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I’ve always had a fascination for pie. Goodness! I love the idea of pie so much I wanna marry it! It’s so homey and welcoming. Homemade pie is made with love…you can see it, smell it, taste it and enjoy it at the kitchen table with family and friends. Maybe I love the thought of pie  because I always wanted to grow up to be a June-Cleaver-mama and homemaker, and I thought that pie was one of the quintessential symbols of hearth and home.

dsc01593The word “pie” seems to capture the essence of home, hospitality, comfort, love and all that’s nurturing. Pie is the usual and anticipated dessert at church suppers, hometown cafe’s, diners, and grandma’s house. Just the thought of sharing a piece of pie with loved ones over a hot cup of tea or coffee just warms the heart.

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Don’t you just love the idea of a fresh baked pie cooling on the window sill…such a homey sight!

Pie is comfort….”Oh cheer up dear, everything’s going to be alright…we have pie! ~Mama

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Funny thing is, I didn’t learn how to make pie until I was in my early forties! When I was growing up the only pie I remember at our large Italian family gatherings (among the vast array of Sicilian cookies, Cannolis, and Pizzelles) was the one Aunt Vera brought. It was lemon, with a voluptuous cloud of  golden-tipped white meringue that swirled high like a lady’s fancy curly-Q hairdo! It was such bliss when I got to taste the frothy-sweet topping mixed with the cold creamy ‘n’ tart melt-in-your-mouth lemon filling!

Making pie seemed so complicated that I felt like I needed to wait for the perfect, calm  moment without distractions so I could really concentrate to do it right. But being caught up  in the whirlwind of raising four kids and running a busy household, the moments that were perfect, calm and without distractions were few and far between!

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I thought I would get around to making a pie “some day”. Then I read the book  American Pie: Slices Of Life (And Pie) From America’s Back Roads. Well that did it. I thought for goodness sake! American women all across this country on farms and in the cities have been baking pies with a house-full of kids for decades! What was my problem! Well, after gathering tips on pie baking, I pulled up my big-girl cowboy boots, dusted off my rolling pin, faced my pastry fear,  and made an apple pie. Not only was it not difficult but actually tasted delicious!

Author Nigella Lawson said “…like the first kiss, it’s the first pie that counts: as soon as I’d whipped it out of the oven and sprinkled sugar over it, I felt suffused with heady satisfaction. This was a real pie: the sort that I thought only women with sensible hands habitually wiped briskly on aprons could make.”

That’s exactly how I felt  pulling that pie out of the oven…I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing! Laaaaaaaa! For me it was a rite of passage! I felt like I earned the badge of  a ” true American homemaker”!  Ten years later I’m still making pies. I don’t consider myself an expert, I’m just a mama who likes to bake pies.

Now darlin’s, if there’s something you’ve been wanting to do…write a book…learn photography…start a blog…open an Etsy shop…or bake pies, just start! Gather information, watch Youtube videos, read up on the internet and then begin. I found that once you get started with something it’s not as hard as it first seems. The sooner you start the closer your accomplishment will be.

a3 Home is where the pie is.

When we designed and built our home six years ago I really wanted a baking center. So we attached it to our pantry. This is where all of my baking supplies are stored.

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But before building my house I kept all of my main baking utensils and spices on a tray…ready to go…inside one of my lower cabinets. That way when it was high time for pie, all I had to do was pull out this tray and get baking! Easy peasy, lemon pie squeezy!

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You know that old saying “easy as pie”?  Well come on darlin’, I’ll show you what I waited so many years to find out…makin’ pie ain’t hard!

Let me grab my apron…we’re gonna make Butter Crunch Apple Pie! (I will post the recipe in my Home Cookin’ section later this week!)

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Wash apples, take all those pesky stickers off. Even though I’m going to be peeling the apples, it’s important to wash them first so there isn’t any chance for bacteria or chemicals to be transferred onto the fruit that will be eaten. The best way to wash fruit is to use one part vinegar to three parts water.

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I like to use a few different varieties of apples in my pie. I learned a secret! I was at a rodeo once, and between shows there was a pie contest…the gal that won the first place blue ribbon prize said her secret was to use 3 kinds of apples…Granny Smith and two others that are very firm, crisp and sweet. I chose Pink Lady and Honey Crisp along with the Granny Smith.

