Thursday, September 29, 2011

Channeling My Aunt

Although both of my parents are only children (weird, right?), my grandfather (92 years-old and "still vertical" - his words, not mine) had four older sisters - my aunts. Although one passed long before I was born, the other three played a big role in our lives, which included frequent trips to Rhode Island for visits. Luckily for us, all of my aunts (pronounced auhnts, btw, seeing as they were proper New Englanders), lived until ripe old ages, and one - Aunt Rose - was "still vertical" when the kid was born.

Aunt Rose was also the resident homebody of the group. While she was an extremely successful special education professional and advocate, she was simply known to us as the Aunt who loved to cook and bake. And baked. She had an amazing home and kitchen, and would even go so far as to send us her specialties via UPS.

Luckily for me, I have inherited not only her love (although not necessarily her talent) for cooking and baking, but also some of her recipes, hand-written in her perfect penmanship. I thought one of her classics would be appropriate for tonight's holiday dinner.

Perfect Apple Pie
Source: Rose Waterman Pierce (my aunt)

  • 6 or 7 tart apples (I used Red Delicious; can also mix varieties)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter or margarine
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of salt (skip)
  • Pare apples and slice thin. Combine sugar, flour, spices and salt; mix with apples. Line 9-inch pie plate with pastry, fill with apple mixture, dot with butter.
  • Adjust or put on top crust; sprinkle with sugar for sparkle. (!!)
  • Bake in 400 degree oven for 50 minutes or until done.
Pie Crust

  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 c. margarine
  • 3 tbsp water (I used a bit more)
  • Mix flour & margarine thoroughly until very crumbly. Mix in water until smooth. Form into ball, then divide ball into two balls. Roll out one ball until flat and not thick. Use as bottom crust. Roll out second ball and cover apples.

Is my pie sparkling?

Unfortunately, my husband does not like "fruity desserts," so I also made brownies.

Double Chocolate Brownies
Source: American Medical Association's Family Health Cookbook (1997)

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 oz (1 square) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp smooth applesauce
  • 1 c. and 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8x8 baking pan with spray.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, coffee, baking powder and salt. In a 2 or 3-quart saucepan, melt the butter. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted, then stir in the applesauce and sugar until blended. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg whites and vanilla. Whisk the egg mixture into the saucepan, then add the dry ingredients and stir until blended and smooth.
  • Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake until the brownies are just firm and begin to pull away from the edges, 20-25 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes.
Yield: 16 squares
Per serving: 123 calories; 3g fat (2g sat); 19mg chol; 79mg sodium; 23g carbs

The applesauce makes them perfect for the holiday
And FINALLY, I also made a side dish for dinner. There is nothing even remotely clean about this, and I would not make it for a typical family meal. However, it is very fast, very easy, very tasty, and most important, due to some dietary restrictions in our fam, perfect the the entire group.

One-Pan Mac & Cheese
Source: Kraft Food & Family (not sure of date)

  • 2 pkg Kraft Mac & Cheese
  • 4 c. boiling water
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, cut up
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 24 Ritz crackers, crushed
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Place macaroni in prepared dish. Stir in boiling water, cover with foil.
  • Bake 15 minutes, stirring after 7 minutes.
  • Stir in cheese sauce, milk and butter. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and crushed crackers. Bake, uncovered, an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and crackers begin to brown.
Yield: 8 servings

In addition to all of the above, I also brought last night's honey cake so my family could sample it. Overall, they all really enjoyed every item. I knew the mac & cheese would be a hit b/c I've made it before. The kid had two helpings of brownie (special dinner, peeps - not normally how we roll), everyone liked the honey cake and the pie was declared a "thing of beauty" by my mother. While I wouldn't necessarily go that far (refer to the above picture), I am also pleased with how everything turned out. Even my bro, who is the official pie connoisseur (my Aunt always made the pies especially for him), declared the crust excellent. The brownies, btw, are very sweet. And one more btw - my family is not one of those overly polite crews - if they didn't like something, they would totes report it. I guess the New England prim and properness from my Aunt's generation has lost its was down here in the NEO!

Only because I always listen to my momma, she declared tonight's effort four forks. Thanks for the inspiration, Aunt Rose!

1 comment:

  1. Pie AND brownies?!! WHY WASN'T I INVITED???!!! Oh, right. I'm not family AND I'm not Jewish. You say potato, I say potato, next year please send an invite my way. :)