Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fall Apple Pie Paired with Coffee or Tea

Holiday goodies are making the rounds in the sierra. I see it. I smell it. I feel it. I taste it. And Christmas is coming, another snow dusting has arrived. Cookies, cakes, pies, and breads—all kinds—are circulating in homes, stores, parties, and businesses. 
On the south shore, soon red, blue, green, and white Christmas lights dot houses and stores. The excitement takes me back to childhood when I was a kid (who still believed in Santa Claus) in the suburbs of San Jose, California.

When I was nine, my father brought home a flocked white tree, big. We’d decorate it with blue and silver bulbs, colored lights, and candy canes. My mother, the baker, would be busy making Chocolate Pinwheels and Bourbon Balls. Parties at our house were plentiful. Wrapped packages were piled under the Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve, we could unwrap one gift; we sipped egg nog, and left cookies and a mug of milk for Santa. Early in the morning, my two siblings and I gather around the tree and give each other presents. Then, it was off to church. And home, a magnificent dinner awaited: Ham, sweet potatoes, greens, rolls, and pecan pie.
Today, things have changed. In the sierra, I reside with my two furry kids. I may or may not do a tree (I thought about it), nor will I shop. (Well, I did buy a set of dishes, a goose down comforter, and clothes for our upcoming winter.) So, here’s a semi-homemade Christmas Apple Pie that appeases my taste buds—and warms me up.

Holiday Apple Pie
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced thin
½ cup premium fresh cranberries, chopped
2 tablespoons European style butter, cold, cubed
¼ cup granulated white sugar   
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon orange rind (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
2 store-bought premium pie crusts (or homemade; recipes in The Healing Powers of
Olive Oil book)
4 tablespoons half-and-half (1/2 for apple mixture; ½ for crust)
2 tablespoons each, raw sugar and cinnamon (for crust)

In a large bowl, combine sliced apples, cranberries, butter, sugar, spices, and citrus if preferred. Place in one pie crust. Put other pie crust on top. Flute edges with thumb to give it a homemade, imperfect rustic look. (If pieces break, use warm water to mend.) Brush top with half-and-half. Sprinkle sugar-cinnamon mixture. Cover with foil (so edges of pie crust don’t burn.) Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then bake for another 45 minutes. Cool for one hour before cutting. Sprinkle top with chopped walnuts and serve with a small scoop of all natural vanilla ice cream or warm it up with a piece of melted cheddar cheese.  Serves approximately 10.
This charming pie is sweet and tart and doesn’t look like a cookie cutter one packaged one in the store. It’s good both warm or cold. The cranberries add a festive color combo to the green apples.. And, the raw sugar gives it a super crunch.  While you can overindulge in cookies and candies, a slice of fresh fruit pie paired with hot herbal tea or gourmet coffee, will give you a nice holiday fix and has some health perks, too. Whether you’re alone or with friends and family, this Christmas Apple Pie paired with coffee or tea and honey will feed your sweet tooth, fill you up, not out and boost your spirit.
Motto: Holiday blessings come in all ways, shapes and sizes. Sometimes, tradition is fun and other times it’s exciting to follow your heart and soul while dancing on your own path.

— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her Healing Powers series include fall and holiday recipes (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. The Healing Powers series was featured by the Good Cook Book Club, and the series is sold at Walmart stores nationwide. 

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