Sunday, November 5, 2017

For Late Bloomers Everywhere | First Place Apple Cranberry Pie | GF Apple Walnut Cake

Several weeks ago we visited a local
apple orchard.

First time pickers here!!!

I felt like I needed to wear a button on 
my shirt "First Time Apple-Picker"...
proudly announcing my 
late arrival to this new and wonderful 
world of apples, fresh and juicy
 falling right into our hands, directly from 
the branches.

When I shared with a friend that 
I had never been apple picking before...
Well...she was shocked... utterly shocked!!  

"How does someone like 
you NEVER go apple picking ...until now!???"
 she exclaimed.  
"You need to get yourself to 
the orchard...this season...!" she said.

She was right. 
How had I missed this 
amazing fall tradition?? (until now)

Because, yes, ...I've been to many a farm 
...and I have picked
fruits and vegetables of all kinds...right form the fields...
strawberries, blueberries, peaches and cherries...
blackberries, pumpkins, tomatoes, corn...
Even picking and harvesting 
from my own little backyard garden...
But apparently, I have been
missing out on some of the best
U-pick action around:

Apple Picking!!!

This whole apple picking business... 
it ranks right up there with all
the other activities that
 I have come to discover,
 well after the masses
knew they were awesome... FM radio...

Yes, that's right... 
for a very long time I had no idea about FM radio. 

100% no idea, at all.

Zero inkling about pop music... none.

 How could this happen??

In the glorious late 1970's, 
I was gifted 
my very own radio.

 My first radio.

I think my grandmother had purchased every uncle
 and granddad in our family a subscription to
Sports Illustrated Magazine...and in doing so, she 
was the proud recipient of a gift with purchase:
 a very generic AM-only clock-radio.

The kind of clock-radio that was big and clunky, 
1979-style with a large analog clock face...
when the lights were out, the
 clock face glowed an eerie red-orange color.

This was the prefect unwanted 
'gift with purchase' that any 6 year-old
might love... 

As doting grandmothers often do... 
she gifted my this shiny new, 
white-plastic AM clock-radio...

How exciting...

My 6 year-old self LOVED
having her very own clock-radio!!
I could now tell time, 
I was after all in the first-grade now,
so it was a very useful gift...
I could check the time, 
set the alarm for school
 AND listen to the music...
The music in between NPR updates anyway...
-- My generic AM was perfect for me.

What could be better??

As it turns out, I had this AM clock-radio for years... 
and, over the years I found 
AM news stations that played Hot Wax Weekends, 
full of oldies music... real classics.

  Honestly, my world revolved around
 walking to school
with my friends, riding bikes and playing Barbies. 
 I couldn't have been further
from the cutting-edge 
of anything...including fashion trends or pop music.  

Along came the Jr. High years...

As kids often do, they poll each other on their favorites...
and one day the question of:

 "What's your favorite radio station?" 

came up during the summer of 6th grade...
Everyone spouted off their favorites including
 their favorite Top 40 songs...   

(Well, as shocking as the fact may be that
I have never been apple picking
before the year 2017...)

...The kids in my neighborhood
 were flabbergasted
when I told them about The Beatles, 
The Beach Boys and
  The Rest of The Story from Paul Harvey...
 ...I went on to tell them 
in great detail of how
I heard it all on my AM clock-radio.

"What the heck kind of radio station is THAT???" the kids yelled...

"Well, it's: 55 WKRC of course...
You know, the one with "Hot Wax Weekends ???"
(Nope, they didn't know...)
I said this...earnestly, with a straight face...
like any self-respecting 6th grade/white haired retiree would say...

THIS was indeed my favorite station... 
It was my only station.

Silence and shock... 
Those kids were left speechless.

For my next birthday this late bloomer
 asked for a "real radio"
...and that same grandmother gifted 
me a pretty, petite pink "boom box" 
complete with a cassette player...  

I was finding my way... 

Soon enough our family had cable TV 
and MTV was there...
I was fine... I've turned out great...even
with my albeit slow start in the world of trendiness as
judged by my fellow 6th graders.

Late bloomers... we bloom at our own pace 
and in our own time... 
 You can't rush
some things.

Not apples...
and as it turns out...not me either.

So... back to the orchard...

So. Many. Apples.
The trees were fact, they didn't
 resemble tress very much at all...they looked more
 like bushes, all bent over with oodles of ripe apples.

Who knew??
(I hear that everyone knew... as usual...) 

We loved picking apples...and if you have never been,
 I encourage you to make the trip.
You don't have to wear a "first-time picker" button... 
no one will know... and no one cares... not at the farm.
...and I certainly won't judge you.  

The U-pick farms are happy to show you
 the how-to of harvesting.
My only tip: Be sure to buy only what you 
can eat and bake with or reasonably give away.
...I got really excited and picked way too many apples
and then I had to think of
 creative ways to use them up...

