I think I’ve mentioned before how I’m not a food blogger, and I don’t really aspire to be; this space is mainly about gardening. Gardening, however, often leads me to the kitchen and cooking and baking are generally a big part of my life; a lot of my favorite family memories involve food in some way or another. So when fall rolls around the food-blogging world seems to go crazy with pumpkin-spice-everything, for me, when fall rolls around I think about apples. Apples in the form of cider and pie to be specific.
“It’s easy for any of us to claim no time for cooking; harder to look at what we’re doing instead, and why every bit of it is presumed more worthy. Some people really do work double shifts with overtime and pursue no recreational activities, ever, or they are homeless or otherwise without access to a stove and refrigerator. But most are lucky enough to do some things for fun, or for self-improvement or family entertainment. Cooking can be one of those things.” – Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Not any old apple pie will do. Sure, there is a place for the deep dish varieties, or the Dutch versions. Or the picture perfect lattice-topped classic. But the version I dream about is this apple pie. It’s not fancy, and it definitely won’t be winning any beauty contests. But it is delicious; that I can promise. Also, you don’t have to worry about any sort of fussy lattice work, or carefully transferring the crust into a pie dish since it can be rolled out directly in the pan (at least the bottom crust), which is a bonus in my world. And, best of all, it makes a superb breakfast the next day. If you have any left over, that is.
There are all sorts of opinions about which apples make the best baking apples, and McIntosh usually don’t make that list. They are soft and cook down to basically mush, which makes them excellent for sauce, but not for something where you want the apples to remain looking like apples. That being said, McIntosh are my favorite, and I really love them in this pie; I kind of like the uniform mash of apples. So what I’m saying is, you can choose whichever kind of apple suits your fancy.
I know you’re probably not looking for another apple pie recipe, but give this one a try sometime and let me know what you think.
Cookie Sheet Apple Pie
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together. Cut in the shortening. Place the egg yolk in a measuring cup, beat slightly, then add enough milk to bring it to 2/3 cup. Add to flour mixture and stir with a fork to make dough workable. Divide dough on half and roll it out to fit your cookie sheet. I like to get it started on the counter, and then finish tolling it out on the sheet itself. Sprinkle with a couple handfuls of corn flakes or saltine crackers.
In a large bowl toss the apples with the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Place the apples evenly on the bottom crust. Roll out the remaining dough to fit the cookie sheet, and place on top of the apples. Crimp the edges, and add crust vents in the top. Beat the egg white and brush over the top.
Bake at 400 F for 1 hour, or until golden. When cooled, drizzle with a powder sugar glaze. (Powder sugar, a bit of lemon juice or vanilla extract, and enough milk to get it to the consistency you want).
Each year in September is Utah Eat Local Week which is meant to highlight all the great local agricultural (and other) products and inspire people to eat locally grown and produced foods. This year, when Eat Local Week rolled around, I had just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which chronicles a year where her family tried to eat as local as possible. I don’t know that I’ll ever be quite that ambitious (or have enough land to grow that much food on), but I do like the idea of growing your own food.
… and autumn means one thing: APPLES.
Ok, I know it’s all pumpkin-spice-everything right now. But before we jump into the depths of fall with all the pumpkiny things, let’s let the apples have a moment of glory first.
I love apples. I love them all year long, thanks to the conveniences of modern technology/agriculture/global shipping. But I especially love them in the fall. Picking a tart-sweet McIntosh from my grandpa’s tree means crisp air, changing leaves, Saturday afternoons of watching USU football. Even though in my adult life I get bored with the length of sporting events that’s still one of the memories a McIntosh apple invokes.
You can have your Honeycrisps (which are admittedly delicious), but McIntosh apples will always have my heart.
A couple of weeks ago I picked my first McIntosh apples of the season. And then I picked some more. And then I scavenged among the already-fallen ones for salvageable specimens; i.e., only slightly bruised, not pecked clean by the birds, etc.. Perhaps not salvageable for eating as-is, but I had other things in mind. I wanted to make applesauce.
Applesauce. Quite possibly the easiest thing you can do with apples – peel ’em, chop ’em, throw ’em in a pot and let ’em stew. Something I’ve done probably a dozen times. Something that almost became a disaster a week or so ago.
Word to the wise – don’t leave your applesauce pot un-watched whilst you go out for ice cream with friends.
The good news is that the pot, after several treatments with baking soda and hard scrubbing, is now as good as new.
The other good news is the applesauce was mostly salvageable. With only a slight hint of burntness; which is easily masked by the addition of cinnamon.
So go get some apples! Eat them! Make applesauce with them!
(Just don’t be like me and burn them.)
This recipe is really easy, and because it can be adapted to however much applesauce you want to make it is also really vague. The apples I was using were fairly small, so I probably used 20-30, and it made about 4 cups of applesauce.
Take all your apples – if you have big ones, you could probably use 10, but I had small ones so it was more like 20-30. Peel them, core them, and chop them. Unless you have one of those cool peeler/corer/slicer gizmos this is the part that takes the longest. Throw ’em all in a heavy duty pot. Add 1/4-1/2 cup liquid (apple juice or cider or water), a couple tablespoons lemon juice (it keeps the flavors bright and tasty), and just a pinch of salt (or not, if you don’t want to). Give it a good stir, turn on the heat to medium-medium low and cook until soft. (This is the part where you should probably stay somewhat close by so you can give it a stir on occasion, see if you need to add more liquid, or turn down the heat if need be). When they are nice and soft and mashable, remove the pot from the heat. If you want chunky applesauce you can just mash the apples up a bit with a potato masher and leave some larger chunks in. I pureed mine, in small batches, in my blender so it was nice and silky smooth.