Apple Pie: Cure-all for Seasonal Confusion

This past weekend we had our first snowstorm of the season.  Of the FALL season.  We’re seven weeks out from the beginning of winter and the ground has a mud-incuding covering of white and our fall cleanup/landscaping has been suddenly put on hold.  With ninety-degree weather only two short weeks ago, the drastic changes in temperature and precipitation have left me torn between nostalgia for summer nights on the lake and anticipation of holiday shopping and Christmas decor.  Somewhere in the midst of this manic atmospheric change  I lost the ability to enjoy my favorite season—fall.  I may have missed apple picking for the first time in a long time, but that didn’t stop me from buying a peck and whipping up this amazing pie.  It was my first from-scratch crust, and the crust was the best part of the pie.  It was extremely easy, and left me wondering why anyone resorts to Pillsbury.  The only thing I would change in the future would be the tartness of the lemon juice, so I’ve halved the amount in the recipe listed below.  Next time you’re feeling seasonally misled, grab this recipe for an autumnal reminder.  Enjoy!

For the pie dough:
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
10 tbsp butter, cut into cubes + 1/4 cup melted butter for top of pie
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup vodka (helps make the crust flaky!)
1/4 cup cold water
2 tbsp sugar for top of pie
For the apple filling:
5 cups granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp apple sauce
For the caramel filling
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
– Add 2 cups of flour, salt, sand sugar to a food processor and pulse to combine.
– Add cubes of butter and shortening and pulse until combined, about 1-2 minutes.
– Add the remaining flour and process until it’s all combined – but don’t mess with it too much or the dough will become tougher.
– Move dough to a large bowl and add the water and vodka. Knead it gently until it’s combined. The dough will be moist but you can add a bit of flour to help hold it together. Split it into 2 evenly-sized disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours (can be made up to 3 days in advance).
– Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
– In a large bowl combine the apples, lemon juice, and salt; toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, apple sauce, and nutmeg and toss to coat.
– For the caramel sauce, add the brown sugar and cream to a pot over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and allow the mixture boil, untouched, until it reaches 210 degrees. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla. Allow to cool to room temperature.
– Roll out one pie dough disk to fit your greased pie pan with a little bit of overhang. Pat the dough into the pan and pour the caramel on the bottom with the apple mixture on top.
– Roll out the remaining pie dough circle and either lay over the apples or cut out shapes to cover. Use melted butter to adhere the dough on top and brush the entire thing with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
– Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
This recipe was adapted from http://www.ericassweettooth.com…visit her blog for more amazing recipes!

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Wedding gifts a year later

A few weekends ago Jay, Kelly, Chris and I finally found time to solidify a date for something we’d been planning over the past year or so.  Part of our wedding gift from them was a weekend getaway to Block Island.  Despite an impeding forecast of overcast skies and rain, we caught some of the best weather of the season.  I’m not sure I could think of a more enjoyable wedding present, or a quick escape with friends.  There was good food, tasty drinks on the water, much-needed catching up, and some low-key hiking around the island.  Even though we’ve been to Block Island a few times before, we saw new things, found a few new places to eat, and enjoyed it to a whole new level.  It was a great reminder of how to put aside work and stress and live in the moment, and reaffirmed how lucky Chris and I are to have friends like these two guys.

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Another Hiatus

Welp…despite all efforts to keep a regular and updated blog, sometimes life gets too hectic, and sometimes I’m just not feeling it.  I have an overwhelming amount of blog motivation as of the last few days, and I’m going to try to hold myself to a few posts a week to finish out the year.  We’ll see how that goes.  Updates on the last month to come later this week.

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A Necessary Reminder

I constantly feel like I’m a million miles away from being satisfied with anything in our house.  There’s always so much more to do, and the list seems to grow rather than shrink over time.  Our summer has been jam-packed with work and travel, and I’ve had little opportunity for house projects.  With the fall air creeping in, I’ve had the house on my brain again.  As a reminder to myself to find contentedness in what changes I have made recently, no matter how big or small, here are some new additions to the place:

The new subway tile backsplash we had installed a few weeks back:The bar cart that adds a bit of organization to the kitchen:My favorite photo I’ve taken of Lenny added a bit of artwork to the hallway:A new desk and lucite chair for crafting/sewing in the guest room:And a new lamp that pulls the bedroom together that much more.

