Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Recipes: Apple Pie Recipes

Now that you have been to the orchard, what are your plans for all those apples you picked?

Somewhere between applesauce and apple dumplings we always get pulled back to the traditional - Apple Pie. While baking an Apple Pie from scratch, that means no ready made pie crusts folks, can be an art form in itself, it is actually an easy and rewarding baking task to undertake.

We have gathered together a collection of some traditional and then not so traditional Apple Pie recipes to test your pie making and baking savvy. Okay, so if you really want to use a ready made pie crust, go ahead, these recipes are certainly adaptable.

Let's begin with the traditional...

Apple Pie

1 batch pie pastry
6 large apples
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter -- cut into bits
1 teaspoon sugar
dash cinnamon
1 tablespoon milk
Peel, core, and thinly slice apples. Toss with lemon juice and zest. Mix sugar, flour, and spices. Toss with apples to coat.

Roll half of dough into a round and fit into a 9" pie pan.Fill shell with apple mixture. Dot top with butter. Roll remaining dough into a round large enough to cover top of apples. Place carefully over apple filling and crimp edges of crusts together. Make slits in top crust to vent. Mix teaspoon of sugar with dash of cinnamon. Brush top of crust with milk and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 20-30 minutes.

Cheddar-Crust Apple Pie

1 1/2 cups flour
dash of salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup (6 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4-6 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 cups sliced peeled apples
2 tablespoons margarine

Heat oven to 425F. Combine flour & salt; cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle with water while mixing lightly with a fork; form into ball. Divide dough in half. Roll one part to 11" circle on lightly floured surface. Place in 9" pie plate. Combine sugar, flour, & cinnamon. Mix with apples. Place mixture in pie shell; dot with margarine. Roll out remainder of dough to 11" circle; place over apples. Seal edges of crust & flute. Cut slits in top of pastry. Bake at 425F, 35 minutes.

Cookie Sheet Apple Pie

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup whipping cream
5 medium sized tart apples
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
dash salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg
2 Tblsp milk

For crust:

Combine all the ingredients for the crust except for the butter and whipping cream. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Blend in the whipping cream to make a firm dough. Chill if necessary until firm. Dust a lightly greased baking sheet with flour, flatten dough out onto the baking sheet. Roll or pat out to 1/4" thickness. Trim to make a 14" square. Roll out the trimmings and cut into strips.

To prepare apples:

Pare, core and slice apples. Turn into bowl, mix with filling ingredients

To assemble pie:

Arrange apples in rows over crust in pan, leaving 2" empty at edges. Dot with 2 Tblsp of butter. Arrange strips in criss-cross fashion over apples, then fold edges of crust up and over ends of strips, pinch corners to seal. Beat egg and milk, and brush pastry with the mixture. Bake at 400 degrees 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and apples are cooked.

Crumb Apple Pie

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water
7 medium Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup chilled butter or margarine, cut into pieces

Place rack on lowest position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To prepare crust; in a medium bowl mix together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives (I also use my fingers) cut shortening into flour mixture until course crumbs form. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork, until a dough forms. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes. On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 12 inch circle. Fit into a 9 inch pie plate. Trim dough, leaving a 1 inch overhang; pinch a decorative edge.

To prepare filling; peel, core and very thinly slice the apples. Mix together with other filling ingredients. Spoon into crust.

For topping, in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut butter into mixture until course crumbs form. Sprinkle apple filling evenly with topping. Bake pie until topping is lightly browned and filling is bubbly, 35 minutes. If pie is overbrowning, cover loosely with foil. Cool on a wire rack. 8 servings.

Recipe courtesy of Brenda Hyde at

Easy Deep Dish Apple Pie

2- 1 lb. cans apple pie filling
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1- 8 oz. can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat oven to 375F. Spoon pie filling into 12X8" baking dish. Sprinkle with raisins & cheese. Unroll both halves of refrigerated dough into flat rectangular sheets. Fit to cover baking dish. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over dough. Bake at 375F for 25 minutes. Top with cheese slices, if desired.

