What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Mountain Apple-Pecan Pie | TahoeDailyTribune.com

What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Mountain Apple-Pecan Pie

When I was in my late teens, I was a full-time student and part-time waitress at a popular pie cafe in San Jose. During a bout of slow shifts, I remember one week I snuck home day old pies to get me through the tough times until my next paycheck. In the morning before work I’d have a slice of banana cream pie. When I came home pumpkin pie would be my dinner. It was pie that kept my hunger pangs at bay, day after day, and I survived the challenging time. Eating one food was a prelude to being a hardworking graduate student and full-time author coping with the recession(s) in the 21st century.

Last year during “The Great Recession” I created a contest on my blog “The Writing Gourmet” that called for the healthiest survival pie if you were trapped (i.e., in the Sierra) and waiting to be saved. Answer: Fruit and nut pie was number one, according to one nutritionist. (Chocolate pie was number two.)

Apples are a “superfruit” chock-full of antioxidants, minerals, protein and dietary fiber. Good-for-you monounsaturated fats come from the filling nuts, which are also rich in protein. So, if you’re searching for a super pie, your search has ended.

6 large apples (Fuji and/or Granny Smith), peeled, quartered, cored, cut into wedges

1/2 -3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon whole wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon

1 tablespoon honey

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 store-bought pie crusts

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, honey, spices, flavorings, pecans, lemon and apples. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour mixture over apples. Place filling in bottom of pie crust. Top with second pie crust. Bake 15 minutes and then turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake about one hour until golden brown and apples are hot and bubbling. Serves eight.

– Keep pie crust frozen and take out 15 minutes before you prepare the ingredients.

– Lightly flour bottom with whole wheat flour.

– Dab warm water on any torn crust and smooth out a handsome crust.

– Flute the edges for a pretty look.

– Brush the top of the crust with low-fat organic milk.

– Sprinkle cinnamon and organic sugar on top.

– Cut a few slits on top and cut out a small circle in the middle.

– Place foil underneath the pie during baking so the edges of the crust don’t burn.

The first time I made this pie I fell victim to slicing a piece too soon. Caution: Wait at least one hour before cutting into the pie to guarantee nice, clean slices. The apples will still be warm, not too sweet or too tart. (To get the most nutritional benefits of apples, I kept the skins on.) The crust is flaky and difficult to discern from homemade. (One day when I’m not penning books and articles I vow to make a crust from scratch and will use whole wheat flour.) The fresh apples and nutty chew give the semi-homemade pie an earthy flavor and make it something to write home about during the best or worst of times.

Apple-pecan pie calls for an extra rich touch. Gourmet cheddar cheese adds a nice flair. Premium, all-natural vanilla, strawberry, or dark chocolate ice cream can add the perfect sweet taste and creamy, cool texture. Or for a springtime fresh garnish top a piece of pie with bittersweet dark chocolate shavings.

Cal Orey is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate) published by Kensington. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.

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