Tuesday, October 26, 2010

And Now Deep Thoughts ...

As I write this, I am sitting on my screened-in porch, a blanket tucked around my shoulders as I enjoy the peaceful aftermath of a violent mid-day storm. My dog, Maggie, is tucked at my side while the other two pooches patrol for squirrels in the crisp, gray air. There is no traffic, no construction, no lawn mowers or boats. In this moment, there is only me, and the ebb and flow of the leaves in the wind, rolling like grains of sand caught in gentle waves on the beach.

To me, this is pretty close to heaven. The only thing that could make this better is my husband at arm’s length and a warm cup of cocoa. For someone else, this could be pure hell. Nothing to distract, nothing to provide company or entertainment, no one to talk to or to laugh with. And yet, here I am, peacefulness in my soul and joy in my heart.

This weekend, Kirk and I glimpsed a different kind of joy. Visiting our oldest friends, we marveled at the fact that they created three small people between them—the youngest only a handful of months in this world. Three little mini-me’s with curly hair, and bright smiles, swift anger and even faster joy. Their house is filled to the rafters with shouting, and toys, and worries, and hopes, and always dreams. There is not a quiet corner to be had as their lives rattle forward, full steam ahead.

I am glad for them, and their choices that brought them such a distinctly different life. For these small visits, measured by hours a few times a year, I am happy to play horse to a young cowboy and to teach a handful of foreign words to a curious little learner. I am pleased to quiet cries and scold naughtiness and praise good deeds. When we drive away, it is with no sadness or regret, just looking forward to the next visit, the next moment our lives intersect, when their tiny bodies have grown that much more, acting as yardsticks for my own march in time.

My mom reminded me that our visit was much like the visit of my mother’s oldest friend – affectionately called our aunt - when I was of an age still measured in months. The three of us under five, my aunt came cross country to see us, particularly me—the newest edition. I have a picture of her holding me in front of a church where we lived. I in ruffley pink, she fresh faced and grinning, it is an oddly timeless moment, despite the aging colors of the decades-old photograph.

It struck me as odd, almost surreal, like I had come full circle. From the wide-eyed infant in one picture to the broadly smiling “Aunt” in the next, it was as if the time in between had curled in on itself, revealing the circular path of our journeys in this world. Every thirty years or so, the next generation pops up, an endless recycling of events that each person thinks is unique, but is as old as time. Children being born, graduations, marriages, and everything in between.

It made me feel closer to my parents, and grandparents, and those ancestors I never even knew, to know that they traveled similar journeys. They visited with old friends and sat around a kitchen table late into the night, laughing and chatting and reminiscing. Sometimes marveling at how much life had changed, and how far they had come from the days past. Perhaps they even shook their heads in wonder at how lives started so similarly had meandered so far in such various directions.

My friend wondered aloud this weekend at the impact our choices have on our lives. The infinite realities that could have been, each one connected to a different choice, one even as simple as where you chose to eat lunch. I can appreciate the thought in theory, but for me, there is only the path I am on. I don’t worry for the outcome of the choices not made, but instead give thanks for the ones that I did make.

My choices have been just right for me, just as others’ choices—so very different from mine—have been just right for them. Joy pervades my life in so many ways. Even amongst worries for the future – for my career, and money, and the direction that each of my choices lead—I go forth with peace and happiness for where I am, for the people I love, for the pups that make me smile, and, of course, for the husband who makes me swoon.

Do you sometimes marvel at life? Caught off-guard by the continual slipping of days going by? Are you happy for your choices, which brought you to where you are?

So, on a cool autumn day, what would be better than one of my all-time favorite cool-weather dinners: Taco Soup! The recipe below is copied word for word from the recipe given to me years earlier by the very friends we visited this weekend. Enjoy!

Taco Soup Recipe:

1 cup of love

1 packet of Hidden Valley ranch dressing (powder)

1 packet of taco seasoning

1-1.5 pounds of ground beef or turkey (optional)

1 can of pinto beans (drained)

2 cans of shoepeg corn or 1 large package of frozen white and yellow sweet corn

2 humungous cans of petite diced tomatoes

2 cans of mild Rotel

1/2 chopped onion (browned with meat or in oil if no meat)

sour cream

cheddar cheese

Fritos scoops (I used tortilla chips)

Brown the meat and onions together, drain.

