Monday, November 14, 2011

Pot Luck Monday with Guest Valerie Comer!

Apple Turnovers
With Valerie Comer

Hello there! Is it still apple season where you live? Yeah, I know. Nowadays we can get apples anywhere, any time. But still, autumn and apples go together like blossoms and bees, don't you think?

I love apple pie! Not sure about you, but there are only so many slices my hips need, while hubby's hips, of course, seem immune. He loves the fact that my mom's No Fail Pie Crust recipe makes 7 open pies or 3-4 closed ones. I love the fact that, in theory, I can freeze the dough for using later. But then I forget it in the bottom of the freezer for months on end, and, well, you know how that goes.

So. The solution is (insert trumpet sound): Apple Turnovers!!

Then I freeze those babies, and I can guarantee they don't get lost in there permanently, but find their way into hubby's lunch boxes, one at a time. Yes, I can (mostly) resist them at this stage.

Let's get started, shall we? We'll do this in two parts. First, Mom's piecrust (which, of course, you can use for any kind of pie). It truly is no fail. Very light and flakey. Mmm. And second, we'll go on to the apple turnovers themselves.

Take a large mixing bowl and put in 5 cups of flour. Although I use home-ground whole-wheat flour for nearly all my baking, I use store-bought organic white flour for piecrust. I mean, even I can't convince myself that pie is precisely healthy, so I'll just do the best I can without wrecking the treat! Add 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cut in 1 pound of butter or lard. (I think in Ruthy Talk this is the equivalent of four sticks of butter, or 2 cups). My mom's recipe calls for lard, but I don't usually have it in the house. Butter--real butter--works great, so long as it's been sitting out of the fridge for an hour or so. It should be cool, but fridge-cold is too hard to work with.

Use a pastry cutter or a couple of forks or your fingers to (gently!) crumb these ingredients together. You want those butter bits to be smaller than peas.

Now take a measuring cup and put in 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Yep, vinegar. It's the secret ingredient. (Not a secret any more!)

Add water to the 1-cup line in your measuring cup. Whisk together thoroughly, then pour over the crumbs.

Now you don't want to over-handle the dough, so mix it together gently, then form it into seven balls. Cover the ones you're not using so they don't dry out. Take one and roll it out on a well-floured surface. Sprinkle some flour top and bottom to keep it from sticking, but don't overdo it.

How thin? As evenly thin as you can make it without tearing it. All I can say is that after a time or two, you'll be able to feel the right thickness. Trust me.

Side Note: When I'm doing these for pie instead of turnovers, I roll the crust out on a piece of waxed paper. I lay my pie plate, upside down, centered on the crust, then slide my hand underneath, and FLIP! I can readjust the exact location of the crust, and peel the waxed paper off. Voila! Ready for filling.</i>

The day I made these turnovers I worked with my daughter-in-law, Jen. So while I was prepping the piecrust, she was prepping apples. She used this handy dandy little machine to peel, core, and slice the apples, but I've often done it by hand many times.

What kind of apples? Nearly any kind will do. We used Elstars this time, but you can use Spartans, Granny Smiths, or a local baking favorite.

When she had 6 cups apple pieces, she added 1/4 cup flour, 2/3 cup white sugar (we buy the organic sugar from Costco--it's awesome, and a decent price!), a dash of salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon each ginger and cloves. Mix together until the apples are evenly coated.

Nibble a couple pieces. Mmm.

I use a dessert bowl as a template for my turnovers. It's about 5" inches across. You can use anything of a similar size. Just use a knife and lightly follow the curve. I've never damaged my table, but then it's a working table in a farmhouse. So you might want to be careful where you do this. Set aside the dough from around the circles--you'll use all of it together last, not adding it back into each subsequent rolling out. (That's the fast way to toughen dough.)

Put a small amount of apple filling on one side of the dough circle, and fold the dough over it. It takes a bit of practice to get the right amount in! You want it as full as you can get it while still being able to seal the circle.

Use a fork to seal around the arc and poke 3-4 holes in the top to allow steam to escape. Arrange on cookie sheets as close together as you can without touching. Then bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the first batch and adjust for your oven. You want them golden brown and oozing yummy appleness.

You can see Jen's and mine aren't all perfect. Who cares? Not our hubbies! Once the turnovers cooled to room temperature, we popped them in the freezer. Once frozen, we tucked each into a sandwich baggie, then into a hard-sided container so they wouldn't get crushed in the freezer by tumbling roasting chickens or legs of lamb.

One last tip: label the container: Brussels sprouts. That way no one will open the container and you can dole them out one-at-a-time, just as you please.

