Aug 21, 2014

Pie Charts and Apple Pies

"Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness." 
— Jane Austen

Some people are of the opinion that cake can fix anything. And while I've never been one to turn down a piece of cake, I think that the real magical, healing food powers belong to a pie, still warm from the oven and filling the entire house with its scent.

I started my math class on Monday. After struggling through the first couple of days, I emailed the professor to ask what I was missing. Was there a textbook I forgot to buy? A video I didn't watch? She emailed back to tell me that this wasn't a "typical" class- that, in her words, "Most classes show you what to do and then have you do it- this is the opposite." 

Math is my nemesis as it is. Math with no instruction? Pass the dang pie.

So if you find yourself having a particularly tough week- or if you are having a great week, for that matter, and want to celebrate- I would suggest making a pie. I made this recipe for Amish apple pie from my mama, and it was just the thing to make my day better. A comfort food and a dessert. It makes the math go down easier. If I have to make pie charts, I might as well have a better visual of them, right?

Thanks to my mom for letting me share the recipes below. I've included her notes for the pie crust as well.


Sliced apples to fill 9-inch pie pan, half Granny Smith and half Golden Delicious [Erika's note: I used large apples, and probably only needed about 4 or 5- I actually used 7, and had to make a cobbler, too!]
2/3 c sugar
2 TBS lemon juice
1/3 c flour
½ tsp cinnamon

Sprinkle lemon juice over apples, then add remaining ingredients and toss to coat.  Pour into unbaked pie shell.  Top with crumb topping.

1 cup flour                                                       ¼ tsp cinnamon
½ c brown sugar                                              ½ c softened butter

Crumble together with pastry blender.  Sprinkle over apple mixture.  Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375°, and bake for 40-45 minutes longer, or until apples are tender.  Loosely cover with foil to prevent over-browning of topping.

Best when served warm.


"Is it really worth it to make your own pie crust, when those refrigerator or frozen crusts are so readily available?  Yes! Once you’ve tasted a real, delicately flaky, just-salty-enough crust, you’ll never settle for those things again, and you’ll never be able to choke down a store-bought (even from a bakery) pie again. There are numerous recipes, some with “secret” ingredients, but even if you leave out the baking powder listed here, you will have a truly fabulous pie crust.  The real “secret” is in barely handling the dough and keeping everything cold.  I even chill the bowl. If you’re just starting, you will get a crust that may be only edible, but keep at it, and you’ll quickly learn what the feel of the dough should be.  You may even be sorry because everyone will always expect you to bring the pies for every gathering!"

2 c flour                                                            ¾ c cold shortening, cut into pieces
1 tsp salt                                                           ice water
¼ tsp baking powder

If you wish to use a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, and baking powder a couple of times. Add the chilled shortening, cut into pieces or slices.  Pulse very briefly until the mixture resembles very coarse crumbs with pea-sized pieces remaining. Do not over-process! The larger pieces of shortening are what make the crust flaky. Transfer the flour-shortening mixture to a medium bowl.  Sprinkle about 3 tablespoonfuls of ice water over the flour mixture, drawing the dough together very gently with a fork just until the dough holds together, and adding only enough additional water to keep the dough together. Do not handle the dough with your hands any more than necessary.  Chilling the dough after dividing into two disks may make the pie crust a little easier to roll out, but it isn’t necessary.  Wrap the disks with plastic wrap and chill for at least ½ hour before rolling out on well-floured surface.  You may freeze the disks, wrapped in plastic wrap and then placed in freezer bags, if desired, for up to 1 month. One recipe yields 2 crusts to fit a 9-inch pan.

If not using food processor, stir the salt and baking powder into the flour in a medium bowl.  Cut in the pieces of chilled shortening with 2 knives or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with pea-sized pieces and continue as above.

Aug 14, 2014

Begin Again

Here I am. Again.

I wrote at my chambanachik blog for five years. Before Sky, before Millie, and before Walter, it was me and a laptop. Things have changed so much since then. Those three people have created a family for me. I gave birth to two beautiful babies. I got married, struggled in it, stayed with it. I went to school, then stopped, then went, then stopped and went again. I lived in several different apartments on different streets. I probably became different people along the way. Or maybe it's that I found out more of who I really am.

Chambanachik never fit me. It's not that I've outgrown it; it just never felt like it represented me well. A website in town started a similarly-titled blog about a year after I began mine. The "chik" part is (purposefully) misspelled (it's a long and pretty uninteresting story), and the whole thing sounds a little young and ditsy. But the truth is, I'm just days away from my 30th birthday, and I sincerely hope I'm not a ditz. I am starting a new space because I made a silly mistake that ended up deleting every photo I've ever posted on my blog. Photos that go with stories, that have meaning, that mattered to me. But in a silver lining sort of way, I have a chance for a fresh start. My blog will probably have less followers. It'll be smaller than it was before. But it will still be me, still writing.

When I was little (and really, to this day), I had dreams of writing for a living. I would sigh every time our family drove by the newspaper building in town. For a short while in high school, I did get the chance to write a few articles for that newspaper. I had the hardest time cashing the $20 checks that they gave me, because I couldn't believe that someone had paid me to write. Even before that, I came up with a (short-lived) family newspaper (The Smith Gazette), and poorly designed a couple-page edition every so often, complete with headlines to stories everyone in the family already knew, and lots of wing-ding accents. It's in that ridiculous but nostalgic spirit that I'm beginning this new blog: The Midwest Press.

The tagline for chambanachik was "marriage, motherhood, the military, and my world in Chambana". Nothing much will change here. Those things comprise the biggest parts of me. I briefly considered giving up a blog altogether after all my pictures were gone. But at the end of the day, I'm not a photographer. I'm a writer. And write I shall.

So thank you. For following me to a new place because you care what I have to say. Do you know how much that humbles me? Chambanachik began when I didn't know a soul in blogland. Now I know so many of you. Dear friends. Military spouses. People who live down the road for me. Family. You are all a part of my world in one way or another, and you all matter to me. Thank you for letting me matter to you. Thank you for reading.

Out with the old, and in with the new. There's nothing but wide, open space here. Time to make it my own.

For those of you who'd like my new links:
Email: themidwestpress(at)gmail(dot)com -or- chambanachik(at)gmail(dot)com
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