Hi everyone! I hope you all have had a fantastic summer ❤ My sincerest apologies to you all for being away for so long…I had been quite busy adjusting to this new chapter in my life. To all of you, thank you for sticking with me. I just graduated, have an incredible new job working as a marketing assistant for a high-end furniture store (Lana Furniture), and moved into a fantastic new apartment with my roommate, former beauty queen and dedicated girl scout, Liza (look out for interviews with her in the future!) Now that I’ve finally settled in a bit, I am so thrilled to return to writing.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
As we know, fall is just around the corner, the kids are back in school, the air is getting cooler, and, pretty soon, the leaves will begin changing color! In honor of my favorite season, today we will be exploring a traditional fall dish and American classic….apple pie, of course! I always loved having family dinners at my grandmother’s house in Seattle on Sundays in the fall, and my favorite part of the night would always be when our family would sit around her fire, eating apple pie with vanilla ice cream and discussing our various lives as teachers, authors, marketers, or medical and security professionals. Let’s take a look at how this tasty dessert relates to World War II, the American dream, pop music and 90’s American comedy.
Apple Pie and History
The first written apple pie recipe goes back to 1381 in England. It was printed by Geoffrey Chaucer and included apples, figs, raisins, pears and a pastry shell (but no sugar). Evidence of Dutch apple pies goes back to the 1600s. In addition to apples, Dutch pies include lemon and cinnamon and sometimes raisins and icing. The tarte tatin, or French version of apple pie, was created by accident by hotel owner Stephanie Tatin when she was trying to make a traditional apple pie in the 1880s.
Though apple pie was originated by the British, the dish was coined an American favorite during World War II, when soldiers would answer the question, “Why are you going to war?” with, “For mom and apple pie.” Since then, many things throughout history have been credited as being “as American as apple pie.”
Apple Pie and Politics
As apple pie is considered to be an “All-American” dish, there has been an ongoing debate about whether the American Dream, an idea that has shifted meaning over time, is dead or alive.
Photo Credit: 4ever.com
Pessimists attain their view largely to the fact that student debt has skyrocketed and employment opportunities are scarce. In fact, lack of job opportunities have contributed to the doubling of poverty levels among young people to more than 15 percent, compared with the 8 percent experienced by early baby boomers at a similar point in their lives. Additionally, student debt and defaults have continued to rise, surpassing $1.3 trillion last year. These economic pitfalls have prevented young people from reaching milestones in life, such as buying a home or getting married, which can have an impact on one’s quality of life.
Optimists, on the other hand, say that the American Dream is alive and well in the traditional sense, though they acknowledge that the term means different things to different people and has evolved over time. For example, new Americans on the whole believe that live has been much better for them in America, whereas Americans who have lived in the country for a while tend to look past the traditional meaning of the American Dream (decent job, home ownership, good education, better life for kids) and measure the American Dream in terms of wealth acquired. According to CNBC’s Evan Rosenfeld, only 40% of Americans over age 18 believe they are living the American Dream, however, those same 7.015 people surveyed reported owning a home, having a good education, and giving their children better lives than they themselves had. Optimists believe that while the American Dream is alive in the traditional sense, they also report feeling less financially secure and may feel that they are not living the American Dream when it comes to wealth.
What do you think? Is the American Dream alive or dead? Let me know your opinions!
Apple Pie and Pop Culture
Apple pie has made a statement in American culture in many ways over the years, especially through advertisements, music, art, and film.
For example, in the 1950s and 1960s, advertisements showed housewives baking pies as a symbol for a happy family.
Photo Credit: Solo Foods
In 1975, Chevrolet came up with the song “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.” Apple pie was further established as an American classic by being associated alongside two of America’s favorite pastimes, which are watching baseball while eating hot dogs. Chevrolet recently reintroduced this jingle in 2012.
Photo Credit: ShareMania
Additionally, one of America’s favorite pop singers, Britney Spears, featured apple pie in her 2009 hit music video, “If U Seek Amy.”
Photo Credit: Rose Hayden-Smith
Famous artist James Montgomery Flagg is widely credited with designing variations of the legendary Uncle Sam “I want you” poster for the United States government. Additionally, the popular American artist is known for painting women baking pies, as shown above, helping apple pies rise to prominence in American culture.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
In 1999, the wildly popular comedy, “American Pie” was released, winning over hearts with its raunchy, vividly honest humor about high school, adulthood, friendship, and sex. The 90’s classic was the catalyst that transformed apple pie from a simple comforting dessert to a symbol of freedom, belonging, and growing up in American culture.
Upside Down Caramel Apple Pie
Photo Credit: Robin Savoie
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
- 15 Oz. Package Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust (Or Homemade)
- 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
- 1 Tsp. Salt
- 3/4 Cup Cold Butter, Cubed
- 1/3 Cup Cold Shortening, Cubed
- 4 – 6 Tbsp. Cold Water
- Pecan Layer:
- 3 Tbsp. Butter, Softened & Divided
- 1 1/2 Cups Pecan Halves (Tip)
- 1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Tbsp. All Purpose Flour
- 1/4 Tsp. Salt
- 1/2 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg
- 1/8 Tsp. Ground Allspice
- 2 1/2 Cups Honeycrisp Apples, Peeled, Cored & Thinly Sliced
- 2 1/2 Cups Granny Smith Apples, Peeled, Cored & Thinly Sliced
- 1/2 Gallon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- If Using Homemade Pie Crust: In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt; cover and pulse until blended. Add butter and shortening; pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. While processing, gradually add water until dough forms a ball.
- Divide dough in half so that one portion is slightly larger than the other; wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 45 minutes or until easy to handle.
- Meanwhile, heat oven to 450°F. Line bottom and sides of a 9-Inch pie pan with parchment paper. Spread 2 tablespoons of the butter (pecan layer) over parchment paper.
- Press pecan halves into butter around sides and bottom of pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Spray edges of pan with non-stick cooking spray. If using store bought pie crust, place one pie crust over pecans; press evenly.
- Otherwise, on a lightly floured surface, roll out larger portion of dough to fit bottom and sides of pie plate. Transfer to plate; press the crust firmly against pecans and sides of pie plate. Trim edges.
- Prepare Filling: In large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Toss apples in flour mixture; spoon into pastry in plate. Dot with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Cover with second pie crust; crimp edges. Cut two or three slits in top crust.
- Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake an additional 35 – 40 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Invert onto serving plate. Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
- Tip: You can use chopped pecans if preferred. I like to use halved because it makes for better presentation. The above illustration, I used chopped, my guests that day preferred them that way.
Fields, Liz. “Young People Are Poorer, Jobless, and Believe That the American Dream is Dead.” VICE News. VICE News, 12 January 2016. Web. 10 September 2016.
Lanin, Colleen. “Where was Apple Pie Invented?” Travel Mamas. Travel Mamas, 5 July 2012. Web. 10 September 2016.
Rosenfeld, Evan. “American Dream is Still Alive, But Unrecognized.” USA Today. USA Today, 5 July 2014. Web. 10 September 2016.
“The History of Apple Pies in American Popular Culture.” Solo Foods. Solo Foods, 3 July 2012. Web 10 September 2016.
COPYRIGHT 2016 Meagan Nelson & Dinner and Democracy. All Rights Reserved.