Apple Pie Bars

Searching my Pinterest boards for a suitable recipe to celebrate the first day of autumn, I decided to try one for Apple Pie Bars.  In the end, I tweaked the recipe a bit, and so present my own version of them.  I'm pleased to say that they hold together beautifully!  And although I served them on a plate, I do believe they could be held in the hand, or the recipe even altered further to make individual hand-pies.

Apple Pie Bars

3 c. flour
3/4 t. salt
2 T. granulated sugar
18 T. unsalted butter, very cold, and diced into cubes
1/4 c. + 1/8 c. milk
1 1/2 egg yolks (not easy to do, but you'll manage)

5 c. apples, peeled, cored, and diced (use a mix of 2 or 3 varieties for the fullest flavor)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg

1 egg white
1/4 c. Turbinado (coarse-grained) sugar

Caramel sauce for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For crust: Add flour, salt, and sugar to a food processor bowl and pulse three or four times to mix.  Add cold, cubed butter and pulse 15-20 times, or until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add milk and egg yolks and pulse until mixture comes together into a ball.  Don't over mix, or you will toughen the dough.  Divide dough in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap, forming it into small, even rectangle as you do.  Wrap until enclosed in plastic, and refrigerate while completing the next step.

Filling: Peel, core, and dice the apples.  Place apples in a mixing bowl and mix with vanilla; stir well.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, and spices.  Pour flour mixture over apples and stir well.

Assembling: On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the dough parts into a 9 x 13 rectangle.  Roll dough up onto a rolling pin and transfer to the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 13 pan.  Spread apples onto dough, leaving about 1/2" space all around the edges.

Roll remaining dough into slightly larger than a 9 x 13" rectangle.  Transfer, on pin, to the top of the apples, and trim off excess dough evenly.

Gently press down all along the edges to seal.

Whisk the egg white until frothy, and brush on top of pastry.  Sprinkle liberally with Turbinado sugar.

Bake for one hour, until crust is golden brown.  Cool completely and slice into squares.

Drizzle dessert plates with caramel.  Place apple pie square atop caramel.  Top with dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.  

Serves 12.

A Day on the Grey Lady

After leaving our home-away-from-home on the Cape, we scurried to catch the morning ferry to Nantucket.  Through a series of mistakes on our part, and after encountering more than one full parking lot, we caught the 9:15 ferry at 9:16 and it departed at 9:17.  Whew!  Still can't believe we made it!  A little frazzled, we settled in for the 2 hr. 15 mins. crossing to the island of Nantucket, also known as The Grey Lady.

One of the first sights we saw after arriving was this.  I mean...come on!  You know you're in an utterly charming place when this greets you!

First order of business after arriving was lunch.  We headed straight to our favorite restaurant on the island, The Brotherhood of Thieves.

This, semi-basement level restaurant is a favorite with locals and tourists alike.  When Technohubby and I spent a week on the island for our 10th anniversary, we warmed ourselves with their tasty burgers, soups, and cozy atmosphere many times.

Lunch for me this time was a burger with caramelized onions and mushroom and boursin cheese, served with colesaw and steak fries.  Yum!

Sufficiently fortified for an afternoon of walking and fresh sea air, we began our island explorations.

I never tire of looking at beautiful houses, and Nantucket has the BEST!

We walked along the beach and the famous Brant Point lighthouse that greets you as you enter Nantucket Harbor.  The beach is a shell-searchers dream!

Meandering back towards town, we left the guys to tour the U.S. Coast Guard station, as Max is hoping to become a Coastie.

While they were busy there, Colette and I walked the brick sidewalks and cobblestone streets of the town, admiring the pretty bed-and-breakfast inns, the windowboxes overflowing with blooms, and the general charm of the island.

This famous landmark is painted on the side of the Ralph Lauren store on Main Street.  Did a little browsing in that store.

And a little browsing in this Nantucket shop.  Love their luxurious handwoven throws!

Then we visited the Peter Bretton Hats Studio.  So fun!  Look at all the delicious ribbons with which you can customize your hat!

We met up with the guys at a local coffee house.  Purchased some pastries from a bakery to take home.  And then we headed over to the Whaling Museum to take a tour.  Nantucket was the nation's whaling capital for many years.  Many of the homes on the island belonged to captains of whaling ships.

Candles made from spermecetti, the last part of the whale oil processing.  Such a curious color.

Whale oil (this from a whale that washed up on the island in the 1990's) was used for many decades as a fuel for lanterns.  These bottles are actually quite large...close to 2-ft. high.

The rooftop terrace of the Whaling Museum provides a lovely spot for relaxing and has a commanding view of the harbor and surrounding neighborhood of classic Nantucket homes.  Can you see why it's called The Grey Lady?

Then it was time for ice cream at this charming shop.  The smell of their waffle cones had been hovering in the air for hours, and we could resist no longer.  Besides, they have flowers on their door!

I had a pumpkin spice ice cream, as a way of saying "goodbye" to summer and "hello" to autumn.  Always so sad to leave The Grey Lady.

