Nutcake

Nutcake

You know those weeks when you’re sure you’ll have plenty of time to do X and Y and everything in between?  And then reality happens and you wind up accomplishing absolutely nothing?  Well, folks, that week was this one for me.  I felt like, for the first time in a long time, I would have plenty of hours to get done my forever-long list of tasks.  And I didn’t finish any of them.  I wish there was a super-cool, trendy and fancy reason that would put me in the good graces of anyone and everyone and make me the super-star of the gathering.  But no… it was simply the fact that it’s been nearly two years since I’ve re-read Lord of the Rings and I can’t put it down!  I really love that book.  And I really love eating desserts while I read at night.  So this week I made a really easy, but awesome recipe.  Something I could throw in the oven and eat piping hot while engrossed in the Mines of Moria.  And after last week’s intense recipe I figured you could all use as much of a break as I did!  So let’s take it with this simple take on nutcake.

Nutcake
header and time

So I wanted to make this easy.  So easy you could do it in one bowl (though I used two).  So instead of making this an actual cake recipe it became a quick-bread.  What’s the difference between a cake and a quick-bread you ask?  Well, according to my friend, with whom I’ve had this debate several times, nothing.  So instead of arguing the point we’re just going to close our eyes and go with it!

nutcake ingredients

First we add all the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl.  Whisk them well to blend them together.  Just use a hand whisk.  This recipe isn’t fancy, remember?

dry ingredients

Add the eggs to a separate bowl and whisk with a fork until they are slightly beaten.  Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix until combined.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add all the liquids at once.  Stir until just combined.  We don’t want things to get over-mixed or it’ll be a bit dry and tough.  So stir, I used a spoon, until the dry ingredients are all moist and homogenous.

liquids and drys

Chop the walnuts into quarterish pieces and add most of them to the batter.  Stir until they are evenly distributed.  This recipe is super complex, I know…

Grease a 9×5 loaf pan well with butter.  If you use anything else I cannot vouch for your loaf coming out of the pan in once piece.  I’ve tried other methods and for me, nothing works as well as butter.

Add all the mixture to the pan.  Now let’s make the pseudo-candied walnuts.  Chop the remaining walnuts and mix them with the maple syrup.  Stir them together until the walnuts are completely coated.  Gently spread them over the top of the batter.

buttered pan with batter and nuts

Bake until a cake tester comes out clean.  See?  After a rough recipe last week this one is a walk in the park!  It’s so easy I added an extra step – let’s make honey butter to spread over this wonderful bread/cake.

Add the softened butter and honey together in a bowl.  Whip or beat until well combined.  Done.  Now spread it over the nutcake/bread and enjoy!

bread in a pan

Link’s Glazed Veggies

    • Tabantha Wheat
    • Cane Sugar
    • Goat Butter
    • Any Nut

Nutcake with Walnuts and Spices

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Nutcake quick bread with Walnuts and spices


Nutcake

  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1.25 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1.75 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Honey

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 5-6 tablespoons honey

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Add all the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl.  Whisk well to blend together.
  3. Add the eggs to a separate bowl and whisk with a fork until they are slightly beaten.
  4. Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix until combined.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add all the liquids at once.  Stir until just combined and there are no more dry parts.
  6. Chop the walnuts into quarters.
  7. Add 1 1/4 cups to the batter and stir until they are evenly distributed.
  8. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan well with butter and add all the mixture to the pan.
  9. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup quartered walnuts and the maple syrup together and stir until the walnuts are completely coated. Gently spread them over the top of the batter.
  10. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 55-75 minutes.
  11. To make the honey butter, add the honey and softened butter in a bowl and whip until thick and completely combined.

Salt-Grilled Gourmet Meat

Salt-Grilled Gourmet Meat

It’s the second of two Thanksgiving posts and the day is almost here, which means this recipe is just in time!  So open this up, thaw your turkey (properly), and let’s make a turkey.

Raise of hands, how many of you have ever made a turkey before?  Really?  That few?  Well don’t be intimidated.  I promise it’s a lot easier than it sounds or looks.  Quite frankly, it’s just like any other salt-grilled meat recipe we’ve already done, with a few adjustments, of course.  And you’ll love the finished product.  It’ll be picture perfect and deliciously juicy for all your guests/family!

Salt-Grilled Gourmet Meattime and heart meter

Now, you should have started thawing your turkey by now following the instructions provided with your turkey (they almost always come with instructions).  It can take up to 4 days to thaw a turkey (depending on the size) in the fridge.  If you need to speed up the process you can fill a sink with cold water and place the turkey in.  Continue checking the water to make sure it doesn’t get too warm.  Drain the water every 1/2 hour and refill with cold water again.  Do this for roughly 8 hours.  It’s easier to thaw in the fridge but in a pinch, this other way will work.  Just whatever you do, please thaw it correctly!  I don’t want to be responsible for any food poisoning here!

turkey ingredients

We start with what’s called a brine.  Now, there are several ways to brine a turkey but I’ve chosen the easiest of them all.  You have enough to do on Thanksgiving – no reason to make it harder.  The brine with a turkey is the same principle as with pork – it tenderizes the meat and allows the juices to stay inside instead of the bird getting dry and gross.  It also negates, with an extra step, the need for basting!  That’s two time savers here people.  We’re on a roll!

You’re going to need to remove the bird from the packaging and take out any extras they throw in for the really hard-core people a.k.a the giblets and the neck.  Open the bottom of the turkey and they should be in there.  It’ll be a long neck and a packet of weird mushy stuff.  If the packet isn’t in there check where the neck is supposed to be attached.  Sometimes they put it up there to be sneaky.

