Category Archives: Food memories

I’m a Featured Apronista!

featuredapronista200x200

Squeeeeee!  I have a new friend, Shawnee, who creates The Apronista–Domestic Dish for the Hip Homemaker.  Her site is about lots of homekeeping things, but focuses on Aprons.  How I loves a cute apron!  Shawnee found me through a couple of my apron posts: Apron Strings, Heart Strings, and  Holiday Baking Needs a festive Apron.  I associate aprons with cooking and the women in my family.  Like Great-Aunt Rosie who was only without an apron in church.  Here she is “herding” the passel of first cousins, apron underneath her cardigan.  Notice her hand firmly controlling cousin Danny.  😉  I’m the one closest to her right elbow.  Her apron strings were powerful, indeed!

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Now I can add a new apron association–making new friends!  Trip-trap on over to Shawnee’s site to see me(!) and check out groovy apron patterns, recipes and more.  Like her page on Facebook for apron-tastic updates!  I’m thinking I may need a new apron to celebrate!

 

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Hot Artichoke and White Bean Dip

Many years ago, a restaurant here in town served an appetizer called Sheep Dip.  I know, not the most appetizing name, but oh my what a delicious combination of hot, gooey deliciousness.  It had tons of cheese and spinach and artichokes.  Yum, yum, yummy!  We ordered it EVERY time we went there.  I have since given up dairy, so no more Sheep Dip for me.  Not that I don’t think about it sometimes.  And THEN!  I treated myself to a new cookbook for the holidays: Vegan Holiday Kitchen.  A beautiful book full of complete menus for every occasion, including a section on appetizers.  One of those recipes looked very, very much like my beloved Sheep Dip.  I just had to try it!  I’m sharing it with you because YES!  Very reminiscent of the original hot gooey deliciousness!

transfer to baking dish top w cheese

Serve it in a bread bowl, serve it in the baking dish, serve it with bread or crackers or crudites….perfect for a party, perfect for just you and your sweetie…or just you!

ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves (or arugula or watercress)
  • 2 TBSP fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella-style grated vegan cheese
  • paprika for topping

Preheat oven to 375F.

Saute onion and garlic in a bit of veggie or No-Chicken broth until the onion starts to caramelize.

saute onions garlic

Place the saute in a food processor along with the beans and cream cheese, process until smooth.

process sauted onions garlic beans cream cheese

Add artichoke hearts, spinach, dill, thyme, salt and pepper.

pulse spinach artichokes and seasonings

Pulse until evenly chopped, but not pureed.

just until evenly chopped

Place in a oven-safe dish, top with grated cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes.

transfer to baking dish top w cheese

Sprinkle top with paprika and serve hot or warm.

Have you noticed I don’t have a picture of the final gooey yuminess?  My guests were already here when I pulled it from the oven.  I was so amazed with it, I sprinkled the paprika, set it on my kitchen island with a flourish and completely forgot to take a picture!  It was delish.  Go make some and see for yourself!

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Filed under appetizer, dairy-free, Food memories, Holiday foods, recipe, vegan, Vegetarian

Celine’s Aebelskivers

Have I mentioned how great it is to have been brought up Norwegian?  My son, who is even less Norwegian than I am, is as pleased as I’ve always been to enjoy the special yumminess found in Scandinavian holiday treats.   Mom started it all.  She adored all things Scandinavian, baking all kinds of traditional holiday recipes, including these light little pillows of yumminess from Denmark, aebelskivers. yum1

Here it is almost Christmas, and I have piles of cookies and breads and candies and nuts to keep me happy for months, but still I felt compelled yesterday to add to my dragon’s horde and make aebelskivers.  Especially after reading that they freeze well and then reheat beautifully in the oven for a traditional Scandinavian Christmas breakfast.  Aebelskivers originally had bits of apple or applesauce inside–aebel means apple.  They are also made plain, like my Mom’s recipe, and served with applesauce or a berry jam on the side.  I like lingonberry–a Scandinavian cranberry-esque fruit.  Find lingonberry in your natural foods market or at IKEA.  Yup, IKEA.  You can also buy pre-made mixes from places like Williams Sonoma.  (Mom bough these for me.)  They are yummy, but are pretty much the same in prep time as scratch-made.