Whole Wheat Apple-Mincemeat Pie

1 cup Pillsbury's Best Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Pillsbury's Best All Purpose or Unbleached
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup cold water
4 cups sliced, peeled apples (4 medium)
1 1/3 cups prepared mincemeat
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 egg white
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar (1 to 2 tsp)

Heat oven to 375F. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In medium bowl, combine whole wheat flour, 1 cup all purpose flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt; blend shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add water to flour mixture while tossing and mixing lightly with fork. Add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough is just moist enough to hold together. Shape dough into 2 balls. Flatten balls; smooth edges. Roll 1 ball lightly on floured surface from center to edge into circle 1 1/2 inches large than inverted 9-inch pie pan. Fold dough in half; fit evenly into pan. Do not stretch. Trim bottom pastry even with pan edge. Roll out remaining dough; set aside.

In large bowl, combine all filling ingredients; spoon into pastry-lined pan. Top with remaining pastry; fold edge of top pastry until bottom pastry. Flute edge; cut slits in several places. Combine egg white and 2 tablespoons water; brush over crust. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake at 375F for 40 to 50 minutes or until apples are tender. 8 servings. Contributor's Tip: Cover edge of pie crust with strip of foil during last 10 to 15 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning.

Crockpot Apple Pie

8 Tart Apples peeled and sliced
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter soften
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup Bisquick
1 cup Bisquick
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter
Toss apples in large bowl with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Place in lightly greased crockpot. Combine milk, softened butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and the 1/2 c Bisquick. Spoon over apples.

Combine the 1 cup Bisquick and brown sugar. Cut the cold butter into mixture until crumbly. Sprinkle this mixture over top of apple mixture. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours or until apples are soft.

Copyright 2002-2003 Cindy Sanchez

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fine China Tidbits and Care

The various chinas labeled as bone china or porcelain china, may be confusing, but understanding the properties of the clays used to make fine china will quickly dispel any confusion.. The properties of clays include plasticity, shrinkage under firing and under air drying, fineness of grain, color after firing, hardness, cohesion, and capacity of the surface to take decoration. The purest clays are the china clays or kaolins. “Ball clay” is a name for a group of plastic, high temperature clays used with other clays to improve their plasticity and to increase their strength.

The finest china is bone china with its translucency and a distinct chime unequaled by any other pottery. What sets bone china apart from other teaware is the addition of bone ash to the clay. If you hold a piece of bone china up to light you should be able to see the light through the china. China clay, is one of the purest of the clays. China clays have long been used in the ceramic industry, especially in fine porcelains, because they can be easily molded, have a fine texture, and are white when fired. Bone ash is the ingredient that gives bone china its added translucency and whiteness over porcelain.

The early ceramic industry was based in the Staffordshire England towns of Burslem, Fenton, Hanley, Longton, Stoke-upon-Trent and Tunstall. These six towns were amalgamated in 1910 to form a single entity - Stoke-on-Trent. Stoke-on-Trent, at the center of the area now known as "The Potteries", has maintained a leadership role in the ceramic industry, building upon the traditions and skills established three centuries ago. The area known as "the potteries" is often referred to as the birthplace of bone china.

Porcelain china is white, hard, permanent, non porous pottery having translucence which is resonant when struck. There are two main types of porcelain: soft paste and hard paste.

Soft paste porcelain is more creamy in color and contains more glass-like substances and remains somewhat porous. When broken, it reveals a grainy base covered by the glassy layer of glaze. Hard paste porcelain is purer white in color, non porous and when broken it is nearly impossible to distinguish the base from the glaze on the outside. Porcelain is valued for it's beauty and strength and is often called china or chinaware. The type of porcelain used for tableware has a bell like ring to it when struck.