Combine the love, ranch, taco seasoning, browned beef and onions, beans, corn,

tomatoes, and Rotel into a large crock pot. You may adjust amount of ingredients depending on how many you are serving. Put the crockpot on low for 4-5 hours (or high for 1-2 hours). When it is done, put in bowls and top with cheddar cheese and sour cream. Place scoops around bowl. Dip scoops, lift scoops, place scoops and soup into mouth. Chew vigorously. Say mmm mmm good.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How a Baker was Made

By now, I’m sure it is exceedingly obvious to all and sundry that I adore baking. It’s a unique medium that almost always brings a smile to peoples’ faces, and that just makes me happy. At dinner with friends recently, I was asked how I started out. I gave them the answer I have given for years: At my first job as a GIS tech, I had a boss with a really big sweet tooth. When I brought a cake in for a coworker’s birthday one day, he asked me to start using petty cash to make cakes for everyone’s birthday, and so a baker was born.

Or was she? As I was making batch upon batch of cupcake goodness for the workshop I attended this weekend, I had a flashback to kneading dough next to my mother in the house we had in Georgia when I was around 5 years old. Side by side in the kitchen, me on a chair while she stood patiently beside be, we pushed and pulled the dough in the age old method that has been passed down from generation to generation through the centuries.

I imagine that women throughout the millennia taught their daughters just as my mother taught me, with my own tiny ball of dough beside her own. Allowing them to taste the yeasty mixture, their faces puckering at the lack of sweetness. Gently reminding them to add more flour to the counter so the dough won’t stick, and laughing when they squeeze the gooey mixture through their tiny fingers.

Only, my mother hadn’t been taught by her mother. She had taught herself, intent on providing the freshest, most wholesome food for our family. Back before it was posh, when all the modern moms were opening bags of Wonderbread and offering jars of Jiff, my mother ground the wheat for her dough, kneaded and shaped it with me at her side, and placed it in the oven to bake. As the smell of fresh-baked bread filled the house, filling us all with mouth-watering anticipation, she would go to work making homemade peanut butter.

No preservatives, no chemicals, no name brands or catchy advertising, just one woman and her daughter, working the foods God gave us, together in a warm kitchen somewhere lost in time.

We rarely had sweets in the house when I was young, but when we did, they were baked in our own harvest gold oven. Treats were just that: something special, appearing only on important occasions. Chocolate chip-less chocolate chip cookies (from the curious time as a child when I didn’t like chocolate), peanut butter cookies with hatch marks made with a fork, and the endless variety of Christmas cookies that we would make one magical day in December. Lemon meringue pies were my father’s favorite, peach cobbler when the season was right, and the occasional batch of ooey, gooey brownies if we were really good. And, of course, a cake on each of our birthdays, of which we were allowed exactly one slice.

As I grew older, I began to notice the little plastic wrapped snack cakes other children had. Little spongy logs filled with crème, chocolate squiggled-topped cupcakes, oatmeal cookies glued together with icing – it was all very new and foreign to me. What were these sugary little delicacies? Why hadn’t my mother given them to me as the other kid’s mother’s had? Going home, I begged my mother to buy me these treats, to allow me to partake in the goodies all the other kids had. Alas, she refused, and sent me away with carrot sticks, or saltines and peanut butter, or a slice of wheat bread.

So very unfair. And then, one day one of my friends’ mothers gave me a Twinkie. I stared in wonder at the perfectly shaped tube of cake, nestled within its cellophane home. Reverently, I tore open the package and pulled out the forbidden treat within. It was very light in my hand, as if filled with air instead of the delicious-looking frosting peaking from three little ports along the bottom. I lifted the cake to my mouth, and took my first bite.

And blinked.

It tasted like… well, nothing, really. The icing was tasteless, the cake had an odd texture, and the whole thing struck me as entirely un-treat like. What was all the fuss about?

I never did learn to like Twinkies and the other snack cakes. But as time caught up with us, there were less loaves of bread, and only the occasional batch of cookies. I went to college and abandoned the healthy eating of my youth, and gained 50 pounds and my first 4 cavities for my trouble. Fast food was the norm, and desserts came before meals. For the first few years of college, I didn’t have an oven, so I couldn’t have baked if I wanted to.

And then along came that first job, and the sweets-loving boss. After that first cake, I found a recipe for homemade icing. I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. Then I branched out and found cake recipes, then I began to tweak them, and later I began working on presentation. The baker was reborn.

And she had learned some things along the way. Sweets were again special, not just a mindless indulgence. Food was something to be respected, to be eaten reverently, not just scarfed down while sitting in front of the television or driving a car.

