Hot Weather, Friendships and Mini Apple Pies

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The last 4 weeks were filled with lots of fun and sightseeing with our friends from out of town. Seattle becomes the “destination city” for our friends who live in hot places like Minneapolis or Denver. Around 85 degrees it gets way too hot for me but our friends loved the 20-degree difference and welcomed the cool nights.

We pulled out all the stops and showed our visitors Washington from its best side. Guyleen and Carolyn were fleeing from 100 degree Denver heat and got to tour Snoqualmie Falls and the close by Casino as well as a stroll through La Conner, sampling Dungeness Crab Cocktails and shopping for locally made soaps, lotions and potions.

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A week later our visitors from Minneapolis (Michelle and Jeremy) not only got to enjoy beautiful Seattle weather but also Leavenworth in the Cascade Mountains and floating down the Skykomish River, with a stop at Deception Falls.

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Last weekend was one of the hottest days of the year and Chris, Margo, Christy, Mike and I checked out a new lake – Lake Kachess, a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains only 1 hour from our house. This was the first time I really got to enjoy Mike’s new boat and it was a ton of fun and super relaxing to swim in the lake and be towed behind the boat, definitely a new found hot day activity besides river floating.

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Guyleen and Carolyn were quite impressed with our fruit trees and decided to help out our tiny apple tree which must have carried 50 pounds of apples with its branches bent all the way to the ground, about to break off – and picked the apple and pear trees clean to relief them of their weight. Now I had a ton of apples and decided to make these tiny little individual apple pies. I haven’t gotten yet to the pears but are thinking I will have to make a few batches of pear crisps this weekend.

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For the quick version use readymade pie crust, if you have more time make your own pie crust, you can taste the difference!

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Individual Apple Pies – Recipe makes 12

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of apples
  • 12 tbsp flour
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • 4 heaping tsps of cinnamon
  • ¼ to ½ tsps of nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp chilled butter cut into 24 equal portions
  • 2 boxes Pillsbury pie crust (four chilled NOT frozen crusts)

Directions:

  1. Start by cutting up eight cups of apples into small 1/2in bits. Mix the apples with flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Unroll your first pie crust and cut several circles out. Continue this until you have enough crusts. (I found that a wide mouth mason jar ring worked perfectly.)
  3. Line each cup of your muffin tin with a tiny pie crust. Gently fill the crusts with your apple mixture. You should be able to fill until slightly mounded. Put a dab of butter on each pie. Cover as desired with left over dough.
  4. Brush with melted butter and bake at 400 for 18 to 22 minutes.

Homemade Pie Crust:

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup (2 sticks of 8 ounces unsalted butter, very cold, cut into ½ inch cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6-8 Tbsp ice water
  • Optional: for a sweeter pie crust put more sugar into the dough, for a zesty crust mix in salt, pepper and 1 cup of cheddar or parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. The first thing I do when I’m even thinking about making a butter-based pie crust is to cut up the butter into cubes and put them in the freezer. They should chill at least 15 minutes in the freezer.
  2. Put flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple times to mix. Add about half of the butter to the food processor and pulse several times. Then add the rest of the butter and pulse 6 to 8 times until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of large peas. Sprinkle the mixture with about 1/4 cup of ice water $make sure there are no ice cubes in the water!$ and pulse again. Then add more ice water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing once or twice after each addition until the dough just barely begins to hold together. You know that the mixture is ready if when you pinch some of the crumbly dough together with your fingers, it holds together. Be cautious with the amount of water you add, too much and the crust will be tough.
  3. Carefully empty the crumbly dough mixture from the food processor on to a clean, dry, flat surface. Gather the mixture in a mound. At this point, if you want, you can do what the French call fraisage: push down with the palm of your hand on the dough crumbles a few times. This will help flatten the pieces of butter into layers which will help your crust be flaky. Divide the dough mixture into two even-sized mounds. Use your hands to form each one into a disk. Do not over-knead! Kneading develops gluten which will toughen the dough, not something you want in a pastry crust. If you started with cold butter you should be able to see small chunks of butter speckling the dough. This is a good thing. These small bits of butter will spread out into layers as the crust cooks so you have a flaky crust! Sprinkle each disk with a little flour, wrap each one in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour or up to 2 days.

Guten Appetit!

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