Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mmm mmm, Apple Pie

With (finally) a chill in the air, Christmas music playing on Pandora, Starbucks workplace decked out for the holidays, I've found a recent fascination with experimenting in making pies. Apple pies, to be exact. And let me tell you what, it's been a delicious experiment!

So I thought I would share with you all. Don't try to drool too much on your keyboard, probably not so good for technology.

I found a basic recipe for apple pie online, because the only time I've ever made pie (which was probably one or two, I can't even remember), has involved taking a pie out of a frozen box and placing it in an oven. I found a recipe that sounded pretty good, and then added my own zing to it.

Have a look, and try the recipe out! It's super easy, and incredibly delicious. A perfect touch to the end of that scrumptious fall dinner.

What you need:

-2 pie crusts (9'' recipe pastry dough)
(Note, I have not experimented yet in making my own crust, so what I did was buy a pre-made crust that was already in the pie pan, and also bought a package of Pillsbury pie crust. It comes in a small box, and there are two pieces in there as well, you just roll it out. This is what I used to make the lattice work on top of the pie)

(Image from Google)

-7 or 8 Granny Smith apples (the nice green ones, they taste delicious in pie!)

- 1/2 cup unsalted butter

- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

- 1/2 cup white sugar

- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

- 1/4 cup water

- 1 teaspoon vanilla

- 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder

- A dash of salt

- A few dashes of each: allspice, nutmeg, cloves (I have a horrible habit of never measuring seasoning, because I hate bland food, so to me, the more seasoning the better. Play around with how much of each you want to put in, but in general, just a few quick dashes of each should do.)

Okay, now you're ready to put your pie together!

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

3. Make sure that you have your pie crust ready in the pie pan.

2. Get to coring and peeling your apples! AKA, cut out all of the seeds, and get the skin off those suckers, then slice them up. As for size of the slices, I wouldn't slice them super thin, and I would also avoid leaving them in huge chunks. Go for a nice size in between.

3. As you slice your apples, begin layering them in your pie pan. Now, the first time I did this, I just threw them into the pan, and it worked out fine. The second time, I made a sort of circle pattern and layered up with the apples. As long as you fit your apples inside, and there aren't huge gaping holes in between, you should be okay.

4. Your apples should be finished, and as you layer, you will make a nice mound on top of your pie crust. Don't worry, it will settle down after it is baked.

5. Now, in a medium sauce pan, heat up your butter, and melt it.

6. After the butter has melted, mix in your 3 tablespoons of flour to make a paste.

7. Next, put in your white and brown sugar, and the 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil. This is going to start looking and smelling delicious.

8. As you are bringing it to a boil, add in your vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Continue stirring.

9. After mixture has come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

10. Roll out your second pie crust dough, and cut into long strips for the lattice top of the pie (the criss-cross pattern)

11. Do the lattice top by weaving one over the other, all the way across the pie. It's very easy to do, and looks fabulous! Be sure to leave room in between strips, you will need that to pour the mixture into/over.

(Image from Google)

12. Gently, and slowly pour your sauce over the top of the pie and lattice crust on top. Let it sink into the holes and down the sides. (Tip, put a baking sheet beneath your pie, it's bound to bubble over or drip down while preparing or baking...this makes a much easier clean up). Pour the entire mixture down over the pie. It seems silly at first, pouring it over the pie, but trust me, it's delicious, and cooks the crust into a scrumptious top, and gets all of the apples spiced, too.

Ready to go in the oven!

13. Put that baby in the oven to cook! Cook for only 15 minutes at 425 degrees F, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees F, and cook for 35 to 45 minutes more.

14. Take out, let cool. (Or burn your mouth on the freshly baked goodness, I did...and I don't really regret it, it was just so tasty!)

15. Feast on your delicious masterpiece!

And there you have it, delicious apple pie!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

For the Moments I Feel Faint

(Image from Google)

More than just some catchy Relient K lyrics, these words capture a deep current in life. There are always moments when we feel faint. When we feel discouraged. When we feel as if we have failed. Moments when we aren't sure just which was is up, or where we're supposed to go.

For whatever reason, today I realized that this week has been one of those weeks for me. Moments where I feel faint. Where I feel dried up, and like I'm wandering through a desert, searching for the oasis to quench my thirsty soul. But it somehow eludes my grasp.

A week packed with a busy work schedule has probably lent a helping hand to that, sprinkled with a cold, and topped with the heaviness of missing teammates, and people that I spent a lot of quality time with over the past year.

Today as I sat driving in my car, the weight of it all just seemed to rest on my shoulders. There are always days like this. When my own strength is not enough. When I'm just not feeling it. When I feel like I'm wandering in a desert.

But you know what?

God is still good. He is enough.

While I was driving, a song by Kutless came on the radio that reminded me of one of my favorite passages in Daniel about Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego. The song says over and over "even if..." and it reminded me of how when confronted by an irate king, "Rack, Shack and Benny" (the beloved Veggie Tales names that have forever stuck with me) refused to bow before the king, even with their lives on the line. They boldly declared to the king that God was mighty enough to save them from the fire, and EVEN IF He did not, He was still God, and that they would still not bow before the king.

(Image from Google)

Even if.

Those words ring so loud and clear to my heart today. Even if. Even when I don't feel it. Even when I feel alone. Even when I don't feel well physically. Even when things don't go right.

God is still God, He is enough, and He is good.

I am resting in that truth tonight, and letting God revive my soul in the way that only He can.

What are you facing in your life that just seems too big? That makes you feel like you're alone and wandering through the desert? I know I'm not the only one facing tough things. A lot of times, we search to see if other people struggle too, and Satan wants us to feel isolated and alone, and that we are the only ones struggling. Not true.

(Image from Google)

So I want to boldly declare that even as I struggle, God is good, He is faithful, and He is mightily at work. In my life, and in yours.

Through the hurt, the pain, the disapointment, He is at work in your life, you are His beloved.

Even if...He is still God.

(Image from Google)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wedding Bells are Ringing!

Or are they Christmas bells? I mean after all, Christmas music is already playing in stores (and work).

No, to be clear, they are wedding bells! I had the joy of being able to attend a friend's wedding this past weekend. It was a glorious day, perfect weather, incredible people, the works. Splashes of a country theme, twinkling lights, cool weather, I was hooked.

Granted, there are always those pangs of loneliness that accompany going to a wedding by yourself. You see all the couple "awwing" and remembering their special vows, and everyone seems to have someone. Oh the joys of being single at times. Thank goodness for amazing friends that were there that I was able to spend time with, talk to, and laugh with.

All in all, it was such a joy to see them walk down the aisle, say their vows to each other and watch them step into a new season of life together!

I also had the great joy and honor of creating their "guest book," which was actually a pencil portrait of one of their engagement pictures. It was a fun project, and being able to see it fill up as people filed in for the ceremony was special.

Check out the progress of the piece, and the beautiful wedding!

The beginning stages.

And the final stages!

The finished product, and a picture of it after it was signed by the guests!

Some snapshots of the special day!