Caring For Your China

Care should be taken when handling china. Never place fine china in a dishwasher as strong dishwashing soaps could damage the china over time. Hand washing in hot water and mild detergent is the recommended course of action. Wash in plastic containers or line your sink with a towel. Rinse in cool water to which you add 1/4 cup of vinegar per gallon. Air dry or dry with a lint free cloth. For stain removal, try mixing hot water with baking soda, about 1/4 cup per gallon. Fill the teapot or tea cups with mixture and let soak for an hour. Follow with a regular hand washing as described above. If this does not produce the results you want, combine a small amount of salt with lemon juice or vinegar. Pour small amount into teapot or tea cup and gently scrub using your fingers. Rinse in cool water to which you add 1/4 cup of vinegar per gallon. Air dry or dry with a lint free cloth. If your bone china has gold or silver trim it should not be placed in a microwave.

Displaying Your China Collection

A collection can be anything from tea bag tags to complete china tea sets. Displaying your collection will not only protect it from damage but will make it enjoyable for others to view. Making your collection a part of your decorating theme adds personality to your home.

So if you have a collection, or have started your collection, how do you display it? Look first for the obvious possibilities; coffee tables, end tables, shelves, sideboards and walls in living or dining areas. The less obvious areas might be, over or along doorways or unused closets or cabinets. Grouping your collections together gives them a more powerful presentation while a variety of shapes, sizes and colors creates a strong focal point.

China cabinets offer the best protection and will showcase your fine china collection beautifully. The lighting in the cabinet adds further enhancement, while being enclosed exposes your china to less dust and grime. It may be the best way for protecting an investment and is recommended when your collection includes pricey antiques or precious family heirlooms. If you only have a few specially valued pieces consider individual display cases of wood and glass or acrylic. As an Internet search for display cases proves, the collectors market is full of manufacturers of various display cases which you could adapt to your prized teapot or tea cups.

Another cabinet idea is for those that have more kitchen cabinets than they need for everyday storage. Glass doors on a section of cabinets easily converts them into display cabinets for your china collection. Lighting could also be added for greater "show off" ability.

Here are some tips to spark your creative side when looking throughout your home for display possibilities.

-Doilies of lace or fine crochet under your china collectibles adds texture and completes the setting.

-A collection of plates or tea cups is a wonderful touch over a doorway or a narrow section of wall.

-Fill a basket with cups and saucers and lace or crocheted doilies or napkins.

-Light up your table with tea cups. Fill with water and insert floating wick candles.

Use other items with your collection such as a framed photo of your grandmother with the china she gave you.

Unless a bedroom contains a sitting area, it is best to display your china collection in the living, dining and kitchen areas or your home. Most importantly, don't be afraid to use your fine china, it is made to be enjoyed and then handed down to the next generation. If you have never experienced tea or coffee from a fine china tea cup or mug, you have missed a memorable experience.

©2006 All rights reserved Patricia Roberts

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cool Weather Garden Tips

So dull and dark are the November days. The lazy mist high up the evening curled, and now the morn quite hides in smoke and haze; the place we occupy seems all the world. ~John Clare

I'm hoping for some sunny days this week to do last minute fall garden chores, so I thought I would share some of the things we can do for our landscape this time of year.

Chrysanthemums should be cut back fairly close to the ground once they have stopped blooming and the cuttings can be added to your compost pile. If you have potted mums that you purchased, remove the plant and add to the garden, giving it a hole a little bit bigger than the pot was. After planting, cut as mentioned, water and mulch.

If your peonies, roses or hollyhocks developed diseases such as rust, blight, or anything similar, remove the leaves or branches that were effected and burn them or dispose of them in your waste bin-- don't compost. Do the same things with other plants and trees too. Check your phlox, beebalm (mildew can effect it), dogwoods and lilac. You don't want to prune your spring blooming trees or shrubs, JUST remove the diseased parts.

