Homemade Apple Cider

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Apparently at the tender age of 21, I have succumbed to the eternal tiredness accompanied with socializing until midnight and drinking 1 glass of sangria + a single gin and tonic.  This past weekend consisted of both of those events at a Friendsgiving celebration, where a few friends and I enjoyed a hodgepodge of family recipes along with a distracted game of Cards Against Humanity and a slew of various spirit glasses.  While Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, I’m starting to realize the value of a successful Friendsgiving, which in my experience is pretty similar to regular Thanksgiving without the pressure of telling your great-aunt and four second-cousins your life plans post-college, and also, you typically don’t have to talk about the disappointing political climate (except not always, but that can be solved with a simple “Sangria anyone?!”.  I know how to please the crowd).

Typical to Sara Lynn antics, I provided the aforementioned sangria and a pumpkin pie with whipped cream, which after a few hours, turned into a weapon of mass destruction as it was flung throughout the kitchen, into hair, and onto faces while I ducked under the breakfast bar with my wine glass.  Once whipped cream starts flinging, this chick is out.  However, the pumpkin pie was amazing and enjoyed for breakfast before work the next day.  As for the sangria, a twist on the classic using apple cider for a autumnal flavor, it needs to be worked on slightly.  It was delicious, but it also reminded me of bubblegum which just isn’t really my style.  Don’t worry…I’ll keep working on it for winter holidays.

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After a weekend of socializing with friends and working, I came down with a bad chest cold that I can just tell is brewing into something horrid.  Luckily, I got my ass into the doctor ASAP, and hopefully the antibiotics they provided will knock this thing out before it even develops, because again, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!  I want to enjoy my family time even if it does make me evaluate my life plans and strive to keep my mouth zipped when certain President-elects are brought up.  Also, I have a ton of pie dough to make before Wednesday, and this hacking out my lungs thing is making me want to do nothing but pass out in my bed with a heating pad suctioned to my chest.  Yes, I like to feel sorry for myself, but I did work today and take a test and do a presentation, so I feel like I deserve a little credit here.  I’d probably whine a little more, but I am hugging some warm apple cider and watching Full House reruns, so it can’t be all bad, right?

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And that leads to the apple cider.  As I mentioned before, my parents just moved here and have an abundance of apple trees on their property which equates to me having fresh apples in my house constantly.  Pros: beautiful, freshly picked apples all the time!!!  Cons: I will never be able to eat another apple pie with store-bought apples again.  How come homemade apples are so much sweeter and flavorful?  Anyways, I found myself with pounds on pounds of fresh apples, and that is how this apple cider recipe came to fruition.

Now, you can make this apple cider recipe on the stove which will take a couple of hours.  I chose to prepare it in a slow cooker so I could pop it on before class and come home to a cinnamony-appley-smelling goodness when I came home.  Either way, this recipe is fool-proof and will taste absolutely delicious.

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*If you are using orchard apples, you may notice that the cores look a little funky every once in a while – yay organic!!  I chose to cut these parts off, but if the cores look okay, don’t worry about removing them.  You can even leave the seeds in – they’ll all get strained out in the end.

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Flightless Bird, American Mouth by Iron & Wine

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The Best Damn Pie Crust of Your Life

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IT’S FINALLY HERE.  Even after countless pies and months of promising you all the best pie dough recipe in the whole damn world, I had not delivered.  That is, until now.  I really should stop making promises like these considering I’m a full-time student, I have 2 jobs, plus I try to volunteer a few hours a month on top of all the normal things I have to do on a day-to-day basis a.k.a. I’m freaking busy and don’t always have time on the weekends to do a pie dough tutorial.  Honestly, I don’t know how I have free time sometimes, but bless my marketing internship for giving me college credit to work only a couple hours a week from home is all I have to say.  Aside from that major tangent, my point is that I know the wait was worth it, and I would like you to agree with me, because it would make me feel much better about my slacking.

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Let’s have a conversation about pie dough, my friends.  I’ll try to keep an open mind here, but let’s just face it, I’m biased and totally Team Make Your Own Pie Dough.  Most people refuse to even try to make their own dough, settling for either freezer-aisle roll-out pie dough (boo) or worse, store-bought pies from the grocery store (double boo).  We’ll call this side Team Wrong.  No offense if you’re on that team, I understand why you are, but hear me out.  I have a major theory that pie dough is one of the most misunderstood forms of pastry, and I can attest to this, because I was a frozen pie dough fan for many years.  After making pie dough once, I was a forever changed woman.  It’s so. damn. easy.  Surprisingly so, but it makes all the difference in the world.  If you care about pie, make your own dough!  I’m not kidding, you will not be able to go back to the store-bought stuff.  It’s really life-changing, especially this recipe, which yields the flakiest, buttery-est crust I ever did eat.  Thanks to Bon Appetit magazine for inspiring me to give it a try and also for giving me the recipe.  I appreciate for real ♥

So, after a long guilt trip from Team Make Your Own Dough, do you feel inspired to make your own pie dough for (please, at least one of) your Thanksgiving pies?!  Yes you do!

