Monday, October 03, 2011

tales from the kitchen, AKA a willis kitchen nightmare...

now that the kids are back to school and fall weather is on our doorstep things around here get a little more adventurous, especially since i *LOOOOOOVE* fall. i could take fall weather all year long. and my family is always up for adventure.

we started the first of many fall weekend adventures two weekends ago at Lynd Fruit Farm (our favorite local orchard) for our annual family field trip for some apple picking. ahhhh. traditions. *happy sigh*

i could tell you the obvious about these photos, like how ashlyn transformed into a monkey and climbed to the heights of the trees just to reach apples and be somewhere that her sister couldn't. or how spidergirl is an ornery 6 year-old multiplied times 10,000 as noted by all her looney facial expressions--that i love by the way. but, i couldn't let another day go by without reminiscing about the crazy that only seems to happen to me. the crazy that isn't so obvious.

but first....a little background.

you see, each year we usually schedule our trip to harvest Jonagold apples, but when i looked up the online picking schedule a month or so ago, i discovered that Jonagolds wouldn't be ready until September 24th...just 4 days after ashlyn's surgery. not knowing whether or not she'd feel up to the adventure, we just decided to play it safe and go the weekend before instead of risking not getting to go at all---which is exactly what happened last year.

this particular weekend ended up being the weekend of the MacIntosh, Cortland, and Jonathon. so here we are driving through the entrance at the orchard to grab our bags and ask which of the three were what we were wanting to fill our bags with and we were directed on down the lane to the row with the blue flags.

not being very familiar with these types of apples we decided that sampling one would help us decide which one would make the perfect apple pie. so we plucked one from the tree, doug shined it on his shirt and took a bite before handing it off to me to sample, then i handed it off to suzi, and so on. it's pretty easy to polish off an apple when you have 5 mouths taste-testing it. ha.

whewwwwwwww. was that thing sour and super juicy. while tart apples are a good thing for pie, this one had absolutely no hint of sweet at all. passsss.

so we made our way to the next aisle. nope not the right kind either. bummer.

back in the car and across the street we landed ourselves in the Cortland orchard. better, but still not quite what i was looking for. but at this point, we're here to have fun and not look for perfection right. (something i have to remind myself of way too often) and gooooodness gracious, we have things to do!

i made an executive decision to just go with it--no more wasting precious minutes allowed! let's get this apple picking party started because we all know it's a law--when you pick a 1/2 bushel of apples, you must go home and DO something with them. yes?

for us, that always means i make an apple pie (or two....or three)---which is doug's favorite. i'm not a fan of apple pie, but i eat one small piece a year from the pie i make immediately after coming home from the orchard.....i mean, all that hard work shouldn't be in vain, now should it?

so, as you can imagine, while the actual picking is a fun family adventure, the real magic happens after we get home. we almost immediately start washing, peeling, coring and slicing just to make an apple pie. after 16 years of making this particular apple pie recipe, i have this thing down.

or you'd think i would anyway. LOL.

i liken guesstimating the amount of apples you need to peel, core and slice for my pie recipe to trying to figure out how many potatoes to scrub, rinse and peel for a pot of mashed taters. i *always* over guesstimate. you'd think after 16 years i'd gather my apples and put about 5 of them back to save myself some work. LOL.

anywho. while starting to wash the apples, i found ashlyn in the kitchen at my side, uber excited about helping me to make the pies. this NEVER happens! she'd usually rather pluck out strands of hair one by one until she's bald than help me cook in the kitchen. but always being up for a challenge (or disaster, however you want to look at it), i welcomed the help. i rarely shoo the kids from the kitchen. i love to have them learn the way i learned.

she helped pick the apples she thought were best, then she disappeared for a few, then she was back to do the coring and made it through four apples before disappearing again only to return when they were all done with disappointment in her tone because she couldn't do more. and she tried to peel but doesn't quite have the coordination to use the apple peeler. it was frustrating her and she wasn't in the mood to win that battle. so off she went to practice her handstands in the middle of the livingroom. *sigh*

but i finally captured her full attention when it was time to start measuring and mixing the ingredients that makes apple pie so delectable and delicious (yes, that's a commonly used phrase in our house...'delectable and delicious'). so we measured and mixed and started filling the first pie shell when we realized "holy guacamole, why did we prep so many apples?"

