Something New - Nesty Creations

Happy Halloweekend!

 You may be surprised to discover that today's post has nothing to do with Halloween.  In fact, it isn't going to be much of a post.  You see, I've taken on a new endeavor; next week I'm going to be participating in my first craft show!  After years of crafting for my own entertainment, I'm going to take the plunge and actually put my stuff "out there" and see how it goes.

Like Nesty the blog, Nesty crafts are a mixed bag.  I'm not a master of any one craft, but I know what I like and I know what I like to create.  I'm not going to knit for this one (although I like knitting very much) but I am going to be presenting a unique collection of handmade items.  There will be Christmas ornaments, possibly some mini-album / gift card holders, and some sewn items like these adorable little bags that have been taking up all my time the past few days:
I'm aiming for quality, not quantity; I'd rather have a few well-made items than a table full of junk.  And so, I'm taking the time with each project to pay attention to the details, like careful pressing and seam finishing.  I'm quite pleased with the final result.

I'll be back Monday with a Halloween "post-mortem."  (Sorry, I couldn't resist that one!)  Have a wonderful weekend, and a very Happy Halloween!

Window to My World - Halloween at My House

I just love decorating for Halloween!  Here are a few pictures of what I've done to make our home spooktacular for Halloween!  Enjoy!

How do you decorate for Halloween?  Do you decorate the interior of your home?  What about the exterior; is there a wreath on your door, a pumpkin on the patio, or corn stalks and hay bales on the front lawn? We'd love to know!

Happy Hallo-week!!!

The excitement of Halloween is really building now!  The big night is less than one week away, and it's time to put the finishing touches on costumes, make sure you have enough treats, and finishing "shrouding" your home in spook-tacular decor!!!  However, prior to Halloween night, it's a good idea to review some safety tips to ensure that you and your loved ones have a spooky, not scary, Halloween.

Even if you don't have children heading out to trick-or-treat, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with Halloween safety advice.  I covered Halloween Pet Safety in a previous post, however there are other steps you can take to keep yourself, and visitors to your home, safe.  As well, by reviewing what safety professionals are advising parents, you can help make their jobs easier by complying with common wisdom on everything from treats to keeping your yard free of tripping hazards.

Below, you will find links to some websites that offer lists of Halloween safety tips. The Canadian Red Cross list has some cute "seasonal" references in it, and the RCMP offers two lists; one for parents and one for Trick-or-Treaters.  I hope you find these links useful and informative:
Have a great week!  See you on Wednesday!

    Halloween Primer Part III - Don't Forget Your Pets!

    There's something about the days leading up to Halloween that seems to invite mischief, tricks if you will.  Acts of vandalism, pranks, and impromptu explosions of fireworks are some of the less fondly anticipated aspects of the spooky season.  Of course, in most cases, these incidents are mostly just annoying, and after a disapproving shake of the head, we go along with our day (or evening, usually.)  

    Fireworks in particular are a popular Halloween annoyance, and the nights leading up to Halloween are peppered with explosions.  It didn't really bother us much until we got Molly, who, like many dogs, is absolutely terrified of fireworks.  Last Halloween was especially hard on her, as there were an exceptional amount of explosions going on.  Tinky doesn't seem to be as effected by them, but he does take his cues from Molly.  Long story short, they did a lot of barking, and I got a headache.  I thought that I had stumbled upon a solution when I found a "Sounds of Nature" radio station on the television for them to listen to.  It drowned out the fireworks, and they seemed to like the babbling brooks, cooing doves, and ocean waves.  What they didn't like at all was when the whales chimed in.  Back to barking!

    What I'm essentially getting at is that, although Halloween is lots of fun for humans, even some of the more innocent parts of Halloween can be really hard on pets (think costumes, candy and trick or treaters).  Luckily, there are some great online resources to advise you on how to keep your furry friends safe, happy, and calm during the Halloween weekend:
     What these great articles all work to establish is that by taking a few precautions, you and your pet can have a safe and happy Halloween together!

    Have a great weekend!  I'll be back on Monday as the countdown to Halloween continues!

    Halloween Primer Part II - Tunes!

