If someone had told me a year ago all of the wonderful things that 2010 had in store for me, I would have approached the year with wonder and excitement. From helping to send blankets to a Russian orphanage, chasing down a loose pony, having the privilege of helping my friend adopt an orphaned child in need of a loving family, and finally getting to "meet" Saloma who I admired for years without her ever knowing it, 2010 held more unforeseen blessings than a sunny day.
However. If you had also told me that I would spend five days in the hospital and several weeks, months, recovering from a vicious staph infection in (of all places) my right hand, I would have boycotted 2010, and never left the house. It's a good thing I didn't know! So as the year ends, I approach the new one not with promises, resolutions, or carved-in-rock goals. As I'm fond of saying, we make plans and God laughs. In keeping in line with that thought, I choose to approach 2011 with a sense of wonder of what blessings and adventures God will have in store for me in the new year. Who else will I meet? Whom can I help? How will I contribute to God's kingdom?
I am constantly open to learning new things and expanding my skills, and make an effort to do so constantly. Working in an environment filled with educational opportunities, how could I not have a love of learning? No doubt there will be many opportunities this coming year to do just that.
I'm ending pie month with a very traditional pie, one you rarely see outside of Amish/Mennonite communities. Shnitz pie is made from dried apple slices, which are then soaked in water, boiled, strained, and spiced. Thanks to cousin Elizabeth who invested in a food dehydrator last summer, we have dried apple slices, green beans, and even chopped okra. It sure saves space! I'm willing to bet that generations ago many people preserved their apples by having an old fashioned apple schnitz (apple cutting bee) and drying them, and that is likely how this pie came about. And while I have quite a few recipes for this pie, they almost all yield more than one pie, so I developed this one which yields one old-school tasty and sweet but not too sweet Schnitz boi.
2 cups dried apples (half of a quart bag)
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
a pinch each of: ground cloves, all spice, and salt. A "pinch" here is about 1/8 of a tsp. Soak your apple slices in water over night. This will hydrate them slightly.
Then, go ahead and boil the apples until they are soft. You will notice they are fully hydrated and can be sliced easily with your stirring utensil. It will look sort of apple-saucey, but with some visible apple slices. Drain this through a strainer, then return your apple filling to the pot. Add the apple sauce, brown sugar, and spices, and cook till everything is combined and slightly thickened. I achieve this by cooking it over high heat for just a couple minutes.
If you find that it's still too runny, then add a little pectin (clear jel) to thicken it up. Pour into your unbaked pie crust, and cover with a top crust. I did a lattice crust this time, but you can do a full top crust. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, and then reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 30 minutes.
My one regret about pie month is that I did not get to make a crumb-topped fruit pie, which is my favorite and probably what we eat the most around here. If you're still in the mood for pie, don't forget my Shoo-fly tutorial and Chocolate Peanut Butter pie. But I think after a month of pie, I'm ready to move on.
Happy New Year everyone!