What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Christmas apple pie
Special to the Tribune
Holiday goodies are making the rounds in the Sierra. I see it. I smell it. I feel it. I taste it. And Christmas is coming, another snow dusting has arrived. Cookies, cakes, pies, and breads — all kinds — are circulating in homes, stores, parties and businesses. On the South Shore, red, blue, green and white Christmas lights dot houses and stores. The excitement takes me back to childhood when I was a kid who still believed in Santa Claus in the suburbs of San Jose, Calif.
When I was 9, my father brought home a big flocked white tree. We decorated it with blue and silver bulbs, colored lights and candy canes. My mother, the baker, was busy making Chocolate Pinwheels and Bourbon Balls. Parties at our house were plentiful. Wrapped packages were piled under the Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve, we could unwrap one gift; we sipped egg nog and left cookies and a mug of milk for Santa. Early in the morning, my two siblings and I gathered around the tree to give each other presents. Then, it was off to church. And home, a magnificent dinner awaited: Ham, sweet potatoes, greens, rolls, and pecan pie.
Today, things have changed. In the Sierra, I reside with my three furry kids. I didn’t do a tree (I thought about it), nor have I shopped. (Well, I did buy a set of dishes, a goose down comforter, and clothes for our upcoming winter.) But, the pup Skye is freshly neutered, the senior dog Simon survived his surgery for a small tumor, and the cat Zen is zen-like. On deadline, I create recipes and eat for the second edition of the olive oil book; I’m re-visiting Olive Oil Land. So, here’s a semi-homemade Christmas apple pie that appeases my taste buds and warms me up.
CHRISTMAS APPLE PIE
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced thin
1/2 cup premium fresh cranberries, chopped
2 tablespoons European-style butter, cold, cubed
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon orange rind (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
2 store-bought premium pie crusts
4 tablespoons half-and-half (1/2 for apple mixture; 1/2 for crust)
2 tablespoons each, raw sugar and cinnamon (for crust)
In a large bowl, combine sliced apples, cranberries, butter, sugar, spices, and citrus if preferred. Place in one pie crust. Put other pie crust on top. Flute edges with thumb to give it a homemade, imperfect rustic look. (If pieces break, use warm water to mend.) Brush top with half-and-half. Sprinkle sugar-cinnamon mixture. Cover with foil so edges of pie crust don’t burn. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 degree and bake for another 45 minutes. Cool for 1 hour before cutting. Sprinkle top with chopped walnuts and serve with a small scoop of all-natural vanilla ice cream or warm it up with a piece of melted cheddar cheese. Serves approximately 10.
This charming pie is sweet and tart and doesn’t look like a cookie-cutter packaged one in the store. It’s good both warm or cold. The cranberries add a festive color combo to the green apples and, the raw sugar gives it a super crunch. While you can overindulge in cookies and candies, a slice of fresh fruit pie paired with hot herbal tea or gourmet coffee will give you a nice holiday fix and has some health perks, too. Whether you’re alone or with friends and family, this Christmas Apple Pie will feed your sweet tooth, fill you up — not out — and boost your spirit.
Motto: Holiday blessings come in all ways, shapes and sizes. Sometimes, tradition is fun and other times it’s exciting to follow your heart and soul while dancing on your own path.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. The Healing Powers of Coffee is featured by the Good Cook Book Club, and the series is sold at Walmart stores nationwide. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.