Family Favorite Pies

It was THAT kind of afternoon, marathon baking.   I started around 2:30pm and finished around 8:30pm with a hot-mess cleanup.   The results were an apple pie, pumpkin pie, and my all time favorite Apple Coffee Cake.  I’m just thankful I’m not making the whole Tday buffet!2015 moms all three done

It was Trainer Randy at 10am, a PB stop for work hours for next week AND a little ornament shopping, Holly Nails (it was past time), grocery shopping at Caputos (WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!!!!!!!), then home to see if I still had any baking MOJO left to make Mom’s pies.

2015 moms pie doughMom never used a silicone Roul’Pat, because it had not been introduced into the States at that time (1965), she used a Pie towel or a large cutting board to roll out her dough.  The Silpat was created by M. Guy Demarle, an experienced baker, in northern France.  Mom always used a wooden rolling pin with red handles. There must have been thousands of miles rolled out on that rolling pin.  As all good cooks do she stirred, with a wooden spoon, almost all her recipes.  She didn’t even use a whisk.   Well, not me.  I use all the conveniences I can muster out of my kitchen.  My whisk is considered one of the most important tools that I use, as is my Kitchenaide Mixer.

From all accounts of pie crust research, cold is best.  In fact, the colder the better.  My biggest complaint using pie dough has to do with placing it in the pie pan while it rips.  Enough said.  I used the Pyrex 9.5 inch pie plate.   The Pyrex Pie plate makes a deep large pie, so adjust all your recipes to a deep 10 inch.

Mom’s pie crust recipe makes REALLY flakey crust, a little too flakey.  Perhaps that’s because I used half butter and half Crisco baking sticks.  She only used Crisco and it did not come in convenient sticks back-in-the-day.  Honestly, after years of changing up the way I eat, any thought of lard in anything just slays me.  Perhaps that’s been my aversion to making the dough.

2015 moms apple peeler corer2015 moms apple peeler apple2015 moms aplle mess
I made the apple pie filling using my William Sonoma Peeler Corer – I used 12 apples in the recipe.  They were smaller Granny Smith apples. As you can see it makes quite a peeling mess and there’s juice involved too, so put a paper towel under the peeler.  The peeler corer process is easily faster when you have so many to peel.

2015 moms betty crocker apl recThe pie filling recipe came from my Betty Crocker cookbook.  My sister has my mother’s original cookbook (copyright 1950’s I think) and I have one my Aunt found for me (Copyright 1976).  Why that era? Because the recipes are so good!

2015 Moms Pie crust appleOn page 321 you’ll find the Fresh Fruit Pie recipes and I used the 10-inch one.  I’ll post below.  Be certain to read all the variations because when you get to the end it discusses Green Apple Pie.  Now, maybe someone can enlighten me, but aren’t all apple pies usually Granny Smith apples?

Just FYI, Mom always used a wash, whether an egg wash or milk on her pie crust.  Betty does not.  Mom said it made them shiney.  It’s always about the bling, isn’t it?

The 2015 moms apple and pump done 3best Pumpkin Pie recipe is on the back of the Libby can.  I used two cans (I doubled the recipe) but should have just gotten the larger can for a 10 inch pie.  There’s pumpkin left 2015 moms cake testerover after you fill up the pie shell.

Be sure to use a cake tester for doneness with the Pumpkin Pie.  I found my new one at William Sonoma and I think I picked up the last one.  It should come out clean. It took much longer to bake because it is so much larger and thicker. That’s why I depend  on my little cake tester.  Prescribed time is just a suggestion.  Baking depends on your oven and if you’ve altered the recipe – I made a larger pie filling.

And last but not least, the William Sonoma Spiced Apple Coffee Cake BEST. EVER. 

We get to try these later today.  I’ll fill you in on the results.


Betty Crocker 10-inch Apple Pie Recipe

  • Pastry for 10-inch Two-crust Pie
  • 1 1/4  cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • Dash salt
  • 8 cups thinly sliced pared tart apples
  • 3 T butter or margarine
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Turbinado Raw Sugar Cane to sprinkle

Heat oven to 425.  Stir together sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt; mix with apples.  Turn into pastry-lined pan; dot with butter.  Cover with top crust which has slits cut in it; seal and flute.  Using a pastry brush, brush the top crust and fluted edges with beaten egg wash and use sugar or Turbinado Raw Sugar Cane to sprinkle on the top.  Cover edge with 2 to 3 inch strips of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil the last 15 minutes of baking.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in the crust.

