Barefoot In the Kitchen: Making Due

Making Due with what you have has a long history, dating back long before product on demand and modern refridgeration. During the great depression, making the most out of what little they had became almost an artform with virtually no waste and remains a study in frugality and ingenuity even today.

I recall the story of my grandfather, young and travelling far from home to find work and found it picking cotton.  He’d pick and fill the long bags they drug through the fields, all day, for a bowl of beans.  The last bag he filled that at the end of the day, was used as a mattress on the ground that he pulled behind a billboard.

In the home, mothers stretched what they had, not only to fill bellies but artfully created some semblance of normalcy.  Women baked bread and biscuits.  If you’ve ever baked or bought real bread, you’d know that it goes bad very quickly. (unlike the scary grocery store bread in my pantry.  It’s been there nearly a month and is as soft as the day I bought it and not  a speck of mold.  I refuse to eat it! It’s not real food and quite frankly, scary.)

Thus, day old bread was used for french toast, bread pudding, crumbs for meatloaf, biscuits and gravy etc.  Boiling cornmeal, ground wheat or other grains, made porridge for breakfast, fried as johnny cakes or leftovers, allowed to solidify then sliced and fried. This was served with butter and syrup for breakfast or as a polenta.

I could explore this with you forever, but today, I want to offer one of the ways women provided a bit of normalcy to family life and the dinner table….Mock Pies.  The most famous was created by the Ritz cracker company during the depression, Mock Apple Pie.  Many of you will have tried it but those who haven’t are always surprised.  I, myself, have enjoyed making them for unsuspecting children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and occasional guest.  I’m always delighted at their shock when I reveal that their “Apple Pie” had no apples!

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Mock Apple Pie

Ingredients

For the crust

2 unbaked pie crusts
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon sugar

For the Filling

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups water
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Zest and 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
36 Ritz crackers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

1 Preheat oven to 425°F. In a medium saucepan combine sugar, water and cream of tartar, whisking until sugar has dissolved. Bring mixture to boil over high heat, whisking occasionally, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 15 minutes or until mixture has reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Stir in zest, juice and vanilla. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

2. Roll out crusts.  Place bottom crust in pie pan. Pierce the bottom crust all over with a fork. Add  crackers.  (Roughly break for a chopoed apple look or leave whole for a more sliced apple look.)  Pour syrup over crackers and dot with pieces of butter then sprinkle evenly with cinnamon.

3. Beat together egg and milk. Place top crust over pie. Seal and flute the edges and brush with egg wash then sprinkle with sugar. Cut several small slits into the top crust to vent the steam. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. I like to serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

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Mock Cherry Pie

1 ½ cups cranberries ( cut largest ones in half)
½ tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp flour                                                                ½ tsp almond extract
1 cup sugar                                                                pinch of salt
½ cup water

Do not leave out the almond flavouring as this gives the pie the flavor of fresh cherries.
Again, pierce the crust with a fork. Put raw cranberries in lower crust.  Mixed sugar and flour then sprinkle over the cranberries.  Mix extract and water then pour over the berries. (I would dot with butter)  Put on top crust and cut slits for steam.  Brush crust with egg and milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake in hot oven. 350° (?) Until golden brown. 40 – 45 min.

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Mock Pecan Pie                 

1/4 c Butter
2 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
3/4 c Sugar
3/4 c. dark Corn Syrup
3/4 c Oats
1 c Coconut
1 pie shell

Cream butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs, syrup, and vanilla. Stir in oats and coconut. Pour into the pie shell. Bake at 350° 40-45 min.
serve with whipped cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 comments

    • Oh, Britchy! Me too! I love pecan pie! I wonder if that’s what is where the recipe originated or was adapted from? I’ll certainly be exploring that and, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were, especially through English immigration, like my great great grandparents. Whike her brothers were born in England, my great grandmother was 1st generation born here.
      Only one of the brothers came here with his family while the rest remained there. A cousin from across the pond, located me via ancestry some years ago and has been wonderful in providing me with history, photographs and family.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh how lovely! My English grandma made our family tree going back to the 1600s. Irish record keeping is dire so there’s almost no hope of tracing my mums family – what they don’t know they make up! I do know we’re descended from one of the 12 tribes of Galway but I’ll have to see if my Irish aunt by marriage will share the info my uncle had. She’s a cow so it’s not likely

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  1. I love apple pies and never knew that it could be done without apples. Your recipe is amazing. I am on the other side of the world, some part in Asia where apple pies is not frequent part of our meal. We eat apple pies when there is an occasion being celebrated. I would love to learn how to bake it.
    By the way, I am new in blogging and I hope you can support me. Just recently, I made a challenge for myself to visit at least 10 blogs daily for the next 21 days. During my visit, I will leave comment and have your link posted on my blog. Please come and visit my blog and leave a comment as well.