Once everything gross is out pat the turkey dry with paper towels and coat it with kosher salt and pepper.  Be generous, it’ll help!  Allow the turkey to sit, with the salt and pepper, at room temperature for 1 hour to take off the chill.  The skin will be crispy and delicious if you do it that way.

While the turkey is warming up wash the sage and oregano or thyme, slice a medium onion into quarters, and remove the skin from 6 garlic cloves.  Place these inside your roasting pan, or if you don’t have excess cash floating around to buy a new pan for one meal a year (like me) a normal 11X15 cake pan.  If you want to get extra easy buy one of those disposable cake pans, like my mom does, and just throw it away when you’re done.  Whatever will fit your turkey comfortably will work!  Line the bottom of your pan with these ingredients, putting the onions in the corners.

buttering the turkeyThe next step is almost as important as the brine.  It’s also, for those of you who are a little squeamish, the grossest part of the entire affair.  Rub the room temperature butter all over your hands.  Then rub the entire turkey with those hands, pausing to get more butter if needed.  Make sure the entire bird in covered in the butter to make sure there’s an even crisp to the skin.  A safety note, just because I’m a microbiologist, please don’t reuse any butter you may have touched with raw poultry again.  Just throw it out and save yourself a horrible bought of food poisoning.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  It’s very important you don’t go much higher than that because most glassware will shatter if you do and that would ruin your entire night.  If you’re using metal feel free to go up to 450°F.  Put your turkey in the pan and put your pan in the oven on the middle shelf.  Close the door and walk away for 45 minutes.  Plenty of time to get started on literally 1 million things to be cooked for dinner.

turkey in the pan

Once the turkey has been roasting for 45 minutes take some tinfoil and cover the breast of the turkey, molding it to keep it in place.  It’ll help trap in the moisture and make for a much more juicy bird!  If you need to make a piece of tinfoil bigger to cover the whole turkey simply fold over the edges of the foil together and press down to seal.  It’ll work.  Trust me.

Lower the temperature of the oven to 350°F and bake for the remainder of the time.  Here’s a handy, dandy chart for approximate times if you need one.  It’s all based on pounds, really, so make sure you know the poundage of your bird beforehand.

9-11 pounds: 2 1/2 hours

12-14 pounds: 3 hours

15-17 pounds: 3 1/2 hours

18-20 pounds: 4 hours

21-23 pounds: 4 1/2 hours

24+ pounds: 5+ hours

turkey thermometerTo check if the turkey is done you’ll need an instant read meat thermometer.  You can buy them in any grocery store this time of year for about $5.00.  It’s worth it.  You’ll use it again (maybe…).  When the time is up stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, making sure you aren’t touching any bones.  Allow the thermometer to read.  Your turkey temperature should be 165°F.  If it isn’t, your turkey needs more time to cook.  Mine took an extra 20 minutes to get up to temperature.  If you need to check again make sure you check in a different spot than the first time!  If you want to be extra careful, check in the breast under the wing, as well.  The temperature is much more important than the color.  Any turkey could have a pink coloring naturally, but if it got up to 165°F or higher, you’ll be just fine!

Remove the turkey from the oven and cover loosely with foil for at least 30 minutes to allow the turkey to rest.  This equalizes the juices inside so you have perfectly moist, delicious meat.

foiled turkey

Remove the turkey from the pan and start slicing!  There are several excellent videos if you google “how to slice a turkey”.  I think you’ll be alright!

While someone is slicing you can make the gravy.  Technically this isn’t part of the recipe but who eats Thanksgiving turkey without gravy?  Remove all the herbs, onions, and garlic, and pour all the drippings into a pot and add all the chicken or turkey stock.  Heat the liquid to a boil and, while you’re waiting, make the cornstarch mixture.  You could use a roux if you feel like it, but that takes longer and we are all about making Thanksgiving easy here!  Mix the cold water and cornstarch together until dissolved.  Once the liquid is boiling slowly add the cornstarch slurry to the drippings.  Stir and continue to heat until thickened.  If you need it thicker, just add more cornstarch liquid.

Serve with all the Thanksgiving trimmings and have an incredible time!

turkey leg

Link’s Salt-Grilled Meat

    • Raw Gourmet Meat or Raw Whole Bird
    • Rock Salt

    Salt-Brined Roast Turkey

    • Servings: dependant on turkey pounds
    • Difficulty: moderate
    • Print

    Turkey

    • 1 Turkey
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt per pound of turkey
    • 1/4 tsp pepper per pound of turkey
    • 1/2-1 cup butter, room temperature, based on turkey size
    • 7 sprigs fresh oregano or thyme
    • 5 sprigs fresh sage leaves
    • 6 garlic cloves
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 instant read meat thermometer

    Gravy

    • 1 pan turkey drippings
    • 3 cups chicken or turkey stock
    • 1/4 cup cold water
    • 3 heaping spoonfuls cornstarch

