i tend to stare in awe whenever i hear someone proclaim their inability to cook. and i don't mean a "wow, that's so cool" type of awe, but something more along the lines of "how is that even possible" type of awe. most of the adults i come across possess a culinary know-how that is limited to making toast and (maybe) remembering to boil the macaroni before sprinkling on the orange powder (adding milk is an advanced workshop that many seem to have slept through).
in all fairness, it must be said that i grew up in a family of folks who all knew how to cook, and i got double-lucky by landing a guy who knows his way around a kitchen. together, we practice a philosophy of food that i learned from my mother. nothing goes to waste! she prepared for the weekly restock of groceries by making what came to be known around our home as a "fridge-cleaning" soup or stew. all the random bits of vegetables that were left over from the previous week were turned into the most amazing meals. the fridge was cleaned, nothing went to waste, and the outcome was always out of this world.
so, there i was, sorting through this week's farm-share of veggies, when i came across a bag of apples (Spartan apples, to be precise). this was precisely the inspiration i needed to finally get rid of the bowl of cranberry sauce that was occupying valuable shelf space in the fridge. cranberry sauce lasts a long time, but as i am the only one around here who likes it (and, then, only in tiny portions a couple-few times a year), i had to take more aggressive steps to get this stuff out of my fridge. with a bag of apples (minus the one apple i... uhm... sampled) and a bowl of whole cranberry sauce, i put together a tasty dessert in a little more than the amount of time required to peel and slice the apples.
apple cranberry pie!!!
this really doesn't require a recipe. it's a basic double-crust apple pie, with about 2 cups of whole cranberry sauce mixed in with the apples. i tend to like things on the less-sweet side, so i generally use about half the recommended amount of sugar when making cranberry sauce. i also like to toss in a cinnamon stick and a few strips of orange peel to infuse into the cranberry mixture (i almost forgot to fish them out before adding the cranberries to the apples). i added about half a cup of raw brown sugar (the default sugar around these parts) to the apples, which is about half the amount of sugar recommended in most pie recipes. to control for the added liquid in the pie filling, i added a couple extra tablespoons of flour to the apple mixture.
because this pie was on the less-sweet side, it would make a great anytime treat (it's fantastic for breakfast, minus the ice cream, of course). the end result has a nice blend of tart and sweet that was reminiscent of rhubarb, and the addition of a scoop of vanilla ice cream rounded out the flavor profile for an appetizing taste experience.