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Monthly Archives: November 2010

How to Make: All-American Apple Pie

While I love to bake, and have made my share of crisps, tarts, cobblers and other fruit desserts, I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the double-crust pie. So when my daughter asked to make a classic apple pie for Thanksgiving, I thought, No time like the present to tackle the double-crust together.

It was fun! The result was a particularly yummy apple pie, a wonderful afternoon in the kitchen, a little pride, and the desire to bake all kinds of things with our newfound double-crusting ability.

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Here’s how you can make a classic apple pie.

For the crust:

2 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
5 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
6 Tbsp. ice water

For the filling:

1/2 – 3/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. lemon peel
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 lbs. apples (approx. 5), cored, peeled and cut into thin slices.
(Galas or other less sweet cooking apples are a good choice.)
2 Tbsp. butter

Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon peel and lemon juice and let sit until the crust is prepared.

CRUST

Stir flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl.

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Add butter and shortening and, working quickly with a pastry blender or fingertips, combine until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

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Sprinkle on ice water, approx. 2 Tsbp. at a time, until dough sticks together.

Roll into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Remove dough from refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 425.

Divide dough into pieces of 1/3 and 2/3 of the original.

On floured surface, roll large dough piece with a rolling pin until it is approx. 1/4 inch thick and large enough to fit into the pie plate bottom and sides.

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Gently work dough into the bottom of the pie plate. There should be a little bit of overhang over the lip of the plate.

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Fill with desired filling into a fairly rounded shape.

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To fill with apples, make one layer of apple slices. Slices can overlap. Then sprinkle with the sugar mixture. Add another layer of apples and sprinkle. Repeat if desired. When the last layer is done, dot at intervals with small pieces of butter.

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Roll out the remaining dough until it is approx. 1/4 inch thick and place it over the filling. Prick dough with a fork to let air out while the pie is cooking or cut out decorative shapes with a cookie cutter. (You can do this step while the dough is still on the work surface. You have to then place the top crust dough fairly evenly over the filling.) If you’d like, you can make decorative fork marks around the outside of the crust.

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Bake for approx. 40  minutes or until the crust is slightly browned and the fruit mixture is soft, even liquid in places.

Serve and enjoy!

Your pie may not last long! But you’ll be such an expert that you can whip up another.

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Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Giving Thanks: Express Gratitude with Crafts, Foods, Fun and Contemplation

Thanksgiving is upon us in the U.S. Even those who routinely feel and express gratitude have a sanctioned reason to pause and do so more profoundly than usual. Gratitude can transform one’s entire experience and outlook. It imbues relationships, observations and activities with awe and fullness and the realization that “this moment” — and our own unique collection of moments — is the best there is.

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The Thanksgiving holiday makes space for us to allow gratitude into our (often busy) lives in new ways and to pass that feeling on to our children. I’m very grateful for many things, including my wonderful and creative blogger friends who have taken the time to contribute their own ideas for gratitude and celebration.

While I love the smells of turkey cooking — in addition to watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on T.V. — I also enjoy getting out in nature on Thanksgiving Day. Frugal Mama shares four make-ahead traditional Thanksgiving recipes that allow you to enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, with all the trimmings, as well as some time away from the kitchen.

Pumpkin pie is a classic Thanksgiving and Fall food and, while you can make it from scratch, this recipe using canned pumpkin, is extremely easy and makes a very tasty pie.

You can bake your own crust or use one of the pre-made ones, some of which are getting better and better tasting. Epicurious taste-tested pre-made pie crusts. Among their favorites is one of  mine, Whole Foods 365 Organic Pie Shells. Good Housekeeping also weighs in with their pre-made pie crust taste test.

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From Rhythm of the Home and Vintage Chica comes a beautiful Thankfulness Journal project.  Of course, this well-made felt-covered book would be a wonderful project to make, use and enjoy any time of year.

The same could be said of this equally inspiring and beautiful gratitude banner from Future Craft Collective. It’s fun and lovely in itself and wonderful in the way it allows family members to contemplate and formalize their gratitude.

 

Shoveling snow? Why not turn it into a fun and magical outdoor activity for you and your kids? That’s what Mel at Traveling Mel did. Her photos are delightful and inspiring, as always.

Bethe, the Grass Stain Guru, shares her own wonderful list of 10 things to be thankful for in nature.

I just had the good fortune to learn about the Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley, CA, which explores the science behind happiness and gratitude and the ways that we can nurture those brain pathways that promote them. According the the folks at Greater Good, happiness and gratitude can be learned and practiced traits.

