Its been a couple weeks since Thanksgiving now. So are you ready for pie again yet? Because I am always up for pie and this post, while mostly about a story I wanted to share, has a pie recipe attached. And it is way too long of a post. My bad. Storytime now:
As a kid, I had less than discerning taste in fashion. But at the same time I have always been disturbingly opinionated about, well, everything. So it was a bold move on my dad’s part one year at Christmastime to purchase tennis shoes for his eleven year old daughter on his own. Now, you have to understand that my dad (probably like most dads) loathes shopping for anything other than gadgets and tools. And the fact that he personally selected shoes for me is unbelievably touching. He even wrapped them himself (a first) and placed them under the tree, daring me to guess what was in the box. Why shoes? I’m really not sure.
Now, this story breaks my heart a little at this point, because just a few days before Christmas I went along with my mother and brother to the very same store where my dad had picked out a pair of Keds with multi-colored paintbrush strokes splashed across white canvas. My brother, having been with our dad the day my Christmas gift was so carefully chosen, decided it would be a great idea to show me those shoes without divulging that they were the gift already waiting, wrapped and ready under the tree, just to get a preview of my reaction. Except I reacted badly - I proceeded to proclaim them the ugliest shoes ever. See, I was super partial to solid white Keds and no other footwear, and probably owned thirty pair of them growing up. And I just could not handle paintbrush strokes and COLOR on my white kickers.
Well, my brother quietly sidled away and upon returning home, pulled our dad aside and explained that something had to be done. So they covertly removed the wrapped gift from under the tree, returned the offending shoes for plain white Keds, and rewrapped them in the same paper as before so I would never know. Except eventually all was revealed. And I have never been the same since. Oh how I wish I had those paintbrush sneakers now.
So starting around October every year, I censor myself and try to be judicious with the opinions I am so cavalier about expressing the rest of the year round. Because I just never know if I am breaking someone’s heart a little with insensitive comments about a gift they are planning on giving.
This may seems trivial, but I had the same thing happen to me in reverse just the other day. Over dessert at my in-law’s house, my sister-in-law proceeded to rail against apple pie filling of all things and how she doesn’t like it. Which is a problem because I had just finished bottling homemade apple pie filling a few days before and had planned on giving her a jar along with a really cute (if I do say so myself) apron that I made for her (and a matching one for her five year old daughter – I know, too cute, WAY too cute).
But I think that I am going to give her the bottled filling anyway, because really, in my heart I am convinced that she will love it. Because I am also giving her this Dutch Apple Pie recipe to use it with, and I know that it will blow her socks off. And she will discover that she actually loves apple pie filling. Just the way today I wear crazy colored shoes almost every day in silent homage to the love of my father so many Christmases ago.
Dutch Apple Crumb Pie
my own recipe
1 uncooked pie crust (butter or shortening crust? - the eternal question)
1 jar Bottled Apple Pie Filling (oh heck, I'll post it below too)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Dash of salt
1/2 cup cold butter
Mix sugars, flour, cinnamon and salt. Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter until there are pea-sized chunks. Filling the uncooked pie crust with apple pie filling, then generously sprinkle the top with the crumb topping. You may not need all of the crumb topping, but you will probably want to use it. I'm just being honest. Put foil around the edges of the crust to keep from browning too quickly. Bake pie at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, removing foil for the last ten minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Serve warm with a generous scoop of French Vanilla ice-cream.
Apple Pie Filling
also my recipe after being unable to find one I really loved online - and this was also my first ever attempt at bottling fruit of any kind, although I've watched my mother do it for years.
5 1/2 - 6 lbs. peeled, cored, and sliced apples
6 cups water
4 cups apple juice
4 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1 cup cornstarch
3 Tbsp lemon juice
The best apples for this filling are a mix of firm, sweet, and tart ones like Fuji, Jonagold, Cameo, Rome, or Honeycrisp. Galas and Golden Delicious are too soft and probably won't hold up well in the jars. One box of apples that you get from an orchard makes about 9 jars of apple pie filling.
Wash your jars beforehand in the dishwasher so that they will be sterilized when you are ready to use them. Leaves the jars in the dishwasher on heated dry until it is time to fill them.
Peel, core, and slice the apples. An apple peeler and an apple corer (and a friend, sister, or He-man) will come in handy here because this is the longest part of the bottling process. Don't slice the apples too thin - you actually want them to be kinda chunky for this recipe.
Blanch the peeled apples by placing one batch at a time in a large pot of boiling water. Boil each batch for one minute after the water returns to a boil, then drain and keep the hot fruit in a separate, covered bowl or pot. This is not cooking the apples, it is just stopping the enzymes that can cause flavors to degrade during storage.
To make the syrup for the filling, combine the sugar, spices, apple juice, and water in a large pot and stir almost constantly while cooking over medium heat until the syrup begins to bubble. Mix the cornstarch with the lemon juice and possibly a little water to thin, and add this to the boiling juice. Stir constantly until mixture begins to thicken, then remove from heat. The syrup should be thick but still able to drip.
Heat lids in hot, but not quite boiling water and keep hot.
Using a jar funnel, fill sterilized jars with blanched apple slices and syrup. You may need to alternate adding syrup and apples in order to fill the jar all the way. Use a knife to press down apples and fill any air spaces with syrup. Keep pressing the apples to help them settle in the jar and reduce the amount of air space. Pack the jars tightly with apples or else the apples will float and the bottom of the jar will be nothing but syrup.
Fill the jars to within 1 or 1/2 an inch of the top. Wipe any spilled apple pie filling off the top, set the lid, and tighten the ring around them. Process the filled jars in a water bath by covering them with at least 1 inch of water and boiling for 25 minutes (at sea level).
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping in a draft free place (usually takes overnight). Once the jars are cool, check that they are sealed by pressing the lid in the center. If it pops up and down, it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it.
This takes me pretty much an entire afternoon to accomplish, but I have usually done double batches so that I end up with almost 20 jars. I was really, really, really intimidated at first, but afterwards felt super satisfied with what I had accomplished seeing those beautiful apple slices studded with spices.
Keeps for about 2 years. Use the apple pie filling to make a Dutch Apple Pie.
So maybe things are really busy this year for making apple pie filling, but next year if you have a bunch of apples, this is really my favorite way of using them. I actually got all of my apples for free from someone who had apple trees but didn't bother picking any of the fruist. All I had to do was climb up and pick for myself.
Gotta dash. Ciao.