Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time for Apple Pie! There is a chill in the air...

Can it be, I feel a chill in the air! The leaves are starting to fall, and the kiddies are back in school. This means only one thing, the first day of autumn is coming. Yes, I just looked at my calendar and September 23rd is the Autumnal Equinox. It is so hard to believe that the summer went by so fast and here we are in the fall season.

When it gets cooler, I love to open the windows and just be able to breathe the crisp air that comes this time of year. To me this is a magical season. Pumpkins, Apples, Indian corn and Gourds plus the colors of the leaves, with its gold, red, and green hues that are so brilliant. The hustle and bustle of the approaching holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and my favorite of all, Christmas. The chill in the air means sweaters, jackets, and rosy cheeks on children’s faces from playing outside in the leaves. As you look inside the windows of the houses, you can see families cooking, fireplaces lit and you get the feeling of a warm cozy home. Cooking hearty meals, such as stews, soups, baked bread and apple pies are all aromas that enhance your senses and give you the feeling of fall. As you take a brisk walk in the nippy air you can see pumpkins and fall wreaths decorating the houses. To me fall is also a time to be thankful for your family and your friends. So, now that you know what autumn means to me, come along and let us explore what autumn is really all about.

Before the 16th century, “harvest” was the term used to refer to the season. However, as more people gradually moved from working the land, to living in towns, the word “harvest” lost its reference to the time of the year. The word autumn was used to replace harvest, and referred to the season. According to myth, it is believed that the September Equinox is a time of balance when “day and night are equal,” and that by some mystical force one can balance eggs on their end on these days. Some believe that one can only balance an egg within a few hours before or after the exact time of the equinox.

Apples are one of the few fruits you can find fresh any time of the year, especially September through November. However, to me the apple is the one fruit that I associate with fall more than any other. Apples are America’s favorite fruit. The state of Washington grows the most apples followed by New York, and then Michigan. This is a perfect time of the year to head on out to an apple orchard and pick your own apples for a pie, applesauce, or even baked apples. But to me the best way is to pick one off of the tree and try it. There is nothing like the crisp, cool, crunch you hear as you take a bite of this juicy, sweet piece of fruit. Today we have numerous varieties of apples to choose from. Some are best to eat while others are best for cooking and baking. You must have heard the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This saying comes from an old English adage, “To eat an apple before going to bed, will make the doctor beg for his bread.”

Paul, my son at Maskers Orchard
I remember when I was about 11 or so, my parents would take the family and drive to Maskers Apple Orchard, in upstate NY for a fun afternoon of apple picking. We would run and find a spot so we could pick the apples from the trees and put them in a big bushel. My mom would make us lunch and we were allowed to picnic on the grounds in-between the apple trees. It was wonderful, especially on a crisp day. The orchard had a Country Store that my family and I would visit at the end of the day. As we entered the store the aromas that would encircle our heads was like a bit of heaven. The shelves held home made jams, jellies, honey and candy apples. They also sold baked goods, like home made breads, cakes, and pies. As we would drive back home with the car filled with apples and goodies, I always thought that this was one of my favorite memories with my family. When I had my son, many years later, I continued the tradition of going apple picking at Maskers Orchards and now my son will have memories like I did.

So, in honor of the first day of Fall, I am sharing with you my “Apple Pie” recipe. This pie is a favorite among my family and friends. After years of making this scrumptious pie, I have perfected its fruity richness and I’m sure it will be very pleasing to your taste buds.

Dottie’s “Apple Pie”

8-10 apples (Macintosh and 2 Granny Smith)
1 cup of granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1 recipe of plain pie pastry (for crust)
(you can make your own crust, but this is a time saver)
Secret ingredient is a dash of fresh Nutmeg
Pare and slice apples very, very thin. Sift dry ingredients together and mix with apples. Line pie pan (9 inch glass is what I use) with the pastry crust. Fill with apple mixture, dot with butter before putting on top of crust. Then put top crust on the pie. Crimp edges, cut three slits in top of pie or use a pie stencil. Brush pie with milk or cream. Then sprinkle the pie top with some granulated sugar before baking.
Bake in a very HOT oven 450 ° for the first 15 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 350 ° for the next 45 minutes or longer till golden brown. Put pie on lined cookie pan, (foil or parchment paper) so if any drippings come out from the pie, it will be easier for clean up.
Till Next Time………..
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