Thursday, July 4, 2013

As American as Apple Pie

Happy 4th of July everyone! It’s one of those days on the calendar when it’s really hard to be an expat. Instead of partaking in the merriment of a day spent at the lake, I’m huddled inside next to the space heater, staying out of the chilly rainy weather outside. Instead of relaxing with my husband on a rare day off of work, I was up at 6:40 this morning walking him to the office. 

We do plan to mark the occasion tonight by having dinner with some of our fellow displaced Americans. We strategically picked a dinner destination on the beach, where we hope that Aberdeen will be merciful and show us some sunshine, so that maybe for a moment we can pretend we’re back on the sunny and warm shores of America. 

To make matters worse, yesterday I ate my last sachet of Quaker oatmeal from the good Ole USA. Now I’m relegated to Quaker 'porridge'. Yuck.  Not even close to being the same thing.

Moving on...I figured a good patriotic subject matter for my blog today would be to recap last Thursday’s adventure in baking homemade apple pie. Periodically, a group of us housewives get together to bake yummy treats. The girls started this activity right around the time I fell pregnant, so due to my food aversions, general lack of energy, and embarrassing baking skills, I always opted out. 

But last week I was feeling pretty good and apple pie sounded delicious so I decided to RSVP yes. My friend Liz hosted at her house which is just around the corner from us. Liz and Greg have hands down the most beautiful kitchen in all of Aberdeenshire, so it was the perfect place to get our baking on. 

Liz claims that she’s not a big cook, but everything she’s ever made for me has been yummy in my tummy. And plus, she’s the one who pulled out her regular homemade from scratch Apple Pie recipe (courtesy of Paula Deen), so I was pretty impressed with that. I was doubly intimidated when she started spouting out directions for making the dough for the crust. “Say what? You mean, you didn’t just buy the pre-made ones from the store?” 

Jessica and Liz got busy on the crusts while Nary whipped up the apple filling. 
I mainly observed though I was assigned the task of preserving the apple slices with sprinkled lime juice. I think it added a nice touch. 

We had to let the dough sit for 2 hours, so we headed out to the patio to soak up some rare sunshine and drink some fizzy drinks. It was so refreshing and just pleasant all around. Once we had our fill of vitamin D, we headed indoors to watch last week’s episode of The Bachelorette. We took a breather in between Desiree’s quest for love to knead the dough and mold it to the pie plates. 

This is where I really stepped up to the plate and was given the massive responsibility of pressing the crust into the baking dish. Liz and Nary assured me that mine looked fine before I was given the equally important task of scooping the apple filling into my pie.  
These girls trust me way too much. I somehow managed not to mess it up, but was secretly relieved when Liz took over the job of latticing the dough over the top of the pie. 
Then she gave the reigns back to me to sprinkle the crunchy topping over the dessert. 
Are you sensing a trend here? They seem to trust me to do a lot of sprinkling. I don’t blame them. Even when I do manage to bake something scrumptious, the chances of it looking fancy are pretty much nil. It’s just not in my skill set. Analyzing Desiree’s body language when she’s not into one of her suitors is way more up my alley, so I felt more confident when we went back to my wheelhouse of watching reality TV while the pies were baking. 

I cannot even describe to you how heavenly that kitchen smelled while they were baking. Like the best Yankee Candle impersonation times a million. 
My stomach was growling in anticipation of apple pie for lunch. The hardest part was waiting for them to ‘cool’ once they came out of the oven. 
I’m notorious for biting into a dessert before it has time to cool off and therefore severely burning my lip. Luckily, the other girls were distracting me from my delayed gratification so I was able to wait the allotted 15 minutes for my slice of warm apple pie. Saying it was worth the wait is a complete understatement. The pie was delicious as well as lovely.
One of the reasons my baking skills are sub-par is that my husband prefers I not load the house with tempting treats. I usually will only make something sweet whenever I’m hosting a get together or contributing to some sort of food spread elsewhere. Still, when Liz instructed us to all take some goodies home for our hard-working hubbies, I loaded up a plate with a few extra helpings of pie. Jonathan was very grateful and even inquired as to why I didn’t bring home more. 

Luckily, Liz had the forethought of printing us all out a copy of the controversial Ms. Deen’s Crunchy Top Apple Pie. 
And though it was quite a labor intensive process, I feel like the instructions are simple and clear enough that even a novice such as myself might be able to replicate the dish. At the very least, I could buy a pre-made pie crust and fill it in with apple-ly goodness. No one would ever have to know. 
In case you’re interested, here is the original recipe of Paula Deen's Crunch Top Apple Pie. And if you want to be all fancy-pants and make the crust from scratch, you can find her Perfect Pie Crust directions here. 

And in honor of the birth of the USA, here is one of my favorite 'national anthems' by Deirks Bentley. I can't get through the song without getting super emotional. It just captures my ambivalence about my native country so well. That even though it has it's cultural faults and moments that break my heart, I honestly still have a deep seated pride in America and am proud to call it home. 


  1. Laine, I just asked you if you needed me to bring back anything from the states in which you replied no, silly girl! I will bring you back some good ol American oatmeal if you let me know what kind. :-) Plain or flavored?

    Pie looks delicious! Sad I missed out on the fun. Happy 4th of July!

  2. As I was reading your blog, I was thinking I will send her some oatmeal by Jill and then I read Jill's comment. You are so getting oatmeal, so make sure you let us know which brand and flavor. Happy Fourth of July and your pie looks yummy!

  3. I can't go back to sleep after a 3am now I'm sitting at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal...because I really want apple pie but that's not exactly practical at this hour! Looks so yummy yummy