Valerie Comer and her husband of over 30 years live on a small farm in Canada where they grow and preserve much of what they eat. Valerie is an avid supporter of her local food action coalition and farmers' market, where her family sells honey from their sixty beehives. These experiences provide the seeds for her novels of contemporary inspirational romance grounded in the local foods movement. Valerie blogs three times a week, offering insights into her writing journey, reviewing books, and spotlighting seasonal recipes. Her fiction debuts in May 2012 with a novella in Rainbow's End from Barbour.


  1. Valerie, thank you for being the Pot Luck Monday gal at Yankee-Belle and givin' Missy and me time to chill-lax.... Lay back.... Eat chocolate!

    This is wonderful! Your pie crust recipe is similar to mine although I use Crisco, but yes, the vinegar and the egg make the crust deliciously different from old standards. Nice, flaky pastry!

    And when I do turnovers I make fry-pies. Everything is just the same as you've described here, except I deep fry them, drain them and glaze them with a cider/powdered sugar glaze.

    I figure at that stage of the game, between apples, sugar, flour and butter/lard/vegetable shortening... what difference does a little frying oil make??? ;)

    Thank you so much for being here! You rock! And now those apples staring at me from across the room may just have a DESTINY... ;)

  2. Valerie,
    These turnovers sound delicious!
    My bakery does turnovers with a crumb topping on top of the crust. An added bonus.

  3. You did that so the pastry challenged have hope. Thank you, Valerie.

  4. Oh, my and I didn't know you sold to Barbour either. Congratulations!@!!!! Woot. Woot!!!

    Putting that in the Weekend Edition.

  5. Great recipe, Valerie! I want one of those peeler things!!! :)

    Ruthy, fried is the way I've had them before. My hubby's grandmother and grandfather used to take day trips up to the mountains to get fried pies. Oh, my. I'm glad they always shared!! :)

    And Valerie, I'm with Tina. I wracked my brain trying to remember if we'd heard about that sale. So excited for you!!!

  6. What a brilliant idea to turn the piecrust into turnovers! I always have a problem rolling out the dough big enough to fill a pie plate. Oh -- and I've found spelt flour can pretty much be exchanged with white flour in any recipe. It's not as heavy as whole wheat. I have apples malingering in my fridge just begging to be cooked into something. I think a turnover or two is just the thing!

  7. Valerie, love your apple turnovers!

    My biggest problem is that I never have leftover pie crust - I use the Never-Fail recipe, too, but the proportions are smaller. I KNOW my family won't mind if I make more :) And yes, lard is the best for pie crust, but don't keep it around either, so I use butter.

    I love your idea to label the container "Brussels Sprouts" - it made me laugh!

    Missy, you have to get one of those peeler things. When I told my husband that one of those would mean more apple pies, he jumped at the chance to buy it for me! It makes anything apple a breeze.

  8. Malingering apples... That might be a disease, Kav!!! So the peeler/corer really works???? I've always wondered.

    Anything that gains me an extra hour or 1/2 hour... oh my stars, I'm all over it!

  9. Ruthy, thanks so much for having me! We're cooking-crazy at our house, so it's fun to let a bit of it escape! As for deep-frying them, that has never occurred to me, and I hope my husband doesn't read this or he'll be after me to try it. I prefer to think of these as almost healthy. After all, they have a serving of fruit.

  10. Valerie, I didn't know that you sold, either. Why is that??? Why aren't you shouting from mountain tops. Why didn't we know????

    I blame Teeeeena.

    She's reputed to know EVERYTHING. How did we mess this up?????

    We need an apple pie party in honor.

  11. Mary--crumb topping, too? On top of the pie crust? My mom used to make a deep dish apple pie that had a crumb topping instead of a top crust. But the cream she poured on the apples negated any health effects from having less crust...

  12. Tina--I've seen inexperienced cooks and bakers have perfect results with this pie crust recipe, so long as they don't keep adding the rolled out dough back into each subsequent rolling-out.

    Try it! I shouldn't be the only pie addict :)

  13. I keep seeing two words pop up in these comments -




    Now, just because some people would want you to believe that low fat/low carbs = healthy, I submit that ANYTHING that caresses a family's soul the way pie does HAS to be healthy, no matter what the ingredients are or how they're cooked.

    Just don't eat a dozen at one sitting.

  14. Virginia!

    I keep forgetting to add my congrats on your sale!


  15. Tina, Missy, Ruthy, thanks for the congrats on the sale! You didn't hear the wild sounds in the atmosphere back in February? I thought my shrieking was loud enough to, you know, wake the dead.