    Directions


    1. Thaw your turkey according to the packing instructions, generally refrigerated for a few days. If you need a quicker thaw, fill a sink with cold water and place the turkey in. Drain the water every 1/2 hour and refill with cold water. Continue this process for 8 hours until the turkey is thawed.
    2. Remove the bird from the packaging and take out the neck and giblets. These should be located inside the turkey at either the bottom or the neck holes.
    3. Dry the entire turkey with paper towels
    4. Coat the turkey in the kosher salt and pepper.  Allow the turkey to sit, with the salt and pepper, at room temperature for 1 hour to take off the chill.
    5. Wash the sage and oregano or thyme.
    6. Slice the onion into quarters.
    7. Remove the skin from 6 garlic cloves.
    8. Line the outside edges of a glass or metal cake pan large enough to hold your turkey with the aromatics, putting the onions in the corners.
    9. Rub the room temperature butter all over your hands, coating them completely.
    Then rub the entire turkey with those hands, pausing to get more butter if needed.  Make sure the entire bird in covered in the butter.  A safety note, if you touch any butter with turkey or turkey-covered hands please throw it away to mitigate the risk of food poisoning.
    10. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Put your turkey in the pan and put your pan in the oven on the middle shelf.  Close the door and bake for 45 minutes.
    11. Once the turkey has been roasting for 45 minutes take some tinfoil and cover the breast of the turkey, molding it to keep it in place. If you need to make a piece of tinfoil bigger to cover the whole turkey simply fold over the edges of the foil together and press down to seal.
    12. Lower the temperature of the oven to 350°F and bake for the remainder of the time. Please see the chart in the body of the post for the correct times.
    13. Insert the instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, making sure you aren’t touching any bones.  Allow the thermometer to read.  Your turkey temperature should be 165°F or higher. If the temperature is not quite high enough, roast the turkey until the temperature reads the correct amount.
    14. Remove the turkey from the oven and cover loosely with foil for at least 30 minutes to allow the turkey to rest.
    15. Remove the turkey from the pan.
    16. To make the gravy remove all herbs, onions, and garlic, and pour all the drippings into a pot. Add the chicken or turkey stock and bring to a boil.
    17. Mix the cold water and cornstarch together until dissolved. Once the drippings are boiling slowly add the cornstarch to the drippings, stirring to mix.
    18. Stir the gravy and bring it back to a boil. Add more cornstarch and water if a thicker gravy is desired.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Let’s talk about a few things.  I’ve been having a bit of a depression backslide lately.  There was a thing that happened, it was incredibly difficult to handle, and I haven’t really quite recovered yet.  So I haven’t been posting, as you are all well aware.  I’m sad about that, and I hope you are, too!  So I’ve made a few decisions that will, hopefully (finger’s crossed) help keep things moving a little more regularly on the blog as well as giving me enough time to continue to heal mentally.

Decision one: I think this blog is about to become very recipe-heavy!  I think there are some of you who are clapping and some who are booing, but all in all, I think this will be a good short-term solution.  I want to be better about posting BotW recipes and focusing on that instead of collaborations or even Thursday Thoughts will help that!  So get ready for one BotW recipe per week.  That’s definitely happening.

Decision two: I’m working on a pretty big (at least emotionally) Thursday Thoughts post.  I’m not sure when it’ll be done, but maybe at the end of the year.  It’s something I think will really help with some of the depression and anxiety I’ve been struggling with recently and hopefully will be worth reading!  So until then, I probably won’t do any other Thursday Thoughts.

Decision three:  In order to be a little more grateful in my life for the things that are going right and well I want to spend the rest of the year adding (maybe not every week, mind you) recipes from bloggers who have been supportive and inspiring and people who have helped shaped my life.  These will all be non-Zelda recipes and will showcase their favoriate/family recipes or recipes that have serious importance in my development as a person.  Hopefully you enjoy this season a little more because of these and we can all feel a little more appreciation for the wonderful people in our lives!

And now, without further ado, on to the first of two Thanksgiving (at least here in the U.S) recipes: pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin PiePumpkin pie meter and time

pumpkin pie ingredients

We start, as we did with the apple pie, with a pie crust.  For the real details check out my Apple Pie recipe.  For those of you who stick with me let’s shorten this up (see what I did there?).  Cut in the butter, add a tiny bit of cold water, mix, add more, etc… until you get the perfect, just-held-together texture.  Once we’re there simply wrap and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

Now for the insides.  The very easy insides.

pimpkin, sugar, spices

Measure out the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves into a bowl.  Mix and stir until combined.  Add two eggs.  Now, you can either beat the eggs before you add them or do as I do and add the eggs, lightly beat them on top of the pumpkin mixture, and then mix everything all together.  I’m all about shortcuts here.

Once everything is mixed and homogenous add the cream and stir until combined.  It’ll look pale and a little fluffy.

Take the pie crust out of the fridge, lightly flour a surface, and roll the crust out into a round shape large enough to cover the pie tin and hopefully less than 1/4 inch thick.  Thick crust makes for weird pie, so thinner can definitely be better.  Using the coolest technique ever, gently roll the crust onto your rolling pin and unroll it into the ungreased pie tin.  It’ll make you look really awesome so be sure to do it while other people are looking.  If they aren’t make sure you cough loudly or sneeze to get their attention.

Gently press the crust into the tin, folding the crust over itself to patch any holes.  You can do the next step one of two ways: either cut the excess crust and then crimp it into a pretty shape OR crimp it and then cut off the excess.  Either way is fine, just make sure if you choose the first option you leave enough to crimp.

Pumpkin pie filling

Add the filling until it fills the crust at least 3/4 of the way.  It’ll rise a little as it bakes, but not too much.  We don’t want it over-full or you’ll get horrible burned stuff all over your oven.  And we don’t want it under-filled or you’ll get too much crust on top… Like mine…  Do as I say, grasshopper, not as I do…  Now bake for about 55-65 minutes.  The key is that the filling turns a lovely shade of darker brown and has a crack in the top.  If there’s no crack it may not be done.  If you’re unsure give the pie a bit of a wobble.  If it moves a lot, it’s not done.  If it’s a little more stiff it’s probably ready!

finished pie

Remove, make some whipped cream by adding sugar to cream that you are currently whipping, and serve!

delicious pie!