    I suppose there are people out there that don't have a soundtrack to their lives, or at least one that they care about, but for me, music is intrinsically linked to my memories.  I'm officially old enough now to say that hearing a song on the radio has the ability to send me back decades.  This past week I've heard REM's "Everybody Hurts" on the radio no less than 4 times, and each time I hear the familiar intro I am back in Grade 12 hard at work on our Christmas play.  Gordon Lightfoot or Simon and Garfunkel remind me of early childhood.  Garth Brooks and Brooks and Dunn were staples during 4-H Weekend and trips to Provincial Show.  The Pogues and Radiohead are university and pubs and roadtrips.  

    Still not convinced of the recollective power of music?  I have three words for you: "Dirty Dancing Soundtrack."   See, I told you so!

    Of course, events and holidays have their own special soundtracks.  My aunt has a killer mixed CD that gets played at the family Christmas skating party every year.  You might think it would be full of Bing and other holiday favorites, but it's not.  Instead, we whirl around the ice to Donna Summer and lots and lots of hits from the 60's, 70's, and 80's.  We get our Christmas carol fix a few days later at our neighbor's Boxing Day bash, when we (literally) all gather around the piano with song sheets and belt out songs like "Marshmallow World" and "The Little Drummer Boy."  And my mom and I wholeheartedly agree that once October hits and Thanksgiving is over, we are allowed to (publicly) play our Christmas music.  (I mean, it's not like I was listening to it on my iPod during a walk in July or anything...never mind!)  As for events, well, I think the fact that many to-be-weds are eschewing a DJ or band in exchange for plugging in their iPods is a sign that soundtracks are important to our celebrations, our observances, and our lives.

    And so, I feel it is important to have a good Halloween soundtrack.  Much like my annual Christmas Mix, my Halloween Hits evolve each year, usually with more additions than subtractions.  Here is a basic list of songs that I like to play in the weeks leading up to Halloween.  These are the perfect songs to fill treat bags, dip caramel apples, or stitch up a costume to:

    1. I Want Candy - Bow Wow Wow
    2. Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon
    3. Pet Semetary - The Ramones
    4. Ghostbusters - Ray Parker, Jr.
    5. Thriller - Michael Jackson
    6. People are Strange - The Doors
    7. Clap for the Wolfman - The Guess Who
    8. Bad Moon Rising - Creedance Clearwater Revival
    9. I Put a Spell on You - Screamin' Jay Hawkins
    10. Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett
      If you're planning to have a Halloween Party, there's a few more tunes you could add.  I always like to remember that, for a party playlist, you should consider that there will be a variety of guests with many different musical tastes.  So, don't be afraid to add in selections from genres you may not listen to on a regular basis.  And hey, more often than not it's the song that everybody would normally turn up their nose at that gets everyone up on the dance floor (how else can we explain the enduring popularity of the Chicken Dance and The Macarena?):
      11. Weird Science - Oingo Boingo
      12. Eyeball in my Martini - The Cramps
      13. Dig My Grave - They Might Be Giants
      14. The Devil Went Down to Georgia (Re-recorded) - The Charlie Daniels Band
      15. The Purple People Eater - Sheb Wooley
      16.Black Number One - Type O Negative
      17. Dragula - Rob Zombie
      18. Bela Lugosi's Dead - Bauhaus
      19. This Is Halloween - The Nightmare Before Christmas Sountrack
      20. A Nightmare on My Street - DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince

      Now, as any horror movie fan will tell you, a properly composed instrumental can be very effective at sending shivers up your spine.  The last few selections could be added into the party mix, but they would be equally great played as background music for a spooky dinner party or as trick or treaters come to the door:
      21. Halloween Theme - John Carpenter / MCA Music
      22. Tubular Bells - From The Exorcist
      23. Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Main Theme) - Knightsbridge
      24. Materia Primoris (Theme from The X Files) - Mark Snow25. Overture (The Phantom of the Opera) - Original London Cast
      26. Beetlejuice (Main Titles / End Titles - Danny Elfman
      27. Sleepy Hollow - New World Orchestra
      28. Psycho (Suite) -  Elmer Bernstein
      29. Theme from The Outer Limits - Neil Norman

      And of course, what Halloween mix would be complete without this enduring classic...
      30. The Addams Family - Vic Mizzy

         My list is definitely designed for a grown up Halloween party, but sites like iTunes have great ready made playlists where you can get ideas for your own personal list if you want one that's a bit more family friendly (I found iTunes Essentials super helpful in making up my list!).  Have fun, and be sure to add in any favorites I've forgotten in the comments!

