Monday, October 22, 2012


The night before I realized that I was short on buttermilk; I forgot to go to the store on my way home.

In the morning, I decided to prep before going to the store. Good thing because I realized:
1. the buttermilk I froze and then defrosted was gross - don't do that!
2. I didn't have enough anyway
3. I ran out of sugar for the filling portions
4. just get extra butter... you never know!

Running to the store put me about 30 mins past my scheduled start time (9am). I figured it didn't matter 'cause I could stay up as late as I needed to get them all done.

Once I started baking, the plan executed very well.

5 batches of dry ingredients ready to go.

5 bags of lemon juiced apples ready to go.

kitchen ready to go.

Batch 1 filling out of the oven.

Topping ready, next batch of apples.

Baking topping.

Batch 2 ready to go.

Batch 1 done!

In assembling the filling for batch 3, I figured it would probably have been a good idea to taste 1 and make sure everything was ok. I paused, ate a jar...
they taste GREAT!
In part, how can you go wrong with apples and cinnamon?! and two, this is an amazing topping recipe!
I ate the one on the left.

The only other baking mis-hap is that I borrowed a 4th cookie sheet.
One of those actual cookie sheets: link.
This sheet sucks for carrying jars! It is flimsy and bends when you have it loaded up with EMPTY jars, let alone trying to get it in and out of the oven loaded. It has no handle edges so I kept burning myself through the gloves. And the worst part?! because it is so thin (I'm guessing), the filling actually caramelized during the double bake. Luckily, I used the tray in the 2nd batch, which means I only had to use it twice.
In the second use, I took the filled and topped jars out in 10 mins instead of 15. No more burnt filling.

At one point I lost track of where I was, and had to look in the oven to figure out what my next step would be.

Jars cooling.

The Bride wanted ribbons. This may have been the most tedious part of the day.

Lids on, ready for ribbons.

I waited until each jar was completely cool before I put the lids on. Ideally, I would have waited until the next day, but I had to work and couldn't find time between that and the wedding to lid and bow all the jars. So, I got it done the same day, and stored them in the cool garage overnight (there are no cars in our garage).
The only thing about this - which I didn't like - is that the crispness of the crust went away. This also happens when you make scones and store them in a ziplock overnight... the moisture trapped with them makes them "soft".
Oh well.
In retrospect, we should have put on the label a note that says "enjoy as soon as possible" or "homemade - please keep refrigerated".
I haven't heard any stories of apple cobbler poisoning in the Metro area, so maybe I am ok.

The wedding was beautiful! The bride was grateful, the groom said they were delicious!
I hope people appreciated the personal touch of a home-made favor.


The apples we picked were all different sizes (and varieties, of course) so I could use an apple count for determining the quantity I needed to peel and prep. So I figured I would use weight. I weighed a typical granny smith - 8oz. I multiplied that by the number of apples I'd need per 24 jar batch, and that's how many we peeled.

Well - this was WAY too much! by a batch and a half.
Given that I was updating Facebook all day, I hoped that I would have some takers for an extra batch at swim that night. So one more in the oven!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting Peeled

I totally forgot to take pictures! sigh.

so - my cousin came and visited last week, and since it's fall and everything is all fall festivals, we took her apple picking and pumpkin buying.
The pumpkins we carved (a first for her), and the apples I ear marked for the Great Apple Cobbler Baking Extravaganza of... TOMORROW!
Remember this: link

Anyway - the bride came over on Sunday, and while Felix Baumgartner slowly went up, and quickly came down, we peeled apples, cored and sliced (thank you tools), and put them in batches of 5 with lemon juice.

That morning I measured out all the dry ingredients for the toppings, and we are now ready for the insanity of tomorrow.

Truth be told - I am nervous!!

this is probably the biggest, most meaningful, cooking event of my life.


I am putting post-its all over the kitchen to remind me to take pics... stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

"Balance and Well-Being"

Before my trip to Thailand in 2008 I decided I needed a new pair of shoes.
I wanted something that I could wear all the time - pants, skirts, dresses, walking, in water - that didn't look too touristy or backpakery (Teva, Keen, etc).

At REI, I found a pair of Ahnu Tilden sandals that fit the bill.

I have worn them all summer, every summer since then.

A plan was hatched for me and a friend to dress up as milk maids for Ironman Wisconsin. She decided to wear running shoes for the day. I know my feet hurt when I wear running shoes that long, so I chose to wear my Ahnu's.
2012-09-09 16.48.37
I wore them (with socks - it was cold in the morning) for 20 hours straight; and in those 20 hours, I was probably sitting for a total of 2. By the end of the day, my feet were killing me and I realized that it was time for a new pair of sandals.

