Our First Apple Pie

Our first apple pie! Made from hand-picked McIntosh apples. It was fun.

In order to make our first apple pie, we went looking for apple pie dishes. We found some that were priced over $70, which made us chuckle while exclaiming a, “ho ho, rich people! Ohh… Haha {tear}.” We then went to Bed Bath & Beyond and came across this pie plate* which already came with a recipe on it and cost only ~$10. Sooo, yeah! We went with that. It became obvious rather quickly that you had to take a picture of the recipe in order to use it, though, unless you have some mad memory skillz

All in all, we were happy. We used our hand-picked McIntosh apples, and it wasn’t a revolutionary, dethrown-the-Gods-from-Olympus sort of deal, but it was a pretty yummy pie for a first try, especially when warm—even when reheated, which is a big plus!—and it was easy to make. I will admit I thought it was a bit too salty at first, though Dave liked it that way. On the plus side, though, he found this Alton Brown Whipped Cream Recipe which balanced the flavors a lot better. I was surprised by how simple it was to make this whipped cream recipe by hand—I mean, Dave did it, not taking credit here or anything, but it turned out to be pretty easy for him to make.

The crust was a bit tough—crumbly?—to maneuver, drier than I expected—and yes, I expected Play-Doh consistency, not sure yet if this makes sense or not—but then you just roll it into your flat circle, cut stripes, and then you interlace the stripes (carefully so they don’t fall apart). I will say, though, that even reheated it was purty good. Gosh darn, now I want pie.

* Just sharin’; not an affiliate link.

Warm wishes,
Kika & Dave.

References

[1] Bed Bath & Beyond Pie Plate with Recipe Link, https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/10-inch-decorative-ceramic-apple-pie-plate/1046872531?Keyword=apple+pie+plate
[2] Whipped Cream Recipe by Alton Brown at FoodNetwork.com, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/whipped-cream-recipe.html

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Learning about the Different Apples

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Random photo of an apple with strawberry leaves… Because they were on the counter, so might as well.

So back in the day—up until not so long ago, really—I had, well, basically no idea what was the difference between the different apples. I used to think Red Delicious were a good idea, until I met an appalled David who paid special care to emphasize his disdain for Red Delicious. I guess Snow White was indeed a cautionary tale? So Dave wanted to share his full agreement with the following xkcd comic:

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xkcd’s Apple Spectrum – Comic # 1766

I guess whether or not some apples are indeed better than others is a matter of personal taste, but you do have apples that are better for pie baking, for example. I wish we would’ve written down Bartlett’s store clerk’s advice on which were the apples that make for the ideal apple pie apples. But alas, I didn’t. I seem to recall—~94% sure—he said it was Granny Smith apples, which were at the time not in season. Granny smith are actually one of the most popular choices for baking. Midwest Living has several other suggestions for your apple pie needs with some interesting combinations, and here’s the fun hands-on experimenting from Serious Eats.

And now, the quick story behind Maria Ann (‘Granny’) Smith, of whom I was reminded by my father-in-law over Thanksgiving week:

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Maria Ann “Granny” Smith. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Back in 1868 Australia, Maria Smith had come across an apple seedling growing by a creek on her property, which had developed from the remains of some French crab-apples grown in Tasmania. She began to work a few of these seedling trees, and soon, a local orchardist planted out a large number of them, from which he marketed annual crops. Though the apple was not a commercial variety in her lifetime, its cultivation was sustained by local orchardists, and by 1891-1892, ‘Granny Smith’s seedlings’ had begun to win prizes in the cooking-apple class, with several local growers exhibiting the apples. Their large scale production began in 1895, followed by export and unto the kitchens of the world!

Happy biting,
Kika & Dave.