        Halloween Primer - Treats A-plenty (But Hide Them Well!)

        Now that we're into the final half of October, there is no denying that Halloween is coming up and coming up fast!  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I've been having lots of fun decorating and planning for the big event!

        While planning the perfect costume / party / menu / all of the above, it's important not to forget a very pivotal part of the Halloween experience - buying the treats!  It may sound obvious, but think back: how many times have you had to make a quick trip to the store on October 29 or 30?  And were you sometimes shocked to discover that there was almost nothing left to purchase? If you mentally raised your hand to either, then you know that it's time to add "Buy treats" to your to-do list.

        The next item you'll want to write on that list is "Hide Treats."  Why?  I'm willing to wager that a good portion of you who have made that emergency treat trip did so because you did the unthinkable and dipped into the stash.  It is a well-known fact that, once opened, a bag of mini chocolate bars will not last long (or mini chips, or mini licorice, take your pick).  Regardless of your choice of treat, once its containment perimeter has been breached it's not long for this world.  And so, to prevent this from happening, you should hide your treats, and hide them WELL!!  My treats are residing in a basement storage room with my Christmas decorations right now, and they have been there undisturbed for over a week.  This may be a new record.

        There are other steps you can take to protect your treats (and, subsequently, your wallet and your waistline).  One is to not pick out the treats yourself.  My husband picked out the treats this year (our last trip to town was a "two carter" at the department store and he swung by seasonal before I did).  He picked out Pringles and mini bars.  A good pick; although I do love chocolate, I am entirely more likely to rip into Twizzlers or Nibs.  And while I will eat a chip or two if a bowl is placed in front of me, they just aren't tempting enough for me open an entire case.

        If you are faced with picking out the treats yourself, you could pick out something that there's no way on earth you would ever, ever eat.  Like those bags of sour powdered sugar objects, or things that look like slime.  I could have a truckload of those items and would feel absolutely no temptation to dip into them.  Now a Tootsie Roll or Pop, that's another story....and that's why I didn't throw a bag of those in the cart!

        Do you have a Halloween Treat survival (or disaster) story?  If so, we'd love to hear them in the comments!

        Have a great week!  See you on Wednesday!

        Retro Recipes - Don't Toss That Turkey...Make Turkey Soup!

        I've had a bit of a cold this week; nothing major but enough to make me feel a wee bit yucky.  Luckily, before I was stricken, I had whipped up a batch of turkey soup using the frame from my Thanksgiving turkey.

        Now, I understand that traditionally one turns to chicken soup for a cold, but growing up, we were roasted turkeys far more than chickens.  It made sense; we were a large family and the average chicken probably wouldn't have made it through one dinner, let alone have enough left over for soup.  So, turkey wasn't just a holiday meal for us.  My mother always made turkey soup with the leftover frame.  Since it's just my husband and I in our current household, we have chicken more often than turkey; but regardless of the bird, I always make use of as much of it as I can.

        Making homemade soup and stock is a little bit of home economy that I am fairly strict about.  To me, tossing a poultry frame in the garbage is essentially throwing away food, especially considering that making homemade soup couldn't be easier.  I've never really followed a recipe and neither did my mom; the knowledge of how to make homemade soup just passed along from generation to generation.  Essentially, I place the leftover frame into a stock pot, add enough water to cover it, throw in some aromatic vegetables like onions, carrots, and garlic, and some herbs and spices.  Then, I bring the whole thing to a boil and let it simmer for a while.  Once it has simmered down to stock-y perfection, I drain the stock into a soup pot and and pick the meat off the bones once they are cool enough to handle.  To make the soup I simmer winter vegetable like potatoes, carrots, parsnips and turnips with onion, garlic, and herbs and spices until the veggies are tender and then stir in the turkey and simmer a bit longer.  Served hot with homemade biscuits this soup is comfort food at it's finest and has cured many a common cold (in my mind, at least).

        There are many, many variations of turkey soup; if you'd like to explore some of them here is a link to Better Homes and Gardens Recipes for Leftover Turkey.

