Posts Categorized: Recipes

Grandma’s Apple Pie

apple pie

Grandma Alice’s Apple Pie

Story & Recipes by Joyce Meyer • Illustrations by Lauren Bonney
Photos by Aryn Henning Nichols • Originally published in the Summer 2016 Inspire(d)

Thinking of apple pie conjures up memories of family. The sweet cinnamon-laced aroma of bubbling apple pie wafting through our old family farmhouse brings memories flooding back of my late grandmother, Alice Mansheim Uhlenhake. Grandma Alice lived with us while I was growing up, and being a former teacher, she was eager to teach me many things, including the art of making apple pies from the orchard on our family farm near Calmar, Iowa.

apple pie

At left in our farm kitchen in 1961 is my sister Eileen Schissel, Grandma Alice Uhlenhake and myself, Joyce Meyer, near Calmar.

Grandma grew up with fruit orchards that included a peach grove in Fort Madison, in southern Iowa. Being the only daughter, grandma and her mother, Bernadina Mansheim, had plenty of practice making fruit pies. After she was married, Grandma’s brother, John, would even bring a truckload of peaches up to our area in Northeast Iowa each year. We were privileged to have grandma stay with us in her senior years. A month at a time, she made rounds to each of the four daughters and her only son, who farmed the Uhlenhake family farm by Ossian. Grandpa Ted died at age 61, so for many years Grandma worked as a cook and housekeeper for Monsignor Leander Reicks in Cherry Mound and Dougherty, Iowa.

When I was a child, Grandma would get up early, while the rest were milking cows, and we would wander the orchard together as the sun rose in the sky. We would check on the gardens, grapes, raspberries, and apple orchard. Grandma was a devote women, and at the end of our walk, we would stop to meditate over the beautiful purple Morning Glories as they opened up to the sun and we would offer up our work for the day. Then the bustling farm kitchen came alive.

One day when I was about 10, Grandma decided it was time to teach me how to make pie by myself. It sounded like fun, so we gathered apples from the orchard and the flour went flying as she patiently taught me how to roll out the lard-based dough. It took practice and learning to use less flour to roll out the dough. I eventually became so proficient at my pie-making skills that I was sent to my sister Juanita Elsbernd Cole’s home in Cedar Rapids a few years later to make pies for a baptismal dinner. My mother, Ruth Elsbernd, recalls that Wealthy apples were the choice apples out of the orchard for pies.

apple pie

Summers were busy on the farm, and many times there were extra hungry workmen to feed. Grandma, mom, my sister Eileen (Schissel), and I made large meals at noon, and often the meal ended with her flaky apple pie. We learned the difference of our generations – sometimes we laughed about it, sometimes we just listened. It was the era of “hot pants” for us, as we became teenagers. We would chuckle, looking out at the clothes blowing on the line with grandma’s bloomers alongside our shorts… that just so happened to be shorter than her bloomers.

As soon as I was in high school, I was thrilled to sign up for Home Economics class. Poor Mrs. Grimes may have found me adequate to lacking in my cooking skills, so it came as quite a surprise that I could make a great pie. All because my grandmother felt it was a culinary skill she wanted to pass on to her grandchildren.

Years later, as our children were growing up, it became a tradition with my husband Kevin and our children, Lisa (Keigan) and Scott, to make apple pies to give to neighbors, friends, and put in the freezer for the long winter days ahead in Iowa.

When it was time to say good-by to my 93-year-old grandmother (who said lard is bad for you?!), many of us granddaughters brought pie for the meal after the funeral. I remember looking over the rows and rows of pies and thinking it was a perfect tribute to a wonderful lady we called Grandma.

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Grandma’s Pie Crust – makes 3 regular crusts or two deep-dish crusts

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup shortening
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 5 cold tablespoons water

Apple Pie Filling

  • 5 or 6 sliced apples (Honey Crisp is a favorite as well!)
  • ¾ to 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Tablespoon of flour
  • Speck of nutmeg

Make dough by sifting flour and salt together. Add flour mixture to shortening slowly; use a pastry blender or a fork, cutting it to the size of small peas. Chill for 30-60 minutes (or longer), then slowly add water up to 5 tablespoons until the mixture is barely dampened. Take half of the mixture and press into compact ball.

Dust flour on rolling pin and board. Roll pastry out to about 1/8 thick and about an inch larger that pie plate. Fit into pie pan. Sprinkle a little flour over it and add 5 or so sliced tart apples. Pour in ¾ to 1 cup of sugar, little dab of butter, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and a speck of nutmeg.

Next roll up the rest of pastry and place on top of pie pan and crimp the edges. Mix a small amount of cream or milk with sugar and using a pastry brush, brush mixture lightly on top of crust. Cut slits in the top crust to allow for steam to release in oven. Bake for approximately an hour at 350 degrees.

