November, to me, has always been the month for reflecting. Against the rather appropriate background of fading Fall weather and leaves withering off trees, one can’t help but remember all that has gone by in the first 11 months of the year, and hope for what might be in the last remaining one. Here in the United States, it’s also the month for giving thanks for all that has happened in our lives.
My year has been a softly explosive one. Last November, Desi and I became parents to a six-year-old, Jay. Parenting, at the best of times, is a tough job, and parenting an older adopted child presents challenges that are in a league of their own. I look back today and I am amazed at how unprepared we were despite meetings with adoption counselors and websites and books. Because nothing you can imagine matches up with the reality of bringing your own older adopted child home, baggage and all.
The past year has been full of challenges. There’s been frustration, questioning, and even despair. There have also been moments of joy, hope, and falling in love. In the midst of all this, we have started to feel like a family.
Later in November, Holy Cow! celebrates a milestone: eight years of being alive and online. When I started writing this blog, it was the first and only Indian vegan recipe blog. All I wanted was a place to share my favorite vegan recipes, write anything I damn well wanted to, and talk a lot about animals with people who love animals. I have never been a full-time blogger, like so many people out there today, because I juggle a very busy career and a family. I just don’t have the time to blog on a fixed schedule, or devote whole days to testing recipes, or to hobnob on social media the way some bloggers who have driven their blogs to great success can. Not being a tech person, I’ve made stupid errors that have caused me to lose whole email lists of readers. But despite my imperfections, many of you have found me, and have stuck around over the years. As for me, after eight years I still love to cook, perhaps more than ever before, and I still love to write and chat, and I am a peace knowing that amidst all the noise out there, I have found — and claimed — my own little corner of the web and lovely readers that I am thankful for.
An aspect of my life I feel most deeply grateful for is my animals. Opie, the most loved dog in the world, is 13-and-a-half, a senior dog with the face and soul of a puppy. We’ve had a few health alarms with him in the past few weeks. He tore a cruciate ligament in his leg, and our efforts to fix that led us on a journey of unpleasant discoveries that included elevated blood pressure and a fluid buildup that is crushing his heart and could be masking deeper problems. Even as we work with his veterinarian to ensure he returns to good health, I am so very thankful to have been blessed with Opie, and every dog and cat I’ve ever had and known, because we share the most precious gift life can give: unconditional love. And for the gift of awareness. I’ve often said that it was my dogs and cats who taught me to respect the lives of animals, and if it weren’t for them, I would not be a vegan, and perhaps a more horrid person.
It’s impossible to give thanks without a side of delicious pie, and today I have for you the ultimate apple pie: my Slab Apple Pie with a Salted Caramel Pecan Drizzle.
This slab apple pie is perfect if you’re cooking for a crowd and want a dessert that’s waist-friendly. The crust for the slab apple pie is rolled out thinner than a traditional crust, and it has less than half the fat (healthy fat– coconut oil) that would typically go into a pie crust. But despite all this it manages to be just as crispy and flaky and satisfying as can be. The slab apple pie filling is not too sweet and strikes just the right balance of flavor and texture with the delicious, gooey, nutty salted caramel pecan drizzle.
As you make your pie plans for Thanksgiving, you might want to look at these apple pie recipes from Holy Cow!’s archives:
- My Maple-Drunk Apple Pie, a recipe I posted eons ago but is still delicious
- An elegant and skinny Apple Tart
- If you want to do it like the French do, make this delicious and gorgeous Tarte Tatin.
- Or just check out dozens of Pie recipes stuffed with all kinds of fruit that have featured on Holy Cow! over eight years.
Tell me, what are you grateful for this year?
- For the crust:
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour can use regular whole wheat
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup coconut oil broken into chunks
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- For the apple filling:
- 8 cups medium apples cut into a small dice (about 8 )
- 1/2 cup sugar (try and use an unrefined sugar like turbinado or coconut palm sugar but regular sugar is also fine)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
- For the salted caramel pecan drizzle:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/4 cup soy or almond or other non-dairy milk
- 1 cup pecans some chopped, some left in halves
- Make the crust:
- In a food processor or in a large bowl using a pastry cutter, place the flour, salt and sugar. Cut in the coconut oil chunks into the flour mixture using a fork or by pulsing the food processor four or five times for 5 seconds each time.
- Drizzle in ice-cold water, pulsing or mixing with the fork, until he dough comes together and can hold in a ball.
- Divide the dough into two equal size pieces and wrap tightly in cling wrap, shaping into discs as you go.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Make the apple pie filling:
- In a large bowl, mix the apples, sugar, salt, spices, vanilla, lemon juice and flour. Set aside for 15 minutes.
- Make the salted caramel pecan drizzle:
- Place the coconut oil and sugar in a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. When the sugar's melted, add the non-dairy milk and stir in. Be careful at this stage because the caramel will bubble.
- Add the salt and stir in the pecans. Turn off heat.
- Assemble the Pie:
- Roll out one of the pastry discs pn a floured surface, into a rectangular sheet, enough to cover the bottom and halfway up the sides of an 11- by 7-inch baking pan. Place it in the pan carefully.
- Mix the apple pie filling once to ensure everything is thoroughly mixed, then pour into the pan and spread evenly with a spatula.
- Roll out the second pastry disc so it fits comfortably in the baking pan. Press together the sides of the two pastry sheets to form a seal. No need to crimp. You are going to cover everything with the pretty caramel sauce, and this is rustic anyway.
- Bake the pie in a preheated 425-degree oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 30 more minutes.
- Remove the pie to a rack and pour over the salted caramel pecan drizzle. Allow the pie to cool thoroughly before you cut in.