Spending a couple of hours picking produce
 whether it's apples or's good for the soul.
It's the simple things and seeing where your food
 comes from... it's a good lesson for the kids too.

If your farm offers cider sure to get one
or's one of my new favorites...

So once you have all these apples... the best thing
 to them, or make a pie... here is an award winning recipe for an
 apple pie... It's perfect for Thanksgiving.

From: Blue Ribbon Kitchen Blog |

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
¼ cup butter flavored Crisco-chilled
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter-chilled
1/4 cup ice cold water and vodka mixed 50/50

Using a food processor, pulse ingredients; add just enough liquid mixture to allow dough to come together.  (A pastry blender can also be used to make the dough by hand)

Once made, divide dough into two equal parts.  Wrap dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour, up to 2 days in refrigerator. 

Egg wash
1 egg – beaten
 2 TBS water
1 TBS cream or whole milk

Crumb Topping
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter-softened
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt

2-3 medium Braeburn apples-peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
2-3 medium Golden Delicious apples-peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
1 Honey Crisp apple-peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
½ cup rinsed and roughly chopped fresh cranberries
1/4 cup King Arthur Instant Clear Gel 
1 tsp cinnamon 
1/2 tsp nutmeg 
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp butter

Combine dry ingredients, set aside. Peel, core, half, and slice apples approximately 1/4 inch thick.  Cover with lemon water and set aside. 
Roll out one 12-inch crust and place in pie plate. Trim edge, leaving about 1/2 inch overhang, crimp edges. Place the prepared unbaked pie crust in refrigerator to chill.

Use decorative cutters to make leaf shapes for top crust if desired.  Lay cut-outs onto a large (12 inch) dinner plate, brush with egg wash and set in freezer until ready to top the pie.  (My pie crust cutters were purchased from Williams-Sonoma)

Drain apples well. Mix dry ingredients with apples, add cranberries and fill prepared pie plate. Fill 1 1/2 to 2 inches above top of pan forming a dome.  Next, dot the apples and cranberries with 2 tbsp of butter. 

Cover the top of the pie with an even layer of crumb topping. Place top crust or cut-outs of dough as desired. Cover edge of pie with foil to prevent crust from over-browning.

Bake in preheated 375-degree oven on the lowest oven rack for 60 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.

TIPS: Check Pie after 25 minutes, use a pie crust shield or aluminum foil to gently and lightly cover pie to prevent over-browning.

Use a Chicago Metallic Pie Drip Catcher to help keep oven clean… best invention for pie baking!!  The pie drip catcher is available at Bed Bath and Beyond Stores and online.

Another option...this Gluten Free Apple Walnut Cake.  
It starts with a boxed GF vanilla cake...and we add
 apples and cinnamon to keep it moist and fall-like. 
 Finish it with old fashioned caramel
 icing...and you have another holiday hit!!
The photo below is from Friday's Fox19 visit...

It's already November... 
Where does the time go??


Gluten-Free Harvest Apple Cake with Caramel Frosting
Blue Ribbon Kitchen;
1 bag Pamela’s Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix – available at Whole Foods, Kroger or order via Amazon
½ cup oil
3 eggs, large
⅔ cup buttermilk
2 tsp apple pie spice
1 ½ cups peeled and diced apples (small dice)
½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°.
Beat eggs, oil, and buttermilk.  Add boxed gluten free cake mix and spices, mix until incorporated. Gently fold in apples. Add chopped toasted walnuts if using.
Pour into a greased 9x9 baking dish.
Bake on middle rack of the oven for 35-40 minutes- or until a toothpick comes out cleanly.
Allow cake to cool to room temperature before adding caramel frosting.
Caramel Frosting:
1 cup of dark brown sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar, cook until boiling.  Add heavy cream and return to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla.  Let mixture cool, about 45 minutes.  While mixture is still warm, add confectioner’s sugar, whisk until smooth.  Drizzle warm caramel frosting onto the cooled apple cake.  Decorate with a few chopped walnuts if desired.
Tip: If you want to keep this dessert dairy free; add water in place of the buttermilk.  Change the frosting to a dairy free caramel sauce.

I'm off to work on my next project...
which I can't wait to show you...
(I've been thinking about how to execute
 all my ideas for this...for quite some time...
I think I hatched this idea back in August... I better get moving...)

In the meantime...I'll be busy...all the while, 
listening to the oldies... late bloomer style. 
It's the one style I know I have mastered.  ;)

Thanks for reading and for 
all your sweet comments!!



  1. Another gorgeous pie!! You are so talented and creative. Thanks for sharing your recipes.

    1. Thank you Jayne. I always love to know that you are enjoying the recipes. Thanks so much for taking the time to write. xo