Cranberry Apple Pie Recipe

Fun Facts to Know & Tell:
I have never tried Pumpkin Pie.

Whenever I mention that at a holiday dinner, someone inevitably takes the fork that was recently inside their mouth and pokes it at me, hoping I'll try a bite. I don't like, or dislike, Pumpkin Pie.

I simple prefer pretty little cranberries to messy orange pumpkins, filled with slimey junk and ghostly white seeds. Once you try my pie, you will, too.

Cranberry Apple Pie
  • 1.25 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh, lovely, cranberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 5 sliced Granny Smith apples
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 Pillsbury pie shell (Don't bother making your own. Face it. They're better at this than we are.)
Luscious Topping
1 cup crushed Graham Crackers
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

Create the Masterpiece:
  • In a saucepan, mix together sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and salt.
  • Stir in cranberries and maple syrup.
  • Cook over high heat, stirring, until mixture comes to a boil.
  • Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in apples and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, add walnuts.
  • Pour apple mixture into pie shell; set aside.
  • Mix up Luscious Topping sprinkle over the pie filling.
  • Bake 30 minutes @ 375 degrees.
Serving Suggestion:
Cut yourself a big slice and wait for an idiot Pumpkin Pie fan to say something derogatory. Then slowly remove the fork from your mouth, scoop up a sample size piece from your plate and ask them to try a bite, germs and all. It's only fair.


Biodynamic Wine

Growing up, we never celebrated Thanksgiving with wine, champagne or anything else really fun. There was no religious excuse surrounding this decision. We just didn't do it.

I always thought that was a huge mistake.

After all, we were living in this horrid little town in South Dakota. Just looking out the window could drive ya to drink!

If you ask me, we should have invented the concept of Bloody Marys with Breakfast. Talk about family tensions! Mom had 11 sisters and Dad had at least as many siblings. God forbid they could ever enjoy a big group hug. (Champagne Cocktails could have helped that cause, too.)

Everything is more palatable when we all get along. And, that's why I'm so fond of the concept of Biodynamic Wine.

It's a nice, fancy term for returning to our roots, finally listening to our elders and farming the good old fashioned way.

Organic is great but Biodynamic takes it to the next level by making the land self-sustaining.

√ Cover crops return nitrogen to the soil.
√ Trees, birds and bees all play a role.
√ Essentially, the acreage becomes a nature preserve surrounding the vines.

Thanksgiving is Thursday ~ and half the nation is expected to show up with a side dish and a bottle of wine.

In the spirit of getting along, bring one from a Biodynamic Vineyard.

Why? Because everybody's gonna be bitching about global warming when you get to the party.

You can show off your bottle, brag up biodynamics and act all smug.

I can actually afford this one: Frey Wine is around $12. (But, you could bring a super expensive bottle just to piss off your less successful siblings!) Here's a great big list of Biodynamic Wines.

PS: This might be a good day to visit Gardening While Intoxicated.


Marvelous Mashed Potato Recipe

I go through periods of my life when cooking everything from scratch is essential to good living.

Then the dishwasher breaks and I rebound. I can't help myself. I'm weak. Plus, I'm hungry. And, it's hard to cook a meal once you've run out of dishes.

It begins, innocently enough ~ a dinner date with my on again, off again par amour, Mr. Microwave.

Soon, I'm sucked back into one of my most enjoyable bad habits: the cutting of corners.

Take potatoes, for instance. Sure you can tub 'em, rub 'em and scrub 'em or... you could just doll up the pre-made varieties.

Because no amount of toil and trouble can match the stirring in of some fresh chives and Gournay cheese.

Recipe Steps for Marvelous Mashed Potatoes:
1) Get yourself to the hot mashed potato stage however you please - work yourself into a frenzy or buy them pre-mashed from the store.
2) Dice a couple tablespoons of fresh chives (just the stems) into the potatoes.
3) Add a few tablespoons of real butter.
4) Stir in a package of Garlic & Herb Gournay cheese.

Warning: These are the fattiest fat fat potatoes you've ever tasted. Which is why I call 'em Marvelous!