Link’s Pumpkin Pie recipe:

      • Fortified Pumpkin
      • Tabantha Wheat
      • Cane Sugar
      • Goat Butter

      Pumpkin Pie

      • Servings: 1 pie, 9 inches diameter
      • Difficulty: moderately easy
      • Print

      Homemade Pumpkin Pie


      Pie

      • 2 cups flour
      • 2/3 cup cold butter, cut into tablespoons
      • 1/3 teaspoon salt
      • 4-6 tablespoons ice-cold water

      Pumpkin

      • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
      • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
      • 1/3 teaspoon ground allspice
      • 3/4 cup sugar
      • 2 large eggs
      • 3/4 cup heavy cream

      Directions

      1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F and add some ice to a small cup of water.
      2. Add the flour and salt to a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces. Add the butter to the flour and begin rubbing it between your fingers while adding flour. This will create a breadcrumb-like texture. Make sure you leave some butter pieces as large as peas.
      3. Handling the dough as little as possible, start adding water a few tablespoons at a time until the mixture begins to hold together. The dough will be a bit shaggy but should be mostly cohesive.
      4. Wrap the dough in cling wrap.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
      5. While the dough is chilling make the filling.
      6. Add all pumpkin puree, sugar, and spices to a bowl and mix until combined.
      7. Add the eggs and lightly beat them on top of the mixture before adding them to the pumpkin.
      8. Add all the cream and stir until combined. The mixture should be light brown and creamy.
      9. When the dough has chilled remove it from the fridge.  Lightly flour a surface and roll it out into a round shape large enough to drape over the edges of the 9 inch pie tin and thinner than 1/4 inch.  Do not grease the tin beforehand.
      10. Roll the dough onto your rolling pin and unroll into the pie tin. Gently press the dough into the shape of the tin, filling any cracks with excess as necessary.
      11. Add all the pumpkin pie filling. It should fill at least 3/4 of the tin.
      12. Remove the excess crust using an knife and, using a pinching technique between two fingers on one hand and a finger on the other, pinch the crust to create a crimped look.
      13. Bake for 55-65 minutes. Check your pie about 40 minutes into the bake.  If it’s starting to look too dark on top gently place a layer of tinfoil on the parts that are browning too quickly. When it’s baked you should notice a significant darkening of the filling and the filling should have formed a bit of a crack. It should have a slightly firm wobble. If the filling isn’t cooked place it back in the oven for a few more minutes.  Once it’s baked remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for at least an hour before you eat it. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Autumn

Everywhere you look

There’s some rain that is falling down

And leaves that are turning brown

And pumpkin spice and sweaters all around!

So after that are you still here?  Yeah?  Well I can’t help it!  I love Autumn (or as we call it in the U.S. because American English is a pretty strange language, Fall) and it’s finally here!  Everything is cooling off, the squash are starting to ripen, apples are falling, cinnamon and nutmeg are everywhere, and the smell of wet pavement is a dream!  When things start to get chilly we naturally turn to deliciously warm food and spices to heat things up and what could possibly be better than fresh apple pie?  I submit that nothing could be… unless you don’t like pie… like me…

Apple Piemeter and time

apple pie ingredients

We start with a pie crust, technically called a short crust pastry.  There are other kinds of pastry you could use but this is a traditional and well-established method.  And since this was my very first apple pie ever, I thought we should go easy on ourselves.

Put some water into a cup and add a cube or two of ice.  The colder the water, the better the pastry will turn out.  Then let’s rub the cold butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs with some pea-sized chunks of butter left.  You don’t want it too fine or you won’t get a nice flaky crust!

Now for the scary part.  Once we start adding water we need to handle the dough as little as possible to get the best crust.  Start with a few tablespoons, mix it in with your hands, add a few more, mix, lather, rinse, repeat until you’ve got a dough that sticks together well but isn’t too wet.  It should be, as we say, a little shaggy, with some dried flour/butter bits still left over.  See the photo if you have questions.

shaggy dough

Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough together until it forms a cohesive mass.  Again, don’t handle it too much or it’ll be stiff and tough.  Split it so you have 1/3 and 2/3 in separate balls and wrap each in cling wrap.  Refrigerate for a while so it relaxes and doesn’t get too tough.

wrapped dough

Now let’s make the filling!

sliced applesThinly slice the apples, making sure to remove the core.  I like to leave the peel on for some added texture but if it bothers you, feel free to peel them as well.  Then add all the apples to a bowl and add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar to the apples.  Mix it around with your hands until all the apples are coated evenly and set aside.  PS – this is a pretty standard pie filling recipe but I’ve switched out the regular white sugar for brown sugar.  I’ve found it makes it a little more like caramel apples in flavor and I love it!

When the dough has chilled for about 15 minutes remove the smaller third from the fridge.  Lightly flour a surface and roll it out into a round shape large enough to drape over the edges of the pie tin you are using.  Don’t grease the tin or anything – there’s enough butter in the crust to take care of that for you!  Remove the remaining 2/3 dough from the fridge, flour your surface, and roll it out into a rectangle at least the width of the pie tin and the longest you can.  You want it as thin as you can get it because we are weaving this to match Link’s pie.  If you wind up with bits that crack don’t worry, shortcrust is super forgiving.  Just patch them up with some excess crust and roll over the top!

shortcrust rolled out

Once we have a nice rectangle cut the strips into 1 inch wide pieces.  Lightly flour another surface and let’st start weaving!  Lay out strips right next to each other the width of your pie tin.  Take leftover strips and weave them, starting from the center, through the strips you’ve laid out.  Over, under, over, under.  Take another strip and weave it the opposite way, so you’re two strips are over/under opposite one another.  Continue until you have a nice, even lattice.  If you run out of strips, no worries.  Just gather up any scraps and roll them out again.  Cut from that and you should be golden.  This crust recipe may be a little tight but it fit my 10 inch diameter pie tin just fine!  And don’t weave this lattice too tightly – we need to have some space for air to escape so the pie doesn’t explode!

Lightly flour the bottom of the pie crust in the tin.  This helps with the moisture and prevents you from incurring the wrath of Mary Berry and having a soggy bottom.  Add all the apples to the crust.  Don’t overfill the pie, we want it to be level with the top of the tin.  If you’re left with extra you won’t regret just eating them.  Promise.

Gently, using a combination of prayers, incantations, friend’s hands, and extra strong hopes, pick up your lattice somehow and lay it on top of the pie.  If you are lucky enough to have a flat, large sheet you can slide under it, lay it on the pie, and slide out do that!  If not, you’ll have to get some help.  If it breaks a little, again, no worries!  Just mash the pieces together and call it good.

Using a pinching technique between two fingers on one hand and a finger on the other, pinch the top and bottom layers of crust together.  Trim the excess off the sides using a knife, brush the top of the pie with milk, and bake!

Check your pie about 40 minutes into the bake.  If it’s starting to look too dark on top gently place a layer of tinfoil to the parts that are browning too quickly.  This didn’t happen to me so I don’t have any photos.  If it looks light and raw still you shouldn’t have a problem.  Once it’s baked remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for at least an hour before you eat it!

fresh apple pie

Link’s Apple Pie recipe:

      • Apple or Wildberry
      • Any fruit
      • Tabantha Wheat
      • Cane Sugar

Apple Pie

  • Servings: 1 pie
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Homemade apple pie using fresh, tart apples

Pie

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup cold butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6-9 tablespoons ice-cold water

Apple

  • 2 1/2 pounds tart apples
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F and add some ice to a small cup of water.
  2. Add the flour and salt to a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces. Add the butter to the flour and begin rubbing it between your fingers while adding flour. This will create a breadcrumb-like texture. Make sure you leave some butter pieces as large as peas.
  3. Handling the dough as little as possible, start adding water a few tablespoons at a time until the mixture begins to hold together. The dough will be a bit shaggy but should be mostly cohesive.
  4. Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough together until it forms a cohesive mass, being careful not to handle it too much.
  5. Split the dough so you have 1/3 and 2/3 in separate balls and wrap each in cling wrap.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  6. While the dough is chilling make the filling.
  7. Thinly slice the apples, making sure to remove the core.  You may peel the apples or leave the skin on, but leaving the skin gives it a little more texture and color.
  8. Add all the apples to a bowl and add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar.  Mix it with your hands until all the apples are coated evenly. Set this bowl aside aside.
  9. When the dough has chilled remove the smaller third from the fridge.  Lightly flour a surface and roll it out into a round shape large enough to drape over the edges of the pie tin you are using.  Do not grease the tin beforehand.
  10. Remove the remaining 2/3 dough from the fridge, flour your surface, and roll it out into a rectangle at least the width of the pie tin and the longest you can.  You want it fairly thin because we will be weaving the top. If you wind up with bits that crack just patch them up with some excess crust and roll over the top.
  11. Cut the strips into 1 inch wide pieces.  Lightly flour another surface to begin weaving.
  12. Lay out strips right next to each other the width of your pie tin.  Take leftover strips and weave them, starting from the center, through the strips you’ve laid out by placing the strip over then under the next strip. Take another strip and weave it the opposite way, so you’re two strips are over/under opposite one another.  Continue until you have a nice, even lattice.  If you run out of strips simply gather up any scraps and roll them out again.  Cut new strips to finish the lattice. Don’t weave this lattice too tightly – we need to have some space for air to escape so the pie doesn’t explode!
  13. Lightly flour the bottom of the pie crust in the tin.  This helps with the moisture from the apples and keeps the crust crisp. Add all the apple mixture to the crust.  Don’t overfill the pie, we want it to be level with the top of the tin.
  14. Gently pick up your lattice and lay it on top of the pie. If it breaks a little, again, no worries!  Just mash the pieces together and call it good.
  15. Using a pinching technique between two fingers on one hand and a finger on the other, pinch the top and bottom layers of crust together.  Trim any excess pie crust from the sides with a knife so it’s an even finish.  Brush the top of the pie with milk and bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown.
  16. Check your pie about 40 minutes into the bake.  If it’s starting to look too dark on top gently place a layer of tinfoil to the parts that are browning too quickly.  Once it’s baked remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for at least an hour before you eat it.

Triforce Heroes and the Power of Nostalgia

Triforce Heroes and the Power of Nostalgia

Sorry for the major posting today but guess what, readers?  It’s another collaboration post, but this one is, dare I say, even bigger than the last one I was involved in!  This series, put on by NekoJonez, is a nice retrospective on everyone’s (or at least my) favorite series: The Legend of Zelda.  In his article you’ll find links between blogs, sharing all the amazing posts by other bloggers discussing each of the LoZ games.  I am so glad and grateful to be involved in this article because, as you all know, I’m a little obsessed with Zelda… Just a bit…

I get to talk about Tri-Force Heroes!  I’ll be taking you through my favorite part of the game: the nostalgia.  This is something Nintendo really tapped into in order to make the game a massively enjoyable multiplayer experience.

triforce heroes

Triforce Heroes, for those of you who never played it, is a multiplayer game for the Nintendo 3DS handheld consoles.  The game was created to improve on the limitations of the GameBoy Advanced Four Swords multiplayer game, which required a lot of finagling to be able to play with others.  Utilizing the built-in WiFi and capability to interact with people all across the globe, Nintendo was able to recapture the enjoyment and excitement of a multiplayer Zelda game in a much more user-friendly way.

Once you start playing Triforce Heroes it seems like Nintendo wanted to recapture a lot of past feelings.  The nostalgia factor is incredibly high while playing, with nods to previous characters, abilities, and artistic styles throughout the game.  It may seem like a simple move to include these little hints but it sure made all the difference for me!  As a bit of a stickler for story the idea of saving an entire kingdom from a “fashion emergency” put me off right from the start.  I was skeptical about the fun I would have playing a game that not only cut out Zelda and Hyrule, but also cut out any semblance of a real story.  But every time I came across another nod at the Zelda series I felt excited, happy that I understood the reference, and eager to continue playing.  For me, that was the real masterpiece of the game.  Nintendo’s ability to capitalize on our love of these characters is what keeps us coming back for more!  What are some of these references, you might ask?  Here, let me show you…

First, let’s talk about concept and artistic style.  This game is heavily based off of the art and world of A Link Between Worlds.  In an interview with Polygon the developer, Hiromasa Shikata, explained that it was A Link Between Worlds that really sparked his interest in creating a multiplayer Legend of Zelda game.  So, naturally, the game would have plenty of elements of LbW throughout it.  The enemies we encounter in each of the levels, the 2D-but-actually-3D visuals, and the stepped terraces and environments are each elements that hearken directly back to LbW.  And, if you know anything about LbW you know that this hearkens back to A Link to the Past, one of the first Legend of Zelda games and a favorite among fans.  So right in the initial development is a double-hit of nostalgia.

In Triforce Heroes Link is able to enter a realm of Doppel’s, which are character’s he inhabits in order to complete levels on his own.  This ability ensures that players can complete the levels they need to even when other players aren’t available.  Shikata, who helped develop Spirit Tracks, explained in his Polygon interview at E3 in 2015 “That element [the ability to control phantoms] really intrigued me and brought out the idea that I wanted to try multiplayer as well.”  So, if we read that correctly (and trust me, we did) Link’s ability to play and inhabit other characters is a direct link to Spirit Tracks.

But we can’t just spend the entire article talking about development, can we? There’s far too much to see and remember to focus just on that!  We’ve already talked about how the art style was heavily influenced by LbW and ALTTP but it seems the character’s were, as well!  There’s no need to go in depth on the enemies, who are a perfect match to the enemies found in LbW.  Did Match Master and Doppel Master look strangely familiar to anyone else?  Yep, to me they looked and reminded me exactly of Sahasrahla from A Link to the Past.  Sahasrahla, the wise old sage, is a perfect match up to the Masters, who are supposed to be guardians of the gates to the outer drablands.  This character, who is able to communicate with Link in ALTTP makes perfect sense as the Masters, who would need to communicate with outside Link’s to create matches.  And then there’s the Street Merchant, a perfect match to the one found in LbW and ALTTP.  This character even makes a little nod when he first shows up at having “seen” Link before… possibly in another world?

And then there’s the outfits.  So many of them are reminders of the characters and things we loved from LoZ games.  Shall we list them?  I think we should, just for the fun of it.

costumes

There’s the Goron garb and Kokiri tunic are a perfect match to those races from Ocarina of Time, while the Zora garb comes straight out of LbW and ALTTP.  Was anyone else reminded of Dodoh from Skyward Sword with the Rupee Regalia outfit?  And Linebeck from Phantom Hourglass and the Fierce Diety armor from Majora’s Mask shows up in the DLC. The Tingle outfit needs no introduction and in a game without Zelda the legendary dress was sorely needed to remind us of her.  The Timeless tunic, from the original Legend of Zelda, is the perfect little nod to the one that started it all, changing all the music to 8-bit sounds throughout the entire game.  And, in a fit of inclusion Nintendo added the hammerwear, a perfect match to the Hammer Bros. from Mario and the Cozy Parka looked very similar to Ice Climbers from Smash Brothers.

But now for my favorite nostaglia moment of them all – the music balls in the waiting room.  I decided, when I was asked to help contribute to this awesome collaboration, to replay a little of the game.  While it held up (mostly) from when it was first released I got stuck in an awful lot of waiting rooms.  It seems like there are fewer and fewer people playing, which means waiting for matches can take quite a while.  And while I waited for a team to show up I spent what amounts to hours playing with the music balls.  If you haven’t played the game you can run, full tilt, at the wall and a music ball (looking like a beach ball) will bounce down from the ceiling.  If you’re able to keep the ball off the ground using your sword you get to hear all the classic Kondo tunes that make Legend of Zelda great.  There’s something, it seems, from nearly every game, and each one brings to mind exactly how much I loved that game and makes me want to play it again.  It was like a few perfect minutes remembering things I loved and still loved from every single game.  I would even get a little upset when my match would begin and it would prevent me from playing with the music balls…

Nintendo created an incredible franchise when they developed The Legend of Zelda.  They created memorable characters, places, stories, items, and music to immerse us in a world we can continue to visit again and again.  In Triforce Heroes, where they needed to create a different type of story and a different type of gameplay, Nintendo capitalized on the elements of LoZ that really capture our hearts, making it another classic we will continue to revisit as time passes on.

Featured Image Credit: Pieter-Jan Casteels https://zoef.deviantart.com/

 

 

Blogger Blitz Retrospective

After something that has been pretty blog-consuming over the last month or two I wanted to jot down some feelings I’ve had throughout the entire competition.

First and foremost – a HUGE thank you to Ian at Adventure Rules for dreaming up the perfect competition.  His creativity knows no bounds, his pictures have been spectacular, and his enthusiasm really caught us up in his excitement.  The work and effort that went into something as big as this cannot be understated and we all owe him a lot of gratitude for pushing us outside our comfort zones.

Secondly – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other competitors in the Blitz.  It’s been so fun to get immersed in a community and really feel the encouragement and support of everyone.  The stories and writing have truly inspired me and I’ve learned so much from what they’ve done.  It’s been a blast to trash talk or encourage by turns and exciting to see how creative everyone is.  I’ll really miss the constant interaction that this experience has brought.

Third – A competition would be nothing without our judges and it feels like these one’s have really upped the bar on blogging competitions!  Their insight, interest, and extensive knowledge have really broken down these entries in a way I’m surprised at.  They took their duties very seriously and it’s been impressive to read their logic on announcement days AKA Fridays.  What a task and we were lucky enough to find people worthy of it!

Fourth – I’ve always known how much Link means to me and what he’s helped me get through in my life, but it’s nice to be able to revisit him in so much detail and really express my love for the Legend of Zelda series.  And it’s strengthened my resolve and determination to 100% BotW, which is no small feat!

And lastly – I want to talk a bit about my journey through this process.  Each time I’ve won I’ve been surprised.  Once I read the competitor’s entry I am confident I don’t stand a chance of winning.  Luna’s entry on the Joker was clever and so well-written.  She really knows that character and her details really blew me away.  And then came Luke’s moving story about Claire and her heart-wrenching decision.  Each Friday, when I read the results, I felt like there had been some kind of mistake.  There was no way I actually beat those guys.  And frankly, despite making it to the finals, I still feel a little like my place here is a fluke.  I may have gotten one or two elements better, but their entries were so inspired I just don’t feel worthy of winning.  It’s been a learning process for me to accept the idea that I may have done something right.  I’ve had to learn to accept my advancement and have tried to come to terms with my place in the final.  I’ve never had a lot of self-confidence and I’m more used to making excuses for why my thing “got lucky” than accepting the fact that it might actually be good.  So along this journey I’ve been trying to accept the idea that what I created may have actually had merit.  It may have actually been a worthy entry.  And that’s where I’ve grown.  I’ve grown as a writer, of course, but I’ve grown emotionally and mentally, as well.

So Ian, judges, and fellow challengers, thank you.  Thank you for teaching me and encouraging me.  Thank you for the confidence boost this has been and for the community you’ve given me when I’ve definitely needed it.  No matter who wins the competition tomorrow it doesn’t matter – because I’m definitely the real winner because of all of you.

 

Blogger Blitz Finale: Saving the Castle

Blogger Blitz Finale: Saving the Castle

This is it: the last challenge.  And boy, is it a rough one.  I’m not sure how it’ll turn out but I had to use every bit of Zelda lore I knew to try and accomplish the task set by Ian at Adventure Rules.  The challenge is as follows:

“You have been invited by the steward of the Mushroom Kingdom to assist them with a royal problem. The infant princess, Baby Peach, has begun to develop strange abilities based on her emotions. She literally cries rivers, when she’s angry she bursts into flame, her happiness causes her to float in the air and produce bursts of wind – the only emotional state in which the castle and its staff are safe from her is when she is calm. A doctor is preparing a cure but a courier has to make an overnight trip to pick it up. So the steward needs someone to protect Peach’s Castle from her emotion powers until the cure is delivered.
‘Why not just take her out of the castle?’ you might ask. As fate would have it, there’s an issue with the castle’s power source, the Power Stars. They’ve malfunctioned and now the only thing keeping them running is Peach’s presence in the castle. If she leaves, the Stars will fail and be scattered across the kingdom.
‘We tried having the castle wizard place a spell on her to make her sleep through the night,’ the steward explains, ‘but she is immune to any magic that influences her emotional state.’ There’s another problem too – taking advantage of the castle’s current vulnerability, the evil wizard Kamek has summoned six warriors from other worlds to attack the Mushroom Kingdom. You might recognize them as the defeated competitors from the Blogger Blitz challenge. These warriors, under Kamek’s control, will stop at nothing to kidnap Peach and leave the castle in ruins.”

This event has three distinct parts: the competitors must protect Peach from the previous six Blogger Blitz competitors, protect the castle from those same attackers, and finally protect the castle from Peach and her dangerous emotion powers (based, by the way, on the video game Super Princess Peach). The competitors have been told that they are not able to circumvent any parts of the challenge – no taking Peach out of the castle and no controlling Peach’s emotions through magic. These have been justified fictionally in the above description of the event. Finally, because this event has three distinct parts the competitors will have up to 1200 words in order to make their argument. Also, this makes it so that the total word counts of each phase of the competition go 4000, 3200, 2400. Why does that matter? Because…symmetry, or something.

Wow.  What an imagination to come up with something as complex and awesome as that!  A big, hearty “good luck” to my challenger, Lightning Ellen!  You can read her submission on her blog.  As always, check back Friday at Adventure Rules to find the results of the finale!  And now, on with the show!

… P.S. I promise to have a new recipe tomorrow!


The last month has been increasingly difficult.  These external calls for a hero’s help have left me drained.  But still I answer, Courage never failing, because I am a Hero.  And I’m finally going to tell my own story.  Written down, of course, since no amount of gesticulating seems to be heard.  Everyone understands me, of course.  They just can’t hear me.  Writing is the easier route.

Peach's Castle

When the request came I knew I would need help.  I grabbed my tools, called on some loyal companions, and found my way to the Mushroom Kingdom.  I had already been briefed on the situation: baby peach’s magical powers were wreaking havoc on the castle and herself.  There was possible danger from the outside, as well.  I was nervous, but took comfort from the Ocarina I carried and the Song of Time, which would turn back the clock 3 days in case of failure.  I hoped I wouldn’t need it.

When I got to the castle it seemed like the mission had already started.  The princess was in a terrible rage and the castle was catching fire.  I whipped out my Ocarina and played the Song of Storms.  The gentle rain extinguished the fire and had the added bonus of calming the princess.  She seemed fascinated by the music.  After that she warmed up to me.  I began my preparations while Peach’s attendants prepared her for the evening.  I established a perimeter of warp points on each of the four sides of the castle, knowing that I could be needed at anywhere in a moment.  I asked my guides to stay at those points since they could quickly find me and alert me if something was wrong.  I set up my friend, Ooccoo, on the East along with Tatl, the fairy.  By keeping Ooccoo Jr. with me I could quickly return to his mother.  Using the Travel Medallion and my Sheikah Slate I created a point on the West and asked Navi to stand guard there.  Farore’s Wind created a point on the North side of the castle with Ciela. And in the South I set up Midna and her warp capability.  With each of the areas guarded I needed to find a way to protect Peach, not only from external threats, but from herself.

baby peach

When I found her, the princess was laughing at a book and floating 6 feet off the ground.  A sudden gust of wind threatened to blow her out the window.  In a panic I used my Hookshot to latch to the ceiling above her, dropped down, and snatched her out of the air.  She calmed down once we hit the floor and seemed comfortable with me.  I requested that she wear my Minish Cap, which would shrink her to a very small size.  She’d still express her powers, but they would be minimized and more manageable.  She agreed and I decided to take it further, making the entire situation a game, and asking her to play in one of the Bottles I carried.  After more laughter and another trip on my Hookshot, she agreed.  I placed her inside a Bottle with a Fairy, to keep her company.  This would protect her, but I would still be be able to see her and interfere if necessary.

indiana jones

As soon as I capped the lid Navi came racing toward me.  I knew there was trouble and warped to her side of the castle.  A man with a bull whip stood, ready to attack.  I used my Ice Rod and froze him, allowing me time to think.  Fi quickly told me to be careful of his whip.  That seemed simple enough and, as he unfroze, I dealt him a blow with my Boomerang and stunned him.  I tied him up, took him to the dungeon, knowing his lack of magic would prevent him from escaping, and locked the door just as Tatl flew in.

ash ketchum

I warped to her location to find an electric monster guarding the hallway – it was yellow, with black stripes and tall, pointed ears.  With my Thunder Helm I didn’t fear any electrical discharge.  I exhausted the beast with the Master Sword and used the Hookshot to stun the Trainer standing behind the monster.  Fi let me know that this boy lacked magical powers, as well, so down to the dungeon he went.

guybrush threepwood

As I came up the stairs I felt a sickening blow to my head.  A Fairy came to my aid and the stars quickly blinked out of my eyes.  I realized the man who had attacked was a pirate, laughing and making a sharp joke about the situation.  I froze this intruder with an Ice Arrow and, after receiving Fi’s confirmation that he, too, would lack the skills required to escape from a magical dungeon, placed him in there with his 3 fellow-attackers.

the joker

Midna appeared before me, quickly warping us to her side of the castle.  We re-appeared just as an explosion went off.  Luckily I had Daruk’s Blessing, which created a temporary shield and protected both myself and Peach from the damage.  As the ringing in my ears died I heard frightening laughter.  The Joker, a man I had encountered before, was standing down the hallway, finger on another trigger.  I quickly froze him and, knowing he was under no spell forcing him to attack, drew my Master Sword and brought it crashing down into him.

claire redfield

The castle became quiet after that… Too quiet.  I checked on Peach but she seemed to be happily floating in air, playing with the Fairy and laughing as a gentle breeze pushed her around the Bottle.  I sighed in relief and decided to prowl the hallways.  I donned the Stone Mask, which turned me invisible, and began patrolling.  A soft noise startled me and I glanced around.  There, in the shadows, was a character I knew well – Claire Redfield.  I knew she possessed a terrible power that would transform her if left alive.  I needed to get her out of the castle.  I crept up, using a Sneaky Elixer, and froze her using my Cryonis Sheikah Rune.  I created a Dark World warp using my Magic Mirror and sent her into another realm.  As I did so, I unfroze her, knowing she would be able to protect herself while there.  When this was all over I would fetch her and return her to her home.

mega man

Ciela came shooting toward me and we warped to her section of the castle.  I saw the invader and attempted to freeze him with the Ice Rod, but there didn’t seem to be much effect.  Every attack I shot at him just made him stronger, and he soon started shooting my attacks back!  I knew if I couldn’t defeat him I would have to incapacitate him.  Ciela Stopped Time, just long enough for me to bring Peach out of the bottle and remove the Minish Cap.  I quickly placed the cap on Mega Man’s head, shrinking him down, and dropped him in an empty Bottle.  When time restarted, he was trapped and without the power to escape.  As I held the princess’s hand the sun rose, the long night was over, and Peach’s antidote had arrived.