely around rolling pin and transfer to pie pan. Unfold or unroll pastry and ease into pan, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked.

5. Spoon desired filling into bottom crust.

** For this apple pie, fill pie pan with marinated apples, mound them slightly. Gently pour the leftover sugar/butter mixture from the bowl evenly over the apples.

6. Trim over-hanging edge of bottom crust ½ inch from rim of plate.

7. Roll other round out. Fold into fourths and place over filling; or roll loosely around rolling pin and place over filling. Unfold or unroll pastry over filling. Cut slits in pastry so steam can escape.

8. Trim overhanging edge of top pastry 1 inch from rim of plate. Fold edge of top crust under bottom crust, pressing on rim to seal; flute edges. Bake as directed in desired pie recipe.

**I always mix an egg wash and brush over the top crust, then sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar. And because apple pie is love, I usually put some tiny dough hearts on top. 

I also cover the edges of the crust with foil. I bake this pie for 30 minutes at 375, then remove the foil and reduce the heat to 325 and cook an additional 20 minutes or until center is bubbly and apples are soft and crust is golden brown.



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