We had chosen the right afternoon to head out to Custer State Park, because by Monday morning, winter had hit. We've had a week of high winds, below zero temperatures, and even some snow.
We're glad we took steps to protect our one little tree from the neighborhood deer herd. Almost every evening they're haunting the streets and yards like ghosts - quiet, elusive, and nearly invisible. They'll just stand and watch you drive by....
Later in the winter, they'll start showing up during the day, too. This is a picture from a couple Januaries ago -
They're beautiful to watch, but I really don't want them eating our new cherry tree!
Of course, the dogs love the winter weather....
But even though the weather looks a lot like Christmas, we're getting ready for Thanksgiving. One of my three favorite holidays of the year!
We're hosting dinner at our house this year. We're expecting six to eight friends to be here for the afternoon and it's going to be great :)
BUT, the problem is that I'm not making the pie! So instead, I'm making all kinds of pies leading up to the big day.
This weekend I made one of our favorites - Apple Crumble Pie
You make this pie in three phases.
First is the crust. You can use whatever pie crust you want. Here's a link to my Never Fail Pie Crust, or you can make Ruthy's. You can even buy one at your market. But don't tell us if you do. :)
I prepared two pie crusts, since I'm making a double batch.
Oh, don't forget to preheat your oven! Set your rack low in the oven, and preheat to 450°.
Next, get your apples ready. I like Granny Smith for this pie, but you can use your favorite firm, tart apple. You'll want 3-4 for a single pie, 7 for two pies. (Mine were pretty big apples, so if yours are smaller, add another one.)
And if you don't have one of these gadgets, you need to get one. Watch how quickly it peels, cores and slices an apple!
And then all you're left with is this. Easy-peasy!!!
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
(Double all of those amounts for two pies!)
Stir all that yummy goodness together, and then spoon the apples into your pie shell(s). They should make a big mound in the center, because they'll cook down while your pie is baking.
*Interesting fact I recently learned - not only does the lemon juice help keep the apples from turning brown, but the acid also breaks down the apples while they're cooking, giving you that soft texture we always want from cooked apples.
Third step: The crumb topping.
Mix together in a smallish bowl (I use a 1 1/2 quart):
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cut in 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter until it's crumbly.
By the way, when I make two pies, I make each batch of crumble topping separately. It's just easier that way :)
Pat the crumble topping on the apples to form a top crust. If you wish, protect the edges of the pie from browning too much with strips of foil.
Put in your preheated 450° oven. After 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350° and bake for an additional 45 minutes (for a total of 1 hour).
Cool before serving.
Now those are pies worthy of any Thanksgiving table!
I'd like to close with a paragraph I wrote on another blog six years ago -
As time has gone on, our children have outgrown our Harvest Parties, but not the enjoyment of November as the season of thanks. We look forward to good fall meals of homemade soups, breads, and apple crisps. Cosy evenings sitting around the table talking together long after the meal is over with the curtains closed against the dark night outside. The gathering up and storing of our own family harvest...the memories that will last long after these children have moved into homes of their own and the table is filled completely only on occasion....and looking forward to the final harvest home, our final Sabbath rest. This is our season of Thanksgiving.
Blessings to you and yours as you prepare for the coming holiday!