Thursday, April 22, 2010

Week 1: Apple Pie

This week was the first week for my grand experiment. I decided on apple pies because I had a lot of apples in my house already (my 16yo likes apples in his lunch, but has recently gotten very picky about his apples and we had a large number of "rejects" that were still good apples but not perfect enough for him).

It took a long time to get all the apples cut up. With my apple peeler-corer-slicer, it should have been fairly quick. But about half of the apples got stuck when they got to the point where they would enter the corer. So I would have apples that were half-peeled, and not sliced at all, and I'd have to pull the apple off the machine and finish it up myself. To cut enough apples for 3 pies took me about 2 hours.

Then I made the crusts. I've always had good luck with crusts, and have never really had a bad one. I didn't learn to make pie until I was in college and was dating my husband. He really liked pies so I made my first pie for him, a lemon meringue I think, or maybe a chocolate cream. Once I got a pastry cutting tool it became so much easier.

For the top I used my fun apple topper tool. I saw this years ago at a Thriftway store and had to have it. It cuts out one big apple shape and a bunch of little ones.

I had to stop in the middle to take my daughter to school, since her car is broken. While I was out, I did my grocery shopping. I had two pies cooling while I did this, and finished the other pie and cleaned up the kitchen afterward.

The final step was to choose the recipients for my first week of pies. I chose one family because they are going through a hard time right now, with a son wrongfully convicted and in jail. The husband was happy to see me when he opened the door and I said "Happy Wednesday"! He showed me the progress he'd made on his project--he is putting in hardwood flooring in his living room and dining room. I felt like I'd brightened up his day, and he'd brightened mine as well.

I chose the other family because the wife is having health problems and just had another surgery a couple of days ago. The husband was afraid that their dog would knock me over so he met me outside.

After pie deliveries I had to pick up my daughter from school. I was telling her about my deliveries and she asked me why I was baking pies all of a sudden, and I explained my inspiration to her.

These pies were pretty time-consuming, but so worth it. My husband really enjoyed his pie for dessert tonight.

Next week I think it will be Key Lime Pie!

Paula's Apple Pie Filling
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen, 2008,

Prep Time:40 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 8 servings

•3/4 cup light brown sugar
•1/4 cup all-purpose flour
•3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
•Freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
•7 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
•1 lemon, zested and juiced
•3 tablespoons butter, diced
•Egg wash, for brushing
•Sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. In another bowl, sprinkle apples with the juice of 1 lemon and toss. Stir in the sugar mixture to evenly coat the apples.

Set aside. Make pie crust recipe of your choice. Roll out chilled dough into 2 circles and use 1 round to line a 9-inch pie pan. Chill the other round.

Mound the apple and sugar mixture into the pie pan lined with dough. Dot with the cubed butter.

Using a pastry cutter, cut an even number of strips from the remaining rolled out dough. Transfer every other strip to the pie top and weave in the lattice by folding every other strip back onto itself and laying another strip perpendicularly. Fold the strips back across and repeat until completed.

Brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Trim the overhanging dough and crimp edges.

Bake pie for 45 minutes. Let rest 20 minutes before slicing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Experiment

On Sunday, I was sitting in church, listening to the speaker talk to us about service, and how many people in the ward had helped his family when his wife had been very sick. I realized that it had not occurred to me to help them, and I had not been asked, either. Then, I pondered something a friend of mine had said when I commented that I was never asked to help with a wedding. She told me, that she goes up to the people involved and asks how she can help.

I admire this friend greatly. Her house is full of love and laughter. People are always coming over. She is a person that a lot of people consider a good friend, and lots of people seek her out to ask advice or just to tell her about a problem, because she is such a good listener.

On the other hand, our house is a quiet house. No one comes to visit us. No one calls me to see if I want to go to lunch, or shopping, or whatever. My boys, who have autism, are socially awkward and have settled into a routine of getting on their computers and pretty much staying on them from the moment they get home from school until they go to bed (with breaks for dinner and homework).

While I often wish that this was not the case--wish that we had friends to come over, wish that my boys could make neighborhood friends, etc., I am coming to realize that if I want to HAVE friends I have to BE a friend. My life is full enough that this can be difficult.

So, on Sunday while I was listening to the speaker, this idea popped into my head: I would make and take pies to church friends, neighbors, and others. I would do this once a week for a full year. In the process, I would not only perfect my pie-making skills, but I would also take the time to reach out to people. It is my hope that this endeavor will accomplish 3 things:
1. I will regularly take the time to perform a service, and thus learn to make service a regular part of my life.
2. I will get to know lots of new people, as I deliver pies to people outside my bubble of my house, work, and Scouts.
3. I will find a way to expand my children's horizons as well.

So, here goes. On Wednesday I will make my first set of pies. I think I will start with apple pies and take them to one person from church, one neighbor, and maybe one other person. And one for us, of course. I have never understood why doing service for others would involve depriving your family of a delicious dessert.