Happy Halloween 2014

by Beth Shepherd
( October 31st, 2014 )

Happy Halloween, from our horse to yours!


~Little Bird and ‘Salad,’ the pony


Pony costume


Halloween costume


 

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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In the kitchen with the Kirchners: Gluten Free Apple Pie

by Beth Shepherd
( October 29th, 2014 )

Gluten free apple pie

Our first Family Pie Day was a huge success. Big Papa, Little Bird and I got busy in the kitchen with our local cousins, and made Gluten free Apple Pie, from scratch, with apples from our trees!

Big Papa and I had already prepared the gluten-free dough that we would use to make two 9” crusts. Remember this dimension. It will become important later. We used Bob’s Red Mill ‘Gluten Free Pie Crust (Thanks, Bob!) and the real deal when it came to solid fats (I’m talking to you, butter, and you shortening). You can find the recipe we followed, right on the package of the pie crust mix, here.

Apple pie cutting in butter

Apple pie making dough

Apple pie dough ready to chill

Now back to Family Pie Day. First came the donning of the aprons. Here are the girls! Little Bird’s apron was once her cousin’s.

The girls and their aprons

And the boys. With their aprons, and…

The boys and their aprons

...their tape measure. More on this shortly.

The boys and their aprons and tape measure

First we cut our apples, emphasis on ours. If you want to read more about growing espalier apples, check out my post, here. I couldn’t be prouder of our first big apple crop. We used a variety of less-than-beauty-pageant-ready apples: some tart, others sweet; some crisp, others tender. Peeled, cored and blemishes removed, they looked mighty fine for pie-making!

Apples!

The recipe we chose called for an optional tablespoon of brandy, and Calvados (apple brandy from the French region of Lower Normandy), was recommended…if you have it. Which, in fact, we did. I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to use the little bottle we got on one of our flights to France. Oh how we love you, Air France with your delicious airplane food (as airplane food goes), free champagne and brandy. We added a tablespoon (okay, maybe two) to our pie filling. I taste-tested the Calvados first to make sure our brandy was still “good.” It was very good.

Calvados

Next we needed to roll out the dough. This is the place in the apple pie making process where—depending on your point of view—having two engineers in the kitchen is either a blessing or a curse.

We rolled.


Rolling out the crust


We measured.


Measuring the crust

We rolled some more.


Our little roller


And we measured. Both engineers were at the ready to measure, and remeasure, until we were sure—very sure—that our crust would meet the 12-inch recommended size, in order to fit into the 9-inch pie pan. I imagine the boys probably left some margin for error, and I’m also certain the margin was very small. Finally it was time to pour our pie filling into the crust, and top the pie off with the second crust. After brushing the crust with an egg wash and cutting a few slits in the top, our Family Pie was ready for baking in our (new!) oven.


Apple pie coming together


Pie gets a top crust

Then we retired to the living room to wait while the magic of pie baking transpired. Let the bead making commence.

Beading bracelets


Beaded bracelets


And the dancing.


Dancing 3

Dancing

Dancing 2

This is what everyone does while waiting for pie to bake, right? At last, the buzzer let us know our Family Pie was ready to eat. The pie came out of the oven and what a lovely pie it was.


Homemade apple pie


So we all retired to the dining room, took a seat, a slice of pie, a scoop of ice cream and a glass of wine.


“Dada, can I have some wine?” “No, sweetie.”


This pie, our pie, was THE BEST PIE I’ve ever tasted. Maybe it was the homegrown apples? Or the made from scratch gluten free crust? Or the Calvados, all the way from France? Or maybe it was simply because we all lent a hand—literally—to create our Family Pie.


Gluten-free apple pie

To family and to pie!


Take the road less traveled, Beth

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Potato Fest 2014

by Beth Shepherd
( October 24th, 2014 )

There’s nothing like a potato fresh from the garden, or garbage bin! Yes, that’s right, we grow our spuds inside a plastic garbage can. if you want to learn how to do this yourself, you can read a post I wrote a few years ago, here.

Potato crop

This year’s crop was not one of our finest, but that didn’t stop Little Bird from enjoying the annual fall “dumping.”  After a season of grown, the plants have died back which means it’s time to dump them out and scour the soil for potatoes (Note:You can reuse the soil in flower beds, just not in garden beds where other edibles are growing).

Two buckets of potatoes

Whoop. Whoop. There they go! This part always feels magical to me, because—unlike vegetables that grow above ground—you can’t see tubers growing, so you don’t know what kind of crop you’ve got until the can goes over.

Dumping the potatoes

We always dump our garbage bin onto a tarp. This way, it’s easy to sift through the soil, pick out the potatoes and then pour the soil back in the garbage bins for later use elsewhere in the garden.

Searching for potatoes

Found one! The potato treasure hunt is on.

Potatoes discovered

Into the bucket they go, one by one. I’ll brush them off and store them in a cool, dry place to harden them off a bit (assuming I have enough to do that, otherwise we just wash and eat them).

Potatoes in the bucket

Potatoes

And there goes potato harvest 2014. Until next spring…

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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