Canning. And baking. And generally making a terrific mess in the kitchen.
Have you ever heard that song from Snow White, "Someday My Prince Will Come"? Well, lately I've been singing my own modified version entitled, "Someday My Kitchen Will Be Clean".
However, it is wonderfully satisfying to know that the results of my labors are tidily piling up in the basement, ready to be used at a moment's notice. Apple sauce, apple butter, canned veggies, frozen green beans, all organic of course, and now, (insert a trumpet bugle here) Ten Apple Pies.
(Let me give credit here to my friend Flip Floppin' Mama, who first told me the wonderful secret of freezing pies. Her pies are much better than mine, as she is an official blue ribbon winner, but I muddle along as best I can.)
Okay, to start off with, you need apples. Acquiring these apples involves a large does of humiliation, dirt, and lack of self-respect. Simply drive around town until you see a well-endowed apple tree in someone's front yard. Knock on the door and cheerily ask if aforementioned apple tree is going to be picked, and if not, if you can pick it. Try to be as charming as possible, and keep the scary stalker aspect of one's character in the background. (What can I say, I'm from a family of florists. We stalk well-manicured lawns and shrubberies. I was once ordered to steal stephanotis vine from a yard while a police hold-up was going on across the street. I was 8. My career in floral thievery started early)
If you are lucky, you will have a nice short apple tree to pick apples from. However, since most people who let you pick their apples don't actually prune their trees, you're usually reduced to drastic measures to get the apples. Shaking the tree helps, but beware of concussions. A metal rake is also useful for grasping high limbs. When all else fails, use what's available.Then, make a pot of tea to renew your sense of calm and serenity. Earl Grey tea or English Breakfast tea are two of my personal favorites. Mix it with a spoonful of good honey and a tiny bit of milk, and you're ready to tackle the apples again.And of course, tea must be drunk from a tea cup. Anything less would be blasphemy - and low-class. We're all about high society living here on Yarn Over. (Ignore the earlier picture of me standing on top of my van).
Okay, now for the apples.
First, start with an obscene amount of apples. "Obscene" is my official measurement for enough of anything to fill a laundry basket. After all, isn't a pile of laundry "obscene" to the senses of any woman who must wash it?Peel and core each apple. If you have to do this by hand, just shoot yourself now. Otherwise, be smart and get an apple corer/slicer. Trust me, if you have an obscene amount of apples to deal with, it will be worth the money. You can find them at Wal-mart or any other store with a decent supply of kitchenware.
Of course, I live in a rural town, where canning supplies are kept next to staples such as milk and bread. I suppose in Atlanta or some other big city it might be a little different . . .
Once you've got about 5-6 cups of sliced and peeled apples, put them in a mixing bowl. (You can also use a large resealable plastic bag and just shake, shake, shake!) Add your own special blend of spices. I usually put a 2/3 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of flour, a bit of cinnamon, a bit of salt, and a bit of nutmeg in my pies. I like allspice a lot, too, but my family has boring taste buds and don't appreciate a good allspice.Don't forget to add the juice from half a lemon. It adds a bit of zing and makes the kitchen smell wonderful, even if it's still a mess.Now we have to get our pans ready. Glass isn't a good idea, since we're going to be putting these pies straight from the freezer into the oven. (Unless you've got special pie plates. Then you can be all hoity-toity.) I just use the tin ones you can get from the grocery store. I have since discovered that cake tins work as well, because Handyman went to the store for me and didn't know the difference between cake tins and pie tins. Trust me, he's very clever in other areas.Spray it with a bit of cooking spray so nothing sticks.
Now put your pie crust in the bottom. Don't be silly and make your own crust. It's SO not worth the effort, no matter what Flip Floppin' Mama says. Trust me, you'll fool lots of people with your own doctored store-bought crust. (Brand doesn't matter, either. Just go with cheap.)Now dump your apple mix into the crust and dot the top with butter. (Note: "dot" means "slather". The purpose of pie is to enlighten your happy senses, not your thighs. If you want something healthy then go chew on a rice cake.)Put your second sheet of pie crust on top and fold the edges from the bottom crust and top crust up and over the top. Seal it by crimping the edges together.Now, to add your own special trick to the store bought crust, brush the top with milk, and sprinkle a bit of sugar and cinnamon on the top. It makes the crust flaky and crisp. (And besides, what could be better than more sugar?)
Don't forget to put a few holes in the top with a fork. Don't go overboard with this. It should not look like Swiss cheese. There's a reason you don't see apple pies with a lattice-top crust - apples need to "steam" more to cook, and if there's too many holes, the heat escapes too quickly. Therefore, you'll get a cooked crust and crunchy apples. Not good. We're talking a tragedy of epic proportions here.
Get out a large gallon-sized resealable plastic bag, and write your instructions on top. Trust me, it's MUCH easier to do it now than later once the pie's in there.
Slip the pie in, seal shut, but slip a straw into the edge before sealing completely closed. Exhale deeply and then suck all the air out of the bag. It's my home version of vacuum packing. It's cheap, works great, and you don't need another appliance cluttering your counters.Don't try this with soup, though.
You're done! When you next start craving some apple pie and don't want to spend 30 minutes putting one together, just pop one out of the freezer and straight into the oven. No defrosting necessary, and it only takes a tad bit longer in the oven.
Fresh apple pie and a cup of strong tea. It is sooooo much better than having a clean kitchen.
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