I was reminded of the art of savoring food. Of laboring to create a dish, and then taking the time to really appreciate every bite, to turn the flavors over in my mouth and give thanks for the sustenance it provides my mind, my soul, and my body. With respect for food came weight loss and happiness.

Give me fresh baked goods any day of the week. Give me a cake measured with care, diligently mixed, and frosted with love. Give me a cookie where I can sneak a taste of the batter, dump a few extra chocolate chips into if I want, and eat while it is still piping hot from the oven.

Give me a cobbler where each peach is sliced by hand, sweet juices running down my fingers as I gobble up every third slice or so. A peach that was sold to me by the farmer who planted it, picked it, and brought it to the market with his sweet wife by his side. I want a cupcake where I can pronounce every ingredient, one that has been iced with fluffy homemade frosting, and that needs to be eaten within two or three days, lest it go bad. Baked goods shouldn’t have an expiration date measured in years, sealed up in plastic that was made somewhere in China, laden with ingredients with lots of x’s and z’s in the names.

Yes, the baker was reborn, intent on bringing happiness to others straight from my oven. But where did I really learn to bake? In a small kitchen in Georgia, using a harvest gold stove and wearing an over-sized apron with the strings doubled up around my waist. Kneading a small ball of dough at my mother’s side, watching her every move and doing my best to emulate her. It was those lessons that laid the seeds for me to be the baker—and lover of real food—that I am today.

When did you learn to bake? Do you have a special baking tradition in your family? And is there anyone out there that actually likes Twinkies? :)

Today I’d like to share a very simple yet delicious bread recipe with you, which is modified from the recipe found here. It’s a great starter bread for those of you who may have never tried to make your own bread. Here’s to yummy, healthy, homemade bread!

2 cups warm water (110 degrees F is ideal)

1/3 cup white sugar

1 ½ Tbsp active dry yeast

1 ½ tsp salt

¼ cup vegetable or canola oil

6 cups bread flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water, then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until a creamy foam forms on top (6 to 10 minutes)

Mix in salt and oil with a wooden spoon. Mix in flour, 1 cup at a time, until you have mixed in 5 ½ cups. Using flour from the remaining ½ cup, lightly coat your working surface. Kneed dough, adding flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth (about 8 to 10 minutes), taking care not to tear the dough. Place in well-oiled bowl that is at least twice the size of the dough, turning a few times to coat the dough with the oil. Cover with a damp cloth (I use tea towels) and place in the unheated oven with the oven light on. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour)

Punch the dough down, then turn out onto floured surface to knead a second time for another few minutes. Divide in half and shape and place into two well-oiled 9x5 loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes until dough has risen about 1 inch above pans.

Bake a 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Erin Knightley: Gardener Extraordinaire

