Pie to Welcome Autumn, Plus a Few Apple Facts

Author: Meera, September 15, 2017

Autumn officially arrives next Friday, September 22, 2017. That means peak apple season has begun and nothing says “fall” like an early-autumn apple pie.


A little egg wash on the crust renders a beautiful golden color

A little egg wash on the crust renders a beautiful golden color



Here’s my easiest apple pie recipe.








6 cups apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced


3/4 cup granulated sugar


2 tablespoons butter


1/8 teaspoon salt


1 teaspoon cinnamon


1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


2 tablespoons flour


2 unbaked pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)


1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water (to make an egg wash)



Pie ready for top crust

Pie ready for top crust





Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit


Combine sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmegr in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in the apples. Spoon the apples into a pastry-lined baking dish or pan. Cut the butter into small pieces and distribute over the apples. Place the second rolled-out crust over the pie. Snip off the excess crust and cut a design into the top crust to create a steam vent. Flute crust edges. Use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash over the top crust.


Pie with egg wash applied and vents cut in is ready to bake

Pie with egg wash applied and vents cut in is ready to bake



Bake for 10 minutes. Cover crust edges with aluminum foil to keep them from burning. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Crust will be golden brown and juices will be bubbling.





1. Apples were known in the ancient world; they’ve been around for 3,000 years.


2. Apples thrive in a temperate climate and are grown worldwide.


3.  There are roughly 7,000 varieties of apples worldwide, all members of the rosaceae family.


4. Washington state produces half of all U.S. apples.


5. Science shows that apples are rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and C, are high in fiber, and  and aid in lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure. They can help stabilize blood sugar levels.


6. Some of the best-loved apple varieties include: Braeburn, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Rome.


If you want to know which apples are best for baking, eating fresh, making into sauces, or freezing, see, http://bestapples.com/varieties-information/varieties/






If you enjoy reading about delicious farm recipes, growing heirloom plants, or keeping bees and chickens and you like a mysteries, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries from Kensington Publishing in NY. They’re available online and in traditional bookstores everywhere.


Murders at a N. California winery is a catalyst for ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie

Murders at a N. California winery are the catalyst for ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie to search for a killer




Currently, A HIVE OF HOMICIDES is a featured title in Barnes & Noble’s September promotional BUY 3, GET 1 FREE sale.




Everyone who buys a Kensington cozy mystery from the B&N in-store display or any Kensington cozy mystery from BarnesandNoble.com between 9/5/17 – 10/5/17 and registers their purchase at http://sites.kensingtonbooks.com/kensingtoncozies/BN/ will:


–     Automatically be entered into Kensington’s “Cozy Mystery Bonanza” sweepstakes for a chance to win a $300 value gift basket. One grand prize winner will be selected after the sale has concluded.


–     Automatically receive a free Kensington Cozies recipe booklet plus a download code for the novel A STORY TO KILL by Lynn Cahoon after the sale has concluded.



*                    *                     *



Win a signed copy of A Hive of Homicides along with a gorgeous reversible apron and a set of 2 chicken napkin rings. Enter before September 26 for a chance to win.


See, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33911114-a-hive-of-homicides?from_search=true






Reversible apron features a floral backside. Ties make it totally adjustable.

Reversible apron features a floral backside. Ties make it totally adjustable.







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Easy Peasy Holiday Potpourri

Author: Meera, November 12, 2015

Potpourri mixtures are easy to create and their long-lasting fragrance can add an attractive visual appeal and fresh scent to any room. You can find many items in nature. Use a festive basket or crystal bowl for displaying your potpourri.





The leathery pomegranate peel takes center stage in this potpourri

A five-pointed, dry and leathery pomegranate peel takes center stage in this potpourri





Go on a nature walk to hunt for materials (see the List of Potpourri Items below).


Visit a shop for spices–whole nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice.


Cut or purchase herbs (preferably dried)–lavender, rosemary, and mint.


Combine nature’s materials with spices, dried herbs, and dried citrus slices and peels.


Add rose petals, lavender buds, and/or pinecones and red cedar bark.


Arrange pretty seashells or small pieces of driftwood.


Include fresh leaves and berries from eucalyptus trees  and also he fuzzy seed pods of wisteria.


Put the potpourri in a pretty basket or cut crystal bowl; add a drop or two of essential oil if desired.





Combine using any of the following to create interesting mixes, textures, and colors.

