Apple Pocket Pies

One of my favorite gems in Autumn’s jewel box is Apple Hill. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump for me to take a meandering drive in the picturesque foothills. Scenic views of rolling hills, apple farms, vineyards and wineries dot the landscape as far as the eye can see.

The apple farms offer a great variety of apples, pumpkins, and produce, but also craft fairs, corn mazes, hay rides, farm animals to pet, and train rides.

I do try to be good, but for those of you with a mad sweet tooth like me, the fritters, apple donuts, cider, pies, and cakes are out of this world! I didn’t indulge (this time) but bought my apples and headed home, eager to try a new recipe.img_1642img_1640img_1657img_1653img_1650img_1646img_1645

Apple Pocket Pies

Ingredients:

Crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into half inch dice

6 – 8 Tablespoons ice water

Filling:

1 1/2 lbs. Pink Lady or McIntosh apples, peeled and cored, and cut into half inch dice

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons water

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

pocket pie mold (such as this one)

Directions:

Beat together the flour, salt, and 2 Tablespoons sugar on low speed until combined (about 10 seconds). img_1594Add the butter and beat for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium low and beat until mixture resembles course meal, about one and a half minutes more. Add the 6 Tablespoons ice water, reduce speed to low and beat 20 seconds. Dough should hold together but not be sticky. If crumbly, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating for 5 seconds after each addition.img_1595Turn dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough in half. Wrap with plastic wrap and shape each into a disc. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.img_1596In large bowl stir apples, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cornstarch together. img_1604In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add apple mixture. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender but not mushy, 16 – 18 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and let cool 30 minutes.img_1605Let the dough stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. On a floured surface roll out one dough disc into a round, 3/16 inch thick. Brush off excess flour. Using a pocket pie mold, cut out 8 of each shape. Re-roll if necessary and continue.

Place a solid dough shape into the bottom of the mold cutter and gently place the dough in the mold. Fill the center with 2 T apple filling and brush the edges of the dough with egg wash.img_1606Top with a shape with a decorative cut out. Press the top half of the cutter down to seal and crimp the edges of the pie.img_1608Remove the pie from the mold and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Freeze pies for 30 minutes.img_1610Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush tops of pies with egg wash and sprinkle sugar on tops. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is gently bubbling, 22 – 24 minutes. Transfer pies to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.
img_1611img_1613For the record, my husband has let me know (more than a few times) how perfect these little hand held pies are. I get the hint; I’m happy to make more!

High Sierra Iris Garden

IMG_9089Two weeks ago while out doing errands, I pulled into the High Sierra Iris Garden driveway on a whim. My husband and I had been there for a wedding a few years ago but I had not had the opportunity to return since then. Upon parking, I met a lovely woman named Nancy who was out working in the gardens and we got to chatting. She and her family own this little piece of heaven and she lovingly does all of the upkeep. She let me know that the irises were just a couple weeks past their prime but invited me to wander around. Have a look at all of this beauty!IMG_9245IMG_9092IMG_9099IMG_9102From their website I learned that many years ago Nancy’s husband gave her a potted iris for Mother’s Day. Shortly after receiving that gift she began collecting them and then began creating the gorgeous iris gardens. What a remarkable vision she had!

Tribute to a Beloved Mother

Under drizzly skies at dusk, my husband and I drove to Kid’s Inc. in Camino to see the remarkable gift of love from a son to his mother. So touched were we after reading the story in our local newspaper, The Mountain Democrat, that we had to see this sight for ourselves. IMG_6995One of Joan Delfino’s final wishes before her death from cancer, a year and a half ago was for her son to decorate the 60 foot white fir that the two had admired on their property for years.IMG_6994No small feat, after digging a trench for the 500 feet of electric cord, Chris and a few friends used a crane to decorate the tree with 1900 feet of lights, and crowned it with a nearly 5 foot star. What a beauty this is!IMG_6993IMG_6998The tree will be lit through January 1st. Weather forecasters are predicting snow for this area tonight and all day tomorrow. You can bet I’ll be taking another drive in the next couple of days to see the sight of this jewel shining brightly, surrounded by snow. Quite a gift to not only Joan Delfino, but to all of the community. Thank you Chris Delfino, and Merry Christmas to you and your family. I’m sure your mom is smiling down from heaven.