        I often hear people complain that turkey is expensive.  However, when you consider that, with soup, you can get almost a week's worth of meals out of one bird, turkey suddenly becomes something of a money saver.  Watch for sales (especially with the holidays coming up) and buy an extra turkey to have in the freezer.

        Halloween is coming up and in Nesty-land that's a very big deal!  I'm looking forward to sharing lots of tasty treats and crafty tricks with you over the next few weeks!

        Have a great weekend!  See you on Monday!

        Today I'm linking to:

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        I'm Thankful for Turtle Pumpkin Pie!

        We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  As with many holidays here in Kitimat, this year we got together with a group of friends and had a Thanksgiving Dinner Potluck.  I love these holiday meals; in addition to the great time we have spending time with our Kitimat friends, we get to try out recipes that, while new to us, are time-honoured traditions in our friends families.  I volunteered for dessert duty on both Thanksgivings we have spent in Kitimat, and although my dessert of choice may not be a traditional family recipe, it is quickly becoming a tradition in my new household, and at our Thanksgiving potlucks!

        Last year my mother introduced me to Turtle Pumpkin Pie.  My sister was making it for our family's Thanksgiving Dinner, and as Mom was describing it I knew it would be the perfect dessert to take along to our Thanksgiving Dinner!  I personally love traditional Pumpkin Pie, however some people don't enjoy it, although interestingly enough they almost always like pumpkin flavoured foods (lattes, cookies, and the like).  My theory is that it is the heavy cooked pudding consistency of pumpkin pie that they don't like.  And fair enough; these are probably the same folks who take a pass when bread pudding or custard is on the menu.

        Turtle Pumpkin Pie, a Kraft Foods concoction, takes the flavour of pumpkin pie and puts it into a sweeter, fluffier form.  It still uses canned pumpkin, but instant vanilla pudding mix, milk, and Cool Whip are added to make a delightful cream pie filling that is spooned into a graham cracker crust lined with caramel topping and pecans (just like a Turtles chocolate, see?)  The pumpkin filling is topped with lots of Cool Whip and then drizzled with more caramel and a sprinkle of pecan pieces as the final touch.  It's really rich and yummy, and will change the mind of many pumpkin pie opponents.  

        Another great thing about Turtle Pumpkin Pie?  It's super easy to make; in fact, it's no-bake!  It only takes an hour to set up in the refrigerator, so you can even prepare it while the turkey's cooking. It doesn't get any better than that! (Oh alright, I suppose if it were calorie free...)

        Here is a link to Kraft Canada's recipe for Turtle Pumpkin Pie.

        I decided to roast a turkey for us on Monday so we could have "leftovers" during the week.  We especially love making Hot Turkey Sandwiches, and Turkey Leftover Sandwiches (with stuffing and cranberry sauce).  My project for tomorrow is to make Turkey Soup from my turkey frame (I always make sure to leave lots of turkey on the frame for the soup!) I decided to go traditional with this turkey and simply stuffed it with bread stuffing made form my Mom and Nana's recipe, and seasoned it with butter and poultry seasoning.  Sometimes, the heart just needs tradition!  Although, I will admit that I broke out my fancy turkey basting kit and injected some melted REAL butter into the meat before popping it into the oven.  It was unbelievable!

        Of course, having a turkey with all the trimmings in the fridge leads to lots of late night snacking!  I will have to make sure I get in lots of walks this week!

        I've enjoyed sharing some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes and traditions with you over the last few posts.  The next big celebration?  Halloween, of course!  I've started decorating and planning already, and we picked up a batch of candy and treats for the trick or treaters when we were in town this week.  As well, I have lots of wonderful homemade treats planned! And of course, I'm looking forward to sharing it all with you!

        In closing, I'd like to thank everyone who commented on Friday's post; what an outpouring!  You made me feel great!  I am still catching up with visiting everyone who visited my blog last week and on Monday, but rest assured I will be stopping by your blogs soon!  

        Have a wonderful week (it's halfway over already!).  See you on Friday!!!

        Happy Thanksgiving!