    Rainbow's End was written with Cara Putman, Annalisa Daughety, and Nicole O'Dell. The theme is treasure, with a geocaching challenge set in Osage Beach, Missouri, as the glue that holds the four novellas together. The gals in our stories are seeking treasure, but they get more than they bargained for.

    February 2011 to May 2012 was just too long to keep screaming! But lots else is in the works. The novella sale netted me the lovely Joyce Hart as an agent, and she's working hard to place Domino's Game, the first of three books in my Green Acres series, in which an ardent locavore falls for the fast-food-loving reluctant farmer next door.

  16. Kav, thanks for the reminder about spelt flour. I'll try that sometime. It works great in baking powder biscuits, and my daughter uses them in waffles all the time.

    We belong to a grain csa (community supported agriculture) where we pre-purchase bags of grain in spring from local farmers, and pick them up after harvest. In fact, I got a call a few days ago that the 2012 bags are ready to pick up! Anyway, I hadn't really tried spelt before it showed up in my grain share a couple years ago.

  17. Jan and Missy -- those apple/peeler/corer jobbies aren't that expensive. Maybe thirty bucks? When you live in an apple-growing area, they make life a lot simpler.

    Ruthy -- they definitely work, but the apples do need to be a somewhat uniform shape. Lopsided scabby windfalls from neglected orchards may make awesome apple juice, but they're just plain ugly to make into pies.

  18. Jan, you cracked me up. Absolutely right that there is more than one kind of healthy, and foods that gather a family together around the table to prepare and to enjoy have a certain 'health' to them that strict adherence to a food plan just can't compete with.

    And thanks for the congrats. Unless there's a Virginia lurking today that I'd missed! ;)

  19. Oh my, blame lack of caffeine (making another cup of tea as I type!). Yes, I meant Valerie!

    And I have one of those corer/peeler/slicers. My bribe worked, but my husband still complains that I don't make pie often enough!

  20. Hey Jan, maybe turnovers will make the difference for you! Individually packaged 'slices' of pie means they can be doled out for a longer period of time. My hubby gets one a couple of times a week in his lunch box (which I prepare for him) so there's that taste of autumn often for him.

  21. I haven't made turnovers in ages, so you've inspired me. But "fry-pies", Ruthy? They sounds sinful! BTW, I have one of those peelers, too and yes, it really does work... easy to use and easy to clean. I also have a similar pastry recipe with egg and vinegar. Which says I've had no reason for procrastinating except laziness. Think I'll go make me some turnovers now.

    Congrats again on the sale, Valerie.

  22. Okay, who else here had to look up geocaching?

    And locavore (couldn't find that one but can guess what it means).

    And even spelt!

    LOL Should I have just kept that to myself? Do y'all wonder about my mental abilities now??? ;)

    Valerie, your stories sound so fun!

  23. LOL, Jan, you're right! In fact, on Saturday night, I figured we needed some family time, so asked my daughter to bake us some brownies. We snuggled on the couch and ate them. :)

  24. Oh, and part of that family bonding was fighting over putting nuts on top. She guarded as much of the pan as possible while I tossed walnuts on one end. She was mainly concerned that I would put nuts right in the middle (she was smart, because that's exactly what I was about to do!!) because we always fight over the best, gooiest, center!

  25. Oooh, Carol! Bake yourself up some apple turnover love! (No deep frying now, no matter what Ruthy says.) Thanks for the congrats :)

  26. Missy, see my problem? I live my life out on the edge. Not saying which edge, mind you.

    Geocaching is a treasure hunting adventure for the whole family involving the great outdoors, a GPS machine (your smart phone probably can handle it), and some hints to help you find the treasure. is the central spot for finding coordinates for a geocache near you!

    Locavore: someone who eats local food. (You know, herbivores eat veggies, carnivores eat meat, locavores eat local!)

    Spelt: a type of grain that many folks who can't handle wheat can still enjoy.

    I should learn to define my terms as I go along...

    And I'll have a bite of those gooey brownies if there's any left!

  27. Thanks, Valerie! I kind of figured out what geocaching was. But I was stumped on locavore! :)

    I'm sorry, but the pan of brownies went so quickly it would make your head spin. Especially the part that had nuts on it. hehe

  28. You mean I have to bake my own brownies? Sigh...better not let that happen any day soon.

    The locavore word was coined by the 100 Mile Diet people. It's actually quite eye-opening once you start paying attention to where your food comes from! And a fun challenge to source as close to home as possible.