Let’s get started!

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First, you’re going to start off with 2 sticks + 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter.  Cut the butter into cubes, trying to work quickly to avoid melting the butter with your warm hands.  I like to use a bench scraper for this so I don’t have to touch the butter, but a regular knife works well too!  Put that butter in a bowl and pop it in the fridge while you gather your dry ingredients.

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Now we’re going to prep for the next few steps.  Whisk together 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour, 2 Tablespoons of sugar (1 Tablespoon for a savory-pie crust), and a scant teaspoon of kosher salt.  Also prepare a glass of ice water and set the glass aside.  Toss the butter in the flour mixture.

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Now, working quickly, use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour, creating shaggy pieces of butter.  Some of the pieces should be thin and long while others are chunkier.  Be careful not to let the butter melt in your hands.

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Mix together 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 3 Tablespoons of iced water.  Swirl to combine.

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Drizzle the vinegar-water over the butter mixture, running your fingers through the flour mixture to incorporate all the ingredients.  Quickly knead the dough until it starts to come together.  It will be a little crumbly and dry, but resist adding more water or your crust will turn out tough.

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Turn your dough onto a floured surface and knead it a few more times, incorporating the drier areas.

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Cut the dough in half and press into 1 inch thick discs.

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Wrap your dough in plastic and set it in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 5 days.  You can also freeze the dough for up to 2 months!  I like to make dough in advance and save it in the fridge for big events like holidays.  When you’re ready to use it, roll it on a floured surface and fill with whatever makes you happy.

Here’s a few pie ideas, if you needed any (;

Apple Pie with Sugared Crust
Pumpkin Pie
Beef & Veggie Pot Pie
Deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie
Pear & Ginger Galette
Strawberry and Grapefruit Galette
Mixed Berry Pie

And here’s a handy-dandy recipe card:

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I hope this recipe makes the pie dough of your dreams as it did mine ♥

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Where is my Mind? by Pixies

 

 

 

 

Beef & Veggie Pot Pie

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Happy Election Day!  If you’re like me, you’re probably very nervous about the results of the presidential election, and you’re trying to decide if you should start packing your bags so you can get your ass to Canada.  My personal remedy is to drink lots of coffee and wine and try to stay positive.  Either way, I hope that you exercised your right to vote regardless of your political affiliation!  Today is a day to feel lucky that you have a right to *choose*, not a day to hurt others based on their beliefs.  However, I’m not here to talk about politics today or ever really, pls pls pls don’t bring it up like every confrontational person that walks into the coffee shop I work at. *eyeroll* Can you tell I’ve been dealing with this for a few months?  I’m here to talk about beef & veggie pot pie, which good news (!), has wine in it!!!  Plus, it takes a few hours to cook, so it’ll keep your mind off of the election (although, it is a really easy recipe and only takes a little bit of prep – it’s mostly cooking away quietly on the stove while you engage in other activities).

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve partnered with Sanford Ranch Beef to bring you all kinds of delicious recipes to make with your box of beef!  If you’re in the Reno area, give them a call!  Their beef is way more affordable than at the grocery, and you’ll be supporting a local family business!  I can guarantee this, because well, I’m related to the owners.

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img_2227 img_2196For this recipe, you’re going to start with some typical winter veggies and a durable cut of steak.  You can add or subtract veggies if you want, but I’d say the mirepoix components are necessary – that’s the carrots, celery, and onions.  The recipe calls for 1 onion, but because mine were teeny tiny and cute, I used 2.

Essentially, you’ll add these ingredients with some wine, stock, and herbs and cook the hell out of it, because durable steak cuts require lots of cooking time in order to become tender.  After, you’ll plop some pastry on top, bake it for a bit, and it’ll be ready to go!  It’s super easy, but also very flavorful and impressive for company.  I like to serve it with a simple green salad and pie for dessert!

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Daylight savings ending means bad pictures 😦

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Happy fall and happy voting ♥

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Light House by Future Islands

Rainy Day Songs

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It’s been pitch black all morning, and I’m still not quite used to it which makes me question why I adjust so easily to the beginning of Daylight Savings but not the end.  For reasons unbeknownst to me, the darkness is absolutely confusing, and the adjustment only gets more difficult as I get older.