mixes

The manufacturer of my glass-top range says cast iron is a no-no because it could damage the glass.  I pouted for a year over this because I knew it meant no aebelskivers for me.  Traditional aebelskiver pans like mine are cast iron.

traditional aebelskiver pan

William Sonoma has a variety of electric and stove-top pans and accessories.  I wasn’t quite ready to spend sixty bucks plus shipping for a treat I generally make only once a year.  I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it and nearly ordered one when…

Cake pops became all the rage and electric cake pop makers began “popping” up all over.  They make little spherical cakes, and aebelskivers are spherical.  Could a cake pop maker be used for aebelskivers?!  Between a coupon and a sale at Bed Bath and Beyond, I procured a Babycakes cake pop maker for about $15 and set out to find out.  YES!  The abelskivers are smaller, but just as yummy.  Good news for those of you already in possession of a cake pop maker!

All you need are a cake pop maker and a few ingredients:

ingredients

  • 2 cups buttermilk or 2 cups milk plus 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom, optional
  • powdered sugar
  • applesauce or berry jam to serve

If you don’t keep buttermilk around, measure any milk (I used regular, unsweetened almond milk) and add the lemon juice to it and allow it to “curdle” a bit.

add lemon juice to milk

Meanwhile, separate the eggs, making sure the whites get into a clean glass or metal bowl for better whipping results.

separate eggs

Lightly beat the yolks and add the milk, sugar and salt.

egg yolks milk sugar and salt

Then add the flour, soda, and baking powder.  Add cardamom here if using.  I completely forgot the cardamom until I was nearly done baking the aebelskivers!  Sorry Mom!  I’ll put it in next time for sure!

add flour and soda and baking powder

Using an electric mixer, whip egg whites to a stiff peak.

beat whites to stiff peak

Gently fold in the whites in two batches.  This takes a while–be patient to maintain as much fluff as possible.  This fluff is what will make your aebelskivers so pillowy.

add half of whites

fold in second half

Spray the cake pop maker lightly with spray oil and wipe away any excess to avoid smoking up your kitchen as the appliance heats.  Yup.  Know this from experience.  Heat the cake pop maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and then fill the wells brim-full with batter.  My cake pop maker has 1 tablespoon-sized wells which are conveniently filled with a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop!

fill wells full

Fill as quickly as you can and close the lid to bake.  I baked mine for 6 minutes.  Your cake pop maker may take more or less time.  If you use a regular aebelskiver pan, wait for the tops to get bubbly–like you do for pancakes–and then gently turn them over in their wells using a wooden skewer or knitting needle or little tools made specifically for this purpose.  If you’re feeling adventurous, fill the wells only 2/3 full and add a wee bit of applesauce or jelly before adding the last 1/3 of batter per well.  I use a 1/4 tsp measure to add jam for my tiny cake pop-sized aebelskivers.

close lid and bake

Use the little prong thingie that comes with a cake pop maker or a thin wooden skewer or knitting needle to remove your perfect little aebelskivers.  Place them on a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Use a small sieve for this or purchase a powdered sugar shaker from a kitchen store–worth the money!  (Look around, I know mine wasn’t as pricey as the one linked to.)  They have lids, so powdered sugar can be stored in it, making it ready to use whenever you need it.

sprinkle with powdered sugar

This recipe makes 6 or 7 dozen one-inch aebelskivers.

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While a batch is baking, get out a pretty plate and some lingonberry jam and do a taste test.   Dip each pillowy bite in the jam and enjoy.