Tip: If you don’t mix water in dough, you can keep it for almost a week in the refrigerator and make a one crust cream pie (I make Key Lime pie) with the third crust. When making apple pie I use a deep-dish pie pan about 11 inches – so I use all the dough from this recipe. Also if you have a little leftover dough, we cut small squares & put jam in them-pinch ends to make tarts. Bake about 10 minutes.

Tip 2: If you choose to make three regular crusts, take a cup of the dry dough mixture out (and save it for later), then only add 2 to 3 1/2 tablespoons of water to finish the dough. If making a deep dish (or a two-crust pie and a one-crust pie) you can slowly add water as needed, up to 5 T.

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Read more Roots of Food: Family Recipes and Stories here!

Root Beer Pulled Pork and Carolina Coleslaw

Root beer_Pork_Slaw_Top

Hail to Root Beer

Recipes & text by Jim McCaffrey • Photos by Aryn Henning Nichols
Illustrations by Lauren Bonney • Originally published in the Summer 2016 Inspire(d)

Root beer pork coleslaw illustrationsOne of my earliest memories is my dad coming home from work and bringing in a gallon glass jar of root beer that he had gotten filled at the local A&W. He would then proceed to make – for all us kids and friends that might be hanging out – the greatest root beer floats. This happened quite often. At the time we lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and life was a pretty simple.

Mom would spend her days in the garden or washing clothes or baking bread. Us kids would do our best to help her out. But the best event of the day was at the dinner table. There we shared laughs and giggles, pulled pranks on each other, and enjoyed root beer floats. Ah, living the dream.

Life continued on and, of course, circumstances change. Dad got a job as a rural mail carrier in Decorah and we moved. And, somehow, the root beer tradition didn’t follow along.

So, 20 years ago or so, I was perusing the internet and came across this recipe for root beer pulled pork. The pork was served as a sandwich and topped with Carolina Coleslaw. This is a coleslaw that is made with apple cider vinegar instead of mayonnaise. The two flavors of each recipe just instantly bond – it was a marriage made in heaven… or possibly North Carolina. Wow, it blew me away. So this has been in our family repertoire of recipes ever since.

It is a great summer staple and we probably served it four times last summer for our Saturday Summer Concert nights. A year ago, we held our first McCaffrey family reunion at the restaurant and the pulled pork and coleslaw was the star attraction. So much so that we have had numerous requests to bring it to the table again this year. Ok, ok, just twist my arm. These recipes are now part of our family’s traditional cherished jewels. We have shared them with family and friends for the last 20 years, and now we are sharing them with you!

Maybe throw in a couple of root floats for the kids and adults too… it wouldn’t hurt! Now that’s summer!

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Jim McCaffrey is a chef, author, and co-owner with his family of McCaffrey’s Dolce Vita restaurant and Twin Springs Bakery just outside Decorah. He is author of humorous cookbooks “Midwest Cornfusion” and “Mississippi Mirth”. He has been in the food industry in one way or another for more than 40 years.

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PRINT RECIPE HERE
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Carolina Coleslaw
(Look ma, no mayo!)

  • 1 large head of cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 med green pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 med red onion, chopped fine
  • 2 carrots, grated

Dressing:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

Mix all vegetables in a (very) large bowl. In a saucepan, combine dressing ingredients. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until chilled. 8-10 servings. Great to top pulled pork.

Root Beer Pulled Pork

  • 1 2 1/2 to 3 lb pork butt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbl canola oil
  • 2 med onions, sliced thin
  • 1 cup root beer
  • 1 cup bottled chili sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups root beer
  • 8-10 hamburger buns

Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Brown meat on all sides in the canola oil. Transfer meat to a 5-quart crockpot. Add onions, 1 cup root beer, and garlic. Cook 4-5 hours on high heat. Make sauce. Combine remaining root beer and chili sauce in a large sauce pan. Simmer and let cook down about 30 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board. Using 2 forks shred pork. Place in bowl and add cooked sauce. Mix well. Place a portion on a bun and top with Carolina slaw.

Read more Roots of Food: Family Recipes and Stories here!

Underwood Family Marinade

grilling marinade

Marinade for Grilling
(vegetables, chicken legs or thighs, pork, lamb)

By Kristine Jepsen • Photos by Aryn Henning Nichols • Illustrations by Lauren Bonney
Originally published in the Summer 2016 Inspire(d)

grilling marinadeThe best recipes, they say, are those known by heart. And the most practiced cooks often work by feel, adapting ideas and recipes to the quality of ingredients, the intensity of the heat as they pass their hand over it – even the ambient temperature of the kitchen. Asking such a cook to write down a go-to recipe – like this marinade for grilled meat or vegetables – is a little like asking for the sequence of his or her DNA.