Baking childhood memories

224723_10150592067315463_3371578_nChildhood happy remembrances for me revolve around my mother baking.  She loved to bake.  Her specialty was pie.  All shapes, sizes, and flavors of pies.  She always wanted help when making pies because she needed us to peel apples or do the cleanup work.  But the aromas from the oven right around Thanksgiving were just heavenly.

We lived in a really old farm house.  We had a gas oven where the automatic pilot light didn’t always light.  Therefore you had to use the old stick matches to wave over the opening, or stick it in the hole, to get the oven to light.  I singed all my red hair a time or two.  That’s a smell you never forget.

Mom wrote the recipe down and I’ve kept it all these years.  But, I could never get it right.  I’m not very proud of this, but making pie dough is not my strong suit.  In fact, I haven’t made her pie dough recipe in well over thirty years.  In my mind, when you have Pillsbury, why bother?

As a fan of Food Network, and more importantly Ina Garten and Ree Drummond, I feel as though I’m actually being shamed into giving the pie dough a try again.  It’s as if they’re saying any dummy can make pie dough.  Well, not so much.

I researched making pie dough.  Just watching the show hosts make the dough, and you know it just magically appears, it seems to me that they are just too nonchalant about the entire process.  Reading over my mothers recipe, then watching and reading my foodie Bff’s recipes, plus my sister asking me to make dessert, well obviously any dummy can make pie dough, I just had to give it a go.

Now, I did watch the science of flaky pie dough which in all sincerity resembled my mother’s recipe by a lot, with one exception, vodka.  I used 2 Tablespoons of plain vinegar instead.  I think it’ll have the same effect – pure flakiness.  You should watch it too.  The science of it makes perfect sense.

2015 Pie dough 1

Mom’s Pie Crust                                                Makes 3 pies

  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound of lard, or 2 cups of Crisco (I used 1 cup butter, 1 cup Crisco)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. plain vinegar2015 pie dough 2

Crumble and mix the first three ingredients.  The mixture should look like small peas.  You can use your hand, like my mother always did, or stop in at Aldi and pick up a pastry blender for $3.99.  The pastry blender did really well.

In a 1 cup measure, add the 2 T of vinegar.  Add the egg and whisk.  Then add enough water to make 2/3 c liquid.  Blend.

Add this to your flour mixture and use your hands to get it to dough formation.

Place the dough between two sheets of wax paper then place in a plastic bag.  It needs to be REALLY cold when you go to roll it out.

But we’ll write about that one tomorrow.

The Trials of a Patient Seller

We’ve had our home on the market for a bit.  There’s been 37 families through and they ALL LIKE IT.    What?

After discussions with our realtor we’ve decided to take it off the market, make a few updates, and then put it back on.

Some of the changes were in three of our bathrooms.  In all three we painted the vanities, doors and trim, but in the Master we also changed the paint on the walls.  Yowser!  What a difference.  We had it professionally done by Nick Giamberduca and his swat team, and they look spectacular.

How did I find Nick?  I was at Home Depot quizzing the paint guy and Nick overheard me.  His wife and I go to the same gym.  He stopped me to say he was my friends husband and let me know that he did this kind of work to older cabinets.  After discussions with the hubs, we engaged Nick to complete the job.  He also painted all of our doors and some trim work in the house.

The real goal is to appeal to a younger buyer.  In a few weeks we’ll put it back on after we do a few more things.  In the meantime we’ll keep looking for a place to land.


Powder room before.                                                Powder room after.

2015 powder rm before2015 Powder rm after










Guest Bath before.                                        Guest Bath after.

2015 Guest before2015 Guest after









Master Bath before.                                   Master Bath after.

2015 Master before2015 Master after

Seeing them on the other side.

2015 Bolz weddingJust take me back to them growing up.  All the fun the kids had, all the games we attended, all the pasta parties, the planning of school events, the volunteering at summer school, the send offs to college, the graduations, the jobs, the life that happens in front of our eyes leads us to joy on the other side of childhood when one of your son’s friends marries his sweetheart.  It’s a moment.   A memorable moment that we keep close to that mother library we have in our hearts.

I usually take a lot of photos at the wedding but the people in the pews ahead of me were really tall. Everything moved quickly, as weddings do, and before you knew it, it was time for the reception.  No tall people in front of me there.  The venue was beautiful.  It was on the Marion property in Aurora.  The food and the service were OUTSTANDING!

