Forget the turkey (or in our case lobster) and the stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, etc. We really just eat that heavy meal to be able to justify eating a dessert just as rich in calories and cholesterol, right?  I know the pies are my favorite part of the meal!

      Back in my youth we celebrated Thanksgiving with a lot of extended family, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and often dear friends. Whomever hosted the party was naturally in charge of the turkey, setting the table, and the booze, but many of the side dishes were assigned to other attendees to bring.  My Great Aunt Petie (yes, I know, what is it with weird nick names in my family? Her given name was Ellen but went by Petie...just go with it!) was most often the hostess and it was a fabulous huge celebration, made even more delicious since Aunt Petie was at one time a caterer...the lady knew how to cook and throw a great party.  

      As a child the two best parts of the dinner were not the dinner at all.  The first wonderful part was the access to as many black olives as we could eat.  They sat in bowls on the dinner table and we'd stuff them on our fingers like fake nails and make sure no grown up had a shot of eating any.  (Usually after eating 5 olives we'd be told to stop or we'd get the colly wobbles for sure, but not on Thanksgiving!)  The other best part was grown ups actually encouraging you to eat every kind of dessert being offered in generous proportions.  Everyone wanted to be sure to leave enough room to have "the hat trick" for dessert.

What is this "hat trick" I speak of?  A "hat trick" is a term for three successes in a row of any kind.  Usually we hear it in sports, like the hockey player scoring three goals in one game for a hat trick.  I looked it up and the term actually stems from the game of Cricket, originally referring to the club presentation of a new hat to a bowler taking three wickets successively.  That's interesting and all, but "hat tricks" are far more important when referring to having three kinds of pies AND three kinds of ice cream at once. 

Back in the day, we always had several pies.  Always pumpkin, apple, and minced meat pie and sometimes another kind thrown in for good measure...or because a guest brought it!  The ice cream flavors offered were: vanilla, chocolate and coffee. Coffee is the only flavor ice cream my Grampy, Stubby Starrett (yes, another wacky nick name) ever ate.  I remember asking for the hat trick as a child, even though I didn't really like pumpkin pie, I just didn't want to DISAPPOINT the grown ups and not go whole hog on Thanksgiving!
Today, I still bake at least 3 pies, apple, pumpkin and pecan pie (since pecan is my husband's favorite and also a big hit with my brother Danny).  Apple is by far my favorite, especially since 1990 when I came upon a recipe with a crumble top.  It saves me from having to make another crust for the top and it's got secret ingredients that make it better than your average apple pie.  The top crumble is made with a little ground ginger and mace.  Not the tear gas type of mace, or the billy club version of mace...the spice mace!  It's in the nutmeg family, but different in a sweeter mellower way and makes this pie sing!  It also is kind of hard to find, so start looking for it if you're going to try t

Here are the how to's: 

Apple Crumble Top Pie:

8 apples (I prefer Granny Smith or a nice hard tart apple)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour

Peel, core and slice the apples very thin.  toss with lemon juice and rind.  sprinkle sugar and flour on top and coat evenly.
Pour into a heaping pile in a 9" pie shell. (I'm going to admit lately I've been buying pre-made pastry dough.)  This is going to look like way too many apples...but I promise it cooks down, so let it be a big heap!

For the topping:

1/2 C sugar
1/2 C flour
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) of softened butter

Combine all the dry ingredients and cut in the butter until crumbly.  The tricky part is sprinkling this topping on the apples without it rolling down the sides of mount apple. I cover the crust of the pie with tin foil for oct of the baking and find it helps to put it on before sprinkling the topping...it kind of helps hold it in.

Bake 375 degree oven for 1 hour.  Remove the tin foil the last ten minutes so the crust can brown up.  

Tips: Bake the pie on a cookie sheet, because there will most likely be spillage that you won't want on the bottom of your oven.  
      Put the pie in the oven when you take the turkey out or right before you sit down to dinner.  By the time you're ready for dessert, you'll have a hot apple pie fresh from the oven!
      Try serving with coffee ice cream and make my Grampy, Stubby Starrett, smile down from heaven!

Click here to link with more recipes (including the one for pecan pie) in the Indulge, Pies and Puddings section.