        Thank you for Family, friends, turkey dinners, shorter days, crisp nights, home, time to breathe, kitty cats, funny hats, puppy dogs, new pens, crisp leaves, the smell of woodsmoke, Prayer, hot coffee, a single rose, a full moon, flannel jammies, ink smears, a day with no plans, farm markets, the unexpected, a letter from a friend, paper weights, a feeling of calm, the sound of laughter, remembering your favorite song, good dreams, last minute adventures, a sale rack, long drives, honey bees, the sound of waves, first snow, green plants, a new dress, warm cookies, funny movies, knowing that you can, the first step of a new journey, scented candles, solving a mystery, knowing you are loved, reading a great quote,   notebooks, new foods, naps, each new day...

        Happy Thanksgiving Apple Turkeys! - A Tutorial

        Thanksgiving weekend is finally here!  (Confused about why I'm celebrating this weekend?  Click here for an explanation!) To me, Thanksgiving is the "launch party" for the holiday season, and it really gets me in the spirit to start planning for Halloween, Christmas, and New YearsFrom now until January 31, I'll be buzzing along on a celebratory high, crafting and cooking and planning away.  And let's not forget the decorations!

        For almost as long as I can remember, one Thanksgiving decoration has been a constant - The Apple Turkey.  My recollection of its origin is fuzzy, so, as I do with many things I can't remember, I called Mom.  She confirmed my hunch that we had first made Apple Turkeys as a Sunday School Project.  She thinks that perhaps she found the idea in a magazine, maybe Country Living, but even she wasn't sure.  That's enough of an explanation for me, and I hope it will suffice for you!   

        Regardless of the Apple Turkey's mythical origins, one thing is for certain; it wouldn't be Thanksgiving in my house without one!  After that first Sunday School lesson, every Thanksgiving my sisters and I would craft what quickly became our family's traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece.  Even as teenagers, university students, and adults with homes of our own, each year someone would remember to make an Apple Turkey.  Eventually, a new generation of Apple Turkey craftspeople took over, and now they are being crafted by young relatives across Canada.  However, I still have to make my own (the dogs try, but without opposable thumbs, they find it hard).  Last year, the Apple Turkey made it's Kitimat debut at a Thanksgiving Dinner potluck we attended at a friend's home, and I'll be taking another along this year. To the uninitiated, Apple Turkeys are a charming absurdity, but to me, they are familiar and remind me of home.

        If you would like a charmingly absurd Apple Turkey of your own, here is a handy dandy tutorial to guide you through the creative process.  If you are like me and tend to get obsessive about things like wing placement and the perfect beak, please bear in mind that this craft was designed for five year olds and approach it as such (read - relax, this is supposed to be fun!)

        Step One
        Assemble Your Materials

        You will need:
        Paper in pretty colours
        A pencil or marker

        Step 2
        Make Your Turkey Some Feathers
        And a Head

        Turkeys enjoy having feathers and a head, so you don't want to skip this step! 

        Take your pretty paper and from it, cut out feathers for your turkey.  You can use a stencil, a die cutter, or draw them freehand; it's up to you.  This is a GREAT opportunity to use up your scrapbooking stash!

        Cut out a turkey shaped head as well.  Draw on eyes (so your turkey can see what's going on).  I sometimes like to add a contrasting beak; the design details are really up to you!
        Once you have all your paper cut, glue toothpicks to the pieces. Let the glue dry (See, I told you this was easy...)

        Step 3
        Turkey Assembly

        Take a deep breath, this is about to get complicated!

        Find the prettiest side of your apple and make sure that side is facing up, with the stem of the apple facing you.  Using the picture as a guide, take two toothpicks and insert them into the bottom of the apple as feet.  Then, place the turkey's head on the top of the apple toward the front.  
        I was just joking, this isn't complicated at all! 

         Don't worry if your turkey is a bit roly poly, that's just part of their charm!

        Turkeys need wings, so go ahead and put them on either side of your apple.

        Next, arrange your remaining feathers at the back of the apple for the turkey's tail. Turkeys are especially proud of their beautiful tail feathers, so go to town and use all your best colours; your turkey will thank you!!

        See, I told you this was easy!

        Step 4
        Sit Back and Enjoy Your Apple Turkey!

        All that's left to do it put your Apple Turkey to work decorating your home.  They really like hanging out in the middle of your dining room table during Thanksgiving Dinner, but in the meantime, use them to decorate all around your house!