The kids had an Instagram hashtag which was a lot of fun to post to.  My son quipped that, “…several of the bridal party were following mom on Instagram.”  That’s ok.  They’ll soon not do so.

My husband and I enjoyed catching up with their jobs or additional schooling they’ve decided to embark upon.  They’re all doing well on the other side.

Loyalty haircuts

DonandTonyTwenty-two years ago we moved to 1627.  I couldn’t find a barber that I liked for my son and husband so we kept going back to Don’s in Lake Zurich.  (Tony’s first hair cut to the left.)  At our last visit, we found out Don had passed away.  This was devastating to my son.  We let it settle in then began to search for a barber.Dudes

Sal and Tony finally settled with Joe’s barber shop in Crystal Lake and have been going together for 21 and a half years.  The boys have a “hair cut interval” standing appointment on their calendars.  There were times where they couldn’t make the interval and they would have to go, (cough), elsewhere. We call it “cheating”.

Tony’s grown up at Joe’s, they know when he went to the Presidential Classroom – hair cut required, prom, graduation from High School – hair cut required, entrance into Law School, becoming an attorney, ….  All hair cuts required.

For my son there’s a loyalty pang that tugs at him, but as his hair grows he knows there’s a time crunch and this time there will have to be an exception.  I think in all the years Sal and Tony have been visiting the barber, they’ve missed three times.  This weekend everyone ran out of time.   While Sal made it to Joe’s, my son could not, but he did find a place near him to get a hair cut for the wedding he’ll be standing up in this weekend.  We can hardly wait to attend the union of Lauren and Michael.  Michael and Tony have known each other since Junior High.

It’s the little things that keep you loyal to your barber.

The Bartman Farm

  I had the privelidge to tour the Bartman Farm today, unexpectedly.  I’ve known John Bartman for about 15 years. I met him when he was a young man working to grow the Democratic Party in McHenry County.  We’ve remained friends since then.  

  On John’s FB page he let his friends know the sweet corn crop was available.  I was already in Huntley this morning and thought why not head out to Marengo. Well there he was and he invited me to take a tour of the farm in his suped up John Deere that looks unbelieveably like a small range rover.
  John’s farm has been in his family for 40 years.  They own, rent, and work 700 acres.  Holy smokes!  I had no idea.    He showed me all the crops they plant, field corn (GMO and non-GMO), winter wheat, soy beans, and sweet corn.  He showed me a plat where there was an Algonquin connection.  It was sludge that was turned into fertilizer to spread on his fields.  Reduce, reuse, recycle at it’s best.

Before I left with my car back seat filled with sweet corn, I met John’s mom, dad and aunt.  It’s a family thing.

I spent my teenage years in Yorkville when it was a farming community.  Farming has changed significantly for the better.   John and I discussed how schools should develop a program to help students understand the farming business.  It is a business that is taken for granted.  Farmers feed the world.  Crops and livestock contribute to the Gross Domestic Product – yes they do if you recall your economics class.  We need to develop among our students, at an early age, an understanding of farming and the significance to our future.   I’ve always supported schools to have a garden plot that provides a hands-on experience in planting, nuturing and reaping the rewards of gardening.  

  Anyway, the end result of my trip was to pick up sweet corn.  IT WAS DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!  Bicolor corn for dinner and it was perfect.  Thanks John for all you do.  It was a fantastic reminder of the hard work that goes into your profession.

It’s that time…Garage/Downsizing Sale

2015 Garage Sale

Yep, it’s time.  There’s a lot of stuff.  A lot of barware, accessories, bedding, towels, plastic drawers to hold bedding or sweaters – we used them at college for Chrissy, two sewing machines (Necchi & Singer) that probably need a tune up, and one sewing machine cabinet PLUS so much more.   My neighbor is also having a garage sale, or declutter as she’d like to say, and she has children s things.

My sister is the BEST at having a garage sale and she’ll be here to show us all how to do this.  She took the photos BTW.

There’s a recumbant bike also for sale.  I forgot to take that photo.  It was my son’s.

I forgot, there’s LOTS of children’s VHS videos.  I know but someone may like them.  There’s also a game cube?  Not sure about that but it’s in there too.  A 12 year old movie camera that looks like new.  We used it to take movies of Jacobs football games.

Some gardening tools, other tools we don’t need.  Or just stop by for lemonade.  We’d love to see you.

It’s Founders weekend so this seemed to be the best weekend while folks are all out.  Looking forward to seeing you.






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