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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

For George Washington

This week was George Washington's birthday.  I'm not sure how old he would be, and I'm too lazy to Google it, but we know he'd be over 250 now.  That calls for a pie with cherries in it!  My husband brought home some dried cherries from Utah State University - they call them "Cherry Wrinkles".  Isn't that the cutest name ever for a dried fruit?  It beats "prune" by about 250 miles!  So, I added the cherry wrinkles to the Pink Lady apples on my kitchen counter and made a new kind of pie.  Our faithful friends Mary and Curtis came over with ice cream to try out this new pie, and they both said they liked it.  Vanilla ice cream was a great accent, but we thought cherry vanilla would be extra special with this pie.  Instead of cinnamon I used nutmeg for a new flavor.  I discovered that the battery in my camera was dead, so this week you get a camera phone photo of the pie.  Oh, and here's where you can buy the cherry wrinkles at USU - they also sell a mean cherry vanilla ice cream! Aggie Ice Cream

Here's the recipe for Apple-Cherry Pie:

Pastry for a double crust deep-dish pie
8 cups peeled and sliced apples
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together the fruit, sugar, lemon juice, flour and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Set aside while you make the pastry and line a deep dish pie pan with half the pastry.
Top with the other half of the rolled out pastry and seal and flute the edges of the pie, cut vents in the top.  Brush the top of the pie with water or milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Bake an additional 30 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is my annual week of romance - my wedding anniversary is on the 9th, followed closely by Valentine's day. My dear husband took me to the big city for a couple of days to celebrate.  We had no agenda, and enjoyed just being away from our jobs and normal responsibilities.  We also did some shopping, which is pretty rare for us.  OK - maybe I shouldn't say "we" went shopping because it mostly consisted of him reading in the car while I enjoyed exploring a few quilt/fabric shops.  I couldn't resist buying a few fat quarters at each shop.  Right now I have no idea how I'll eventually use those fabrics but I sure do love having them!  Yesterday I made a Valentine dish towel using a couple of the fabrics I picked up.  It looks really cute hanging in my kitchen.  We also went to a shopping mall and browsed a bit after dinner there, and I especially liked checking out Williams Sonoma - what a fun store.  It made me want to acquire a few pretty pie pans but I had to face the reality that I would have nowhere to store them.  But I did find a cool mold to make "pocket pies" and bought a heart shaped mold.  Today I used it to make heart-shaped cherry pies for my family.  Everybody seemed to like them.  It's been a long time since I had any kind of new pie gadget, I think we'll like this one!  Check out the dishtowel and little pies I made this weekend.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

No pie this week, another kind of project instead.

I had two hot dates this weekend (Saturday night with dear husband and Sunday with The Saints) so didn't have a pie night.  But I do want to share a fun project I finished yesterday.  I bought the pattern for this cute wall hanging by designer Nancy Halverson at least three years ago, but just never got around to making it.  Now I'm working on giving my basement an extreme makeover, and thought this would be fun to hang in the family room. I used scraps that I already had so didn't have to spend any money.  It's machine pieced, but I did all the applique by hand so that I could work on it during my lunch breaks at work.  Now I don't know why I waited so long to make this cute project!  Check out the close-up of the little corduroy dog.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A new twist on apple pie

Mary and Curtis have been good friends of ours for several years...we met in 2002.  It's been fun to be in the same neighborhood, and I loved it when Mary decided to join me in the early morning for water aerobics a couple of years ago.  We have a great time solving the world's problems and planning new sewing projects (although Mary gets a LOT more accomplished than I do!)  We've seen Curtis go to the middle east twice with the Army since the Iraq war started, and come back with perspectives that are a lot different than the news reports.  They are always fun to have over.  So we invited them to come for more pie.  I was in the middle of a sewing project and didn't have time to shop or plan for a pie, so ended up throwing something together...and on a whim I tossed in new spices.

A few months ago I bought a bottle of "Chinese 5 spice" on an impulse.  I've seen it called for in recipes and decided it would be fun to have some on hand in case I had the urge to make one of those recipes.  Since then it has sat unopened in the spice cupboard.  I had some apples in the fruit bowl on the counter that had been passed over for a couple of weeks.  I decided to get these poor, unloved ingredients together and see what would happen.

So, I don't really have a recipe for this 5-spice apple pie but here's how I made it:  peeled and thinly sliced six apples.  I'm not sure what kind they were.  Mixed in a couple of tablespoons of flour, 1 tsp lemon juice, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and 3 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder then dumped it into a pastry lined deep dish pie pan.  I dotted the apples with about 2 Tablespoons of butter, cut into small chunks and then put on a top crust.  After fluting the edges, I brushed the top with cold water and sprinkled on some sugar.  It was baked at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then the heat was reduced to 375 degrees and the pie continued to bake for another 45 minutes.

We all LOVED this pie!  The 5-spice made it a little bit different than the usual cinnamon and nutmeg, and really went great with the apples.  Give it a try - I'll do it this way again!  I'm adding a link to Wikipedia's description of this spice blend.  5-spice powder