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Keep adding to your mountain of aebelskiver wonderfulness, sugaring each layer.

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If you plan to freeze your aebelskivers for later, let them cool completely before placing in a freezer bag.  The aebelskivers will freeze separately from one another, allowing you to take out only how many you want. Then when you’re ready, bake them in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.  Sugar them again and serve with applesauce or jam.  Oh, yum-yum-yummy!

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Christmas traditions always make the season cozy for me.  I find myself reaching back into the past to bring some of that childhood Christmas magic to my adulthood.  This year, I found a wee, tiny tinsel tree that reminded me of the big one my grandparents had.  I selected ornaments that are reminiscent of the time and lit it with battery-powered color-changing LED lights.  The sun made it sparkle yesterday.

tinsel tree1

tinsel tree 2

Back in the day, these tinsel trees were lit with a color wheel aimed at the tree.  The wheel turned, bathing the tree in a progression of colors–red, blue, yellow, and green–that were at their most wonderful at the juncture between colors.  It was like waves of color moving across and reflected by the tinsel.  Spectacular, and pure Christmas magic.  I hope your holidays bring you some of the magic from your childhood.  Merry Christmas!

 

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dessert, Food memories, Holiday foods, Norwegian Foods, recipe, snack

Celine’s Krumkake

A krumkake is a traditional Norwegian Christmas cookie cooked on a special griddle and then rolled into a cone shape.  They are beautiful, delicate, crisp and lightly seasoned with cardamom.  You can fill them with whipped cream or custard or whatever sounds yummy to you, but my Mom never did, so I don’t either.  As much as my sister and I loved these, It might be that Mom didn’t fill them because they were gone before she had a chance!  Mom made piles of krumkaker (the plural of krumkake) every Christmas along with other Scandiavian yummies like lefse, kringla, rosettes, and aebelskivers.  She had a little sign in her kitchen the stated “Tis a blessing to be Norwegian;” a sentiment I must agree with, especially whenever there are treats like these around!

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To get started, you’ll need a krumkake iron and cone form.  I don’t remember where I got my original iron that sits on a stove burner, but I bought my electric one at a local kitchen store.  Both can be found online, and having used both, I’m preferring the electric iron.

2 kinds of irons

Then, gather up a few things for a simple batter and you’re ready to go!

ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 TBSP corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

Lightly beat the eggs,

beat eggs

and then add sugar, starch, flour, vanilla and cardamom.  Stir to combine.

mix eggs sugar starch flour cardamom and vanilla

Then add the melted, cooled butter.  (The butter should still be liquid, just not so hot as to cook the eggs!)

add butter

Stir to a smooth batter.

mix til smooth batter

Heat iron according to the manufacturer’s directions, and spray lightly with spray oil.

spray iron with oil

Place 1 TBSP of batter near the center of the heated iron for a 4-inch krumkake, or 2 TBSP for a 6-inch krumkake.  This recipe will make 1 1/2 dozen 6-inch or 3 dozen 4-inch krumkaker.  I used a 1 TBSP cookie scoop to place my batter on the iron.

2 TBSP for a 6 inch krumkake

Close the lid and press lightly to distribute the batter.  One of the coolest things about the electric iron is that you don’t have to turn it over while cooking like you do with the stove-top iron.  Love it!

close and press to distrubute batter

Check after a minute to see if the krumkake is the shade of brown you like–I like mine fairly light.  See how this krumkake has gotten outside the patterned section of the iron?  Too much batter.  I used a wee bit less better for the next ones and ended up with prettier cookies, but they’re yummy no matter what!

cook til desired brownness

When ready, remove from the iron using a fork or small spatula, and place on a paper towel.  Immediately position the cone form like this:

place form on hot krumkake

Quickly roll the krumkake around the form while it is still hot.  This gets easier as you go.  I messed up the first one because I let it get too cool while I took pictures–it cracked as I rolled it.  My son was more than happy to “take care of” my ugly krumkake.  😉

roll to a cone

Gently press the form over the seam to help set the cone shape.  I leave the form sitting in the cone as I add more batter to the iron.  Then remove the form!  Look at the pretty cookie you just made!

remove form

Stack them up on a plate or platter to cool and become crisp.  This platter was a gift from my Mom from her favorite Scandinavian gift shop, Vanberia.