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    • Hi Vanessa!
      So lovely to meet you and thank you so much for stopping by my blog today! 💕 During late summer and fall, apples are in season and in abundance. The prices are cheaper in the market and if you have apple trees, they produce so much more than you can actually use. When we had our farm, I had 4 apple trees that produced so many apples that I gave them away to friends, nieghbors, our church, by bushel baskets full and still had more than could be used!
      With so much excess, you learn how to use and store what you can to reduce the waste. You can bake and freeze apple bread and cakes that can be frozen for later, apple sauce than can be canned, AND you can actually make apple pie filling which can be stored by both and used later!
      I’m sending you this recipe. You can try your hand at the homemade crust or use a store bought one.

      Dough:

      2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
      4 teaspoons sugar
      1/4 teaspoon fine salt
      14 tablespoons cold butter, diced
      1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons cold water

      Filling:

      2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
      3 pounds = 6-7 cups apples peeled and sliced (granny smith works best)
      2 Tablespoons flour
      1/3 cup white sugar, plus more for sprinkling on the pie
      1/3 cup brown sugar
      1/4 cup butter
      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      1/4 teasoon ground nutmeg
      1 large egg, lightly beaten

      Dough for pie crust
      In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles yellow corn meal mixed with bean sized bits of butter. Add the egg and stir the dough together with a fork or by hand in the bowl. If the dough is dry, sprinkle up to a tablespoon more of cold water over the mixture.
      Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.

      Filling
      Make the filling. Put the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Peel, and slice apples then toss the apple with the lemon juice. Add the sugars, flour and spices and toss to combine evenly.

      In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer, about 2 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook and simmer until thickened and lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.

      Set aside to cool completely. (This filling can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen for up to 6 months.)

      Cut the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough into a disc about 11 to 12 inches wide. Layer the dough between pieces of parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

      Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

      Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with one of the discs of dough, and trim it so it lays about 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pan. Put the apple filling in the pan and mound it slightly in the center. Brush the top edges of the dough with the egg. Place the second disc of dough over the top. Fold the top layer of dough under the edge of the bottom layer and press the edges together to form a seal. Flute the edge as desired. Brush the surface of the dough with egg and then sprinkle with sugar. Pierce the top of the dough in several places to allow steam to escape while baking. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

      Bake the pie on a baking sheet until the crust is golden, about 50 minutes. Cool on a rack before serving. The pie keeps well at room temperature (covered) for 24 hours, or refrigerated for up to 4 days.

      You may freeze the uncooked pie, but don’t brush it with egg or dust it with sugar beforehand. Place the pie in the freezer for 30 minutes, to harden it slightly, and then double wrap it with plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 6 months. When ready to bake, unwrap the pie and brush it with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake, from the frozen state, until golden brown, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

      Enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh my… thank you so much. I will keep this recipe. I am on the other side of the world, in the Philippines to be exact. How I wish we could grow apple tree here. Nowadays, if we buy apple it the market, it would cost us a dollar for 2 pcs. I have already converted the amount to your local currency. If we have enough budget we could buy more.

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      • Much of the year, apples can be pretty expensive too although not as much so as it is there. When the media asks “why are americans so fat?” , I’m always of the mind that it’s because families can buy a box of 12 snack packs for $1 or a bag of 5 apples for $4. Lol. Healthier food items seem to be more expensive!
        When apples are in harvest season, they may be a bit cheaper where you can buy then freeze either the filling or entire pies and save for special occasions. Also, some varieties are cheaper. You can use the cheaper varieties but definately want to over stuff the pie as they’ll cook down more and maybe reduce the sugar as they’re sweeter.
        However, the mock apple pie is a wonderful and economical way to enjoy.
        If you make one, I hope you’ll let me know what you think.
        Be well, be safe & enjoy!

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  2. Yummy, can’t wait to start baking. My husband makes our bread because he said they are doing something weird with the bread. I think it is plastic, which is scary. We do have days where we eat store bought and you can tell the difference from homemade breads. There is so much plastic out in the world, guess they figured out one way to get rid of it. I remember my grandmother using old bread crumbs for stuffings too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m honestly going to start baking our bread too. What they’re selling isn’t natural. No wonder there’s suddenly an outbreak of celiac disease, “gluten” sensitivity, digestive issues all surrounding breads which have been the staple of life virtually since imthe beginning of time? After buying bread and buns that do not age or rot, I’m with your husband on that. Lol

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  3. I guess I’m going to need to try every one of these. I’m vaguely aware of hearing of the mock apple pie but never heard of the others. Seasoning makes everything what it is so I’m looking forward to trying these pies.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh how fun! I hope you’ll give one a go sometime. It’s brilliant, really, the premise has been adopted by many companies, specifically candy companies. The look and smell tricks the brain into thinking its the logical item. Example. Skittles. Multi colored, multi scented, all just one flavor. Lovely treats for the family during hard times.

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