while we realized before we started we'd probably have enough apples for two pies, never did we ever dream we'd have enough for THREE! so, a few quick adjustments later and the thought of wasting perfectly delicious apples was no longer a thing of concern.

while we were measuring and mixing and filling pie crusts, doug was preheating the oven for us and dancing around our mess trying to cook dinner. if you know my kitchen at all, you know how laughable that must be that the three of us were in the kitchen trying to do our thing without causing a royal disaster. my kitchen is tiny.


before preheating the oven he covered the bottom rack in an overlapping layer aluminum foil and declared it ready to go. he was ready to help me fill up the oven with three pies. we briefly talked about three possibly not fitting and wondered, even if they did would there be enough air circulation around them to cook properly? i don't know, what do i look like a pie maker or something. heh.

we decided to cook all three at once and just watch them closely so we could adjust the baking time if necessary. we just didn't know how closely we'd be watching them. heh.

5 minutes into baking them i notice a burning smell.....the oven was filled with a hazy smoke. no worries, i thought. just too many pies in the oven. we'll take one out and do them in two batches. i wondered if the third pie would be okay to sit for an hour while the first two baked. but really, if it wasn't, we already had two others .

we couldn't figure out otherwise what would make the oven fill with smoke.

we put two pies back in the oven and 5 minutes later it's still smoking. ugh. so, it's not the pies. we're so smart. ha.

that's when we took out the pies, turned the oven off, removed the racks, and noticed there was a small amount of something on the bottom of the oven. so we let it cool, wiped out the oven, put the foil back on the bottom rack, put the racks back in, preheated the oven again, and put the pies in for an hour.

about halfway through the baking time, we're all sitting in the livingroom watching a show with the kids, when i look toward the kitchen and notice smoke wafting into the livingroom. i immediately jumped up and ran to the kitchen to see smoke billowing through the burners on the top of the oven and opened the oven to find a FIRE IN MY OVEN!

*insert mini-freakout*

i've been cooking and baking my entire married life....and even years before....and never have i ever caught anything on fire. i suppose there's a first for everything, eh?

i yelled for doug to hurry (he was in the basement checking his football stats) and help because there's a FIRE IN THE OVEN! the kids were terrified. and as it turns out, fire scares the living daylights out of me.

i'm so thankful that suzi was there because she helped calm their fears to let them know it was going to be okay despite my mini-freakout. i'm so thankful that doug has nerves of steel and as usual was cool as a cucumber. he doesn't ever freak about anything.

remember those super juicy apples? well it turns out, super juicy apples (even though the orchard staff told me they were) aren't great apples for baking pies. ha.

looking back, i should have adjusted the measurement of the flour to help make up for the super juicy apples. it would have caused the extra runny syrup to gel a little better. but because i didn't they ran over onto the overlapping pieces of aluminum foil covering the second rack in the oven, then ran between the layers of foil onto the bottom of the oven and caught fire.

yikes!

it was self-contained, and quickly burned itself out, but jeez louise that was a very nerve-racking few minutes.

so, what'd we do? you guessed it. we took the racks out, turned the oven off, let it cool, scrubbed it down for the second time, put the racks back in, put the pies onto foiled-covered cookie sheets, and finished baking them.

then, we still had a third pie to bake. we debated on whether it was worth it to go through all that again, but the third one baked without incident. what a looooooooong day. HA. but the pie was DELICIOUS.

that's one pie making experience that we'll talk about every year from here on out. so worth the energy to have humorous memories like these to look back on.

and just for the record: i didn't get any pictures and that was the first thing that was joked about when the whole ordeal was over. "i can't believe you didn't holler for doug to bring the camera."

i hope our other weekend adventures are a little less, um......adventurous.

1 comment:

  1. LOL, you are right ... great story for YEARS to come!

    ReplyDelete

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