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Fireworks are my absolute favorite part of the Fourth.  Every year I think back to how many ways I’ve celebrated Independence Day and in how many places I’ve seen fireworks.  It’s a fun way to mark time and see where life has taken me.

I’ve spent several wet, humid nights in Florida hoping it will be dry enough for fireworks; watched a big fireworks show at Stone Mountain in Georgia; had a few dry summers in South Florida with ash falling from the sky from fires in the Everglades, wishing there wasn’t a ban on fireworks; spent my first Fourth of July in college with a few friends and drove to Micanopy, a.k.a. the middle of nowhere, and set off our own fireworks, where I nearly blew off my hand lighting the wrong end of a firework; watched Universal Studio’s fireworks in Orlando from the high school across the street before flying out to Los Angeles for a conference; experienced Gainesville’s quirky tradition of setting off fireworks on campus on July 3rd…I still have no idea why they do that; spent the first Fourth with a boyfriend at a lake in North Carolina (I always thought watching fireworks with someone would be terribly romantic); waved sparklers around a hotel parking lot in Baton Rouge during another conference; had the crazy year of blueberry picking, getting in a car accident and setting off fireworks poolside with my church’s campus ministry; and the last few years my family and I have watched amusement park fireworks from the parking lot of a Cracker Barrell!  No matter where or under what circumstances, fireworks are always worth it.

And apple pie is too, of course.

Individual Apple Pies  (Makes four small pies)

You can easily adjust this recipe to make one full-size pie.  Just double the recipe for the pie dough if you want a top and bottom crust.

For the crust:

(Recipe from Martha Stewart)

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher/sea salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

For the filling:

  • 4 large apples, sliced (I used Pink Lady and Granny Smith)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

To make the crust, combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add the cold pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (You can also do this by hand in a large mixing bowl by cutting the butter into the flour with a pastry blender.)  With the processor running, stream in the ice water until the dough comes together.  Squeeze a bit of the dough, and if it’s still crumbly, add a bit more water.  Shape the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Wash and thinly slice the apples.  Add the freshly squeezed orange juice to the apples first to keep them from getting brown.  Add both types of sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir to coat apples evenly.

When the dough is cold enough, place on a well-floured surface and roll out into an 1/8-inch thick round.  Roll the dough out from the middle and keep turning the dough to make a circle.  Don’t stretch the dough; just roll it or it will just shrink back when it’s in the oven.  Cut out four circles slightly bigger than your baking dishes.

Spoon the apple mixture evenly in four small baking or gratin dishes.  Brush the edges of the dishes with egg wash (1 egg beaten with a bit of water or milk) and place the rounds on top.  Press the dough over the sides so they stick.  Brush on a little more egg wash and cut a few slits in the top to let the steam out.  And feel free to sprinkle some more cinnamon and sugar on top…can’t hurt, right?

Bake at 350 for, oh, about 30-35 minutes.  I honestly didn’t watch the time too closely.  I just watched as the crust got browner, until I thought it looked done.

I know it seems impossible, but wait until they’re completely cool to dig in to them.

I treated the Fourth as any other day off, really.  I slept in a little, ran some errands, watched a movie, and at about 5:00 I suddenly realized I should make something for the blog.  How had I not thought to make apple pie earlier?!  So I apologize for the less-than-stellar lighting in the photos.  I didn’t take them until about 7:00 or so when daylight was waning.

I hope everyone shared a wonderful holiday with loved ones, filled with barbeques, fireworks and gratitude to live safely in such a great country.