This is also the time you'll want to empty out all your outdoor planters, baskets, clay pots and window boxes. Empty the soil into the compost pile and wash the containers with soap and a weak bleach solution before putting into storage where they will stay dry and not freeze. You'll be way ahead in the spring!

Water all of your evergreens deeply one last time before a major freeze. This will help them throughout the winter season.

We all know mulching is great to keep moisture in during the hot months, but it also offers protection during the winter. However, it's really best to wait until the ground starts to freeze but before the blizzards hit. I know-- it's a much colder chore doing it this way, but if you do it too soon you may be making a nice cozy place for mice and other critters to hang out. Mulch can be free organic matter like pine needles, straw, chopped leaves or bark chips/shreds.

If you have planted trees this year you may have been given advice on wrapping the trunks with a paper tree wrap, but it's been found to actually injure trees in many cases. If you do decide to wrap the young trees trunks do it ONLY in the winter and remove it in the spring. You can protect the tree trunks from rodent damage by using plastic guards or mesh wire. It can be from 12 inches to 2 foot tall. If you have very deep snow in the winter you may want to go taller than that. Remove before the tree grows too wide. Also, make sure there is no debris around the tree trunks.

A few notes for warm climates:

Some of you are entering a cooler season but won't have the cold winter many of us do. You can plant bedding plants now such as snapdragons, calendula, ornamental kale or cabbage, and dianthus. Some wildflowers can even be direct seeded now: bluebonnets, rudbeckia, pansies, calendula, candytuft, foxgloves, snapdragons, stock, and sweet alyssum. Calendula is a wonderful cool weather plant and is easily direct seeded!

In locations like Southern Florida vegetables can be grown now such as tomato, endive, escarole, snap beans, potato, peppers, peas, lima bean, collard greens, parsley, celery, turnip, mustard, onions, spinach, lettuce, radish, cabbage, beet, carrot, cauliflower, and broccoli.

One note for warm climate gardeners on bulbs. If you are in Zone 8 or up you will need to chill your spring bulbs before planting. It's usually 10-12 weeks of chilling in the refrigerator.

We have mulching tips from an excerpt on OFL:


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Activities for the Entire Family

Between Halloween and Thanksgiving is a perfect time to try a few nature crafts with the kids. The great thing about the crafts below is they are fun for teens, as well as smaller kids, and adults. It's easy to get wrapped up in the holiday rush as it gets closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think spending a few cold, rainy days making art is a good way to get away from the crowds, the video games and the television.

Make leaf rubbings. You'll need fresh, moist tree leaves or other plant leaves, a hammer, and pieces of cotton muslin. Lay one muslin down on a piece of paper, taping it down around the edges with masking tape. Place the leaf down on top of the piece of muslin, and lay a thin piece of paper over top of it (scrap will do). Pound the leaf with the hammer evenly over the entire leaf. This will transfer the leaf shape and color to the piece of muslin, so make sure to pound it all. Afterwards, you can glue the muslin to a piece of cardboard-framing it with a colorful mat if you wish.

Have the kids gather leaves, and make a big collage on a piece of poster or foam board. This won't be a "keeper" art project, but they will have a great time collecting, being creative with their design and gluing the leaves in place. Hang it up or display the collage for the season, and be sure to take a picture of it for them too. Slip in learning fun by having them identify each leaf and place the tree names in their collage.

Pumpkin or squash seeds are so light in color that they can be dried and painted to use for art. Air dry, or spread them on a cookie sheet to slowly dry in the oven. Don't use oil or anything else on the seeds. Once they are dried, and cooled divide the seeds into groups, depending on how many you have. Example: ten of each color, using browns, blues, reds etc. You can also water down paint if you want them to be softer colors. Let the seeds dry completely. Use them to create pictures, collages, mosaics or anything else that strikes your fancy.

I still have art that my kids made when they were small. I love to get it out and put it up during the fall. Of course I'm also a pack rat:)