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3191 Miles Apart

7 September 14 • MAV

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I have always been intimidated by pies. I don’t know why. Too many steps or something? Pies just weren’t something that were made in my house growing up so the art of pie-making has never come easy to me. Lately I’ve been determined, however, to fully celebrate pie season (for me that is Autumn till the end of the year) by facing my fear. It’s good to put yourself in an uncomfortable position sometimes, especially in the kitchen! You can learn so much. So, pie-making commence! I’m starting with Peach Pie because the late-summer Maine peaches, both white and yellow, have been amazing this year. Let’s dig in …

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My girl Emily is a pie expert. She probably wouldn’t say that about herself but I’m saying it! She makes pies like the ones in your dreams. She also happens to be one of the sweetest people I know and lucky for me, I have actually had the pleasure of baking next to her in my kitchen a few times. I love her confidence with pastry. It’s very inspiring!

You can see all Emily has going on at her blog, Nothing In The House. I started my Peach Pie by making myself an Emily crust (I used the whole-wheat pastry flour because I prefer whole wheat in my crust).

Nothing in the House Pie Crust
makes 1 double-crust pie

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or 1 c. all-purpose + 1 c. whole-wheat pastry flour*)
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 sticks COLD unsalted butter (12 tablespoons), cut into slices
1/2 beaten large egg, cold (save the other half to brush on top of the crust)
1/4 cup ice-cold water
1/2 tablespoon cold apple cider vinegar

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or fork and knife, cut in the butter. You want to make sure butter chunks remain, as that’s what makes the crust flaky.

2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the COLD liquid ingredients (Using cold liquids ensures that your butter will not melt–another crucial detail for a flaky crust!).

3. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour-butter mixture and combine using a wooden spoon. Mix until dough comes together, but is not overly mixed (it should be a little shaggy). Form into a ball, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before rolling out.

*If you use whole wheat pastry flour, you may need to add additional liquid.

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Then while my pastry was chilling, I turned to my guy, Nigel for the filling. And, of course, I added in a few of my own little details (thanks for the text exchange on peach pie, Rinne!). My goal was to keep it very simple. These peaches are amazing on their own! I didn’t want to muck it up. And, I actually don’t like cooked peaches so I did not boil or prep the peaches in any way. I kept it very fresh! Below is the combination I used and the friends I shared the pie with this weekend really loved it. “Not too sweet,” they said. I always take that as the highest compliment.

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MAV’s Peach Pie Filling
makes enough for one pie

6–8 ripe peaches
1–2 tablespoons brown sugar
1–2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon corn meal
zest of one lemon

I mixed this all in a bowl and tipped it into my pastry. Simple! I kept the peaches sliced in big chunks because I like to fork into them when I eat the pie. I love this pie warmed so I did not want the pie to get too juicy. I wanted it to stay together so the slicing and biting would be easy and a bit less messy. It worked beautifully. My pie baked at 350ºF/180ºC for about 50–60 minutes. I kept the pastry chilled as I worked on the whole thing and even chilled the pie for 15 minutes before I baked it.

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What pie do you think I should work on next? Email me and let me know. [mav{at}3191milesapart.com]

7 September 14 • SCB

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We are somewhere between summer and fall. The days are still hot and bright, but the light at the beginnings and ends tells another story. I have been feeling a little melancholy, maybe it’s just this change, having a foot in each season and way of life. I have not felt much like eating or been particularly inspired to cook, which is a shame as the harvest is pretty bountiful around here.

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I have mostly wanted to snack, standing at the counter, as if I am denying a meal is really taking place. It feels like a particular hardship to cook for others when you don’t have an appetite, but I have found myself transformed when I sit down to a meal with my family, always grateful I pushed through. That said, when my son proudly brought home a bag of bruised, wormy apples from a neighbor, I wanted nothing more than to just toss them in the compost. I was hard-pressed to see their potential.

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I stared down the apples and my own exhaustion/ennui and settled on apple butter. Brown bits were trimmed away and the apples simmered for hours and hours into something new, sweet and spicy, dense with flavor. I don’t mean for these apples to be a tortured metaphor.  I mean only to share that sometimes there is value in doing the work that is set in front of you, and that apple butter is delicious.

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Apple Butter
makes approximately 1 pint

2-3 pounds apples, cored and chopped (but not peeled)
1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple juice, cider or water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
zest and juice of one small lemon
1/2-1 cup sugar

Place apples in a heavy bottomed sauce pan with apple cider vinegar and juice and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover loosely and simmer until soft, about 30 minutes. Allow apples to cool slightly and pass through a fine food mill to remove skins. Place apple sauce in a slow cooker (you can also return the apples to the stove in a pot, but as they will be cooking for 8 hours, a slow cooker is best. They are easily found secondhand or borrow one from a friend!). Add spices, lemon juice and zest. The amount of sugar you will need depends on the tartness of your apples and your own taste preference. Start with 1/2 cup and taste as it cooks, adding sweetness as needed. Cook on low, stirring, and scraping the bottom every now and again for about 8 hours. Apple butter will be dark and thick. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator.

I enjoyed my apple butter with cheese on oatcakes (recipe in 3191Q Issue No. 9, coming very soon as a digital download), standing at the counter, of course.

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