I went to the Ahnu website to see what was new, and I got sidetracked reading about their philosophy and the things they do for the "Greater Good".
It seemed to me that throwing away my Ahnu sandals was the last thing this company would want me to do.

I sent an email to the contact page, and explained that I'd had these shoes for a long time, worn them all over the world, and after a 19 hour day of standing in them, realized they needed replacing. Did they have a recycling/donation program to which I could send the old ones.
To my surprise, they offered to take my story and shoes for posterity, in exchange for a new pair!
Would I please send some photos of me in the shoes.

I had a lot of fun going down memory lane with all the adventures I've taken in my Ahnu's.
It wasn't easy to find photos of me that included my feet!

Bangkok 2008
Thailand 2008 1

South Africa 2009
South Africa 2009

Nelson Bay, Australia with my Dad and two bro's 2010
Australia 2010

Having a chat with a President in Williamsburg, VA 2010
Williamsburg 2010

Kayaking 2011
Kayaking 2011

At home, the last time I wore them 2012
At home 2012

Today I received my new pair, and wow! they are so much more comfortable.
Old meets New

Goodbye original Ahnu's, thanks for all the miles.

And thank you to Ahnu for being such an amazing company!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Mixing it up

A friend of mine is getting married at the end of the month. She was talking to me about wedding favors, and since she's from Seattle, she loves to cook, and it's a fall wedding, I immediately thought of this exercise shared by Seattle blogger "NotMartha".

I shared the idea, and my friend loved it. Another friend offered to make it for her! I thought, wow, that's a generous offer.
A couple weeks later, the baking friend told me that she was going to be out of town on the scheduled baking day, so would I do it instead. Since I have a problem saying "no", I ended up with the task.

To prepare, I needed to modify the recipe since Megan baked hers with blueberries and the bride wanted apple.
One of my friends on the Team, PieMan, has baked these amazing crumbles for the whole Team at an end of the season race the last two years, and I figured if anyone could help me with advice on pre-preparing, changing it up, and identifying pitfalls, he could do it!

PieMan gave me some suggestions and this past weekend I did some experimenting.
Here are the results...

I used a pre-prepared tin of apple pie filling from Wegmens and two Fuji apples.
I mixed these with other things as follows:
1. just the tin filling
2. apples with some lemon juice and cinnamon
3. apples with some lemon juice, cinnamon, and 1/8 cup sugar
4. apples with some lemon juice, cinnamon, and 1/2 Tablespoon sugar
5. tin filling with cranberries
6. apples with some lemon juice, cinnamon, and cranberries
7. tin filling with 4 Hot Tamales
8. tin filling with 2 Hot Tamales
9. apples with some lemon juice, cinnamon, and 4 Hot Tamales
10. apples with some lemon juice, cinnamon, and 2 Hot Tamales

Some post-baking photos.
1. and 2.

3. and 4.

5. and 6. on top, 9. and 10. on the bottom

7. and 8.

1. apples were mushy
2. very bland
3. too sweet
5. and 6. cranberries added nothing
7. 8. 9. and 10. The waxiness of the Hot Tamales made a melted chewiness, and you tasted none of the spiciness.

Here's my plan:

I will be preparing 108 120 jars, that's 9 10 sets of 12.
Since I have a convection oven, I plan to bake 24 at a time, 12 on each baking sheet.
As Megan suggests, I will use 3 batches of the topping recipe for 24 jars.

That's 13.5 15 batches of topping.

I will need 4 apples for each set of 12 jars, 40 apples in all. I have an apple slicing tool, and I will half all of the slices before I put them in the jars because they fit better that way. I will mix each batch of sliced apples with 6 Tablespoons of lemon juice, 6 Tablespoons of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.
So for each baking of 24 jars, that will be:
8 apples
12 T lemon juice (3/4 cup)
12 T sugar (3/4 cup)
4 t cinnamon (might add more, 2 T?)

I need 9 10 batches of filling.

It takes 1.25 hours to prep and bake each set of 24 jars (25 mins for the filling, and then 25 mins for the topping). That means it will take about 6 6.5 hours to make all the jars on the day of baking.

The weekend before, I will pre-measure the dry ingredients and put them in tubs. We will peel and cut the apples, mix them with lemon juice, and put them in ziplock bags. So, the day of, is about melting butter and mixing it with buttermilk and vanilla right before each batch of filling comes out of the oven. I am hoping my friend visiting from MN will be at my house, and not at the conference for which she is coming to DC, on that day!

Clean jars ready for baking.


I'm hoping to remember to take pic's of the next steps in the process too...
Remember to remind me!