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img_5397While the apples were soaking I mixed together the flour and ice-cold butter (I used salted butter here…if you use unsalted you need to add some salt) to make the crust. One of the best tips for crust is to make sure the butter and water is ice-cold. Some people even put their bowl in the freezer to get it cold. The idea is you don’t want the butter to melt while mixing the dough. You want cold pea-size butter-bits visible in the crust so when you put it in the oven these bits of butter will melt creating little pockets of steam which make a flaky crust.

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I like a sweeter crust, so I add 1/4 cup of sugar.

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Add the ice water, mix it in until the dough forms into a ball.

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Take the dough out of the mixing bowl, cut in half.

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Form two patties. This would normally be for a bottom and top crust, but today I’m making a crumb topping so I’ll be using them for two pies.

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Flour your surface, and roll out your crust starting from the center and rolling out, lifting the rolling pin up just before going off the edge. Turn the crust 1/4 turn each time making sure it is not sticking to the surface. You can use a pastry scraper to lift the dough if it’s sticking…scatter more flour if need be. For me this was the one thing that I had to work at.

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Gently place dough in pie dish, being careful not to stretch it because it will shrink if you do. (I learned my lesson!) Fold under the excess around the edge of the crust.

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Crimp it…I use my knuckle on my pointer finger and my other hand to hold it in place. Store crust in refrigerator while you prepare the filling. During the holidays, I make my crust the day before then fill and bake the next day. It sure makes things easier. You can also put your finished crust in the freezer if you want to for a week or two.

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I love my apple peeler but you can certainly peel the skin with a paring knife if you’d like.

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As you can see I have three bowls…one for the washed apples, the other for the peeled and sliced apples and the other for the skins and cores. Keeping things clean and orderly makes the process much more enjoyable and less overwhelming.

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The apple peeler not only peels but slices and cores the apple. All I do then is cut it in half and toss in my bowl.

img_5423Okay, now it’s time to add the sugar, cinnamon, flour, melted butter and a pinch of nutmeg.

img_5429Stir it up…mmm smells good already!

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Mix up the Butter Crunch crumb topping…butter, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Leave it chunky!

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Fill the pie shells!

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Pile the apples up higher in the middle.

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Add the Butter Crunch crumb topping.

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Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet to catch spills.

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Bake it…and enjoy the amazing sweet-comfort-aroma!

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See, that doesn’t look so difficult does it? And to think I waited YEARS to do this! (I’m rolling my eyes!)

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Home is where the pie is.

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“Grandpa only liked two kinds of pie…warm pie and cold pie.”

~ Elsie Corn 1947

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“I went to sit in the bus station and think this over. I ate another apple pie and ice cream; that’s practically all I ate all the way across the country, I knew it was nutritious and it was delicious, of course.”—Jack Kerouac, “On The Road.”

img_5489Wish you were here!

“At once impressive and unremarkable, pie can be complicated and challenging or simple and homey. Whether ordinary or elegant, though, a pie is not something to eat by yourself. It should be made to share, preferably while fresh and warm.”—Lisa Chernasky, author of “The Artful Pie”

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Sprinkle on a little powdered sugar to make prettier and enjoy!

Get the Recipe here for this Butter Crunch Apple Pie!

You may have noticed that I’ve added my Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter buttons up at the top on the right. I would love for you to follow me! Also, I’d like to announce that I am now offering space to advertise your product, Etsy store, business, blog or website. If you are interested just click on the button at the top right to find out more about it. It’s a great way to get your name out there!

Laundry update! So many of you have tried and loved the Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe! Yay!! If you feel like you want even more fragrance, you can put the vinegar in the pre-rinse tray and use your favorite fabric softener.  If you have any questions for me come on over to Facebook and ask!

Thank you for those of you who shared your concern about the tornado that passed through my hometown of  Branson, Missouri last week. The town did suffer damage, thankfully there weren’t any fatalities. Since spring is the beginning of the tourist season our town is quickly getting it ready to welcome our visitors. I know many of you were affected also by these storms, please know that you were in my prayers!

I’m thrilled that you stopped by! I always love hearing from you and so appreciate your sweet comments! They keep me motivated!

Hugs y’all! God bless your darlin’ heart!

Aunt Ruthie

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