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Oh, Apple Pie

Homemade apple pie on the stove

The only thing better than an apple pie is two apple pies. Except chocolate. And cheese. But I digress…

As the weather gets colder, I’ve been in the mood for all things apple. In addition to homemade applesauce, I’ve made apple pie three (four?) times in the past couple of months! The recipe I use is in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Except for the crust… that’s my grandma’s recipe.

Ingredients

The ingredients for apple pie are actually very cheap! You can buy ┬ápre-made pie crust if you’re afraid of getting a little flour on your counter, but I dare you to try homemade crust and see if it doesn’t make all the difference in the world!

Filling

  • 6 cups *thinly* sliced, peeled cooking apples (about 2 1/2 lbs.). Peel them with a knife (after slicing) or a potato peeler (before slicing).
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

The recipe says you can also add 1 Tbs lemon juice, but that’s just to keep the apples from browning, and I think that’s completely unnecessary if you’re just going to cook them in a pie anyway.

Crust

As much as I love butter, this is my favorite all-purpose crust ever. Crumbly beats flaky hands-down this time. Plus, I have fond memories of my grandma teaching me to make this when I was little.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 (actually, barely more than 1/3) cup vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbs cold water

You will actually need twice the amount of everything, since you need to make a crust on top and on bottom, but you have to make them separately to make sure the ingredients are evenly dispersed. Trust me.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375┬░ F.

Crust

Do this first and set aside.

  1. Mix flour and salt together, then add oil and stir until moistened.
  2. Add one Tbs cold water to one corner of flour mixture and blend it into that corner. Do the same with the other two Tbs of water. This is to make sure the water is evenly distributed.
  3. Place a sheet of waxed paper onto the counter and sprinkle some flour on it.
  4. Take the lump out of the bowl and mush it a few times to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed. Place it onto the waxed paper and press down into a thick circle. Lightly sprinkle flour on top.
  5. Place another sheet of waxed paper on top. Use a rolling pin (or a bottle of olive oil like I did…) to gently press out from the center until you get a flat, smooth circle. Make sure it’s big enough to fit in your pie pan, plus a little extra! Also make sure it’s not spread too thin.
  6. Remove the top piece of waxed paper. Turn the crust upside down onto the pie plate and slowly peel off the remaining piece of waxed paper. Make sure the edges stick up a little above the edge. Set aside.
  7. Repeat steps 1-5 and set aside, leaving it in the waxed paper. This will be used on top of the pie.

Filling

This part is really easy – you’re on the home stretch!

  1. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add apple slices and gently toss until coated.
  2. Place the apple mixture into the pie pan (which should already have the bottom layer of crust).
  3. Remove the top layer of waxed paper from the remaining pie crust. Turn it upside-down over the pie and gently peel off the remaining waxed paper. Tuck the top crust into the edges of the pie, sealing it with the bottom crust. Use a butter knife to cut slits in the top layer of crust.
  4. Place the apple pie on a cookie sheet (with edges) to keep it from dripping into your oven. Because it happens. And then, if you don’t clean it thoroughly enough, your oven catches fire the next time you try to use it, and your homemade biscuits taste like campfire. I’m just saying.
  5. Cover the outside edges of the pie with tinfoil so the crust doesn’t burn. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 20 more minutes. Let pie cool at least 2 hours before serving (unless you are Stephen and have smelled apple pie cooking for the last hour. Then you are excused and may eat the pie at the nearest opportunity).

I know there are a lot of steps, but don’t let it intimidate you. Once you get the hang of it, it actually goes pretty quickly. And it’s definitely worth it!

Here are some photos to show you what it looks like.

sliced, peeled apples for pie

Apple peels shaved off for pie

Grandma's pie crust recipe, ready for apple pie

Homemade apple pie filling in pie crust

Apple pie with crust

Homemade apple pie with several pieces missing

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I have great memories of a time one or two years ago when two of my friends and I got the urge to make homemade granola. After a “quick” Whole Foods run, a pecan-chopping adventure (involving two cans, a bowl and some saran wrap) and a lot of taste-testing, we ended up with some of the best granola I’ve ever eaten. This all occurred in Tram’s kitchen with my two favorite journalism students.

Groceries

I got the taste for homemade granola last week, so I worked it into my grocery budget. The main ingredient (rolled oats, aka oatmeal) is incredibly cheap, but I had to dance around some prices for the nuts (a necessity). I had about a cup of slivered almonds in my pantry, so I just needed to buy a bag of walnuts. I had everything else on hand in my pantry.

Recipe

As with everything else, I worked with what I had and ended up with my own version of a granola recipe. I’m currently munching on still-warm oatmeal mixed with unsweetened plain yogurt, and it’s delicious.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 3 cups chopped or slivered nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts…)
  • 2 1/2 cups dried coconut flakes (I only had sweetened, but I definitely recommend unsweetened)
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins and/or craisins
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add wet ingredients to the mixture. Hint: If you use the same cup to measure the honey that you already measured the oil with, the honey will come right out! Mix well.
  4. Place 1-2 inches thick in cake or loaf pans and bake.
  5. Gently mix approximately every six minutes. Take it out when it’s a light golden color. Don’t overcook!

Approval

As always, Stephen got to do his official taste test, and he even waited until it had slightly cooled. He ate a bowl with yogurt as well and proclaimed it delicious. I think I can take his frequent trips to the kitchen to grab extra bites of granola as a good sign…

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