Time at the Cape

This year, instead of giving everyone in the family birthday gifts, Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts, and Christmas gifts, Colette gifted us all with a two-night stay on Cape Cod!  She rented a roomy house on a quiet cul-de-sac.  Ahhh...fabulous!

Love, love, LOVE all the windows in this house!  A cool, refreshing breeze was whooshing through the house for most of the evening.  Like many beach homes, the main living area was on the second floor, to take advantage of the views.  The open windows in this picture belonged to the kitchen.  And that little overhanging box was a cozy window seat, just right for lounging!

The doorway to relaxation!

The first night we were there, we got settled in, grilled chicken for dinner, and celebrated Colette's birthday.

Awoke the next day to sunny skies and sundrenched rooms.

The view from the picture window in the upstairs living room.

The weather was quite chilly, but you can't go to the Cape without going to the beach.  Love the tall, waving grasses and interesting rocks and shells you can find on New England's beaches.

Theo spent all his time trying to remove the rocks from the beach and fill the bay with them.  Love that "typical boy" behavior!

It was wonderful to be all together for two days!  Next posting...our visit to Nantucket!

Garden Tour

Today concludes our garden tour, and I've saved my favorite for last.  This garden, although tucked down a quiet, country road , is quite well known in the gardening world. Since this was actually the first garden I toured, and the tour had only begun about 15 minutes before I arrived, I really expected only a handful of people to be there.  But clearly everyone was anxious to see Juniper Hill Farm, because there were already about 50 cars parked in the field.  (And although I didn't photograph them, I feel compelled to tell you that there were sheep in a pen at one end of the field.  Sheep make every pastoral scene complete, do they not?)

Walking from the field where we parked the car, we come first upon the meadow and its iron focal point.

Then we pass the woodshed, with an espaliered tree against it.  And a cart!  What I loved most about this property was the integration of historic elements into the landscape.  I loved the connection it forged with a working New England farm of the past.

Then we move on to the Lilac Garden.  Now, having come from southern California, a lilac-less place, I'm still enamored by the lilac bushes growing everywhere across the New England landscape.  But THIS seemed like something very rare to me...a formal lilac hedge!  I would love to see this in full-bloom in May!

Around those grasses, and off to the right, we see this view of the Frog Pond.  I love the formality of the beautifully planted black urn mingling with the naturalness of the frog pond beyond.

Down the steps to the frog pond we go.  On this property, I loved the natural manner of the water features...not contrived, but as integrated with the landscape or with history as possible.

Then back up the stairs and through the lilac garden and across the driveway we go to the front of the house and barn.  Here's what the homeowners/gardeners had to say about their property:

The Gardens at Juniper Hill Farm surround an eighteenth-century saltbox house and farmstead that remain as they were 200 years ago.  The approximately two acres of gardens surrounding the farm might best be described as "country formal".  There is a courtyard garden, a formal lilac garden leading to a frog pool, a whimsical stumpery, a tranquil Mediterranean-inspired "clipped green" garden, a formal potager, and a pool house modeled after the garden pavilion at Hidcote.  Scattered throughout the garden are many planted containers and more than 150 boxwoods representing eleven different varieties.  Because winter interest was an important consideration in the original layout of the garden, strong architectural lines become an important design element.  The house and garden have been featured seeral times in both regional and national magazines..."

Although barely visible from this vantage point, just off to the right is another of the property's water features...a small, stone watering trough for small animals that has been turned into a burbling fountain.

Well, hello there!

My favorite view of the whole day!  Ahhh...I could sit there and stare at this scene forever!

Now, back around the woodshed, past this sleeping beauty, we go to explore the gardens behind the house.

Always mindful that farms are work and their beauty reflects hard work, I loved the placement of the carts and tools of the farmer.

And just when you start to think it simply cannot get an lovelier, strains of music could be heard.  Ahh...sublime!

The musicians were playing classical music just on the other side of the hedge from the pool.

The formal hedges, planted boxes, and urns mingle so effortlessly with the more natural elements in this garden.  I particularly noticed how spaces were defined with hedges, gates, arbors, and posts.

The view from the side of the house looking back towards the pool area, the musicians, and beyond.

Some beautiful, summer blooms.

This clever idea was so simple that I thought even a novice gardener, like myself, could easily tackle it.  A peony border!  But peonies heavy with blooms droop so, you may say.  Ah!  But look at the clever way this one is held up with a forked stick and a stalk of bamboo.  

And lastly, we found our way to the potager.  Gorgeous!  But by this point, we expected no less, right?  Of course it would be beautiful!

Heading back out to the car, although really loathe to leave this place, we pass by this pergola adjacent to the woodshed.  But this time, by studying it just a bit more closely, we can see that this pergola is really the most lovely, natural disguise possible for a clothesline!

So much hard work and so many little cares went into making this garden a lovely refuge of true New England beauty!

You can visit Juniper Hill Farm's website here, or friend them on Facebook as "Notes From Juniper Hill".

I hope you've enjoyed this 6-day garden tour!  I can't wait to go again next year.  And if you can't wait that long, do look up The Garden Conservancy and see if there's still an Open Day in your neighborhood.
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