I know lots of people have holiday cookie baking parties this time of year. It is tradition and a lot of fun. I've had a few myself but over the past few years I have changed it up and have been hosting a holiday pie baking party. It's for my friends who want to try new recipe and have someone else taste test it.
This year I tried a pie that I've eaten before but have never made which is apple cranberry. It looked beautifu,l but it didn't taste as good as I hoped. If I decide to make it again I will add about another 1/8-1/4 cup of sugar. It was just a little too tart for me. I'm sharing the recipe with you so you can try it this year and see what you think.
4 lb. Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Sugar for sprinkling
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.
To make the filling, in a large bowl, stir together the apples, cranberries, crystallized ginger, sugar, salt, flour and lemon juice. Transfer to the pie shell.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough disk into a 12-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Using a lattice cutter according to the manufacturer's instructions, cut out a lattice top. Keep the dough on the lattice cutter and freeze for 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the freezer and carefully invert the lattice onto the filling. Tuck the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and press to seal. Sprinkle the top with sugar.
Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, about 1 hour, covering the edges with aluminum foil if they begin to get too dark. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving. Serves 8.
Every year I participate in the Wisconsin Dog Fair at the Alliant Energy Center. It's an event that lets people come and meet ambassadors from over 120 different breeds of dogs and learn about what makes them unique. Truman is a phenomenal dog. Most everyone seems to fall in love with him instantly. I just kind of sit back and watch the magic happen … and smile. He's so patient and gentle with children. He gives a smile and a tail wag to everyone he meets and just sits and lets everyone pet him or rub his belly. He can now read up to 10 commands. Yes, actually READ them off a piece of paper. People were gasping and amazed when I pulled out his flash cards and he started doing what each command said just by looking at it. I do it to show people how intelligent Australian Cattle Dogs are and how much fun you can have with them. It's a fantastic event for people who are looking to add a dog to their lives.
I'm so proud of Truman. He was found as a stray in Kentucky and put into a kill shelter. The Australian Cattle Dog Rescue of Illinois pulled him out of that shelter and called to tell me they had found the perfect dog for me. People tell me Truman is lucky to have found such a wonderful home and someone who loves him so much. I say I am the lucky one.
I love Door County. I visited it for the first time over 20 years ago and I still remember that feeling of crossing over into the peninsula and instantly noticing that the sky looked different, the landscape looked different and it seemed calm and inviting and almost like I was home. Maybe it’s because I grew up on Lake Michigan, on the other side, where the sun sets. Maybe it’s because I’m a romantic and I love to hear the history and the maritime stories of the ships at peril on this lake. I always wonder what was going through the minds of those men who knew they were going down with their ship. I love visiting the lighthouses of Door County. There are 11. Some are open for visitors, some are not. All are beautiful. If you plan a trip there, you should plan to visit a least one lighthouse during your stay. The Cana Island lighthouse is a romantic out of the way find. The Eagle Bluff lighthouse has a fabulous guided tour with wonderful stories.
I always try to visit someplace I’ve never been on each trip. This time it was Potawatomi State Park. It’s in Sturgeon Bay and you can’t miss seeing signs for it on your way into the Door. I’ve always passed it by anxious to get to my other favorites, Newportand Whitefish Dunes. But since I’ve hiked Newport and Whitefish and Peninsula state parks dozens of times, I decided to spend a day at Potawatomi. What a gem. Truman and I packed our backpacks and set out early Tuesday morning to explore this place. I think we were the first to arrive and we saw maybe five people the entire time we were there. Quiet, peaceful, beautiful views and a fire tower you can climb, just like at Peninsula State Park, only you don’t have to wait for anyone coming up and down. You basically can have the entire 1,200 acres all to yourself to explore with spectacular views of the water, limestone cliffs, upland terrain and forests. The Ice Age Trail also originates from this park with an ethereal staircase taking you up into the forest at the start of it. It’s magical.
Of course, I have a couple of other favorite spots, where every time I visit I think, is this place real? I can’t bring myself to tell you where these secrets are. But they are so clear, and peaceful and untouched and quite heavenly. And each time I visit those places I love so much it does seem that I have them all to myself if only for just a moment. I don’t know how to describe the feeling of finding a hidden beach with soft beige dunes of sand and the crystal clear, still water of Lake Michigan that invites you to walk in up to your knees no matter how cold it is. There’s nothing but quiet and beauty and greatness that can bring tears to your eyes and make you feel so humble and grateful just to be still and connect with the water and the trees and the birds and the sand. Yes, I know, I am a hopeless romantic, sad sap. I always have been. I always will be. And just to know that I have a place so close that can easily stir my soul with beauty and charm and wonder every time I visit gives me peace. This is why I love Door County.