I have to admit something. Baking intimidates me. As comfortable as I am with cooking, I am that tentative a baker. It's having to measure exactly and follow directions that gets this fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants gal. With cooking I can be spontaneous. You know, a little of this, a dash of that. Inevitably, whenever I try to bake, something goes wrong. I added too much baking soda or too little baking soda. Oh no, I left out the baking soda! Determination keeps me coming back though, if only a few times a year. When my baking attempts are successful (and sometimes they are), it is truly satisfying, but clearly I need a little help. How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman has been my trusted companion through many a cooking adventure and is what I usually turn to for a well prepared classic dish. My copy of this book is a several years old and has been well used. Inside it is lovingly crinkled where some delicious concoction jumped right out of the pot and landed on its splayed pages.
The first thing I need to do is be organized and prepared. So I have lined up all the ingredients I am going to need like little soldiers preparing for battle. Then I will measure out my dry components.
I cored, peeled and chopped my apples. Tossing them in lemon juice will keep them from turning brown if I am not going to use them right away.
Nick and I did this little project together. The two recipes we used in How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman were Traditional Apple Pie and Flakey Pie Crust with the Pie shell for Two Crust Pie variation. As hard as we tried to stick to the recipe, there were still changes. Tips from our moms, for instance. My mom, Lydia, insisted I put a little more sugar. The heart at the top of the pie is a trick from Nick's mom, Andrea. The pastry heart keeps the knife slits from opening too much when the pie bakes (or it just looks cute). The other hearts were my idea. Purely decorative.
I feel a little better about baking. This was not so difficult. The result was great. Considering we still have a gazillion more apples, it looks like I will be baking again really soon.