For most of my life, I have felt as though I was born in the wrong era. I mean, how could it be that hats look so good on me if I wasn’t meant to live in a time where they were practically required?
My 'going away' outfit on our wedding day :)
I’ve always been one to shake my head at some of the new fangled ideas that are out there today, and all the little modern touches that make speaking to people face to face increasingly obsolete.
I look at our pre-packaged food and cluck my tongue disapprovingly. I wonder at the good old days when people harvested their own food in quaint little kitchen gardens filled with fragrant herbs and vegetables bursting with flavor. The disconnect between us and our food seems to have widened into a hopelessly wide canyon, so much so that many children have no idea what some foods in their natural forms even look like.
So, last January, I decided that I was going to break that cycle in my own life. I was going to plant a garden. And not just any garden—my garden was going to be the Shangri La of all gardens, the envy of the whole neighborhood. Of course, with my magnificent bounty, I could spread goodwill to my fellow man – a tomato and cucumber for all, I say!
*Cue Little House on the Prairie Music*
Giddy with excitement for the coming project, I sat down at the computer one cold winter night and began to plan. I wanted a completely natural and organic garden, just like my ancestors would have had. Over the next several weeks, I studied, and read, and poured over various websites. What to plant, when to plant, how to plant—absolutely everything I could want to know about gardening.
I would start with organic seeds. In a fit of gardening optimism, I scoured the racks of seed packets at Whole Foods, agonizing over the Japanese or English Cucumbers, Heirloom or Better Boy Tomatoes, even Kentucky Wonder or Blue Lake pole beans. So many choices! But I must choose wisely: each packet was $2.50, and they were adding up quick. By the time I made my selection, my wallet was $50 lighter. I wasn’t daunted, however—just think how much I’ll save when I am eating all my own food all summer!
The idea was to have 6 raised beds, each one built of untreated wood rubbed with linseed oil, just as it was done in the old days. No nasty chemically-treated lumber for me, no sir. In between the sturdy beds, I wanted gravel pathways for easy walking and no worry of weed-eating around the precious vegetables.
It was, in a word, magnificent. See for yourself:
Isn’t it glorious? It is, isn’t it? Go ahead – admit it. You’re jealous. *brushing shoulders* Yep, maybe someday you will be like the inspired genius awesomeness that is Erin. Not now, but someday.
Every veggie I could ever want, abundantly planted so that I could can enough food for the whole winter, and even feed some of my envious neighbors (remember the tomatoes and cucumbers for all?). I could just see me strolling down the aisles, lovingly checking the progress of my darling plants, each one exploding with color and fragrance and inspiring a plethora of delicious, healthy meals.
So, come February, I started my seedlings. Tucked in their little starter disks, warm beneath the plastic dome top, I willed them to grow. Each day I watched and waited for the stems and leaves to spring forth from the dirt, and when they finally emerged, I heralded their coming like the birth of a long-awaited king.
For weeks, I gently watered them, nurturing them like the little miracles they were. “Good morning, my darlings. Ready for another day in the sunshine?” They’d smile at me—okay, so not really, but I imagined they did—and carry on about the business of growing strong and healthy for me.
Soon it was March, and we started to plan the making of the planter boxes. My babies needed a home – and soon! My husband was in charge of the actual building, so together we headed to Lowes, measurements in hand, to buy the lumber. After half an hour of looking at prices, I began to feel a little queasy. This wasn’t your granny’s garden—it was turning out to be the King of Sudan’s. Or perhaps Bill Gates’. All I knew was, ain’t no way we were going to drop that kind of dough.
So we sat down with the calculator and began to do a little number crunching. This would save us a whole summer’s worth of veggies, I argued. But not even five years worth of veggies cost this much, Kirk countered. We hemmed, we hawed, we both negotiated and haggled, and in the end, well let’s just say I had to adjust my expectations.

A lot.

A whole lot.


Gone were the carrots and onions and sage.
No more room for my beans or all the planned greens on my page.
The oregano was out, as were the snap peas,
And not one piece of gravel to keep out the weeds.
The visions of salsa and spaghetti sauces aplenty
Soon vanished like smoke as we downed the ante
Gathering our load of precious few lumber
We headed for home, our moods rather somber

Alright, so, I was bummed. I tried to rally when Kirk built the one beautiful, perfectly-made, infinitely lonely raised bed. It would be okay. I could still raise a few lovely things, and just think how many cucumbers a single plant produced! Not to mention the three tomato plants we had. Yes, we had a reduced variety, but we should be swimming in the veggies we still had.
Or so I thought.
Turns out … not so much. Apparently, no matter how much you will something to be a productive member of your garden, it has the final say. And I am here to tell you, they didn’t say much.
Within a month, we had our very first harvest. It was a very exciting day in my household, as you can imagine. After four months of planning, nurturing the babies every day, building them a (very expensive) home, planting them with love, tending to them once, sometimes even twice a day, we finally reaped the rewards.

Are you ready?

Excited yet?


Ahem. Yeah, my husband wasn’t too impressed either. But I knew it was only the beginning. My fantastically genius plans may have been down-sized, but the fruits of our labor would be plentiful, I was sure.
Soon, we had our first hint of tomato:
Next came a baby jalapeno:
Little did we know, that would be our ONLY jalapeno. Sigh.
But at least the tomatoes were on their way. We had the little jellybean tomatoes, plus a better bush and an heirloom plant. The jellybean tomatoes came first. We watched, rapt, as every day they got a liiitle bit bigger. We waited, with baited breath, when they got their first hint of color. Soon, the little fruits were yellow, then a bright orange, then, well, still orange.
Turns out my packet of red and yellow jellybean tomatoes actually meant red or yellow. Who knew?
Kirk was disappointed—apparently he thinks anything but red tomatoes just isn't right—but we still had 2 more tomato plants. So we waited and waited and waited until one day, we got a little cluster of heirlooms. Hooray! Every day I checked their progress, waiting for the moment they could be harvested. Alas, it stayed stubbornly, mockingly green. Just a little longer, I knew, and it would have to ripen. FINALLY, almost three months after we planted the seedlings, we saw the first blush of red. The red slowly started pushing out the green. Almost there. We waited….

