Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rustic Old Fashioned Apple Pie Making Part II Pie Filling

 This is part two of the Jarvis House "back to basics"  Apple Pie making.  If I can do it then anyone can.   For the pie filling I used a combination of Marianna's recipe, and added some details from my mother's, Rose Guglielmino,  pie making.
 Gather the ingredients and kitchen toolks necessary for the filling.  One of the things that I consider essential for a great Apple Pie is combining many different varieties of apples in one pie.  This works out well because my grocery store, Waldbaums, often puts in the quick sale basket, packages of not so perfect apples.  They put together all sorts of varieties into one package.  Works for me.
 Something that my parents taught me was that a cook needs really top notch knives.  Each knife has a distinct purpose and here I have a Henckels serrated knife, for quartering the large apples, and a Sabatier carbon steel blade knife for paring and cutting out the core.  I have many wooden cutting boards.
 Slice the peeled apples into thin slivers.
 Mix up a coating mixture consisting of 1/2 cup sugar, two teaspoons Cinnamon,

 and I added one teaspoon ground Nutmeg for a really great flavor.
Pour sugar mixture over apple slices.
 Add two teaspoons lemon juice.
Combine the coating ingredients and toss the apple slices well.
 This is a tray of apple peels and cores, a with the lemon skin which I put into the compost pile.
 The pie dough was in the freezer, so unwrap it and let it soften.
 Meanwhile "flour" a pure cotton dish towel which makes a great surface for rolling out the dough.  You can use waxed paper, if you prefer so that you can lift the dough up.
 I flipped the pie dish upside down and placed it on the circle of pie dough.
Then I just turned over the whold thing and the dough goes into the pie dish nicely.
 Make a few pricks with a fork on the bottom crust before filling.
Pile the coated apple slices as high as possible, arranging the slices so that they do not stick out of the pie crust.  Dot with small pieces of margarine, or butter.  Sometimes I add raisins to the top if the family likes raisins, some don't. Ask first.
 Somewhere I found a small cookie cutter that looked like a turkey.  You can use any small shape to make the steam vent.  Do this before flipping the top crust on to the pile of apples.

 After rolling out the top crust on the floured cloth, just like the bottom crust, flip it over the apples.
Adjust the top crust to center it on the pile of apples.  I also take the paring knife and make several wheat marks for additional steam vents. (Mom's touch) Pinch the top and bottom crust together and flute the edge with fingers.
 Brush the top crust with a mixture of one egg and one teaspoon water.
 Sprinkle top with sugar.
 Bake at 425 degrees F. for the first 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. for about one hour.  Depending upon how high the apples are stacked, test them for doneness with a wooden pick.
 Cool the pie slowly.  The filling may drop a bit when cool,but the crust will be fine. I'm never going to win a pie making contest, but it's the effort that counts.
These are some of the pie crust tools, wheels that cut interesting strips in case you are making a lattice top pie crust. The tins contain small seasonal cutters for the steam vents or you can use them to make leaves etc. which may be applied to the top crust for interest, and my trusty wooden rolling pin.  Have fun with this and amaze your family with a pie that could can never be equaled by anything a store can produce.  Cheers from the Jarvis House kitchen.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marianna Davison's Pie Crust from the Jarvis House Recipe Book

