I pulled up my pea plants today. There were a very few flat pods and even some little flowers, but they were basically done. It’s supposed to get above 90 this weekend, so I didn’t think there was any point in leaving them in the ground. And then I noticed that my yellow cauliflower was also ready. I bought three colors of cauliflower at the nursery last fall; the purple bolted almost immediately, at the same time having its leaves eaten by snails. Very sad. The chartreuse formed some small heads by last week, but the orange heads today were very beautiful.

That’s the biggest one, next to some five pounds of peas and a few favas. After spraying the heads with as high pressure as my sink sprayer could muster, to get rid of the aphids, I roasted all of the cauliflower to use later for pasta and salads. The peas and favas, I’ll cook with lettuce.

And then I knuckled down and started the apple pie. I got my lard out from the fridge.

Lard is esteemed in pie crusts because of its “crystalline” structure. I should clarify that (sorry) and say that leaf lard, which is the fat found over the kidneys, is esteemed for pie crusts for this reason. My lard is a mongrel mix of all the pieces of fat I got back from the butcher (although it must have contained at least some leaf lard; I did get half a pig.) It’s saturated, all right, but you couldn’t call it “crystalline.” No matter. I added a couple tablespoons of butter for flavor, about 2/3 cup of lard (or thereabouts; I eyeballed it) and two cups of flour. I should have added some salt, but I forgot. Then I processed it until the fat was well cut into the flour, and added water until I was happy with the consistency.

Now, it’s time for a digression about pie crusts. God knows there are plenty of recipes that make one feel inadequate, but pie crust recipes are the ones that have always done it for me. I can go all Freudian and trace it to the time that I volunteered to make the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, back when I was about 11. My wonderful mom is not a baker, but we gamely tried to patch my sad dough together, until my aunt sensed our distress, and, with seemingly 2 or 3 strokes of her wrists, put a pie crust together by hand and saved the day. I used to take to heart the admonitions in every recipe to use the absolute minimum amount of water and the dire warnings never to overwork the dough.

I’m so over that now. Anyway, this pie crust will be fine. I put it into the fridge to chill for a while, and tackled the apples. I am the proud owner of one o’they Yanqui apple peeling contraptions, and I heart it very much.

With a turn of the crank, it peels, cores and slices an apple into a cool spiral.

I had what is technically known as a buttload of apples, so I got an equivalent amount of apple slices,

to which I added lemon juice, grated lemon zest, a cup of sugar and some instant tapioca.

But what was left? All the peels and cores.

I have trouble throwing things like this away, without extracting some more goodness from them. So I added some water and boiled these leavings for about 45 minutes, then strained the resulting thick liquid. Apples are chock-full of pectin (in fact, the pectin that you buy in the store is made from apples) so it’s easy to make jelly from this juice. I have already made a batch of apple jelly this spring, but I’m thinking of making some wine jelly. It’s only about 2 cups of juice; I’ve frozen it until I decide what to do.

And the pie? It’s assembled, but waiting in the fridge. I’m planning to bake it on Sunday; I’ll photograph it when it’s done.