For my church's silent auction last month, I donated a "Pie of the Month" prize to the raffle. For the next year, the winner will get a homemade pie delivered to their home. The winner is a very nice woman named Marge who lives in Saline. I haven't yet met her in person, but we talked on the phone. She attended the auction with her son, who lives nearby and attends St. Joseph. She was concerned that Saline is too far away, but I'm looking forward to making the trip and then stopping to visit my daughter in Ypsilanti where is goes to college. For this month, I made apple pie...
I used Northern Spy apples that I got at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market yesterday from Wolfe Orchards. Northern Spy is my favorite pie making apples; they hold up without getting mushy and are very tart. I made 2 pies - one for Marge and one for us. I used the vodka pie crust recipe and for the filling:
5 cups peeled diced apples
1 t, apple pie spice
Sugar (to taste.....1/2 to 3/4 cup) your tastebuds may vary and so might your apples
I made the pie from memory and once they were in the oven I realized I probably didn't add enough sugar to the apples. I don't like overly sweet pies, so I added just a couple tablespoons. Looking at my trusty Better Homes and Gardens: New Cook Book, I saw that it probably should have been at least a half cup; now what to do? I decided that caramel sauce was the answer. Doing some quick Googling for a recipe, I settled on one featured on the Pioneer Woman cooking show on the Food Network...not because I'm a big fan of the show but because it used half and half instead of heavy cream. I have to admit, I get sucked into watching Ree Drummond and her fantasy ranch life every once in a while when I am on the elliptical at the gym, which involves showing off her fancy house and handsome cowboy husband and beautiful children and her days solely revolved around cooking fantastic things in her well equipped kitchen. I know it's not for real, but I get sucked in anyway.
1 c. brown sugar (packed)
1/2 c half-and-half
4 tablespoons butter
1 T vanilla extract
Mix the brown sugar, half-and-half, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while stirring occasionally for 5 to 7 minutes, until it gets thicker. Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat and when cool slightly pour the sauce into a jar and refrigerate.
We invited our neighbors Steve and Martha over for pie after dinner, and I served the pie with a puddle of caramel sauce and a couple small scoops of vanilla gelato. It was perfect! I'm so looking forward to making pie every month, I have ordered a new pie cookbook that I have already checked out of the library that I really liked: Ms. American Pie: Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bold Tales from the American Gothic House by Beth Howard. She made pies at California’s Malibu Kitchen for celebrities including Barbra Streisand (lemon meringue), Dick Van Dyke (strawberry rhubarb), and Steven Spielberg (coconut cream) before moving back home to rural Iowa. She now lives in the famous American Gothic House (the backdrop for Grant Wood’s famous painting) and ran the hugely popular Pitchfork Pie Stand. It's now closed...so don't drive out to Eldon, Iowa looking for it (the house is still open for visits) Beth has moved out to Los Angeles to live near her folks and continue writing. Stay tuned for more pie!