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Photo Shoot

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An Addendum and a Dog With No Shame

So this new camera:

Came with this picture on it:

So after a fabulous weekend of celebratory anniversary things, I had Wednesday to look forward to.  I wasn’t sure where we were going, what we were doing…I just knew to get my butt home from work as quickly as possible to be swept away to said surprise.  After running through the door, throwing on some mismatched clothes, and panting to the car, Chris drove me to a part of Cranston that I’ve only been to once before…for our wedding reception.  As he pulled up to Rhodes on the Pawtuxet a feeling of pure bewilderment came over me.  They occasionally host old people events with dinner and dancing, but the parking lot was empty.  Why were we here?!?

Chris pulled an oddly wrapped box from the trunk, and I awkwardly tailed him into the ballroom.  There was no one there, and to be completely honest it was an eery feeling.  I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, and wanted to slither out and perch myself up on the balcony with a better view of the people I knew were just waiting to walk in on whatever was about to happen.  Well, no one walked in, I didn’t get the out-of-body experience I was hoping for, but Chris pulled off a very Chris and very sweet surprise.  He had Dan Mills record the song he wrote for our wedding.  Inside the strange box was a stereo.  The first time Chris and I listened to the song together since our wedding day was again at Rhodes, and we danced to it for the second time.  Don’t let your eyes roll out of your head, it was sweet and adorable and exactly why I fell in love with Chris in the first place.

The dance was followed by an incredible dinner at Gracie’s in Providence, and our anniversary celebrations ended on a high.  We were showered with cards and sweet messages from so many friends and family, but here’s an anniversary gift that can’t go without mention.  Monday night when we returned from the lake, three of Chris’s five younger Lavigne cousins came over and presented us with this:

It’s a bench hand-painted by the five of them, each square personalized by a different cousin.  It’s pretty remarkable, really.

And for stomaching my sap, have a laugh at our dog with no shame.  Man parts:

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A Year Later…

This time last year Chris and I were getting married.  It’s baffling to reflect on the past twelve months and realize how much time really has gone by.  I’m not sure where the time went (as is reflective in the late send off of those thank you cards….I’m sorry if I wished you well on your pregnancy and you now have a six month old, I started them a while ago….).

To avoid nauseating those that grit at sappiness, without saying too much, the last year has been better than I ever could have imagined.  Though moving back to Rhode Island has been a transition in and of itself, it’s so. much. fun. to hang out with Chris every night. They say the first year of living together is the hardest; well, if that’s true, I can’t wait to see how easy the future years are, because this one was a breeze.

Last year Chris surprised me with a quick trip to Nantucket since our honeymoon was delayed.  We’ve since decided to alternate years with a surprise getaway in celebration of our anniversary.  I was up first, so I whisked Chris away to Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire for a weekend of almost perfect but not quite relaxation.  The pressure was on in ensuring a weekend that could stand even a spark of a flame to our weekend in Nantucket, so I went balls out.  I rented a room at the nicest Inn on the lake, made reservations for dinner, booked a couples massage, and rented a boat.  I thought I had ensured a good time, and off we went.

The weekend ended up being exactly what I was hoping it would be, but after a failure on the NH state boating license exam that I sprung on Chris when we got there, a reservation in the wrong hotel, and massages booked on the only day I didn’t get the discount I had thought I was receiving….the first hour of our trip had me swearing off the responsibility of planning for all eternity.

My parents ended up faxing over Chris’s RI boaters license which was good in NH as well, we were transferred into the correct hotel for the second night (the night of our actual anniversary), and the spa gave me the discount without question.  I swung a near miss, but all in all I think I did alright.

Chris surprised me with a new camera….a Sony NEX-3 micro 4/3.  It’s compact like a point and shoot, but has interchangeable lenses like our Canons.  D-series cameras aren’t always convenient or safe to bring along, so I’m psyched to have a new toy.  All of our pictures from the trip were taken with the new little guy.

Wrong hotel:

Right hotel:

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