And waited…

And waited… until one day…

And they didn’t even eat the whole thing – each tomato was eaten about a third of the way before they tossed it aside like so much rabble and went on to the next. Oh, the carnage! Red, gnawed flesh, littering the un-graveled ground, mocking all of the hard work I had done over the past 6 months just to get to the is point. *shaking fist to the heavens* DARN YOU SQUIRRELS!!
The worst of it was, that was it. The heirloom plant never gave us a single other tomato. While the jellybean tomato plant continued to cough up a handful of its yellow fruits a day, the better bush mocked us utterly, giving up one single fruit … while we were on vacation. At least my neighbor sent us a picture…
Sigh. Of the three cucumber plants we planted, we harvested a total of 5 or 6 decent cucumbers … and one dreadfully rotten one. Just this week, almost 9 months after we started the project, we also started getting a handful of tiny, underdeveloped green peppers. Yay.
So, was the garden a success? Ha-yal no. Did I enjoy it? In the beginning—back when I still had hope—yes. We’re not going to speak on the time after the tomato massacre. Will I do it again next year? You bet I will ;) Hope springs eternal, after all. Guess I better ask for that canning stuff for Christmas, ‘cause I have a feeling next year is going to be a bumper crop!
Books on Gardening: $45
Organic Seeds and potting soil: $85
Lumber and supplies for special raised beds: $150
The realization that I was born in exactly the right era: Priceless

Have you ever given gardening a try? Did it work for you? Are you glad to be a modern girl, or do you wish you were born in a different era?

For todays recipe, I thought I would provide a super simple, garden fave – one of the only meals to actually come from my garden… sort of :)
Caprese Salad!
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced Mozzarella
Basil leaves
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
In a small saucepan, heat balsamic over medium low heat. Simmer until reduced to desired thickness, set aside to cool (Keep in mind that it continues to thicken as it cools). Stack the basil and tomato atop the mozzarella, drizzle with balsamic reduction and a bit of olive oil. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Travelin' (Wo)man

First off, I thought I’d let my cake readers (that’s you!) know that I found out this weekend that my first manuscript, More Than a Stranger, is a finalist in the Show Me The Spark writing contest. Yay! I’ll find out the final results in a month. Okay, on with today’s post :)

I’m getting the itch. No, not camping, that was last time. I speak now of… the Travel Itch. On Friday, while I was supposed to be writing the next best seller, I was on Travelocity pricing plane tickets to Rome for January. Yes I know, that was the sort of thing we did when I had a paying job, but the pull was so strong, I threw prudence to the wind and spend an hour trying to figure out the best week for the best possible price. In the end, I gave up the search, but I hope to head to places unknown sooner rather than later.

I do so love to travel. Growing up, I used to label myself as a ‘wandering soul,’ always looking toward the horizon and all the endless possibilities beyond it. As a child, though I didn’t travel frequently, my range was pretty impressive. By high school I had been to both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, up to Montreal, through New England, all over the south, the Midwest, and the southwest.

My goal was to hit all 50 states by the time I’m 50, but I have fallen a bit behind, having so far only been to 29 states. I plan to make up the difference with one spectacular road trip sometime around the age of 45, possibly in one of those lumbering behemoths otherwise referred to as an RV. That way, I can say I’m camping and still have a tangible barrior between me and the suicidal wombats on the prowl. As for the rest of the world, well, as a teenager I put together a list of the places I would like to visit. I may have been a liiitttlle ambitious when I listed Antarctica (I thought I would be a famous researcher, after all), and I have yet to see the sands of Egypt, but other places like Russia and the Caribbean came to fruition.

As a matter of fact, after my freshman year of college, I spent an entire summer in Irkutsk, Russia (yes, we’re talking Siberia, here) working with an international drilling project. As fresh-faced nineteen year olds—without the benefit of Google Earth or Wikipedia—we were wholly unprepared for the culture clashes that would arise on that trip. We were also unprepared for the wonderful, lasting friendships we made, or the lifetime of stories we still laugh hysterically at even today. In fact, every time my friend Jacob and I get together, at least one good Russia story makes it into the conversation. One of these days, I will have to write a blog about the whole experience; I’m fairly certain it will become a classic, if I do.

Near Lake Baikal, Russia. Us three Americans with our Russian friends (so glad my fashion sense improved with age!)