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I think they’re pretty stacked on top of each other like this.

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The iron makes a beautiful almost tapestry-like pattern in each cookie.  So pretty!  My cousin’s husband sculpted the Santa that has been keeping my krumkaker company, and the cute little towel was in a tub marked “Norwegian Tree”  that I brought home from Mom’s house.

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Here are some more Santas– hand carved, painted and accessorized by a friend of my Mom’s–Mr Barnett.  My sister and I went to school with his daughters.   Mr. Barnett carved a different Santa each year; Mom bought one for herself every year and sometimes bought them for my sister and me.  I love the different faces, beard details and little details of the clothing and accessories.

santas1

santas2

I usually have them above my kitchen cabinets, to keep them a bit more cat-safe, but brought them down to take their pictures.  Just love them.  What are your favorite Christmas decorations?

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Filed under comfort food, dessert, food gifts, Food memories, Holiday foods, Norwegian Foods, recipe

Holiday Baking Needs a Festive Apron

I’ve posted about my apron fetish before–I just can’t resist a cute apron!  In that post, I showed you my collection at that point, but my Holiday aprons were packed away in a box marked linens.  In with red and green kitchen towels and napkins and such is an equally sizable and always increasing selection of required Holiday kitchen apparel.  Now that I’ve decorated my house for Christmas, I get to decorate myself as well.  Oh how I loves to wear a festive apron when baking Christmas cookies!

Let’s start with aprons handmade by my Mom, and given to me as Christmas gifts.  To me, handmade gifts are the best.  When you make something for someone else, you spend time thinking of the person you’re making it for and all the love you have for them goes right into the gift.  These aprons are hugs from my Mom.  One is from a pattern she had that called for a variety of Christmas print “fat quarters.”  Fat quarters are remnants of fabric that are just over a quarter yard.  It has a great roomy pocket and a skinny one for a wooden spoon, and is tied with green grosgrain ribbon.  The one in the middle is made from a fabric printed especially to be an apron.  It has a teddy bear Christmas tree on it and is tied with fabric that looks like music.  The last is the first one she made for me from a single pretty red Christmas print.  It’s the least fancy of the three, and usually my favorite of the three.  My mood or what I’m cooking sometimes sways me to one of the others, plus a silly sense of fairness–“Oh I haven’t worn that one in a while, I probably should.”

From Mom

My BFF Becky and I both have these three.  We co-host a cookie exchange party each year, and some years we get new matching aprons as gifts to each other.  The newest one is the one with words all over it.  We love the colors and style and that whoever designed the print might not have been paying attention.  The word Noel is there, its first three letters capitalized and the L in lower case, so it looks like this:  NOEl.  Like it should be pronounced no-ee.  A funny little flaw that is somehow endearing.  We also have hand-painted Christmas tree aprons with jaunty little striped bows and “sexy” Santa aprons complete with feather boa “fur.”

cookie party

These are two aprons I bought for myself.  The one with red and white shoulders and pockets is made from an old-fashioned pattern, and I’m a total sucker for such bits of nostalgia–had to have it.  The black and white one isn’t what you might think of as festive, but it is definitely a holiday apron.

mine

Here’s the story:

My Mom used to give a Holiday party between Christmas and New Years.  It was quite the event, with tons of food and drinks and people.  Michael, Zach and I were there for one of them and got roped into making all of the lefse and kringla and then making sure that platters were kept full as the Open House progressed.  Mom teased me about needing a black and white maid’s outfit.  The year she died, she was planning another of these extravaganzas and asked if we would come (to New Mexico) for it.  Yes! we said.  She said to be sure to bring my maid’s outfit.  I schemed with my sister to have maid’s uniforms ready and to not tell Mom.  We had white shirts, black pants and these black and white aprons.  What a fun surprise it would have been!  Mom’s last party didn’t happen and the apron went unused.  I’m hoping one of these years I’ll be organized enough to host my own Holiday Open House.  I’ll wear the black and white apron.

