Single Mom Chronicles October 13th 2019

Single Mom Chronicles October 13th 2019

It’s pumpkin month.  And, yes, this post is late.  Again.  Even I’m rolling my eyes.  And I’ve been basically absent for the entire summer.  Even though my kid is grown, I know those of you with kids still in school can relate to how busy the summer months are.  It certainly never felt like a break of any kind!  But let’s pretend that I kept up on the Chronicles and just pick it up here.  With Halloween!

I’m so excited!  Halloween is one of my favorite silly holidays.  No one tells you that being a single parent is more like being a prison warden.  You spend most of your time being a disciplinarian.  And it sucks, to say the very least.  But on Halloween, you get to give candy with wild abandon.  Or, at least with as much abandon your wallet will allow.  I had priorities with my candy money, which I saved here and there from the previous two months.  Teenagers got the cheapest mints ever and trick or treat aged children got chocolates.  That’s how I roll.

I still drape white sheets over the furniture.  I still cook for a crowd.  And I still give out undesirable candy to teenagers.  Some years have been more fussy than others.  But I’ve always done SOMETHING….even in the leanest years.  In the lean years, slumgullion was a hit.  In moderate (or lazy) years there was chili and sometimes it was in a pumpkin.  In better years it was steaks on the grill.  But every year there was a roasted pumpkin for puree and stock.  That recipe is here:

There was also something with apples.  My kid loved apples and still does.  For around six bucks I could make an apple pie.  I’ve done caramel apples, candied apples, apple dumplings, mulled apple cider, apples and cheese…the list goes on.  A home made dessert…even just fruit and cheese on a plate…made the sting of getting half your hard earned trick or treating candy tossed out much less traumatic.

Yep.  I was that mom.  Chocolate stayed unless it was wrapped in unsealed foil.  Cheap hard candy got tossed.  Salt water taffy?  Gone.  Gum?  No thanks.  Whomever handed out gum clearly never had to clean it out of a clothes drier.  Or off the walls.  Or out of hair, carpets, and auto upholstery.  Candy was metered out one piece at a time one day at a time.  I managed to keep my kid cavity free his entire life.  Because who can afford dentists?!

Apples in the fall are easy and affordable.  For pie filling, the most effort takes about half an hour of coring and peeling, which can be done with nothing more than a paring knife.  If you don’t have a pie dish and don’t want to spend a dollar on a three pack of disposable pie plates, you can easily make hand pies.  No pie dish required!

I liked to use Granny Smith because they were less expensive and often quite large which meant I needed less apples….five to eight usually does it.  They hold their shape the best in cooking and baking.  Bonus!  It took me a very long time to figure out how to make an apple pie after my grandmother passed.  I regret not having learned her pie tricks.  But this pie is pretty good, if I do say so myself.  If you’re short on time, just use a boxed pie dough.  There’s no shame in it.

I used boxed dough for years. It was under three bucks and I’m a terrible baker.  However, recently I came across Babe’s recipe for pie dough.  Babe was Gramma’s best friend for decades.  She gave me a copy of a cookbook for a womens’ league that she submitted her pie dough recipe to.  I stumbled across the book cleaning out the garage and I’ve been dying to try it out.  My guess is that it’s the same recipe Gramma used.  Let’s find out!

The actual recipe calls for two cups of vegetable shortening.  Yikes.  I swapped it for butter and cut the amount by a quarter cup.  If you only eat hot pie (wow that sounds…awkward) then vegetable shortening is just fine.  However, we can’t eat a whole pie in one sitting and inevitably the leftovers need to go in the fridge.  Cold pastry made with vegetable shortening is just gross.  Sorry (not sorry), but it just is.  If you’ve ever eaten anything that was made with pastry and it coated the inside of your mouth with a weird film that feels slick….that’s cold or room temperature vegetable shortening at work.  No thanks!

What I like about the pastry recipe is that it makes four rounds.  You can make two fruit pies or four single crust pies or a mixture of both.  I kept two rounds in the freezer and made two single crust chocolate pies a few days later.  Perfect!  I mean, if you’re going to spend the time, might as well make some extra to save time…..later.

