(This article is dedicated to my beloved Bill Knight of Melbourne.
Chinese version follows the English version.)
For me, apple pie has a very special and profound meaning.
I always remember Bill ----
the old man who is so lovely, so sweet, so happy, and so optimistic, and apparently does not look old at all.
I never knew Bill before, but he walked with me through my hardest time when I lost my first love.
His life is full of sunshine and has encouraged me to move on and embrace the brightness.
It was the year when I graduated from the University.
It was the day I submitted my last academic paper, that I put an end to my irredeemable relationship.
Leaving was too difficult, so I chose to take a large step.
I exiled myself to the Southern Hemisphere, longing to live a while in another world.
I prayed that the strangeness of another country and the unfamiliarity of another language can pause the grief in my world.
There was a host mother in her 60s living in Melbourne receiving overseas students.
Betty's house was full of guests so I was introduced to her boyfriend, Bill.
Bill drank coffee like water, reheated bacons in the microwave oven as usual snacks, ate loads of butter, and smoke cigarettes.
Watching me eating and drinking in such a careful and disciplined manner,
and hearing my Chinese way of chattering of a healthier life,
Bill broke into laughter and said brightly,
"What's the point? Fat or thin is not decided by how you eat! It's in your genes!
My children's mom is big and fat.
My children give up butter, give up fatty meat, eat lots of veggies, and they are big and fat!
Me? I eat fatty meat, drink full cream milk, and spread butter on my toasts for decades! See I am still thin!
And, I am in my 70s now, it's not too far from death, what is the point of giving up delicious things?
If I can't have them from now on, I would rather die now! Hahahaha!"
Well it was making sense.
The generousity and openness was like a ray of sun. It gleamed in my heart.
In the second evening of my arrival, Bill drove me to Betty's house and we had dinner together.
They were confused to find that I travelled such a distance to their country and did not have any plans.
I told them the reason of my journey. The tears I had been holding back all the way overflew.
Betty held me in her arms. "Will I survive?" I cried in despair.
"Of course you will. Of course you will." said Betty, patting me gently.
I continued to fight back loneliness and endure the pain with all my might in the days followed.
Bill did not say much. But when we were driving through wide fields one day and I was gazing out of the window, he suddenly spoke,
"At least you are trouble-free now."
He would never know the power of that little sentence.
I walked on my life remembering these words of wisdom.
When I was attacked by bitter yearnings and traumatic memories later, I was strong again very quickly with this line.
We had been living together for nearly 2 weeks.
We ate our meals together, went to the supermarket, watched the TV, and danced together.
There are so many pieces of memory in my mind, all precious and unforgettable----
I remember the photos he took, the coins he collected.
I remember him showing me a large map of Melbourne in the first night of my arrival, pointing at different places.
I remember the spacious room he prepared for me, and the guitar, mirror, and electrical heater inside.
I remember he managed to get me a thick coat, as I forgot it was winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
I remember he brought me to many places in his red old car.
I remember him driving me to Betty's home, so I could eat and chat and play cards with international students.
I remember him taking me to a wood with numerous birds, and how he looked when he fed them.
I remember he and Betty prepared a picnic lunch then drove me to find a horse-riding course, as I loved riding so much.
I remember the zoos, the city centre, the supermarkets he brought me to visit.
I remember him taking many photos of me playing. The photos are proofs of happy moments in times of life's darkness.
I remember he said to me "You must have stuffed animals all over your bed at your home."
When I felt so surprised and asked "How do you know that?" wide-eyedly, he laughed,"Ha! Ha!" and replied,"Everyone can imagine."
And I remember him teaching me to make apple pie.
One day Bill came back with a batch of green apples.
He poured them into the kitchen sink, threw me a peeler, and let me peel the dozen of fruits.
At that time, I was a pathetic fellow who did not even know how to peel an apple.
I used to use a knife at home to cut away the skin of apples, along with some part of the flesh, stupidly and slowly.
And I never knew how to use a peeler.
Looking at the hard green fruits lying in the freezing cold water, I was a bit blank.
But the numbness from breakup helped.
I took a deep breath and started intently.
One by one, one by one, and one by one......
The peeler slided and hit my finger. I checked ---- no cuts ---- then continued.
Then one by one, one by one, and one by one, I finished all.
No complaining about coldness, or pain, or boredom, or difficulty,
I quietly and tranquilly lived with my grief and complete my task.
I always think back on the apple-peeling scene in the following days and years.
The little experiences pushed me to grow and mature gradually.