Want more information about cultivating an attitude of gratitude? Gratitude Twenty Four Seven is just that – a very inspiring site from Jarl Forsman and Steve Sekhon full of daily tips and affirmations to help you be more grateful and fulfilled every day.

Arvind Devalia gives us some ideas about embracing what we already have.

My own gratitude list includes:
A family that laughs a lot
Good friends
The smell of clean laundry
The air after it rains
Strawberries
Tulips
Clouds
Vintage anything
Old cities
Trains
Tomatoes
Beaches
Hats and gloves
Hopeful new immigrants
Energy
Creativity
Good health
A warm house
Meaningful work
Books and book stores
Holidays
Amusement Parks
County Fairs
Swing music
Colors
Babies
Curlicues
Road trips
A smile from a stranger
Daffodils
Snow-capped mountains
Starry nights
Wonder

..to name a few things

What’s yours?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photos: Farm Security Administration, Rick Audet, Bernadette Noll, Susan Sachs Lipman

Stir up (or cook down) some Colonial Apple Butter

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In a world of wonderful jams and butters, apple butter might just be the ultimate slow food. Comprised of just a few natural ingredients, and no sugar, the best apple butter cooks most of the day over a low flame, so that the resulting mixture is wonderfully dense and has a rich, caramel-y taste. I’d been wanting to get in touch with my inner Colonial cook and make some, when a friend happened to bring over a bounty of Fuji apples from her backyard tree, and then another friend further inspired me by making amazing dried apples from her tree. (Lucky me!)

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Apples were indeed plentiful in Colonial America. Alice Morse Earle’s book, Home Life in Colonial America, lists such dishes as apple-slump (baked apples under a cake topping), apple-crowdy (a turnover-like dessert), and something called apple-mose, along with various types of pies. The book quotes a Swedish parson writing home about the Delaware settlement in 1758:

Apple-pie is used throughout the whole year, and when fresh apples are no longer to be had, dried ones are used. It is the evening meal of children. House-pie .. is made of apples neither peeled nor freed from their cores, and its crust is not broken if a wagon wheel goes over it.

I washed the Fuji apples, appreciating their pretty shapes and colors. In Colonial country homes, it was not uncommon to hold an apple-paring, in which friends and neighbors came to help peel the crop of apples for winter’s dried apples, applesauce and apple butter. The ingredients for apple butter were put into large brass kettles, which were then hung in big, open fireplaces. The finished apple butter would be stored in barrels in the house’s basement. Quince and pear butters were made as well.

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My apple butter is extremely easy to make, requiring only the ingredients you see above:

8 cups apples (a cup is approx. 2 small apples)

2 1/2 cups apple cider

1 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cloves

This recipe yields 2 jars of apple butter and can easily be doubled or tripled. I arrived at it through a combination of various vintage, Amish, and canning books, along with some trial and error.

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1. Wash, peel and chop the apples into small pieces.

2. Place the apples into a large pot and cover with the cider.

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3. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer.

4. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

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5. Simmer on low heat, uncovered for 6 or more hours, or until the mixture cooks down to a paste. You may opt for occasional periods of slightly higher heat, if you find that your mixture remains too watery or if you want to caramelize some of the apples at the bottom of the pot.

This is the “inner Colonial” part — the long, slow cooking process and the fantastic way your house will smell and feel as you do it.

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6. Using a wide-mouth funnel, ladle the mixture into jars that have been prepared for canning. (I boil them for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.)

7. Seal the jars and boil them again, for 10 minutes. Let them sit for a day. (If you follow strict canning guidelines, you can store your apple butter for the future. If you do not, then you’ll want to eat the apple butter within a couple of weeks and store it in the refrigerator.) Please refer to the USDA canning guidelines, downloadable Guide 1, for more information on proper home canning.

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Preserves and butters of all kinds make wonderful gifts and spreads, especially one like this, in which there is barely anything to get in the way of the wonderful, fresh, age-old Fall apple taste. Try apple butter on toast or crackers, with cheese, poultry, or even other fruit.

The colonial kitchen above is located at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT. If you are able to get to this museum, I highly recommend it. It’s like no other — approximately 40 buildings on beautiful grounds house collections of folk art, paintings, quilts, dolls, design, and entire detailed re-creations of such staples of the past as apothecaries, blacksmiths, printing shops, train stations, one-room schoolhouses, and homes of many eras. Look for an upcoming post that details more about the one-of-a-kind Shelburne Museum.

In the meantime, enjoy your butter and fall!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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