Being the terrible no good awfully horrible baker that I am, I spent years…literally…perfecting apple pie.  Actually, it wasn’t perfecting, but more of just trying to accomplish an edible pie.  Happy?  Anyway, I sweat my apples and I use scant seasoning.  Also, I skip the lemon juice.  Because, why?!  It’s just to keep the apples from browning and they’re going to be baked anyway.  I’ve always found the “browning” of the apples to be minimal enough to skip the lemon thing.  I have better uses for my lemons, nor are they cheap.

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  Sweating.  I keep my peeled, cored, sliced, and seasoned apples in a big bowl in a warm place as long as possible….sometimes all day.  I give them a stir now and then.  What results is a liquid I reduce to a sticky goo that I drizzle over the pie right before adding the pastry lid.  I’ve never changed that aspect of the pie through all my trials and errors.  Without further adieu….behold…apple pie from a terrible baker.

Apple Pie



  • 6-8 large Granny Smith apples about 8 cups cored, peeled, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar roughly...I use 3 handfuls
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg more or less to your taste
  • 1 teaspoon cloves more or less to your taste
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon more or less to your taste
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 stick of butter however much that is
  • 1 egg beaten


  • 4 cups all purpose flour plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter frozen
  • 1 cup ice water


  • In a large bowl, coat the prepared apples in the sugar, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.  Toss to combine well.  Set aside for several hours.  I do my apples in the morning.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the dough.  Pour cold water into a cup or mug or whatever and place it in the freezer.  Give the salt and flour a quick whisk.  Chop the butter into marble sized pieces and combine them into the flour.  I use my hands to smoosh (that's a technical term) the butter into the flour.  Alternatively, you could use a pastry blender (I don't own one) or you could toss the whole thing into a food processor and give it a few pulses.  I'm kind of low rent and I didn't want to clean a food processor mess.
  • When the flour butter mixture looks like small gravel, add the ice water and stir to combine.  I use a wooden spoon or a stiff spatula here.  I do a kind of folding in method.  When the dough is completely combined (ish), turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and do a quick knead to get it really all together, sprinkling scant flour when you need to.
  • Form it into a makeshift round, cut it into four pieces, reshape them into rounds, and wrap the individual rounds in saran wrap.  Store them in the fridge and go do some laundry or whatever you have to do and come back to your pie later.
  • When you're ready to bake the pie (finally), separate the apples from the liquid that's formed.  Put the liquid in a small saucepot and boil it on medium or medium high and the apples in a different bowl.
  • While the goo is cooking, toss the apples with the tapioca flour.  Toss it well to get the apples evenly coated.
  • Roll out one round of pie dough to fit your pie plate on a lightly floured surface.  I shoot for a thickness of about a 1/4 inch or less.  To move the rolled out pastry from your work surface to the pie plate, fold the dough in half and then in half again.  I learned this the hard way with many ripped pastry doughs on my belt.  Then unfold it into the the pie plate.
  • Preheat the oven to 375.  Put the apples into the pie plate and press them gently down to compact them.  I do some fussing here, but not too long!  Keep an eye on the goo bubbling away on the stove!
  • Dot the apple mixture with the butter.  Top the the whole thing with the sugar goo.  It should be sticky and syrupy like.  I have no idea how long this takes, either.  Right now you're thinking, "What is with this ridiculous recipe?"  But it takes about 15 minutes.  Ish.
  • Roll out the second round of pastry and cover the pie with it.  Pinch the bottom pastry and the top pastry together to seal it.  Brush the beaten egg over the entire thing and dust it with a little sugar.  Cut 4 vent slits into the center of the pie with a knife.
  • Place the pie on a piece of foil in the center of the oven and bake it for between 35 and 60 minutes.  I know that's a large variance, but some ovens are just so weird.  I start checking it at 35 minutes.  Enjoy!

1 thought on “Single Mom Chronicles October 13th 2019”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating