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By Francesca Filanc.

“Saturday in the Park, I think it was the Fourth of July ..."

- song written by Robert Lamm and recorded by the group Chicago for their 1972 album Chicago V.

When we think of the Fourth of July we think of watermelon, barbecued hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs and "Mom's" Apple Pie.

Pete and I and the children moved quite a few times in our life together. Practically every property we bought either already had at least one apple tree or I planted them in the landscape.

I have always loved the French look of espaliered apple trees. Subsequently I planted them on several properties where we lived. When I started planning my garden here I knew right away that I wanted three espalier apple trees against a walled terrace that I designed in the garden. I planted three bare-root Beverly Hills variety. These apples are tart; perfect for apple pies.

In the past I have grown Fuji, which is excellent for eating as well as Dorset Golden. At my last property I planted these three different varieties next to the children's garden. They all produced delicious apples at different times of the year. So fun to have apples to pick and eat with my grandchildren right off the trees, as well as, baking apple pies throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Photo credit:
Hummingbird in flight with espalier apples in the background. Thank you to Judy Giusta for this fabulous Hummingbird photo taken in the author's garden.

In our family and with our friends I have gotten quite a reputation for my apple pies.

Years ago, when the children were growing up, my husband Pete quipped "Fran you should enter your apple pie in the Del Mar Fair (Editor's note; it is now known as the San Diego County Fair). I know you will win!"

One time I even had a detailed dream that I was going to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show. In the dream Oprah asked Pete, who was in her audience; just before taking a bite,

"So Peter, I understand you love your wife's apple pies so much that you encouraged her and helped her buy her plane ticket online in order to be on my show?"

Oprah loved the pie in my dream.

"The most important thing is to put love into one's cooking. That makes it taste extra good."

Fran-Mom Apple Pie

(Family members of mine have celiac disease so I now make gluten free crusts or buy them in the store.)


6 crisp tart Apples, more or less depending on size

around 1/2 cup brown sugar

about 1/3 cup white sugar

1 or 2 tablespoons cinnamon

3 tablespoons gluten free flour

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg {top crust}


1. Make or buy frozen pie crusts

2. Slice apples in a large bowl (I leave the peels on)

3. Add the rest of ingredients except butter and nutmeg

4. Dot the butter on top of the ingredients just before adding top crust

5. Poke holes in bottom and top pie crust if frozen; on top crust, if homemade, use a knife to make air vents

6. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

7. Sprinkle top crust with white sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon

8. Bake pie; after 15 min lower temp 375

9. Check at 40 minutes

'Mom's Apple Pie' was even on a radio show in Bordeaux, France. Yvette, my older daughter, was living and working as an au pair for three young boys and going to the University of Bordeaux. Yvette was also teaching cooking on the radio. Yvette used to call me for my recipes, which I found hilarious! Being that France is known for its culinary cuisine.

My family is coming to visit from Spain and Northern CA this Summer and I look forward to baking 'Fran-Mom's Apple Pie' for them.

Happy Fourth of July!

ECSTASY (Acrylic On Canvas) Fine Art by Francesca Filanc.

Happy Gardening!

- Francesca

Pie baker extraordinaire! Francesca Filanc, here with her homemade homegrown Apple and Lemon Meringue pies.

Artist, author, photographer, fly-fisher woman, Francesca Filanc grew up in old Del Mar and these days lives, paints and gardens in historic Olivenhain with two French poodles.

Find her art and writings here:

She can be found on social media here:

Have gardening questions or want to learn more about Francie’s art? Contact:


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