Andrew's favorite nut, by far, is the pecan. He prefers it toasted, but I like it raw. Soft and with lovely grooves of texture, the pecan has been part of studies that are finding that it helps to protect the mind, probably on account of its lovely vitamin E content. As an antioxidant, vitamin E is pretty essential to our diets, and also protect the health of our heart. Full of protein, vitamin A, and fiber, you can't go wrong with a handful of pecans. Which Andrew takes, frequently.
Let me start off with the pie-ish with the disclaimer that I've only made one pie, and that was pumpkin which I unabashedly used the canned variety and made a mock-crust by mixing some flour into the pumpkin. It was delicious, but it wasn't the sort of artistry that you'd find in a bakery. This pie was similar -- I sort of just put things together that seemed like they'd make sense in a pie. I didn't do much research; I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
First I had to think about the foundation of the pie: the crust. Did I want to go crustless? Not really. A crust provides such great texture to the pie; it makes everything seem complete. I contemplated buying a gluten-free pie crust mix, but they seemed pricey and most of them had soy in them, which Andrew can't have. I had remembered seeing a ginger snap pie crust recipe before, but the gluten free ginger snaps had soy in them as well. Then I went wandering down the cereal aisle - could I make a crust out of cereal? I was willing to try. I found a box on sale which I also had a coupon for -- Nature's Path Mesa Sunrise, which is soy free, low in sugar, and has a fun mix of corn, flax and amaranth in each flake. Once I crushed some cereal into crumbs and combined it with melted butter and a little unsweetened apple sauce and let it sit in the oven for a bit, it was a bit softer than I expected -- but it was crusty! Success!
Then came the filling. Pecans and lots of them, mixed with some apple sauce, vanilla extract, and ginger started things off, and then I threw in a couple handfuls of the cereal to add a bit of difference in texture. It tasted good, so I poured it into the crust and let the magic of the oven work its wonders, while baking some super huge wolf river apples that I had filled with home made granola for a birthday breakfast.
After a fun filled day of yoga, delicious chai, a Edward Hopper exhibit and a delicious dinner out, we came home, opened up a bottle of local blackberry wine mixed with local grape brandy and warmed up the pie while lingering over the wine. The pie was lovely. Full bodied and flavorful, the apple sauce sweetened things up just enough. The crust wasn't as sturdy as I would have liked it to be, but once everything got onto the plate it didn't really matter. While eating it I realized that I had meant to add in sliced pieces of crystallized ginger but since I hid my ingredients I didn't include that. Maybe next year.
Birthday Pecan Pie-ishFor the crust:
-3 cups Mesa Sunrise cereal, or any flake cereal, crushed down by placing it into a plastic bag and squeezing things around for a bit
-5 tablespoons melted butter
-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Pour into a pie plate and press evenly around the surface with your fingers. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
For the filling:
-3 cups pecans, halved
-2 cups unsweetened apple sauce
-3/4 cup Mesa Sunrise cereal, or any cereal/granola that you'd like
-1/2 apple, sliced
-2 tablespoons ginger
-pinch of salt
-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-crystallized ginger, sliced, if you remember
-3 tablespoons butter, sliced into small pieces
Combine all ingredients, except for the butter. Pour into the pie crust and smooth out evenly. Place the sliced bits of butter on top of the pie, with the intention of as even coverage as possible. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with warm apple sauce or ginger flavored ice cream.
What treat do you like for your birthday? I made myself a Membrillo Cake last year, but also love carrot cake.