Making a holiday Apple Pie from scratch is often considered a daunting chore.
It's making the pie crust that puts people off.  Buying a store ready pie crust in a pan, or worse, a stick of pie crust dough, to me seems yucky!
A wonderful lady from Old First Presbyterian Church, Huntington,  Marianna Davison, used this recipe to make "tops" for huge pans of Apply Pie desserts for their Fall Fair.  I asked her to write it down for me and I have in her original hand the ingredients.
 I assemble the necessary things for pie crust making.
 The original recipe is doubled in order to make three pie's worth, one top and one botom for each pie.  I unwrap seven sticks of margarine, for three and one half cups, and two tablespoons of sugar.
 I add four teaspoons of salt.
Then eight cups of flour.
 I found a beautiful chrome plated pie crust blender, by Ekco, made in the U.S.A.
 The blades of this fine tool, blend the flour mixture with the shortening, so that little "pea"  sized lumps are formed. 
 Next the recipe says to combine in  a small dish one cup of water,
  two tablespoons of white vinegar, and two eggs. 
 I use a whisk to blend the wet ingredients.
 Next I poured that into the bowl with the flour mixture.
 Marianna recommends mixing the dough with your hands.
 I also used the blender.
As in the opening photo I gathered the dough in the bowl into one large ball.  Then I turned it out onto a piece of waxed paper and cut it into six equal wedges.
 Each wedge becomes one pie crust as I shape the wedge into a smaller ball.
 Each ball gets wrapped in waxed paper,
 then I put two balls of dough into a plastic bag, and seal with a twist tie.  This will make one pie.
 So, now here we have  enough for three pies, two for Thanksgiving, and one for Christmas!. 
 I place the bags of pie crust into the freezer.  Since this is something you can do ahead of time, it takes the stress off part of making an Apple Pie.  In another post I will roll out the dough and ready the apples.  Having ready to use home made pie crusts in the freezer, is like having money in the bank.
By the way.  I was given these two books by my daughter and son-in-law.  The first, World Made by Hand, by James Howard Kunsler, is a story about people in a town, up state from New York City, and how they cope in a postapocalypic world.   The first book I was finishing up when we had a power out after Hurricane Irene, this Fall.  The second book, the sequel, The Witch of Hebron, 2010, continued the saga.  There are interesting accounts of "back to basics" living which greatly appeal to me.  Living in the Jarvis House has inspired me to approach some tasks in a rather "low tech"  way.  These stories by Kunstler detail many such activities, and "apples" are one of the subjects that seem to repeat throughout both books.  Like I have said, "back to basics."

Marianna Davison's Apple Pie Crust Recipe (double this)
 4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups shortening  ( I used margarine)
1 TBS sugar
2 tsp. salt 
1 TBS white vinegar
1 egg
1/2 cup water

Makes 3 tops for 9" x 13" x 2" pans or makes two 9" tops and one bottom
Chill 15 minutes before rolling
Apple Pie Filling
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 Tsp. lemon juice
Sprinkle over apples and dot with 1/4 stick of butter or margerine.  Brush the top of the pie crust with one egg mixed with 1 tsp. water, and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for fifteen minutes at 425 degrees F. and then continue baking at  a reduced 350  F. for another 35-45 minutes,  until done. For the large pan Apple pie, Marianna used 3 pounds of apples.  I prefer to combine all sorts of apples, which makes for the best pies ever.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Weather Predictions for the Winter of 2011-12 North East Region

 Well here he is again.  The Woolly Bear is all black! 
As he wanders off, I wonder is he correct?  Will the winter weather be harsh? Black foretells really bad weather, brown indicates a lesser severe winter, and when they turn up both black and brown, the weather changes during the season, sometimes bad, sometimes better.
Farmers Almanac
The 2012 Farmers Almanac

The Farmer's Almanac is predicting a wet but warmer winter for us.
Does anybody really know?
Another source says this: Winter 2011-2012 Forecast: Another Brutal One
 Well you know what they say about the weather on Long Island?  If you don't like the weather when you walk out the front door, walk out the back door.  Our weather changes by the minute.  A weather diagonal line cuts across the island.  Last week New York City, Connecticut, and parts of the Hudson Valley had an unusual Halloween snowfall, which was considered much worse than Hurricane Irene.  Here in Huntington, which is in western Suffolk, we didn't see any snow at all, only buckets of rain!
Other bloggers consult the stripes on the Woolly Bear Caterpillars.  I guess that we will have to see, but mine was all black!  Yikes.  I better make sure all the drafts in this old house are covered.  What do you think will happen?  Make a prediction too.
  Joe Bastardi

Check out Joe Bastardi's predictions on  He seems to have the long range views better than anyone else. Here's hoping that we all survive