Friday, February 9, 2024

Of February Joys


Paperwhite narcissus are such a joy to me. This is my second batch, the first one started in early December. I order 24 Ziva bulbs and use most of them in three or four containers around the house for Christmas. I put polished rocks in the containers, fill with water up to barely touching the bulb and keep them cool and dark for almost two weeks until roots are full and small pale green shoots appear when I bring them out. 

Then I have enough bulbs left for one big display and I believe the second batch are even more special, filling my kitchen with their perfume.

Do you see that sweet face above? James Mason and his sister always bring me joy! And he's in another episode of disc disease pain right now so I'm trying to keep him resting and inactive as much as possible while the meds work. 

This gives me the opportunity to write a blog post and I wanted to tell you about the absolutely amazing apple pie I made before Christmas. It's from a 2007 Cook's Illustrated magazine and it was a labor of love, taking me all day. Was that just me and my slowness? I mean, I always take triple time that recipes say it's supposed to take. 

I can't give you a link to this recipe because you have to subscribe to it now but you know a pie crust is going to be good when it calls for two sticks of butter and sour cream. After I put it together in my Cuisinart, formed it into two balls and put it in the fridge for two hours I started peeling the apples. [I took pictures each step of the recipe but am sparing you most of them!]

This is the step that was a surprise to me but is supposed to be so much better than using raw apples. I cooked the apples in a Dutch oven, along with the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon juice and zest for 20 minutes AND then put the cooked apples on a baking sheet to cool for 30 minutes. I started to skip this step but decided to follow everything as written. 

Have you ever cooked the apples for an apple pie?

Then I put the apple mixture in a colander and drained out the juices to discard. 

Then it was time to roll out the dough into two rounds. And then the rounds of dough went back into the fridge for 30 minutes on parchment paper! After that I lined the pie plate with one round and poured the apples into that and sprinkled with lemon juice. 

Time to top the pie with the second pastry, slits cup in, brushed with egg white wash, and sprinkled with sugar.

After baking at 425 F. for 40 minutes (recipe called for 45-55 minutes) I took it out and then had to wait 1 1/2 hours to cut and eat.

Lord have mercy, was that apple pie the best I've ever eaten!

Okay, maybe it didn't take me all day but it took me hours and hours. And I'll never make it again unless we have company there to help us eat it because apple pie, even good apple pie, is not so good after two days and the critters and birds got the rest. The crows were particularly fond of it. 

Time to help James Mason get up and go potty. My to-do list mainly consists in taking care of him for a few days while squeezing in some basics as I can. I certainly won't be making another apple pie anytime soon. 

What are you all up to now?


  1. If the few people who read this post before I was able to quickly go back and edit a big mistake, it's COOL the apples for 30 minutes after they were put on the baking sheet, NOT Cook them again!

    Should have proofread better before hitting Publish!

    1. Ha ha, I didn't even notice the error! Just FYI, you can edit a post in Blogger after you write it.

    2. Thanks, Melanie, I did edit it right away but I saw that a few people had already seen it and didn't want anyone to think those apples had to be cook twice!

  2. Your paperwhites are gorgeous! Unfortunately, I can't have any highly scented flowers in my house, as they give me allergy headaches.
    Poor James Mason. Disc disease is common in dachshunds, right? I hope he'll be feeling much better soon with your loving care and the proper meds.
    Your apple pie is THE best looking apple pie I've ever seen! Too bad we aren't neighbors. Brian and I would've polished off the rest of that pie for you! I don't blame you for not ever wanting to make it again though. That was a ton of work.

    1. Yes, dachshunds, corgis, and Bassets, all of which we have had but dachshunds seem to experience it the most. When ours won't eat we know immediately what's happening. Keeping them from jumping up and down on furniture is vital but so hard to break that habit.
      Being neighbors would be so much fun! And I'd promise not to borrow the mower or anything. I once had a neighbor wanting to borrow a bra! What??

  3. Dewena, that is one gorgeous pie! I've not heard of cooking the apples first, but I do like the idea. I like the apples well cooked in a pie. The crust looks like a work of art. Sour cream and butter, oh my!

    I'm sorry to hear about James Mason. You are taking such good care of him, of course you are. I'm sure he feels the love!

    1. It was the flakiest pie crust I've ever made, Karen. And James Mason is feeling better today, thank goodness. Now to keep him resting to heal instead of following every step I take. He is such a little snuggler and is happy as long as I sit and get him to a deep sleep before I slip away.

  4. Your white flowers are so pretty, Dewena. Although, I've never liked its name. Your apple pie looks amazing. I wish I could have a slice of it with my tea this afternoon. Poor James Mason. I do hope he feels better and no longer in pain. I can see why he would bring you so much joy. I enjoyed reading about your February joys. It's a sweet month for sure, although my small heaters went out, and it's been really cold. Thankfully, the heater in the main room is working. Happy Valentine's Day to you, Dewena. Your charming pictures on your posts always bring a smile. : )


    1. Thank you, Sheri, and I hope you can get those heaters fixed soon and that the weather doesn't get frigid before you do. James Mason is feeling a little better and I do wish I could have shared the apple pie with you! Happy Valentine's Day, dear Sheri!

  5. One post containing both beautiful paperwhites elegantly presented, *and* the most delectable -- I can tell by looking!! -- apple pie. Goodness, what a feast you've given us today.

    --Gretchen Joanna

    1. Thank you, Gretchen Joanna, how I wish I could figure out how to help you not show up as Anonymous!

      Dear readers, Gretchen Joanna's blog is Gladsome Lights on my blogroll.

  6. Your paperwhites are so pretty, Dewena, and I can imagine the fragrance here. My own paperwhites did very little this Christmas - only one of the 6 that I planted bloomed. Very disappointing.
    That apple pie sounds amazing! Such a different way of preparing it. I would think that pre-cooking the apples would mean that the filling wouldn't sink as it sometimes does, creating a bit of a space in the top crust.

  7. Like you, I would have at least tried this scrumptious looking apple pie recipe at least once, curious to see if all that hard work and many steps were indeed worth it. I'm glad they were and that you and RH enjoyed it. Your pie looks very tasty, Dewena!

    Your paperwhites are so pretty, frilly and healthy looking and I can imagine that gorgeous scent! They don't sound too high maintenance to grow and must be such a joy for the senses in the middle of winter.

    I hope that James Mason is feeling better and has gathered some of his strength back. He must feel so loved having you there by his side, the most effective medicine there is!

    Have a wonderful week,