References

[1] “12 Great Apples for Baking” by Riane Menardi at MidwestLiving.com, http://www.midwestliving.com/food/fruits-veggies/great-apples-for-baking/
[2] “The Food Lab’s Apple Pie, Part 1: What Are the Best Apples for Pie?” by J. Kenji López-Alt at SeriousEats.com, http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/10/the-food-lab-what-are-the-best-apples-for-apple-pies-how-to-make-pie.html
[3] “Smith, Maria Ann (1799–1870)” by Megan Martin at the Australian Dictionary of Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/smith-maria-ann-13199
[4] “The Granny Smith Apple | The Story of its Origin” by the Sunday Times,02 Nov 1924 (Perth, WA: 1902 – 1954) at the National Library of Australia, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/58061784

Late Fall in Bartlett’s Orchard, Richmond, MA

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Picking McIntosh & Paula Red Apples

Dear Blag,

Happy Travel Tuesday! The winter season has finally begun which makes… Travel a bit harder……… Yesterday we woke up to the sight of cars buried in the fluffy, sparkly, wondrous blankets of freshly-fallen snow, in what was the second—third? I’ve lost track—big snow of the season. Forever a mystery, shoveling snow is actually a rather fun and enjoyable workout for me. Perhaps this further exhibits my oddity of character, or it could be that ’tis simply a sign that I am yet to be burdened by the ownership and constant maintenance of a driveway—but then again, ¿Por qué no los dos?

But as the days go by and transition from Winter Wonderland into a frigid, slushy underworld of wet messiness, let us reminisce over the embracing climate of early fall.

{Harp sounds of reminiscence play}

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Blue skies over the Berkshire Mountains

Back in September, amidst the temperate weather of Western Mass, we had ventured into the tamed wilderness of the Berkshires, an orchard field amongst the fluffy greenery of our mountains—I know I’m overusing the word “fluffy,” but everything’s just fluffy around here. There was even a morning where I felt like a Disney princess as I drove past a deer jumping around in a field, arrived at work and saw two foxes just chilling in the parking lot, and then on the way home almost hit a bunny by the side of the road. (The bunny was fine, it simply hopped back into the shrubs… I might not be the most graceful princess, though). I digress.

Bartlett’s Orchard is one of several orchards in the area, though it’s the only one we’ve been to yet, and so far so good! You go through the store front first, where they showcase several of their own grown fresh produce, then inside a variety of products and souvenirs for travelers, but the stars being obviously their apple cider and apple cider donuts, which are uber good—we’ve actually had the chance to attend tastings of the local orchards’ donuts and apple cider, and Bartlett’s are still in my top two, not sure I can decide…

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Bartlett’s Orchard in Richmond, MA
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Local Cheeses! Smoked, Jack, and Aged Sharp Cheddar
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Painting and… Oils?
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They grow Eggplants!
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Green Zebras??
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They grow Cayenne Peppers!
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Delicious Apple Cider Donuts!

Next, la pièce de résistance: You purchase your apple bag (choose your size) and off to the back, where the fields of trees decorated with red orbs like Christmas ornaments—BY NEWTON, IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS! (Twice as relevant ’cause birthday and gravity? Just… ok, back to the story)—pose their foliage like late summer nymphs. {Sigh} They’re a beautiful sight, and there’s something rather magical and childlike about picking your own fruit—indeed, this was my first time picking fruit—and not to mention, the taste can’t be paralleled by your typical grocery store purchase.

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David Picking Apples
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Paula Red Apple

Dave and I came in with the intent of picking our own apples for our first apple pie, so we asked the store clerk what apples he suggested for such an endeavor. At the time, it was earlier in the season, and the ideal apples for apple pie were not yet in season, so he suggested we use McIntosh. Boy oh boy were these apples delicious and juicy. Nothing like the apples we typically get at the grocery store. We also got some Paula Reds which were amazing too. Sadly, the latter did not last as long as the former, so by the time we made the apple pie, we only used McIntosh.

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Back to the cold now, but hey, at least their store is open year-round. Time for some hot apple cider? I think yes, my good sir/ma’am.

Happy Shoveling,
Kika & Dave.

References

[1] Bartlett’s Apple Orchard and Farm Market Website, http://www.bartlettsorchard.com/