Hot Soup and Hand Pies

Monday, October 14, 2013


For days our start to the month of hallows has been hot and dry with winds blowing steady at 45mph and gusting up to 60mph. It’s the kind of weather that makes your hands crack and your skin crawl. No matter how much lotion you use or time spent soaking in an oil laced bath you can’t escape it. I was more than ready for a cooling trend. But this morning’s weather was something I did not expect. The sky roiled and rowed like an angry ocean squall; its clouds shaded like a soft dove to the color of a blacksmith’s iron. The horizon was tinged with flecks of steel blue as the sun fought to be noticed. The temperature had dropped below 55 and the wind was blustery and chilled from the cool night air. It was storm-like and fall-like and I was in heaven.

Fall is my season. From the first hint of gold in a late afternoon sky to the first freeze of winter this is where I live, where I want to live. I love the blaze of fall leaves that swirl up the road as cars drive by. I breathe in deep the wafts of cold air tainted with the smoke of first wood fires. I love the hearty meals of bubbling soups and stews paired with hot rolls or baked bread. Yes, in deed, this is my season.

After an early morning speaking engagement I drove back to the farm, through a stormy horizon, through a blustery wind, through a drizzle that teased me with the chance of a heavier rain. Its days like this that I work better from home. With my soft instrumental mountain music playing and the glow of scented candles burning it is just the ambience I need to write with abandon. And write I did. Deadlines loomed, proposals called out to be completed and new ones clamored to be roughed out. Its days like this when I can hunker down, away from the chaos of the office, and accomplish a lot. And I did just that.

Before starting final edits I took a break to figure out dinner. It was late afternoon and I had nothing defrosted. A bowl of apples, victims of the weekend wind storm, caught my eye as did a jar of white bean soup perched on a shelf in the fridge. I immediately thought of the wonderful warm lunches I had on a New England vacation, bean soup and small apple hand pies. I smiled as I saw in my mind the perfect meal to end the perfect day.

The soup was a Crockpot endeavor made a few days ago when news reports falsely called for colder weather. It is full of white beans, ham hocks, vegetables and broth. But, life always turns out the way it’s suppose to; bean soup would not be possible for dinner started so late in the afternoon. All I needed to do now was pour the soup into a large kettle and set it to simmer while I worked on the hand pies. If you’re not familiar with the term “hand pie” it is similar to a turnover or a smaller version of a normal apple pie. It uses the same amount of dough as a double-crust pie. The only exception is that the dough is cut into four pieces before it is rolled out. The best part though is making the filling. The aroma that fills the house is sensational.

Two to three apples are peeled, cored, and chopped; sautéed in 2T of butter until semi-soft. Then ¼ cup white sugar and 2T brown sugar along with ¼ t of salt and 1t of cinnamon are added and cooked to caramelize the sugars and incorporate the whole mess. You can’t help but want to lick the spoon, but be warned…it’s hot!

Once you have reached the consistency you like, pull the pan off the stove to cool. Roll out the dough, pile about 1/3c of the apple mixture in the middle, fold over the crust, seal and crimp the edges to hold in the juices. Brush an egg wash over the top and sprinkle with white sugar. Pop into a 400-degree pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.  There you have it…the perfect little pie for any size hand.

My dough got a bit warm waiting for the apples to cool, which allowed the apples to poke through. They may not be pretty, but man were they good.

No matter what Mother Nature throws my way meals like this will always carry me through.


Happy Fall!

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