In addition to the darkness, it has also been raining all morning and for the past few days.  Rain is my absolute favorite weather in the whole entire world, especially when I get to drink coffee and relax all day.  Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily what’s happening right now, because it is midterm week, but I’m looking forward to relaxing this weekend!  Now, I’m just hoping the rain will stay…

As promised, I made this playlist a few days ago, and it’s filled with all of my favorite songs to listen to while it’s rainy (imagine that).  They’re all pretty, soft, relaxing songs, some happy & some sad.  Most are of the indie rock/alternative acoustic/etc. variety, although I do listen to all kinds of genres!  However, indie rock/alternative/acoustic/and the like typically tend to be my favorite.  Feel free to comment songs you would add!

You can follow the playlist on my Spotify – just look up heysaralynn, and the playlist is called Rainy Day!  If you are not involved in the Spotify thing, the songs are posted below, and you can make your own playlist however you choose!

Creature Fear by Bon Iver

Slow It Down by The Lumineers

England by The National

Lua by Bright Eyes

Big Jet Plane by Angus & Julia Stone

Ooo by Karen O

Asleep by The Smiths

100 Million by Charlie Hilton

Call It Fate, Call It Karma by The Strokes

Depreston by Courtney Barnett

Your Fine Petting Duck by Devendra Banhart

You Can Do Better by Deathcab for Cutie

You Really Got a Hold on Me (cover) by She & Him

New York, I Love You by LCD Soundsystem

Mardy Bum by Arctic Monkeys

Green Aisles by Real Estate

Hannah Hunt by Vampire Weekend

Trailer Trash by Modest Mouse

Without You by Oh Wonder

Agnes by Glass Animals

The Start of Something by Voxtrot

Nostalgic Intellect by Peter Bjorn & John

Bit by a Dead Bee Part II by Foxing

Light House by Future Islands

Be Mine by Alabama Shakes

Marjorette by Beach House

Dust Bunnies by Kurt Vile

Unrequited Love by Lykke Li

Sailing to Nowhere by Broken Bells

New Day by Deep Sea Diver

Fade Into Me by Mazzy Star

Sea of Love by Cat Power

Red Eyes by The War on Drugs

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes

To Be Alone with You by Sufjan Stevens

Life's a Dream by Built to Spill

Evaporar by Little Joy

Back to studying (;

XO Sara Lynn

Singing in the Rain

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Yesterday morning, I got up at 5:30 for work as I usually do.  As a barista, I’m often up between 4:30 and 5:30, stumbling to my bathroom in the pitch blackness to clumsily apply my winged eyeliner and blow dry my bangs before rushing out of the house to beat the morning traffic.  All of this happens pre-coffee, which is the real accomplishment if you ask me.

However, yesterday morning was *extra* special due to the howling, gusting wind banging my rose bushes against my window and causing my house to creak, which of course led to “holyshitholyshitholyshit there’s someone trying to get into my house” anxiety attacks all night long.  While laying in bed wide awake for a majority of my night, I was very aware that my power was going to be off when I got up in the morning.  Once I had confirmed this hypothesis, I proceeded to have a romantic, iPhone-flashlight lit face wash and teeth-brushing session before finally accepting that 1. There was no way I was going to put on makeup by iPhone light and 2. My bangs sticking straight up in the air were not going to cooperate without the use of a blow dryer.

So off to work I went, makeup and hair utensils packed up so I could squeeze in some bang-loving (tee-hee) in the bathroom before starting my morning tasks.  Walking out to my car, I was thoroughly sketched out considering if was foggy as all hell and the street lights were completely out.  Again, using the light of my iPhone (why don’t I have any damn flashlights in this place?), I walked up to my car.  From the meek light of my phone, I notice a big, shiny, white head in the window of my car.  And I freak out, because obviously some creep-o broke into my car, right?  And I consider running, but I don’t know where.  And I have a full on moment of fight or flight.  And then I realize it’s just my huge, white, shiny forehead that I’m not used to seeing, because again, bangs.

It’s at this point that I realize that I really have no place in this world being an adult since I can’t even handle creaky sounds in my house, and I’m afraid of the dark.  But honestly ya’ll, I try.

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“Umbrella-about-to-fly-away” face.

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After a particularly strange morning and hectic day at work, I was so ready to come home and relax with some tea and a movie.  Rainy weather is my absolute favorite ever (even though I can live without any wind), so I take all rainy day opportunities to bake, read magazines, listen to my “rainy day” music, play piano, and cuddle with big blankets and tea.  I also love any opportunity to wear my cutest fall clothing and use my umbrella!

P.S. I should really post my “rainy day” playlist on here.  Really, really I need to step it up with the music sharing around here.  Another thing to add to the blogging list!

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Really digging how my camera focused on the raindrops instead of me.

