Saturday, May 14, 2011

A book, a Momma, a birthday, and a classic

The book: I finished reading We'll Always Have Stockholm by J.M. Jennings!! It's an amazing read!! It's still kind of incredible to read a published book that was written by someone I know in real life. By the way, when you buy it from Amazon Kindle here which you should do very soon, check out the acknowledgments at the end and you will see yours truly! He really is a great author and the story is very good check it out, I won't do any spoiler on this so that you can go read it yourself and support a new author!! Also don't forget to check out his blog.
My Momma: My Momma is an amazing woman and I wanted to put a shout out to her in this blog for two main reasons. One being the next part of this blog is going to be about my birthday dinner she gave me. Two being that she and both my Grandmas are a huge reason I got into baking as much as I have, they all three love to make food that makes other people happy and they have all taught me the joy this can bring to life and therefore made me fall in love with baking :D  My Momma is also such a fan of cooking and has begun the "primal" eating lifestyle that she and a friend of her's also have a blog, check it out!

This is a picture of me and my amazing Momma at said birthday.

My birthday: So every year for my brother and my birthdays, there is a tradition no matter what else you do for your birthday you have to go over to Momma's house and have your home cooked birthday dinner and dessert. My Momma is a wonderful cook! You get to pick your dinner and dessert, of course ;), and this year I picked; Salmon, shrimp, mashed potatoes and salad for dinner. Dessert is another tradition but one only really for me, I love, love, love, love, did I mention love? Anyway, love my Momma's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies, no one gets that recipe yet ;) so every year that's what I have instead of cake and we take a picture of me making a silly face.

Here's the beautiful things!

Here's the traditional picture, I have one like this for every year since I was 18 and I intend on having one for every year til my last birthday!

My Momma also made Sangria for us to drink this year since my little brother is officially legal to drink this year :D

The classic: This is the American classic, Apple Pie! I have never tried to tackle a completely (dough and all) homemade Apple Pie and with summer finally making it's presence known I decided this was as good a time as any. I used the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New baking book with a few adjustments born both out of intuition and necessity.

Now the first thing everyone will say you need to do is gather your ingredients, which includes:
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening (I used margarine ,out of necessity, I would recommend at least sticking with shortening, my Momma and Grandma says butter or lard is better. I will try one of those two next time and let you know how it turns out. If, like me, all you have on hand is margarine I am here to tell you it will work but the crust will be a little bland and a little less flaky than if you use the other options. When using the margarine at the adding water stage I did throw in about a tablespoon of milk to add just a little extra.)
6-7 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:
6 cups thinly sliced and peeled cooking apples (I used Granny Smith, another tradition from the Mom and Grandmas)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I'll admit I'm a little heavy handed with the cinnamon, I just love cinnamon though)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
optional ½ cup raisins or walnuts (I did not use either of these)

First things first, the base of the pie, the crust must be made. Now I will tell you I was nervous, I had always heard about how hard pie crust is to make and I'll admit mine, like above mentioned, did not turn out quite as nicely as I intended but it was still easier than the danishes I tackled a couple months ago which I'll be posting about here soon, when I make a new batch!! Anyway, rest your mind at ease and approach the crust making confidently!

So for the crust, first you stir together that flour and salt. Than you cut in the butter, lard, shortening, margarine, whatever you are using until the pieces are about pea -sized. Add a tablespoon of water at a time, each time you add a new one kind of toss everything around, until it starts looking like dough (This is where I added about a tablespoon of milk since I was using margarine). Divide the dough in half while still in the bowl. One half at a time, roll into a ball between your floured hands, than on a floured surface use your hands to start flattening the dough, keeping it in as round a shape as possible, I used a rolling pin to flatten it the rest of the way.

I am in love with the spray non-stick stuff, so I sprayed the pie plate with some butter flavored non-stick spay and than set the rolled dough into the pie plate, try not stretch it too much because it will rip and that is a pain in the you know what. Once you get it all settled into the plate and there are no little air bubbles hanging out on the bottom between the crust and the pie plate, trim the extra stuff off the edges so that the crust is even or just a little over the edge of the plate.

