Tree To Table – Apple Pie Edition. . .Deliciousness Continues

Since I first wrote about my apples and pie, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Kate McDermott, the Pie Mama.  Her new cookbook – Art Of The Pie, A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life – is published and will be available in October 2016.  July is my Mom’s birthday month; she is the reason I have such an attachment to my garden and was my kitchen coach.  Her pies were legend.

To honor both of these women, I think it’s only fitting to republish this story.  I think you’ll be able to feel the warmth of the sun in my orchard and smell the hot apple pie if you close your eyes.

Happy reading!

It’s October – one of my favorite months and the beginning of my favorite time of year.  This year, in our worst California drought of my lifetime, our apple trees have put on a spectacular show of beauty and productivity.  It’s like they all rolled up their sleeves and said “Take THAT drought!”  We have a bumper crop of Gravensteins and Fuji apples.

Our 3-year old apple trees are just beautiful

Our 3-year old apple trees are just beautiful



Fortunately, my friend and business partner, Debi, has become my Pie Crust Queen, thanks to instruction from Kate McDermott’s Art Of The Pie (check this out but don’t get lost and forget to come back for the rest of the story….it can happen!).

Deb’s been tempting me with pie crust stories for weeks.  Coincidentally, it’s also time for our Q4 business planning – pie and planning – what a great idea!

Bucket of Fujis in hand….I made my way over to her house for our own Fall Kickoff.


Fresh Apples and our first rainfall of the season

Fresh Apples and our first rainfall of the season

Prepare yourselves for the best Apple Pie story EVER.


Let Pie Season Begin!

The Stage Is Set. . .Let Pie Season Begin!

Homegrown, organic, locally sources apples (hit all those high points, we did), coupled with the finest flour, leaf lard, grass fed butter….oh my!

Step-by-step, we sliced apples and added the sugar and spices.  It’s all by “feel” and sweetness of the apples. I love it when baking is more art form than strict science – that’s pies for sure!

Preparing the Apple Filling

Preparing the Apple Filling From The Heart

I have never….EVER…. worked with a crust that behaved as well as this one.  I’m an Art Of The Pie addict FOR LIFE!

We put together pie dough with our hands until it felt just right, rolled it out, and filled up our pie plates until not one more apple slice would fit.

This dough rolls out like a dream

This dough rolls out like a dream

Edges beautifully crimped and into the oven they went.

Baked To Perfection.

While they baked, Debi and I got our business plans out, planned strategies, training, events, and wrapped up our schedules through the end of the year.  Q4 – we knocked it out of the park!

The timer pinged and out came the pies.

It smells like Autumn!


Everything just seems to work out better when gathered around the pastry table.


If you’re dying for this cookbook (as I am) hop on over and place your preorder for  Art Of The Pie, A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life

Beef Bone Broth

It’s all the rage!

What my Mom and Grandmother just called Stock or Soup is now recognized for what it is – a big kettle of yummy and wellness.
Today Mr Hensong roasted up a big batch of beef marrow bones, then simmered them ALL DAY on the stove.  Here’s how we make our broth, it’s not so much a recipe as a set of instructions you can change up to fit your needs.  The steps are what’s important.
  1. Get good grassfed  beef bones – we buy ours from a rancher, but you can buy them from your butcher.
  2. Roast the bones – this is what makes the flavor
  3. Have patience – good things come to those who wait.


7-ish pounds beef marrow bones (they’ll be cut into pieces by your butcher)
2 large onions, chopped
2 cups of chopped vegetables/vegetable scraps/peelings (for us this is always raw celery, carrots, and other vegetable peelings we’ve saved – just NOT vegetables from the cabbage family)
20 peppercorns (Note – if you use ground pepper instead, start with a teaspoon; taste as you go along)
5 garlic cloves, peeled
3 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs)
1 1/2 gallons water (approximately); use filtered if you can


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the bones on a roasting pan (one you can put on a burner) and roast for 1 hour. Remove from the oven. Add the vegetables . Return to the oven and roast for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven.  Place the bones in a LARGE stock pot. Move the roasting pan to a burner and deglaze with water, scraping the bottom of the pan for browned particles.  Pour the deglazed mixture into the stock pot with the bones. Add the peppercorns, garlic, and herbs. Add the water – as close to 1 1/2 gallons as you can get. Season with salt. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a rolling simmer. Add the apple cider vinegar. Cook for 4 hours or more (can be a lot longer). Remove from the heat. Strain the liquid and discard the bones. Cool the broth, then refrigerate. The fat will float to the top and become solid, making it easy to remove. Save or discard the fat – whatever you wish to do.

At this point we canned our broth using our  All American Pressure Canner.  It’s the perfect size for the home kitchen.

Note:  For this batch, we removed the marrow from the bones and pureed it into the finished stock. We now have a marrow bone puree to use for cooking.  It has a different, creamier, look but tastes just as amazing as clear broth and includes all the goodness of the marrow.

Be creative with your broth – that’s your signature!

Peach Pickles

Fresh from the farmer's market

Fresh from the farmer’s market

I have a vivd Fall memory of my Mother – Libby – at the stove, stirring a pot of Spiced Peach Pickles.   When they finished simmering, they went into sparkling clean Ball jars and processed until sealed in a water bath.  We didn’t live on a farm – but Mom would hunt out the best cling peaches she could find. These had to be perfect, small, jewels. Fruit was plentiful in our San Francisco Bay Area before Silicon Valley replaced the orchards at the south end of San Francisco Bay.

Here is the recipe she used. Mom was born and raised in Indiana and nothing would do but this hallmark canning book published in Muncie, Indiana.

28th Edition

28th Edition

Peach Pickles

1 piece ginger root

2 sticks cinnamon

1 tablespoon whole allspice

1 tablespoon whole cloves

5-6 cups sugar, divided

2 cups water

3 cups apple cider vinegar

24 small, firm-ripe, peeled peaches (clingstones are best)


Tie spices in cheesecloth. Combine spice bag, 2 cups sugar, water, vinegar in a large pot.  Bring to boiling; add peaches a few at a time (so they have room to move around).  Simmer until heated thoroughly.  Carefully remove the peaches. Repeat until all peaches have been heated.  Pour boiling liquid over the peaches, cover, and let stand for 3-4 hours.  Carefully remove the peaches from the liquid.  Add 2 more cups sugar to liquid and heat to boiling.  Pour back over peaches and let stand 12-18 hours in a couple place.

NOTE: Sugar is added in small amounts to avoid shriveling the peaches. Don’t skip this part.


Pack peaches into hot Ball jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Add remaining 1-2 cups sugar to the liquid. Bring to boiling, pour over peaches, leaving the 1/4 inch head space in the jar. Adjust caps, Process pints and quarts 10 mins in a boiling water bath.

Need Canning Instructions?

If you are new to canning, check out the Ball Website for everything you need to know and more (this is not a paid promotion – it’s simply my go-to place when I want accurate info)

Thank you to The Food Network for this beautiful example of spiced pickled peaches

Thank you to The Food Network for this beautiful example of spiced pickled peaches