At the end of the trip, I felt changed, as well as both appreciative and dismayed of my life in the US. It impacted the way I looked at myself, my country, and my world. It also made me very glad that dried, salted sardines are not an item often found in my local grocery stores. Bleck, I swear I can still hear the crackle of their bones as our comrades availed themselves of that particular snack. *shudders*

I think it was because of my awesome experience in Russia that I learned to really appreciate the local character and flavor of any given place on earth. On our honeymoon, Kirk and I stumbled upon a beach that was populated only by locals. We ducked in to the little open air honor bar, helped ourselves to Cokes from the fridge and dropped dollar bills into the cigar box on the counter. We talked for hours to some very interesting characters, and posed for pictures on the rusted out old Cadillac the queen was driven in the one and only time she visited the British Virgin Islands. That day was one of our absolute favorites of the whole trip.

In 2007, when my sister and I went to England and France, we had the time of our lives. Why? Because we talked to people! Frolicked like children through parks and museums, got random strangers to pose with us in pictures, then in turn were asked by random strangers to pose in their pictures, made a French cabbie blush one day, and another one gave my sister a foot massage the next (I swear that is totally true - and yes, it was even creepier and more hilarious than it sounds!).

Outside the Louvre, Paris, France

We had locals offer us tips on great tourist spots, and got sulky Parisian teenagers to pause in their brooding long enough to crack a smile and give us directions. Oddly enough, apparently either my sister or I look like someone famous in France, because we were actually followed by an honest to goodness paparazzo at the Louvre. I do feel bad for the guy – a whole day wasted snapping picks of to random chicks from the States. That was when it clicked that some of the people asking to get their picture taken with me earlier that day may have thought I was something special. Sorry, guys!

Roman Baths, Bath, England

Last year, when my husband and I went to Rome for my birthday, we walked nearly the entire city in less than a week, absolutely in awe of every square inch of that place. It was January, and we just about had the whole city to ourselves. The weather was lovely, in the 50’s the whole time, and we just wanted to soak in everything and everyone around us. The ancient connections to the past are actually tangible there – buildings and columns and monuments you can actually touch.

Colosseum in Rome

We stayed in a tiny bed and breakfast, which ended up just being a room a couple rents in their 16th century apartment. 16th century!! And what’s more, it had been in Luciano’s family for three centuries. By staying with a kind-hearted local, we felt as though we were visiting a favorite uncle, someone who wanted nothing so much as for us to get as much as possible out of our visit. Seriously, if you ever need a place to stay in Rome, be sure to send me a note.

So, yes, the bug has bit me again, and after a year and a half spent languishing within my own country’s borders, I am just itching to go somewhere new and spectacular. Top on my list? Scotland and Italy! It’s a good thing I have planned for my upcoming books to feature scenes in these countries. Now, I think it is high time I head out on a business trip, don’t you?

Are you a traveler? Do you itch to travel the world over like I do, or do you prefer staying closer to home? Where do you want to go next?

This week's recipes features an improved version of the very first recipe I posted on this blog...

Apple Pie! This week, my friends and I made this pie using farmer's market honeycrisp apples, and lord have mercy, was it good! I hope you will give it a try. Feel free to substitute pre-made pie crust for homemade.

Glorious Apple Pie


2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup shortening

1/4 to 1/3 cup ice water

Combine the flour and salt, mix. Add shortening, and cut into flour using a pastry knife or two regular knives until mixture resembles coarse, pea-sized crumbs. Add water a little at a time, stirring with a fork until mixture clings together. Taking care not to over mix, divide the dough evenly and shape into 1 inch thick disks, wrap with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.


4 large or 5 medium apples - honeycrisp are my very favorite - Very thinly sliced and cut into small wedges

1/2 cup sugar

1 and 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Combine in bowl, tossing well, set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pull dough from fridge, sandwich between either 2 large pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper, and using a rolling pin work until large enough to cover the bottom of a 9 to 9.5 inch pie pan. Peel away to top piece, then invert dough into pan and peel away remaining piece of wrap/paper. Adjust to fit pan without stretching, making sure no air bubbles are trapped at the bottom.

Add apple filling

Work the top piece of dough the same as the bottom piece. Place over filling, crimp bottom and top pieces of dough together, and cut steam vents into the top. For a shiny crust, beat an egg and brush it over the dough, sprinkling with sugar if desired.

Place on a cookie sheet to catch overflow, and place in oven. Bake 45 to 50 minutes