Adele's

The last two belonged to Michael’s Mom.  We came upon them packing up her things after she died, so I don’t know their stories.  I do know that this sort of apron is known as a hostess apron–worn by the hostess after all the cooking is done, during the party.  Probably with pearls.  And heels.  And a pretty party dress.  These aprons are for someone (like my Mom-in-law) with a tiny, tiny waist.  I keep them around for the nostalgia, because they’re not going around MY waist!  My favorite is the green one with red, flocked poinsettias.

All of these aprons bring me a great deal of joy when I unpack them each year.  They make the Holidays all the more special, especially by remembering the great cooks and hostesses they represent for me.  ❤

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British-Style Scones (Vegan!)

It’s hard being vegan in London, but not too hard to be vegetarian.  Case in point, Tea with scones, clotted cream and strawberry preserves.  So civilized, so yummy.  British scones are more like what we Americans would call biscuits, but sweeter and moister.  I knew I need to find a recipe and make them when we got home.  AND I knew I could make them vegan.  Brilliant!

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I decided a recipe from Great Britain would come the closest to those we enjoyed at Fortnum and Mason.  (How pretty is this tea setting at Fortnum and Mason?!) With the help of a conversion link and googling how to make self-raising flour and buttermilk, a proper tea was in the making!

Fortnum and Mason tea

For the scones (makes 5-6 scones):

ingredients for scones

  • 2 cups self-raising flour, preferably organic, or 2 cups all purpose flour plus 2 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 TBSP slightly salted butter, chilled, cut in small pieces (or vegan stick margarine)
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup milk (almond or soy) with 1 1/2 tsp of lemon juice stirred in
  • 4 tbsp almond or soy milk
  • a little extra flour for dusting
  • strawberry jam and clotted cream, to serve

for the vegan clotted cream:

ingredients clotted cream

  • 4 Tbsp vegan margarine spread
  • 4 Tbsp vegan cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar

(How are you liking the tea towel I’m using as the background?  It’s a “drawing” of the actual Fortnum and Mason store in London!)

Preheat the oven to 400F and lightly butter a baking sheet or line it with a silpat or parchment paper.

Measure the flour, baking powder and all of the salt into a mixing bowl.

dry ingredients

Add the butter and cut into the flour rubbing with your fingers or a pastry cutter until you have a consistency of a course grain or small peas.  Try to not overwork.  The tiny pieces of butter will help your scones be light and flaky.

add butter

Add the sugar and mix in.

cut in butter add sugar

Add the buttermilk (milk and lemon juice) and milk.  Stir until just combined.

add wet

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead just until smooth.  Don’t overwork.

tip out onto floured surface

knead til smooth

Pat to a circle about 2/3-3/4 of an inch thick and cut scones using a biscuit cutter or water glass dipped in flour.  Cut straight down without twisting.  The size of your cutter will determine how many scones you end up with.  I used a water glass with a 3″ diameter and got 5 scones; the last one being formed by patting rather than cutting.  Rework the dough as needed to cut more scones, forming the last one with your hands.

pat to a round

Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet and bake 15-25 minutes, until risen and golden.  I made a double batch.  🙂

cut scones

double batch

While scones bake, mix up the clotted cream.  Place the margarine, cream cheese and powdered sugar in a bowl and mix until well combined.

all in the bowl

Place into a container with a lid and refrigerate.  (I made a double batch.)

place in jars

Steep your favorite tea, find some pretty china and split a warm, freshly-baked scone.  Spread on some clotted cream and preserves of your choice (I had peach butter in the fridge.).  Sip, nibble, relax, enjoy.

