Last fall, I applied and was accepted into the WSU Master Gardener program. The orientation class this week launches my training. My passion is plants and people, so this is a perfect way for me to give back to my community.
Perhaps my years of farming and gardening will help in my learning curve? What I know is that there is so much I don’t know! For instance, my Lemon Cypress trees that I brought inside this fall because they don’t winter well in our zone 7 are slowly dying! Why?Continue reading →
One of my favorite desserts to share with others is a homemade Honeycrisp apple pie. Jane Austen once said, “Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.” I completely agree! It’s a myth that making a great apple pie from scratch is difficult or tricky. Here are five reasons to make an apple pie from scratch using my homemade Honeycrisp apple pie recipe.
1. It’s easy and fast.
Kitchen tools have come a long way, making cooking significantly easier and faster. My go-to tool is the OXO Good Grips Silicone Pastry Mat for stress-free pie crusts. (BTW, I have no affiliation with the company!) Go to my tutorials and recipes for tips and tools that make a big difference.Continue reading →
Organic Honeycrisp apples make luscious pies. When making the filling, it’s helpful to remember a couple of points.
First, be sure to cut the apples into thin slices. The thin uniform slices help the apple slices to cook more quickly and evenly.
Secondly, because Honeycrisps are juicy apples, it’s essential to add an adequate amount of flour to thicken the juice. The amount of sugar is variable depending upon your desired amount of sweetness. I like a full cup!
I also recommend mixing the dry ingredients together before adding them to the bowl of apple slices so that the small measurements of spices get blended well.Continue reading →
Before we start, I’d like to recommend a few tools to make this recipe failproof.
I’ve made a lot of pie crusts over the years, and my biggest challenge has been when the dough sticks to the countertop as I roll it out. Luckily, I’ve subscribed to the “Old World Pie” look or even “Rustic Crust” and peel the dough off the counter. Then I patch it together. I recently discovered the OXO Good Grips Silicone Pastry Mat and it has changed my life. Imagine, a non-slip and non-stick pastry mat! Now I want to make a pie crust every day.
The other tool I recommend is a pastry cutter. I know what you’re thinking. Why cut the butter by hand when you can use a food processor? The food processor has the potential to overwork the ingredients to create excess gluten and a tough leathery crust in a heartbeat of a whirling blade.
Alternatively, may I suggest the tried and true method of manually cutting the butter into the flour until it looks like bread crumbs. I assure you, the compliments you receive for this outstanding crust will outweigh the tiny bit of extra effort. Since butter has more flavor than other shortenings or lard, it’s my first choice.
Just make sure everything else is cold (rolling pin, countertop, dry ingredients and the water) to allow the flour to coat the butter and make space which leads to flakiness. Remember, if the pie crust doesn’t look perfect, call it Old World Pie or Rustic Crust Pie. People will love it!Continue reading →
A time-tested zucchini bread recipe is a must for dealing with an inevitable abundance of zucchini towards the end of summer. This seasonal vegetable is a garden trickster in several ways:
- Spelling it requires two c’s because it’s Italian so don’t forget.
- It grows up to two inches per day, explaining why it goes from the size of a Vienna Sausage to a yuletide log in a matter of days.
- The beautiful Fordhook Zucchini I grow has hidden stickers on the long stems and under the leaves waiting to rake my bare arms when I reach in to harvest the fruit.
I master the plant by wearing a long sleeve shirt and gloves. The size of the harvested zucchini I retrieve dictates which culinary delight I make. For the most sweetness, I harvest it at 8 inches in length.
I frequently miss this window and pick it when it reaches the size in the photograph. This is when it’s best for zucchini bread because, at this size, it has lost some flavor and tender texture.
However, it shreds quickly to make a deliciously moist dessert bread that pairs well with coffee or tea and fills the house with a feel-good holiday aroma.Continue reading →
Lucky for Lake Chelan back in the late forties and early fifties, my mom was part of the troupe that provided hours of entertainment for the locals. Think in terms of radio only entertainment, and it’s not hard to imagine the high need to attend events in town with live performances. Even if it was a dance recital with the local kids, it was a welcome break from the radio! This created an opportunity for Lake Chelan kids to go big time on the stage at an early age.
My mom seized the opportunity at eight years old. She and her brother George performed “Where O Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” with straw hats and suspenders and tap shoes. Relatives from nearby communities filled the Chelan grade school auditorium for the spring recital while small bodies waited in the backstage area for their turn in the spotlight. This was the culmination of months of practice, making dance a local priority of time and energy with many local kids back in 1946. For my mom, her brother George and sister Evie, it lasted their entire childhood.Continue reading →
This letter isn’t easy to write. We’ve been together for so long – 30 years exactly. I remember the first time I saw you. You were sitting on the counter with that shiny deep red color, elongated shape with your large calyx lobes. I knew I wanted to take a bite. I could imagine your sweet mild flavor not to mention health benefits and easy dessert qualities. When other varieties tempted me, I stayed true to you.
After all these years, it’s time for us to get real. I know you have a thick skin, so I’m comfortable saying this. Biting into you has been risky at times. I’ve experienced your inner tissue quality when it has been a little green or sometimes… dare I say, dry and mealy. It’s happened enough times now that I’ll just be honest – I no longer trust you!
Please don’t take this wrong. It’s not you. It’s me. I’m difficult to please. I’m not seeking another relationship at this point, although there was that one time with Honeycrisp that I can’t get out of my mind. Wow, so unforgettable! Who knew an apple could taste so good! I even ate part of the core. Did I lose control? Yes. Do I feel guilty? Maybe.
Just know this, Red Delicious; just because we didn’t work out doesn’t mean you don’t have a future with someone else. Another woman on the other side of the planet who has never heard of you will love your carnal red good looks, cyclical shape and not care about your inner qualities. She will love you exactly as you are.
Do you remember that new apple we met a few years ago at a conference in the Tri-Cities, named Sweetango? I reluctantly got involved with this incredibly firm apple only because it was part of an expected farmer activity. When my teeth cut into Sweetango’s tissue, the extra large cells ruptured, releasing yummy juices locked inside their extra large vacuoles. I needed a napkin because of so much juiciness.
I don’t say this to hurt you, Red Delicious, but it was never like that with you. Does this make Sweetango a better apple? Well, in this case, yes.
But as you’ve proven, an apple doesn’t have to be all about eating quality. You still have your unparalleled good looks. Remember when you starred in Snow White as the image of a perfect apple? You were the temptation Snow White couldn’t resist. She took a bite and fell to the floor. Fortunately, it wasn’t because you were a mouthful of mush. Maybe I didn’t need to bring that up. I’m just trying to make the point that there’s no apple like you.
I wish you luck in your other relationships, Red Delicious. We had a good time, you and I, while it lasted. With your legendary reputation, you’ll survive this and carry on to new horizons. I still care about you as an apple and hope that our friendship can survive.
Jolly Apple Farmer