Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Working on my domestic skills

I am not a good cook. I'll be the first to admit it.  However, I can bake. Yes, cooking and baking are two completely different things. At least in my mind.  I can whip up my awesome chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, cheesecake or bread.  But can I cook a three course meal? No. At least not that well. When I do attempt bigger meals I am always bound to destroy a pan and set off the smoke alarm.  Baking has always come easy to me. 

Knowing I was going to be laid up for about a week after gallbladder surgery, I decided to bake something I have never done before. An apple pie.  Mmmm. If I may brag a tasted awesome!  I can't wait to make another one but this week is all about healing and making a birthday cake for my husband.

I couldn't help but share this recipe.  I swiped it from an ancient issue of Country Living magazine (May 2006).  Pardon my pictures. My camera is not liking me lately. Not to mention, when I am in a baking zone I do not like to stop and snap cutesy pictures. 

Grandma's Pie Dough (makes 4 crusts)
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. sugar
1 3/4 cups cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 Tbl. white vinegar
1 egg (extra large)

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Whisk  the vinegar, egg and 1/2 cup of ice water together and mix into the flour mixture with your hands until just combined.  Transfer to a clean work surface, and gently press to form a dough.  Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Shape each into a ball, flatten slightly to form a disk, and wrap in plastic.  Chill for at least 1 hour.  If only using some of the crusts, put the others in freezer bags and freeze until needed.  However, allow 2 days to thaw before using.

I used a pastry tool to mix in the butter

This is the dough before I took it out and formed it into a ball to divide into four pieces

This is the dough I didn't need at the time and now have stored in my freezer

Farmhouse Apple Pie (about 8 servings)
2 disks of Grandma's Pie Dough
2 1/2 pounds of mixed apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1 Tbl.
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. lemon juice  (although I had no lemon juice so I used vinegar instead)
(I also added a dash of Apple Pie Spice- found in the spice aisle at the grocery store)

Heat oven to 375* F.  Roll out one of the disks of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness; transfer to a 9-inch pie pan.  Set aside and keep chilled.  Roll the remaining dough to 1/8/ inch thickness.  Set aside on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (or just flour the sheet) and keep chilled. Toss the chopped apples, flour, 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and lemon juice (or vinegar) together and mix until combined. Pour apple mixture into the prepared pie pan and top with the remaining dough.  Trim, leaving 1/2 inch overhang, fold under, and crimp edges. Sprinkle top with remaining sugar. I forgot to rip out the last page of the recipe so the rest is completely my own--- Cut four little slits in the top crust toward the center. Place pie pan on a baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes or until dough in the center is slightly brown.  Halfway through I covered up the pie with tin foil to prevent the edges from browning too much or burning. Allow to cool. Enjoy!

Roll dough out to 1/8 inch thickness. Trial error procedure to be sure it fits in the pie pan.

After all the ingredients are mixed together and ready to be put into the pie pan.

Bottom crust in a 9 inch pie pan

Sugar is sprinkled on top and slits to allow venting.

Voila! And might I say, "Yummy"! Later I heat up the pieces so that I have warm pie.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Feels like fall favorite time of the year.  The smell of burning leaves and fire pits.  The sound of crunching leaves under my shoes.  Surrounded by falling leaves as I walk through the woods. The season when my camera is my best friend.  Love it!

I don't have a whole lot of decorations for autumn.  This year I wanted to spruce up our front porch. Thanks to our local nursery, I was able to one stop shop and get everything I needed...and really, only for about $35. Not only does it get me in a festive mood, but it also keeps the curb appeal up since our house is like the last kid picked on the playground as far as the housing market goes. Only wish I had an autumn themed welcome mat.
Now, if I could only keep the neighborhood kids from playing with the little pumpkins and gourds....grrr.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Change: the good, the bad, the ugly

Yesterday, a neighborhood kid came to our door to play with my daughter. He was so sad.  He told me he was sad because he didn't have very many days left to play with my daughter.  They are moving.  Not only do we have our house for sale but our neighbors do as well. They haven't sold, but are moving anyway. Now it gets real. 

We moved to this small town near my husband's family thinking we would set down roots.  Little did we realize the toll the commute to work would have on my husband.  Little did I realize there are no jobs here for a Communications major like me.  Now, as we sit and wait for an offer on the house, it is becoming very real that soon we will not be here.  This town that we have called home for so many years is where my daughter has made friends.  She has played T-ball and soccer.  She joined Girl Scouts.  Starting all over again is exciting and at the same time- pretty damn frightening.  We are not completely entering uncharted territory.  We are moving back to where we lived when our daughter was born.  However, we never lived there long enough to have roots.

My daughter, god bless her, tells me things like, "we will be closer to grandma and grandpa K.", "we will get to see Daddy more!", and "I can't wait to see my new school".  Really, god bless her.  She is so optimistic and adventurous.  I only point out the positives to her, never the negatives. I never want her to fear change. I want her to embrace it.  I tell her we can even come visit her friends here once in awhile.  We are only moving about 70 minutes away.

Our neighbors sad eyes yesterday made realize the time has come for both families to move on.  Whether we sell or not we will be moving out before she starts second grade.  We made that commitment for our daughter. 

The key for me, a fear phobic,  is to take one day at a time.  Thinking about the details, how my daughter will handle it, the job search for me, the search for a home, etc., is too much at once.  One day, one step at a time is the only way to go.  All you can do is focus on the positives.

Last night as I watched my daughter and the neighbor rolling down the hill in the backyard laughing hysterically, I smiled knowing that once we move and get settled she will have friends to laugh with again.  She will be fine.  We will be fine.