I hope Bill is happy for me, and proud of me.
I hope he knows he has inspired me so much.
On the day I left, Betty and Bill hugged me goodbye.
Bill lifted me up and said, "Why, you haven't gained any weight!"
As Betty said, how many times in one's life can she visit the same place? Very probably once.
I turned back from the car carrying me away and waved at them.
What a beautiful encounter.
Bill has been a very important person in my course of growing up.
The numerous happy scenes healed my heart soundlessly.
Many years have passed by and I miss him like always.
I have become a diligent cook now and everytime I make pies I think of Bill deeply. I think of the day he taught me to make apple pie.
When I share my pies with my friends I tell them this heart-touching story of mine.
Thank you Bill, for being an angel in my life. I can never forget.
Bill knows how to make delicious things in the simplest way.
In his eyes, pies are good because they are easy and quick and convenient and tasty and one is enough for several meals.
Bill make Apple Pies very efficiently----
1. Peel, core, and dice the apples. Cook them in a pot of water with whatever amount of suger until sweet and softened.
2. Thaw 2 pieces of frozen puff pastries.
3. Spray some oil in the tin, lay 1 piece of pastry into it. Add apples. Cover with another piece of pastry. press on the edges.
Bacon and Egg and Cheese pies are even easier!
1. Cook bacons in the microwave oven.
2. Thaw 2 pieces of frozen puff pastries.
3. Spray some oil in the tin, lay 1 piece of pastry into it. Add bacons, eggs, and cheese.
4. Cover with another piece of pastry. press on the edges. Bake.
Using this method we can make unlimited kinds of pies.
I have loved using frozen puff pastry since then. Another thing Bill inspired me.
As I have been posting a lot of recipes using frozen puff pastry already,
this time I am making hand-made shortcrust pastry.
Reference: Bill's inspiration + My experience
For the Crust
Whole Wheat Flour......100g <---White Plain Flour is good too~
For the Filling
Green Apples......3~4 pcs <---Granny Smith is a good type for pies~
Sugar......whatever amount <---Bill's spirit! (This time I use 6 Tbsp.)
Butter......1 Tbsp. (optional)
Cinnamon powder......little (optional)
Making of Crust
1. Cut butter into small pieces.
2. Put Flour, Salt, and Butter into a food processor. Beat for 15 seconds until breadcrumb-like.
3. Add Cold Water bit by bit and mix until moistened. Make 2 dough and fridge them for 30 mins.
4. Roll each dough into 0.3cm thick.
* Keep the butter as cold and hard as it can be before starting, so it doesn't melt.
* If you don't have a food processor, you can still do it with your finger tips.
It's the traditional rub-in method.
* Bill's straightforward way for the Crust:
Buy frozen ones in supermarket. And thaw them.
Making of Filling
1. Peel, core, and dice the Apples.
2. Cook Apples, Sugar, Butter in a small saucepan on medium-low heat until apples softened.
3. Add cinnamon powder and mix well.
* Bill's straightforward way for the Filling:
Cook the apple dices in boiling water with sugar, then drain them.
Making of Pie
1. Brush some butter on the baking plate. Lay one piece of dough on it.
2. Press down and cut away extra bits. Add apples and raisins.
3. Cover with another piece of pastry. press on the edge and cut away extra bits.
4. Make decorations with cut bits. Use a fork to pierce some holes on the crust.
5. Bake the pie in preheated oven (200 degrees Celsius) for 20 mins until the crust turns golden.
* You may beat an egg and brush some on the crust surface to make it look more gorgeous.
Serve warm. It is just too delicious.
What's warmer is the memory in my heart .
----------------------------------中文版 Chinese Version---------------------------------------
Betty將痛哭的我環抱著，我在她懷內絕望哭叫：「Will I survive?」
「At least you are trouble-free now.」
離開的那一天，我分別和 Bill 和 Betty 相擁道別。
2. 解凍兩片急凍酥皮(frozen puff pastry)。
我直到現在仍很愛用急凍酥皮(frozen puff pastry)，也是Bill啟發的。
這次做的是普通酥皮 (Shortcrust Pastry)，不是層層疊疊的法式酥皮 (Puff Pastry)。
蘋果批 (蘋果派) Apple Pie
食譜來源：Bill的啟蒙 + 自己的經驗
Bill 的 Straightforward 做法 (有關酥皮)：直接買急凍酥皮，解凍兩片 (約10分鐘)。
Bill 的 Straightforward 做法 (有關內餡)：