        Remember that they are made of fruit, and will drip a bit of juice, so make sure you put them on a safe surface.  Apple turkeys get embarrassed when they ruin your stuff!

        I hope you've enjoyed this little tutorial as much as I've enjoyed sharing this fun little family tradition with you!

        Before I sign off for the weekend, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving, an a wonderful weekend!  
        As well, this week Nesty is a featured blog over at the link party Friendly FridayFriendly Friday is hosted by The Frugal Novice, Thanks, Mail Carrier, and Healthy Home Blog. I'd like to thank the hosts of Friendly Friday so much for this feature, and for the lovely write up of my blog!  Please take the time to go and visit Friendly Friday (you'll find some great blogs!) as well as the host blogs. 

        Today I'm linking to:

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        Blogland Creations - An Autumn Coffee Party

        It's OCTOBER!
        Time to grab your favorite sweater 
        and start feelin' cozy!
        Celebration season is upon us
        and all those summer salads have us
        out of practice for feasting.
        So, come on!
        Grab a caramel apple and start snacking...
        Those pumpkin pies won't eat themselves!

        Like the many bears that are wandering through our town right now, come Fall I feel the need to start eating.  Unlike the bears, I won't be melting off my fall fluff during a long winter's nap; come Spring, much like Winnie the Pooh, I will need to commit to some "stoutness exercises" to wear off my winter weight if I indulge myself in Fall yummies the way I'd like to.  With this in mind, I decided that I would share the wealth, so to speak, and host a coffee party so that I could make all the lovely Fall recipes I wanted without the danger of eating them all myself!

        As you've probably noticed, there are some delectable looking Fall treats making the rounds of the blog hops and link parties!  Everything's coming up apples and pumpkin, maple and spice!  It was difficult to narrow my choices, but in the end I finalized my menu, featuring three absolutely scrumptious recipes from Blogland:

        (both by Dawn of Beat Until Fluffy)
        Tea Biscuits
        Assorted Teas

         There is always a bit of risk involved with planning a menu almost entirely out of new recipes.  However, these particular recipes looked so delicious that I just had to try them!  And, they were awesome.  

        I knew as soon as I saw the picture of the Pumpkin Ribbon Bread that I would have to make it, and soon!  The ribbon of cream cheese running through the loaf was irresistible.   This recipe met with lots of compliments; the loaf was perfectly moist, the spices ideal, and the cream cheese was heavenly.  I have been following Tiffany Hewlett's blog Making the World Cuter for quite some time (don't you just love that title?!) and I particularly love her Monday hop Making the World Cuter Monday.  Tiffany has been on maternity leave, but while she's away she has arranged for a series of guest bloggers.  The guest blogger on September 22 was Colleen of And Baby Makes Five with her post Fresh Baked Fall Favorites, which included the recipe for Pumpkin Ribbon Bread.

        One of my favorite blogs is Beat Until Fluffy. The blog's author, Dawn, is an incredible baker who blogs about her creations. I am always happy to see a new Beat Until Fluffy post pop up in my reader; they cheer me up and make me want to get baking!  I strongly suggest that you hop out of your reader and actually visit Dawn's blog; it's absolutely beautiful and features incredible photography of her creations.  You will feel your blood pressure drop (even as your tummy growls) while visiting this lovely blog! 
        Dawn's recipes cooked up like a dream!  The Sweet Potato Cookies were the lightest, fluffiest little things, and they smelled and tasted wonderful!  And hey, they have veggies in them, so they're practically diet food, right?  I was disappointed that I couldn't find a leaf shaped cookie cutter for the Maple Leaf Cookies, but I was able to locate a pumpkin cutter so I improvised and make pumpkins instead.  These cookies were the hands down favorite with the kids who came to my coffee party...they were so bright and colourful and irresistibly sweet.  The red pumpkins disappeared quickly so there are none in my pictures, but they were cute.  I used Wilton gel food colouring, and, when mixed with the maple frosting, they created very cute country style shades, almost like milk paint.

        My coffee party was a great success and everyone had a lovely time and lots to eat.  Of course, I made too much (I always do, I have a great fear of running out of food at a party!) but we had lots of tasty snacks to offer for the next few days.  

