Fall Cooking

Apple picking. Heavenly.

Have you ever been apple picking? If you time it well, your favorite apples are practically bursting off their stems, the weather is absolutely moderate (oh hello fall, there you are), and your fellow apple pickers, depending on the company you bring, are hilarious. We took a recent trip over and up to Hendersonville, NC to Justus Orchard and experienced just that. Last year we were so bummed to not find any local, you-pick orchards in Alabama, especially after indulging in the wonders of Apple Hill in Camino, CA. So this year was a huge success.

Apple picking. Oh hello fall, there you are!

We ended up picking obscene amounts of golden delicious, mutsu, cameo, and pink ladies. And as we returned home with a bushel or two, the baking began. Typically I really cook one meal a day. I assemble three, but cook only one. I’m lazy in the kitchen. Usually. But something about the sweet, tart smell of apples–and maybe the irrational fear of gnats breeding in our apple bags–lured me to the kitchen. For like three days. Needless to say, I’m feeling inspired to share a few of the recipes I’ve been cooking.

The first one comes to you from Denise at Little House on the Valley, a blog you foodies should totally check out. This woman has created the most scrumptulescent (yes) recipe for apple butter that even the laziest chef can handle.

Crockpot Apple Butter

Oh what’s that? Apple butter? Made from apples we picked? With a little shot of our chicken coop and mini-farm in the background?

Seriously, though, this recipe requires 10 minutes of prep, maybe, and a crockpot. And it will make your house smell like apples. ALL DAY LONG. Since I can’t take credit for this deliciousness, I’m going to send you her way for the recipe (click me, click me).

Ok, next up comes a family recipe from my sister, the pie-maker. I made three of these (there is no reason here, all logic is gone from this place) and froze two assembled but not baked (so I can whip out a perfect pie for company some night later and be all, “Oh this? It was nothing… did I mention I picked these apples?”). Here’s one of those unbaked lovelies:

Apple Pie from Scratch -- amazing crust!

This recipe is for you if you do not like over-sweetened desserts but like fruit to do the talking. It is for you’re all about that crust. It is for you if you like things that are delicious.

This recipe is not for you if you don’t eat butter. It’s not for you if you don’t eat shortening. It’s not for you if you don’t like to have fun.

Homemade Apple Pie!

Looooook at it. Ok, here’s the recipe.

Best Ever Apple Pie

Flaky Pastry Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into bits
  • 4-6 tbsp ice water

In a bowl, blend the flour, salt, butter, and shortening until butter and shortening are the size of peas (best done with hands, not tools). Toss mixture with enough water to form dough, shape into a ball, and chill for at least 30 minutes (I usually split the ball into two parts before I chill it; not perfect halves–one part should be a little bigger than the other).

Most Amazing Delicious Apple Pie Ever:

  • Pastry dough (recipe above)
  • 6 large apples (flavor counts here, a bland apple makes for a bland apple pie; I recommend macintosh)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (may not need this much)
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice (or if you’re me, much, much, more)
  • Grated lemon peel (optional, but a nice addition)
  • 2 tbsp butter, cut into bits (optional)
  1. Divide pastry into two rounds (if you haven’t already done so), one a little larger than the other. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into a round 1/8 inch thick and fit it into a 9-inch pie plate leaving a 1/2 inch overhang. Chill while preparing the filling (if the dough sticks to the counter as you are rolling it out, then it is probably not cold enough–try chilling it a little longer).
  2. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  3. Peel, core, and slice apples. Transfer to a bowl.
  4. In another bowl, combine sugar, flour, and spices. Sprinkle some of the mixture into the bottom of the pastry-lined pie plate. Toss apples with some of the mixture and lemon peel. Mound the apple mixture in pie plate, sprinkle with spice mixture, and dot with butter (optional).
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining dough into a circle 1/8 inch thick and drape it over the filling, trimming to a 1/2 inch overhang. Fold top crust under bottom crust and crimp edges (this prevents the filling from coming out the sides during cooking). Cut steam vents in top of crust and bake for 50-60 minutes or until crust is golden and apples are tender. Let cool on a rack.

Best Ever Apple Pie Recipe

There she is.

And lastly, another family recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. This is the world’s easiest snack (as a matter of fact, this may be the first time I’ve ever seen it in writing). Roasting and seasoning the seeds makes for a fun tradition each year after carving pumpkins.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Take pumpkin innards, and separate the seeds from the mush (yes, the mush). Wash seeds thoroughly in a strainer. Shake the strainer to remove as much water as possible.

Move the seeds to a large cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Stir to coat.

Sprinkle the seeds with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder (about 1/2 tsp of each).

Bake at 400ºF for 10 minutes. Stir and continue to bake until golden brown.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds--tastes like fall

After they cool, they should be crunchy with just a little kick.

Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

Ah, alas fall is in my kitchen. Hope you enjoy!

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