Every marriage and family has an issue or two on which the people involved don’t quite see eye to eye. In our house, we don’t fight over the correct way to squeeze toothpaste out of the tube and don’t have “over versus under” toilet paper debates. We butt heads over the vacuum and its proper resting place in our day-to-day life. I like to keep it in the kitchen, plugged in, and always ready to conquer the next mess that emerges. With two starving teenagers plus a husband who likes to eat, our family life pretty much takes place in the kitchen, and as we all know, life can be messy. I’m not going to keep the vacuum neatly stowed away in the closet only to have to take it out five minutes later. No, our trusty Dyson is right there in the middle of the kitchen floor, together with its endless cord that enables me to reach in every corner.
And Mr. Photographer hates that. According to him, it’s the dumbest idea ever and disaster waiting to happen. He claims the stupid vacuum is constantly in his way. He’s tripped over it couple of times, which is something I don’t understand – you see it’s there, so just step over the cord and move on with your life. It’s not like it’s a needle in a haystack, right? Everybody can see a vacuum!
Under normal circumstances, absolutely. Unless you just came home from the other end of the world, are jetlagged after a 15-hour flight, are trying to catch up on the laundry, and cooking 3 meals at once. The washing machine is beeping. You jump up to put the stuff in the dryer. Everything is under control, you’re doing great. Just five more loads to wash and put away. The soup is boiling over. You rush to take care of that, when you hear the oven announcing the bread is ready. You leap over to take it out, and what’s right there in the middle of the kitchen floor? Yep, your trusty Dyson. With its endless cord that enables you to reach in every corner. Except this time, it enables you to land with your whole palm on the open and red-hot oven door.
Sitting here whining and pondering if I should go to the ER or not, I can now with an absolute certainty tell you three things: As big as it is, there are times when you really can’t see a vacuum under your feet. You can’t write, bake, nor do pretty much anything else with one hand stuck in a bowl of icy water to relieve the pain of a burn. And lastly, it pays off to listen to our partners more. As much as it burns me to say it, occasionally they might actually be quite right.
Since baking one-handed can be quite a challenge, this pie is actually a throwback recipe I made last year. I had a lot of fun with it, playing with painting the leaves and decorating it, and I think it turned out beautiful, and would be a great addition to any of your fall celebrations. Enjoy, and please be careful in your kitchen endeavors!
Fall Aple Pie
(adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com)
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 3 teaspoons white sugar
- pinch salt
- 200 g (7 oz.) cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1 large egg
- 1.5 kg (3 lbs.) baking apples, such as Granny Smith or Gala
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling over the pie
- 55 g (2 oz.) unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- To make the crust, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of your food processor fitted with an S-blade, and pulse to combine. Add the cold cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles peas. Add the egg and pulse again 1 – 3 times only – do not let the mixture come to a ball. If the dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of cold water. Remove the dough from the food processor and bring it together by hand. Wrap and chill for two hours before proceeding.
- Meanwhile, make the apple filling: Peel and core the apples. Quarter them and cut each quarter into 2 – 3 wedges, depending on the size of the apples. Toss the apples with sugar and lemon juice to prevent browning.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and the apples soften and release most of their juices, about 7 minutes.
- Strain the apples over a bowl to catch the juices. Return the juices to the pan and cook until reduced and caramelized, about 8 minutes. Combine with the apples and spices and set aside.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half. On a sheet of parchment paper, roll each half into a circle about 10-inch (23 cm) wide. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Roll out the scraps of the dough and cut out decorative pieces with cookie cutters. Lay them out on a plate/tray and refrigerate until needed.
- Take one circle of the dough from the refrigerator. With a sharp knife, cut out the trunk/branches of a tree in the center.(The cut-out will work as a steam vent while the pie is baking.) Set aside.
- To assemble, fit one circle of the refrigerated dough into a 9-inch (23 cm) pie pan. Pour in the cooled apple filling, mounding it slightly in the center. Brush the edges with egg wash and place the top circle on the apples pressing the edges together. Put the pie back in the fridge and preheat the oven to 375 °F (190 °C).
- To paint the cut out leaves, place the egg yolk in the middle of a paper plate and put a drop or two of assorted food colors all around the edges of the plate. Mix a little of the yolk in each color and paint the leaves with a small brush. Put a little egg wash around the cut out tree and on the edges of the pie and decorate the pie with your painted leaves.
- Carefully brush the top of the pie with remaining egg wash and sprinkle it with sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes until golden brown. If the edges brown too quickly, cover them with aluminum foil. Cool on rack before serving.