  • pinecones
  • eucalyptus leaves and berries
  • rose hips
  • citrus peels
  • pomegranate peel
  • lavender buds
  • rosemary
  • yarrow
  • seed pods
  • red cedar bark
  • cinnamon sticks
  • dried rose petals
  • citrus slices
  • allspice
  • peppercorns
  • dried nutmeg
  • dried apple slices
  • carnation petals
  • seashells
  • dried rose petals
  • dried mint
  • essential oil—(rose, lemon, lavender, vanilla) to intensify scent





Find other ideas for farm crafts and delicious recipes in A BEELINE TO MURDER.

Click here:





Meera Lester and her cozy mystery, A BEELINE TO MURDER

The author and her debut cozy mystery, A BEELINE TO MURDER






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Traditional Banana-Walnut Bread

Author: Meera, December 6, 2014
Warm, heavy, dense, and moist characterize this traditional loaf of banana nut bread

Warm, heavy, dense, and moist characterize this traditional loaf of banana-walnut bread



When the bananas on the kitchen counter become soft and the peels develop brown freckles, don’t toss them. Make a loaf of banana-walnut bread. This bread makes a lovely complement to a cup of steaming, fragrant Earl Grey tea.


The ingredient list for this bread is simple and the directions are easy. To start, you’ll need a  9 by 5-inch loaf pan, greased and floured; and, you’ll need to affix the paddle to your mixer. Set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The recipe yields one loaf.





6 Tablespoons of softened, unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas

3 large organic eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk (or 2 Tablespoons buttermilk powder dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped



Mix together in a large bowl the following–flour, baking powder, baking soda,  nutmeg, salt, and chopped nuts. Set aside.

In the mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar.

Add the bananas.

Add one egg at a time.

Add the buttermilk.

Pour the flour into the banana mixture and mix a little at time until the ingredients are all combined.

Fill the floured and greased loaf pan with batter until the pan is roughly 2/3 full.

Bake for approximately 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out clean.


*Tip: ripe bananas can be peeled and stored in a zip-lock freezer bag and frozen.






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Old World Honey Cake

Author: Meera, November 28, 2012



Preparing ingredients for honey cake




Honey cake has been called the world’s “oldest-known cake.” Versions of the cake date to biblical times, although food historians will tell you that it wasn’t really called cake back then. The English term “cake” dates to the thirteenth century and derives from the old Norse word, “kaka.”



Modern pastry chefs have the ancient Egyptians to thank for pioneering the culinary process of baking. The ancients’ version of  honey cake was most likely an old-world type of flat bread drizzled or lashed with honey, the sweetener of choice during ancient times. In fact, bread and cake (even today) are not too different. Think of pumpkin bread or banana nut bread. A slice of either at breakfast is like having dessert in the morning.



The Romans added eggs and butter to get a lighter dough. Cooks began to add nuts and dried fruits such as dates, figs, and raisins to make their honey “cake” even more mouth-watering and special.



Although that round shape that we associate with cake today didn’t emerge until the seventeenth century, medieval bakers in Europe had for centuries continued to create new versions of the honey cake with spices such as ginger. In fact, the taste for ginger resulted in gingerbread. The addition of dried fruits, nuts, spices, and (later) rum and brandy yielded the cake we know today as fruitcake.


The following recipe is more of a medieval style honey cake, although during the medieval period cakes tended to be smaller than we think of them today.


Old World Honey Cake


1 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey (preferrably dark)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 eggs (separate yolks from whites)
1/2 cup unflavored Greek yogurt
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
10 dates, stoned and chopped
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
Preheat the ove to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a ten-inch tube pan.

Combine honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring often. Add baking soda, stir in, and remove from heat and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter with brown sugar. Beat in one egg yolk at a time. Add this to the honey/spice mixture.

In a bowl, mix yogurt, cottage cheese, and orange zest.

Sift half the flour and the salt into the honey/spice mixture (that now also contains the creamed butter, sugar, and eggs). Combine remaining flour with raisins, dates, and walnuts. Mix this into the bowl of batter.

Pour the batter into the greased tube pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the cake. The toothpick, when pulled out, should have no batter on it.

Cool the cake for 15 minutes before inverting. Brush with 1 Tablespoon of honey.


Optional: Sprinkle with slivered almonds. After the cake is completely cooled, store in an airtight container for 24 to 48 hours before serving.


Copyright Meera Lester 11-28-2012



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