Fortunately, Decorah chef-of-all-trades Kristen Underwood is used to introducing herself – and improvising. “I’m a professional actor and director by training and a…a…theater entrepreneur by vocation,” she says with a laugh. Since landing in Decorah in the mid-1990s, she’s taught at Luther College, launched Upstart Crow Theatreworks for young actors, co-founded ArtHaus, the local arts education center, and become a speech and drama coach at Decorah High School. On the culinary side, she crafted several beloved lunch favorites working in the deli of Oneota Community Food Co-op and later became an instructor in the store’s kitchen classroom. These days, she’s the covert caterer of dinner parties, business meetings, and other cozy affairs.

grilling marinadeKristen got professional fluidity from her dad, Troy, the originator of the grilling marinade he’s shared with Kristen, she’s shared with numerous friends, and we’re sharing here. An electrical engineer, Troy’s spent a full career in hardware retail before developing and implementing point-of-sale software, mostly for small businesses, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

When he ran a hardware store, in Kristen’s growing-up years, he sold kettle grills and, over time, became quite handy with tongs himself. His bride, DeAnn, is a third-generation native of California’s central coast who grew up on ranch cookouts of grilled chicken and steak, served with green salad, garlic bread and fresh salsa – in the tradition of the area’s Portuguese and Mexican settlers. “Maybe that’s when our family grilling tradition really started,” Kristen muses. “Whatever the origin, it was just something we did – and did together.”

Technique, however, differed between Kristen’s parents. “Both my parents like – no, love – to eat, and both cook, but my mom uses recipes, while my dad almost never does. His style is to sort of flow from an idea.”

The marinade, for example, he picked up in a quaint butcher shop in Provence, France. He went in for some fresh lamb, Kristen explains, “but he wanted it deboned, and while he was waiting, the butcher and another customer, and then another customer – as happens in French culture – got into a heated discussion of the best ways to prepare it.”

Troy, however, did not speak French at the time – he and DeAnn had just begun a tradition of vacationing there with friends. “So he did a lot of smiling and nodding, and chiming in with ‘Ah, oui!” with enthusiasm until he got out of the store with the idea that it involved ‘marinade,’ ‘garlic’ and ‘mustard.’ That was the starting point. He went to work and came to his own conclusions through trial and error.”

Try it!

If you’ve never ventured into the kitchen without a precise recipe, let this one be your entrée, so to speak:

  1. Dollop some dijon mustard into a bowl and stir in several cloves of minced garlic (and herbs, if using).
  2. Thin the mustard with tamari (or lemon juice) until runny but not too thin. (Too thin, Kristen says, results in ‘liquid mustard,’ in which case, add more mustard and wind up with a larger volume. If you don’t catch it in time, don’t worry! Your marinade may just be saltier, not a disaster.)
  3. Whisk in olive oil – adding in a slow, steady stream – until marinade has body again and clings to the spoon/whisk/side of bowl.
  4. Slather thickly on sliced vegetables (like zucchini, onions, eggplant, mushrooms, red peppers), boneless pork loin, lamb chops, or chicken pieces (especially boneless thighs) up to several hours – or right before – grilling.

“Best results come from indirect heat, so we prefer charcoal grilling,” Kristen writes. Get all the coals really hot, then spread them evenly under the cooking surface. If using a gas grill, heat up all the burners, then turn them all down to medium and grill in the center.

“The beauty of cooking with an inexact recipe like this is that it’s pretty forgiving.”

One rookie misstep, Kristen says, is to use heat that’s too direct – it will scorch the garlic in the marinade, giving the whole affair a bitter flavor.

Another no-no is applying the marinade to meats or vegetables that don’t lay very flat on the grill. “This works for chicken pieces – especially boneless thighs – but not whole chicken,” Kristen says. Too steep a vertical angle, and the marinade slides off as it cooks.

And don’t be tempted to mix all the ingredients together at once. “My dad tried that, thinking it would save time, but of course, the olive oil wouldn’t incorporate,” Kristen says. “If you’ve ever tried to make salad dressing, you know it has to be poured in slowly, while whisking or stirring, to emulsify.”

The best thing to do, Kristen says, is just try it. “The beauty of cooking with an inexact recipe like this is that it’s pretty forgiving.” And this, too, is true to family lore.

“My dad’s command of French is almost the stuff of legend now,” she says. “Twenty-seven years of visiting Provence – staying in the same house with the same friends – and he’s still not what you’d call fluent. But while my mom and I – who’ve studied French – might hesitate, trying to be correct, my dad’s just bold. He’s asking what he wants to know in whatever cobbled-together dialect tumbles out. Dutch, Italian, German, same thing,” she says, grinning. “We call him ‘Larry Linguist.’”

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Kristine Jepsen is a freelance writer and editor – read more at kristinejepsen.com. She did not know, prior to writing this story, that burnt garlic was so easy to prevent. One additional tip: this marinade complements meats broiled in the oven, as well.

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PRINT RECIPE HERE
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Read more Roots of Food: Family Recipes and Stories here!