Take your scraps from the edges of the first half of dough and add them to the second half, now the same process with the second half of dough, make it into a ball, flatten it out into as much of a circle as you can, but than with this one you have a crossroads; you can leave it plain and flat for the time being and just poke holes in it with a knife later before it goes in the oven or you can cut a design or pattern or something into it. I opted for a pattern since this was my first Apple Pie I really wanted it to look pretty too! I also happened to have inherited a cutter for just this purpose from Jason's Aunt who we were helping to move to Colorado a couple months ago!!!

So if you go for the first option just set the dough aside (don't actually move it yet if you don't have to, but just let it sit for the time being). If you go for option two cut out your pattern and than also just set it aside.

And than comes the apple mixture, the filling, the sweet stuff :D First off you peel and slice your apples I wait til the last second to do this so the apples have no time to brown and turn mushy. Than you place six cups of them in a bowl, I found that if you get decent softball-ish sized apples than that equals about three apples. And sprinkle them with the lemon juice. Than in a separate small to medium sized bowl you add the sugar, the flour the cinnamon, and nutmeg together and stir them all up.
                                                                 Side-note: Most of the time I'm not really sold on the idea that 
                                                                          you need to mix things in a separate bowl and than add them
                                                                      together, I mean they're all going to get mixed up anyway right?
                                                                        Well in some cases my lazy, dish saving way can be taken but
                                                                       in some cases it can not, this is one of those cases my lazy
                                                                       way can not be taken. If you take my lazy way, yes I did 
                                                                     make this mistake, you will end up with a couple pieces of
                                                                     apple really coated in cinnamon and nutmeg and the other 
pieces with pretty much none. No good.

Now after you have mixed all the dry ingredients together you sprinkle them on the apples, I did about half the mixture at a time. I just used my hands to mix it with the apples to save the apples from getting broken or mashed with a spoon. Once all the apples have a wonderful coat of sugar and other goodness you pour that into your pie plate with dough in it.

Than you take the other half of the dough, patterned or plain and lay that over the top of this.

You trim the edge of the top layer of dough to about a half inch and than you tuck the top piece in between the bottom piece and the pie plate and kind of pinch it as you go along to seal it up. Now this is the part if you left the second roll out of dough plain that you poke it all over with a knife so the steam can escape.

Cover the pie with foil or any other oven safe thing that will help protect the top and edges of the pie from over browning. And than you pop it into your oven which should be pre-heated to 375 degrees and bake it for 25 minutes, pull off the covering and than bake it another 25-30 minutes, I never went over 25 minutes the second time but there are a lot of factors.

Take the pie out.
Allow to cool.
And enjoy the classic summer timey goodness :D

Now to show you my two little helpers, this is Ambekka and Bellona my two girl dogs. They know they're not allowed in the kitchen but when I go on one of  my baking kicks and am in there all day they always come poke their heads in and make sure I'm okay.

Bellona is on the top and Ambekka is on the bottom.(since I can't figure out how to rotate the d*** pictures on this thing)

I hope everyone gets to eat homemade Apple Pie at least once this summer whether you make it yourself or not, I hope everyone gets to read a good book, and enjoy family and friends. Don't forget to enjoy life and be fascinated by the little things. :D

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your kind words about my book (check's in the mail), and for posting the link on your blog. As to the rest of this post, allow me to say a few words to your reading public.

    I have personally tasted Kim's apple pie. Now, as a general rule, I'm not a huge fan of the American classic; I've always reserved my love for such others as blueberry, lemon meringue, and pecan. So I went into tasting Kim's pie with a little trepidation.

    Happy as a lark was I when I discovered that her apple pie was quite, quite delicious. The filling was sufficiently gooey and spiced to near perfection, but what really knocked me out was the crust. Most of the time, I think pie-makers confuse the term "flaky" with something which resembles, say, the crust of the planet earth. Few things in life disappoint me like a dry - dare I say "dusty"? - crust, the kind which puts you in mind of drinking a lot of water to balance things out.

    But Kim's crust was wonderful: not too soft, it contained almost the consistency of the compressed croissant (if you're a fan, you know that moment I'm speaking of, when you've bitten down into the croissant, squeezed the air out of it, and finally feel your teeth meet with the delicious faintest muffling of their usual grind before coming to full, satisfied stop).

    Well done, Kim! I look forward to your next culinary experiment/post!