Another Warning: Read the label! Last Thanksgiving, I accidently bought a package of reduced fat Gourney cheese, by mistake. That was a dark day, indeed.

Third & Final Warning:
Chives are a pretty pink and purple lifetime commitment in the garden. That's because they are hellacious re-seeders. No matter how hard you try, once you plant them, you'll always have them. Personally, I think they're worth it. Their fresh green stems have a delicate, oniony flavor that simply cannot compare to a dried spice. Not into gardening? What's wrong with you? (Just kidding.) Fresh Chives are available, year round, in the produce department of your local supermarket.


Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Recipe

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I can over-indulge at someone else's house. I don't have to bring presents. And, I'm generally clever enough to get out of washing the dishes, too!

I'm determined to make this a good one because lately things have gone awry.

Last year, I was in charge of desserts.
I slaved for hours and hours and hours, but they were horrible and everyone was too nice to say so.

The forecast for this holiday is much brighter. After last year's disaster, I've been assigned the easy task of sweet potatoes.

If you've been losing sleep over the difference between yams and sweet potatoes, fret no more...

Impress your friends by explaining that yams and sweet potatoes are entirely unrelated, though here in the US, they're essentially the same. Yup, it's just another marketing ploy. In spite of everything your grocer tells you, you'd be hard-pressed to buy a yam in America. Yams sold in the US are just a different variety of sweet potato.

Garnet Sweet Potatoes (marketed as yams) have deep, red skin and bright orange flesh. Moisture content is much higher, making these a great choice for candied sweet potatoes or my all time favorite, Sweet Potato Cheesecake.

Jersey Sweet Potatoes have tan skin and yellow flesh. They're sweeter than 'yams' and also drier. Great for muffins and breads.

Sweeten up your Garnet Reds with Dark Brown Sugar and Toasted Pecans:

2 lbs Roasted Garnet (red-skinned) Sweet Potatoes, peeled, mashed and lovingly improved with:
1/4 cup Butter
1/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Chopped Pecans, toasted (brings out the flavor)
1/2 tsp. Salt
(Serves 6)

* Yams and sweet potatoes are completely unrelated vegetables, though in both cases you're eating the root of a tropical vine. Sweet potatoes are grown in America, a distant member of the morning glory family. Yams, a staple in Africa, are rarely seen in the U.S.


High Altitude Bread Baking

Winter thunder rumbles across the meadow, with snow and sleet not far behind. Such is life in the mountains, where seasons change overnight, with little warning. And, they'll change back again, tomorrow.

So, I’m keeping busy baking bread. If you think high altitude gardening is a challenge, try baking a yeast bread from scratch. Dry, thin air wreaks havoc on traditional recipes and Betty Crocker is not much help. Her high altitude recipes say ‘over 3,000 feet.’ I live above 7,000 feet so, with most recipes, I'm winging it.

I’ve learned...
  • Rapid rise yeast is the proverbial recipe for failure. Breads rise faster at high altitudes. I have better luck with an instant active yeast, using less than the recipe calls for.
  • A little extra water helps if the dough is too dry.
Baking bread is a science experiment in the mountains. Start with small (1 tablespoon of water, as example) changes and use your best judgement when modifying recipes. Sometimes those adjustments need to be dramatic. For instance, I have added up to 1/4 cup of water to a recipe for bread dough to reach a nice, moist consistency for kneading.

And, don't worry... even the failures taste great!

Seems silly, to me, to pay $3.50 for a loaf of artisan bread when the ingredients cost about 50 cents. Here's a yummy French Bread Recipe to try the next time you're snowed in.

French Bread
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (add more water, by tablespoons, until bread dough is moist)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (less 25%, if you're at high altitudes of 5,000 feet or more.)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon shortening, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
* Combine ingredients in the order listed above. Add flour last. Begin with 3 cups. Place 1/2 cup on your bread board and knead this into the dough. If the dough is very sticky, add additional flour 1/4 cup at a time.
* Rising time: approximately 1 hour. 400 degree oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Brush loaf with beaten egg white and water mixture, for a crispier crust.