  29. Oh my stars, busy here, and loving these comments. Missy, I knew some of the terms, but I'm such a white flour girl that I avoid anything with health and/or real grain.

    Give me bread flour.

    Isn't that pathetic, girls????? And youse are making me realize you are true Little Red Hens, grinding wheat, milling wheat, growing wheat (does the farmer that rents my farm count? He grew wheat this year!) ;)

    I love pastries, though. And had one the other night that we need to figure out, a form of Italian Bapka

  30. Ruthy, I love the flavor of whole grains as well as their health benefits. Are you going to toss me off the Yankee Belle train for differing viewpoints? :P

  31. Valerie, if Ruthy throws you off, then she'll have to throw me off, too. I love my grain mill! There's nothing, absolutely nothing that compares to freshly milled flour. The wheat flour sold in stores doesn't hold a candle to it!

  32. **Links arms with Jan and glances surreptitiously at Ruthy**

    What kind of grain mill do you have? I have a Nutrimill and just LOVE it.

  33. Valerie and Jan, I'll protect you. ;) I'm with you on the whole grains. There's nothing better than nutty, grainy bread! I just don't happen to mill my own. ('t know you could!). I'm learning a lot from you ladies!

    BTW, one of my favorite breads is at Longhorn.

  34. Yes, Valerie, a Nutrimill!

    And of course, buckets of grain in our pantry...we don't live in a grain-growing area, so I buy it when I can get a good price. I stocked up a couple years ago, so we won't need any for quite awhile:)

  35. If I keep hanging out here I guess I'm gonna have to buy flour! well actually I've bought it before for dipping chicken into before frying but that was a looonnng time ago. oh and clear off my table! these DO look better than those Mrs Bairds' ones they sell in the store but looks like a LOT of work!
    fried Ruthy?! I don't know how you look so thin in pictures - I dont' even bake and I'm fat! gosh only knows how big I'd be if I baked!


  36. Missy - I love that Longhorn bread, too!

    We just had a new one open here, and a month before a Texas Roadhouse opened, and this week a new Famous Dave's. You can't get into any of them - the parking lots are crowded every night! Maybe after the "shoulder" tourist season is over we'll be able to check it out and I can get my bread fix...

    It's really very strange living in a tourist town, btw

  37. Missy, I'll tell you the truth. I've had my Nutrimill for about six months (used my inheritance from my mom to buy a Bosch mixer and that grain mail--there were more coins stuck in her sofa than I would have guessed!)

    I'm still struggling to make good bread with our local wheat. Maybe Jan has some tips!

    Not familiar with Longhorn. I haven't seen such a thing in BC or 'across the line' in Idaho, Montana, and Washington. Course I haven't been looking for it either...

  38. Susanna! I can't imagine not having flour in the house. I use some (or a lot) every day. It probably wouldn't hurt to cut back on the baking I do, actually...


    And I agree, Ruthy oughtn't look so skinny with her aversion to whole grains. It must be all that salad she talked about a week or two ago!

  39. Jan, I don't live in a tourist town. But we usually check to find out what's going on in Atlanta before we go in. If there's more than one ballgame plus a big event, then traffic can be a nightmare.

    Valerie, Longhorn is a steakhouse that has my very favorite steaks and bread. It's a chain, but I don't know how far away they go.

  40. Longhorn must not have gotten to the northwest yet...

    I've had my Nutrimill for about six years and my Bosch for about three - I love both of them! I'll be glad to share methods/recipes on a future Yankee Belle blog if you want - just ask!

    Missy, we used to live near Kansas City and drove in for church once a month. On game days (KC Chiefs), the turnpike would be crowded at 9:00 am. Driving through Lawrence (University of Kansas) on a Saturday afternoon in the fall was even worse!

    Here (the Black Hills) we have the "shoulder" tourist seasons in May, Sept. and Oct., and the real tourist season from June through August. There are just certain places you just stay away from - the tourists can enjoy themselves while they're here, and we'll have our fun the rest of the time.

    It is interesting though - we were up at Mt. Rushmore on Memorial Day weekend and counted 9 foreign languages that we could identify. This little town is truly a cosmopolitan city during the summer!

  41. Jan, I'd love to hear more about your grains and bread, but I'm not sure if it's universally interesting to the Yankee Belle readership. You could shoot me an email at valerie at valeriecomer dot com. I've baked my own bread most weeks for over thirty years, and it's very frustrating to feel like I've lost my touch.

    I'll keep an eye out for a Longhorn near me! It's possible I just haven't noticed when we're in the US.