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Outfit details: Dress: old (thrifted) • Shoes: Lucky brand • Jacket: old (thrifted) • Beanie: Target • Necklace: gifted • Socks: Primark • Tights: Target (old) • Umbrella: Target

Have a beautiful, rainy day my lovely readers ♥

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Master of None by Beach House

Apple of My Eye

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Over the weekend, my friends and I made the 2.5 hour drive to Apple Hill, a large co-op of orchards, wineries, and markets that CA and NV locals frequently visit once fall makes its breezy return.  Although I had heard about it many a time in previous seasons, I had never actually made the trip until this year.  And yeah, I’ve been missing out!  It’s the pumpkin-patch-apple-picking-fall-crazed-plaid-scarf-wearing-hard-cider-loving-redhead-fringe-girl’s dream.  Although if we’re being honest, it takes no convincing to get me to go anywhere with beautiful greenery and fresh produce.

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Although there is a whole entire map of places to visit in Apple Hill, we visited a few favorites like Kid’s Inc, Rainbow Orchards, and Jack Russell Brewery (not listed on the map).  Kid’s Inc has the most beautiful, green field overlooking their orchard, and it’s the perfect place to have a picnic and enjoy a hard cider from Delfino Family Farm.  If you’re looking for a good place to buy unique pumpkins and a variety of fruits like apples, pears, and nectarines, Rainbow Farms has so many options at a great price!  They also have the best apple cider donuts and gallons of fresh pressed apple cider.  After our pumpkin-search, we visited a local orchard to grab a few apples – they were pretty picked over, but we still had fun hiking around the orchard with our little picker and buckets!  We ended our day at Jack Russell Brewery, which is not associated with Apple Hill but is right next to all the apple-fun.  There is both a brewery and a “cave” that serves wine, hard apple cider, and mead.  My friends enjoyed the mead-hard apple cider mixed option, but I was more interested in the hard blackberry apple cider.  Everything is made on-premises, and I love that their ciders are dry unlike many store-bought brands.  They have the most lovely patio for relaxing and enjoying your drink overlooking their farm and llamas!

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A happy, little geek with her apple picker.

My only recommendation would be to bring a picnic lunch or some snacks!  Although there are plenty of amazing apple dessert options, the food is pretty limited.  We went on a Friday, so it was a little less busy, but I’ve heard they have lots of food options on the weekends – however, it is pretty standard fair food, and there are so many beautiful places to bring a picnic basket!

For directions, click here.

If you’re looking for a way to use all of your apples, I’ve got you covered 😉

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore by Lucy Dacus

Braised Short Ribs with Cheddar Grits

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I am so, so excited to announce that the people at Serendipity by Sara Lynn (me) will be working with Sanford Ranch Beef, which sells local, steroid-free beef to the Northern Nevada area.  This is my first partnership, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with such a great company!  I first want to start off by promising that I only endorse businesses that I believe are wholesome and provide good quality products that I already use sans-partnership.  I do not believe in advocating products that I do not use regularly; therefore, I can assure you that all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.  I also want to let it be known that I am not being paid to post about Sanford Ranch Beef, although they did give me some all-natural, hormone-free steak, which let’s be real, is better than money anyhow.

And if you didn’t read that long ass paragraph, here’s a summary: I’m not a sellout.  Cool?  Cool!

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Sanford Ranch Beef is a local cattle ranch owned by my cousin, his wife, and their family.  They do not believe in using hormones, steroids, or fillers in their beef, so the product is completely farm-to-mouth.  Their cattle is grass-fed and finished with mash (grain) from a local brewery in town – that means that the beef tastes slightly of hops, but not overwhelmingly so.  They sell boxes of beef to people in the Northern Nevada area – if you live in Reno, Fallon, or other areas of N. Nevada and you like all-natural, ethical food, and supporting local business, visit their Facebook or website and give them a call!

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Even if you do not live in Northern Nevada, I urge you to support local farmers and ranchers that live near you.  By buying local food, you support families in your state and get healthier products (and you know where they’re coming from).  When you buy from a store, you don’t know the distribution process – when you buy local, you can ask the owner yourself!  By visiting farmer’s markets, you can find local produce, dairy, meat, bakers, and the like so you’re always getting the freshest ingredients!  For a list of local farmers in your area, click here.

P.S. Since farmer’s market season is almost over, I recommend looking up local farmers/ranchers on Google or asking people in your community!  Local food is easier to get than you think!

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Over the weekend, I used some short ribs from my box of beef to make braised short ribs with cheddar grits and roasted brussels sprouts.  It’s definitely a Sunday meal, because the braising takes a few hours, but this meal is so easy and impressive if you’re having guests over!

Both recipes are courtesy of Food Network.

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Stay tuned for more beef recipes!

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Morning Dew by The National (cover)