Making dinner for family

One of my cousins, along with his wife and two daughters, recently moved to Ottawa, having been out West for many years. He is the next oldest after me, so we are close in age, but have never been close. Partially because we have never, ever lived in the same city before.

Now that we do, I am hopefull that we will be able to get to know each other better, not just for our own sakes, but also for our children. Having family in the same city as we are is great, since family is very important to us.

To start things off, I invited them over for dinner, to give us a chance to get to know the girls, and to give them a chance to get to know us.

For example, I don't think they knew I liked to cook. So they were in for a surprise at dinner.

I started out with a roast, which I smeared all over with a paste of garlic, salt, pepper and oil. I used vegetable rather than olive oil because I intended to sear the roast at a very high heat. I wanted to hear the sizzle as the roast hit the pan, telling me I would end up with a deep, rich flavor. After searing the roast on all sides, I put it into the crock pot of my slow cooker and smeared a bit more garlic paste on it. I added a touch of water so it wouldn't scorch before the juices began to flow, and left the roast alone for 5 hours, turning it once.

Later on I pulled the roast out so I could get to all the juices that had collected around the roast. I turned those juices into a tasty garlicky gravy (without having to add any more garlic to it.) By then the roast itself was beginning to reach the stage where it could almost be carved with a fork. Tender and delicious.

Served with mashed potatoes and some steamed veggies, we had a nice meal. Add in the salad that they brought, sweet with manadrin orange segments, red onion pieces, crunchy with cashews, it was quite the huge meal!

Despite the fullness of the adults, there was still dessert to come!

Having picked all those wonderful apples the day before, I wanted a dessert that would include them. Apple crumble pie was at the top of my list. Layers of sliced apples, sprinkled with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, topped with a crumble made from flour, salt, brown sugar and butter. The crumble was nice and crispy, golden brown, and the apples still had a touch of toothiness to them. Served warm with cold ice cream. By the end of our plates we were so full and in need of some excercise!

We were able to follow up on our dinner with time spent outside, playing children's games like skipping and drawing with chalk, giving both families more time to get to know each other.

Cheers to my cousin and his family! Here is hoping we get lots of opportunities to share a meal together and enjoy each others company!

Apple Crumble Pie

(This makes 2 pies, though the crumble part is actually a double recipe of what I would use to make a 8x8 inch pan of apple crumble without the pie - and when I do that I like to drizzle caramel sauce over the apples instead of using the sugar)

2 9-inch deep dish pie shells (Frozen, pre-made pies are great for this!)
sliced, peeled and cored apples, about 5-6 per pie depending on the size of the apples
sugar and cinnamon to taste

Put pie shells on a cookie sheet. Fill each shell with apple slices, being generous with the apples. They will shrink down some in baking, so don't be nervous about going above the edges of the pie shells.

Sprinkle about 1/4 cup sugar and a teaspoon or so of cinnamon on each pie, more or less sugar depending on how sweet your apples are (or how sour you like your crumble.)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine (I actually find margarine works better in this)

Mix the flour, sugar and salt together well. Cut in the margarine/butter until it is crumbly. Spread on top of apples, trying to cover the entire top without packing it down.

(At this point you can freeze the pies on the cookie sheet until solid, then slide them into ziplock freezer bags until you are ready to bake them. When I do this I bake from frozen, adding to the time until I get the results I want.)

Bake at 375C for about 30 minutes until crumble is golden and a knife inserts easily into the apples. Let cool a bit before serving with ice cream.


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