Yes, it’s true. This is actually the first apple pie I’ve ever made. (I’m not counting a few Sara Lee frozen pies). And I used a frozen pie shell, but baby-steps are OK; I’m going to tackle made-from-scratch crusts soon.

I’ve realized that I haven’t actually introduced myself here. My name is Claudia Elliott and I’ve gone by that name since my marriage to Chuck (Best-Husband-Ever) in 1986 (almost half my life). But my maiden name was Claudia Galloway and in between, I was known as Claudia Snow. It was under that name in 1979 that I edited and published The Original Tehachapi Apple Book.

Although I wasn’t born in Tehachapi, I’ve long considered it my hometown. Currently, I live in Oregon — but home is calling and I hope to return to Tehachapi for more than a visit eventually. I’ve actually lived there six times since the early 1950s. I can remember the little house on Old Town Road where I lived with my family when I was about three. Then we moved away until seventh grade. Then moved away again half-way through ninth but fortunately returned at the beginning of my junior year and stayed long enough for me to graduate (Class of 1969!). I returned after college to work at the Tehachapi News. Then got married, moved away, but returned again. Back to work at the Tehachapi News and volunteered at Honey Tree Preschool (where my daughters were enrolled). Moved away again in 1981 but returned in 2010 to work another five years at the Tehachapi News. I should just move back and stay, I think. We’ll see.

But you might want to know about my first apple pie, which I made recently, trying out Dottie Neely’s Paper Bag Apple Pie recipe from the 1979 edition of The Original Tehachapi Apple Book. When you check out the recipe you’ll see that I used a frozen pie shell. But I cut the apples up and put together the crumb-topping myself and I was thrilled when I cut the paper bag open and found that I’d actually made a pie! And it was delicious!

I remember when I first published the book someone asked me if I had tried all of the recipes. Actually, I didn’t try any of them. I just trusted that the people who submitted them knew what they were doing. I certainly didn’t, despite having won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow award for Tehachapi High School in 1969, I didn’t really know how to cook “from scratch” back then.

During this pandemic, like lots of people, I had some time on my hands and one day I remembered my little apple cookbook. I did a “Google” search and found that some of the recipes from my book had been adapted (with credit) by others and were published online. That gave me an idea. More than 40 years after publishing The Original Tehachapi Apple Book, I could try the recipes and put them online. Maybe I could even get people to submit more recipes and publish an updated edition! Plus, I wondered about the people who submitted the original recipes. How many of them might still be around — or at least their family members? It would be fun to try to track them down. And so, I started baking (and working on this website).

I now have five  “pandemic pounds” directly attributable to my efforts so far.  After all, if I’m going to try these recipes I have to taste them, too. And it wouldn’t be good for Best-Husband-Ever to eat everything I bake all by himself because he needs a low-sodium diet and so far I’m following the original recipes (although I’m hoping to adapt some recipes to low sodium versions). How much longer will this pandemic last? Will I be able to bake my way through it? I know I can’t make all of the recipes because I don’t have a way to handle the three tons of apples called for in Sid Gilreath’s Fresh Unpasteurized Raw Cider. But I’m going to do my best.

Thanks for reading!