Apple Slab Pie

Image of the close up of a slice of Apple Slab Pie with whipped creamEnd of an Era
Yesterday my two sons played their last baseball game. Well, let’s just say it’s their last competitive baseball game. My guess is they will find their way to an intramural team or maybe an adult league somewhere at some point. But, the days of practice every day after school and watching the league standings to see if they make the NCS playoffs are over.

The two of them started playing thirteen years ago with t-ball. Along the way, we have experienced the highest of highs and some pretty low lows. Playing that long requires a lot of effort as well as a lot of time. There were vacation plans that had to be changed due to tournaments and plenty of split-duty weekends when plans just couldn’t be changed. Along the way, we made lifelong friends with the families of other players. The Cooperstown tournament, when they were twelve, will be an experience that the boys will never forget. And, they will be able to bore their kids with the telling of it well into their 80s. It was an experience my husband and I will also never forget—mostly because of the people involved with that team.

Six of the twelve players from that team continued playing together right up until the final out last night. This is no small feat considering how competitive it is to make the varsity team at their high school. We were all emotional, including the boys, but we did manage to get those six together for a picture.

Now the boys aren’t sure what they are going to do with this newfound free time. Our response was to get a job. So far one has managed that task. We’re crossing our fingers the other gets something soon.

It will be an adjustment for my husband and me as well. Suddenly our Tuesday and Thursday evenings have opened up. Guess we’ll just have to deal the old-fashioned way…Baseball (on TV), hot dogs, and apple pie…luckily, this recipe for Apple Slab Pie could feed the whole team!

Apple Slab Pie Recipe
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields 12 to 18 servings

This Apple Slab Pie has a higher proportion of crust-to-filling than your standard 9-inch round double-crusted pie. And, the crusts of slab pies tend to puff into gorgeous flakes far more readily than standard pie crusts do. So, this recipe is perfect if you’re into crusts! Read more…

Amy’s Carrot Cake

Amy’s Carrot Cake PhotoThe Dos and Don’ts of Carrot Cake
I’m making a carrot cake this weekend for Easter. While it may not be the most innovative choice for an Easter dessert, it is a family tradition. So…

The hardest thing about making a carrot cake for my extended family is that there are a number of rules one needs to follow in order to make it edible for everyone. First off, it better not have any raisins. To the younger members of our family raisins—in any way shape or form—are a horror that cannot be suffered no matter the recipe. I have no idea what event occurred in their early childhoods to foment such a visceral reaction to this particular dried fruit. But, to them, raisins are the very definition of eeew.

To be fair, I have my own issues. For example, you will never see pineapple in my carrot cake. I love pineapple and will happily devour a perfectly ripe one in a single sitting. But, there is something about adding it to a carrot cake that just doesn’t work for me. Also, I will always use pecans instead of walnuts. Doesn’t matter what I am making. Pecans are better than walnuts. There. I said it.

Lastly, I gotta add some coconut. True, it may not be traditional but the added flavor makes it non-negotiable.

When all is said and done, after everyone’s rules have been followed, you are left with a truly classic Eastern celebration dessert, Amy’s Carrot Cake. Let’s be honest though, while the cake does actually matter, its most important purpose, really, is to serve as the vehicle for cream cheese frosting consumption.

Amy’s Carrot Cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Read more…

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry Rhubarb CrispRhu the Day
I am not really sure when I realized that I was a fan of Rhubarb. It’s not a plant you see a lot in Bay Area gardens, mainly because it prefers colder climates like in Washington and Oregon. That being said, I lived in Oregon for four years. There were plenty of berries but not a lot of rhubarb.

It’s only been in the last ten years or so that I have gone crazy for rhubarb. It took one great strawberry rhubarb pie to get my family hooked. For that reason, I feel compelled to try any rhubarb recipe that comes along.

Over the weekend we held a get-together for a friend who was in from out of town. This meant I was feeding a decent-sized crowd. The main course was easy to put together. Then, I went looking for something for dessert that was fresh, tasty, and said spring but would still feed a lot of people.

When I found this Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp recipe, I knew the search was over. This crisp was a big hit. My son said it was like crack…he couldn’t stop eating it.

I ended up doubling the recipe. But, even keeping the original proportion yields a decent-sized crisp. Don’t worry about leftovers. Even if you do end up with some, this makes an excellent breakfast.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Recipe
Yields 6 servings
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

This old-fashioned recipe has a generous, crisp oat topping to complement the tangy filling. The recipe is best served warm with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Read more…

The World’s Greatest Cookie

World's Greatest CookieCategorically Correct
Describing myself as a foodie can be problematic—mainly because I am not sure what that means exactly beyond the fact that I love everything about food. I am not the person who will take pictures of my food at a restaurant (though I have done it on occasion). I am not the person who has to go to the latest “it” restaurant (though I am always down for a tasty night on the town).

I guess you could say I am the contradictory foodie. I have line in the sand standards and can be psychotically obsessive about an ingredient, technique, or authenticity. And, yet can be very cavalier about, say, Cool Whip and/or American cheese. (Though, as you can tell, I still have a healthy food snob side.) Adding to my quirks? Rules about certain edible items.

Case in point: I had a recent conversation about what constitutes a Christmas or special occasion cookie versus an everyday cookie. And, I, true to form, had some line in the sand opinions. A chocolate chip cookie is an everyday cookie. You will never convince me otherwise. Mexican wedding cakes are a Christmas cookie. You just don’t make them all the time. They are special. The problem is that, in my true contradictory/quirky foodie way, I have discovered a grey area. A good example is this cookie recipe my grandmother made, rather presumptuously named The World’s Greatest Cookie.

I love this cookie. It is without question one of my favorites…but, I hardly ever make it. Growing up, the only time I had them was when I went over to Gam’s house. My mother almost never made them. My theory as to why this was the case is that they are made with so-called pantry staples that were not staples in our pantry, things like coconut and corn flakes. These are not obscure ingredients. But, for whatever reason, we just never had on hand. So, to make these cookies would have required forethought and planning—which doesn’t quite qualify them for everyday status.

Fast forward to my own kitchen where corn flakes and coconut are pantry staples. And yet, I still don’t make these very often. So, you would assume that these cookies would fall into my Christmas/special occasion category based solely on taste and planning. But, no.

These cookies are buttery and flakey and are so darn good that they should go in the myriad of cookie tins that we make up every holiday season. But, they don’t for the same reason that they don’t fall into the everyday, pack ‘em in a lunch category. These cookies don’t travel well. These cookies break. They are delicate and unless you pack your lunch with utmost care, by recess you have crumbs instead of The World’s Greatest Cookie. They are tasty crumbs, but still…

So, I have placed these cookies in their own category that I have recently named Because I want to. The only reason needed to make these lovely bites is because you want to.

There are a number of versions of this cookie available on the interwebs. This is the recipe for The World’s Greatest Cookie that my grandmother used.

The World’s Greatest Cookie
Makes approximately 5 dozen (depending on your definition of walnut-sized) Read more…