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tea time

Enjoy these images in and around London and points nearby with your tea, and be there!

a lion at harlaxton

harlaxton manor

mind the gap

the tube

phone box

platform 9 and three quarters

stonehenge

the churchill arms

Lovely.

 

 

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dairy-free, Food memories, lunch, recipe, snack, travel, Vegetarian

Apple Pie Filling (To make now and freeze for later!)

When I was little, my Mom was the queen of Thanksgiving dinner.  Turkey and all the fixin’s, often other game meats as well, and pies of course.  Mincemeat for Dad, pumpkin, and apple.  After our fall trips to Wisconsin for apples and cheese, she’d organize my sister and I along with herself into a pie-building assembly line to make a jillion-jillion apple pies to put in the freezer, crust and all, ready to bake.  At least two of these were thawed and baked for Thanksgiving dinner.  I still make apple pies in the fall and winter, and always for Thanksgiving. The pie tradition continues into the day after Thanksgiving–one MUST have pie for breakfast that day!  Why am I blogging about Thanksgiving in August?  A free box of apples landing in my kitchen this week, that’s why.  🙂

Our friend, the winemaker at Reeder Mesa Winery, has summer apple trees–the kind that get ripe at the end of July.  These apples are green and tart and perfect for pie.  He called the other day and asked if we’d like a box….well, of course!  However, July and August are usually not my choice for pie baking, so why not make the filling now and bake when I crave fresh hot, spiced apple wonderfulness this fall?!  Of course, I couldn’t resist baking one, for blogging purposes–the last bag of filling just happened to fall right into a crust!  If you’re more of an apple crisp sort of person, this filling is perfect for that as well.  Or maybe use it inside some cinnamon rolls?  Mmmmmm!

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I found this recipe on line and adjusted the spices a bit.  Here’s what you’ll need to make filling for one eight-inch pie.  I made my filling in one-pie batches, but if it works better for you to do one giant batch and divide it out, do that.  I found I memorized the recipe, which made it easy, and liked that the peeling and slicing didn’t need to happen all at once.

ingredients

  • 8-9 small to medium apples
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice 
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom

Peel, core and quarter the apples.  Place them in a bowl that has water and a splash of lemon juice to help stop browning.

peel and quarter

Thinly slice the apples, but don’t worry if they’re not perfectly the same.  The pie or crisp you make from this filling will be so yummy, no one will be measuring your pieces.  Just keep them close enough to cook evenly.  Add the rest of the ingredients.

slice and add sugar etc

Stir until well combined.

mix

Place in a freezer ziploc, label and freeze up to 3 months.

bag label freeze

To bake a pie later, thaw the filling, preheat oven to 375F, and prepare a crust.  I’m a huge fan of those rolled, ready to use crusts.  Place one in the bottom of the pie pan, and trim excess.  Add your super-yummy filling, mounding it a bit in the center.

thaw place in crust

Place the top crust, trim excess, fold it under the bottom crust, and crimp it closed with your fingers making it all pretty, or use a fork to crimp the edges down.  Do it however your Mom did; it will feel just right that way.  Cut vents in the top–again, use Mom’s pattern.  Brush the top and edges with a bit of milk–dairy or non-dairy–and sprinkle with sugar.  Isn’t that pretty?

add top crust

Bake 55-60 minutes; until the vents ooze with bubbling yummy sauce.

bake

Let it cool to let the yummy sauce firm up, or cut it warm and have a delicious ooze perfect with ice cream.  Add a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream if you like.  Oh.  Yum.

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Yup, just like Mom used to make.  What’s your favorite pie?

 

 

 

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Filed under breakfast, Canning and preserving, comfort food, dairy-free, dessert, food gifts, Food memories, Holiday foods, recipe, Vegetarian