        Thanks so much to Dawn, Tiffany, and Colleen for sharing their wonderful recipes and ideas on their respective blogs, and for making Blogland such a cool place to hang out! 
        Today I'm linking to the following:

        Blog Hop,Canadian,125x125


        Retro Recipe with a Twist - Apple Pie With Cheddar Crust

        Fall is now in full swing, and its kick-off party is almost here: it's one week 'til Thanksgiving!

        (Let's just give the American readers a second to go check their, you're right, it's still only October!)

        In Canada, we do things a little bit different. We spell things differently (I'm not a bad speller, "colour" is how we spell "color.")  We're a constitutional monarchy, which means we're a democracy with a Prime Minister (not a President) but technically, the Queen is in charge (her representative in Canada is the Governor General; our new GG, David Johnston, was sworn in  on Friday.  Apparently we talk funny.  And, we celebrate Thanksgiving in October!

        So, next weekend, we will be up to our eyeballs in turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie.  Can't wait!  However, that's a whole week away, and this weekend we wanted a little something fall-ish for a treat.  It didn't take me long to decide which recipe we were going to try; Cheddar Crusted Apple Pie.

        I own a lot of cookbooks, so many in fact that they had to move from the kitchen to a shelf in my craft room.  However, three cookbooks remain in the kitchen by my stove.  The first is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (starting to wear, and covered in flour), the second is a Betty Crocker Cookbook (wonderfully stained and tattered), and the third, (and in best condition), is The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook - The New Classics.

        I turn to the Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens books constantly.  Cooking times, basic recipes, substitutions and equivalents; these two volumes never steer me wrong.  I know that if I follow their instructions, I will end up with a tasty, well-cooked dish.  If I am trying a new recipe or cooking technique, I will try the version from one of these books first, before moving on to a more complicated or "gourmet" version.

        I turn to the Martha book frequently, too, and I do cook from it.  It is definitely a cook book that I like to read and gather inspiration from, particularly from the menus.  There is an entire section of menus at the beginning of the book, divided into seasons. For example, Winter would indeed be the the ideal time for a Chili Buffet, and your friends would be dazzled if you hosted a Festive Holiday Cocktail Party! In Spring, you could enjoy a lovely Easter Lunch or Passover Seder, and then as it warms up a Backyard Picnic.  Come summer, you could invite the neighbors over for a Grilled Pizza Party, or meet your family at a Cookout At The Shore. The Autumn menus are especially delightful; clearly I'm long overdue to host an Elegant Sit Down Dinner for Ten or a Steakhouse Dinner.  All joking aside, it was among the Autumn menus that I found the menu that, to me, epitomized the perfect Fall gathering - An Autumn Pie Party.

        I was so taken with this particular menu that I just had to read it aloud to my husband.  Pecan Pumpkin, Pear-Fig-Walnut, Plum Galette...they all sounded wonderful, but the pastry that made me pause was the Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust.  As soon as I read the name aloud we both went "mmmm" and I knew that before long I'd be making it!

        Friday was the day!  Now, I come from a long line of excellent pie crust makers, however, despite my many culinary achievements including most baked goods, perfect crusts have eluded me.  I've stuck with pies, and my pastry is coming along, but to me (and I'm admittedly my worst critic) they just aren't quite right.  I started in on this recipe and followed the steps fairly faithfully.  I didn't have the exact apples that the recipe called for, and I'm pretty sure I didn't chill everything in the order that Martha detailed, but I did make sure the pastry itself was well chilled before rolling, and I chilled the entire unbaked pie for the recommended half hour before baking.  And, well, I'm not sure if it was the chilling, the cheese, or if I'm finally getting the hang of it, but this crust was just about perfect. (let's just say it was Martha!) It looks a little dark (I didn't have tin foil to tent the crust during the last 45 minutes) and my crimping isn't perfect because of the cheese, but I like to thing it looks homespun.  And it tasted fabulous....
        Next time, I'm tempted to try grating some cheddar right onto the top of the pie, maybe during the last bit of baking.  I saw this done on "Pushing Daisies" and thought it looked so yummy.  All in all, I was really pleased with how this pie turned out, and I will definitely be making it again soon, maybe even for Thanksgiving!

        If you'd like to try a similar pie (hee hee, that rhymes!) here is a link to Martha Stewart's Cheddar Crusted Apple Pie.  Enjoy!