“Armenia 🇦🇲 ~Belated Happy Birthday Pie”

One of the things about traveling the world full-time, is the inability to enjoy the foods we crave, when we crave them; foods, we as westerners, grew up with and love. No matter how good the food is in other countries, after over three years of full-time traveling, the food cravings of home never end. We also miss certain ethnic foods, which are easily found in the USA, with many restaurant options. If we crave Mexican, Italian, Eastern Indian, or American-ized Chinese. It’s just so darn easy. Yes, we are very spoiled!

Most of the time, a specific craving lessens in time, but only when we imagine another food we miss and crave, then that new image takes the place of the old one. Its an endless loop and its just part of the journey. I miss Mexican food the most. Really good authentic Mexican food, with homemade tortillas and the side-table-making of homemade guacamole. I have dreams about quac and chips!

Not my photo…but oh guacomole!

Anyway, one such craving for Daryl is a homemade pie. He has had the pie image in his his head for the longest time. NO OTHER food cravings are taking its place. The big guy must have pie. This might be, because, instead of a birthday cake, he prefers a birthday pie. He misses me making him one, when we lived in the states. (October is his B-day month). His favorite pies include: Blackberry, Pumpkin, Pecan, and Apple.

By the way. It is very true. Apple Pie is an all-time American dessert! “As American, as Apple Pie.” is the saying, after all! We don’t seem to find pies for desserts out in the world. There are some versions, which remind us of Apple Pie, but not the official delicious homemade pie with flaky crust I make; just like my family members of mothers and wife’s before me, made. I learned from the best. No brag, just fact!

Daryl figured making an Apple Pie was his (our) best option in Armenia, as far as ingredients go, so I told Mr Terrific, I will make him an Apple Pie, if he could come up with the ingredients and a few tools required, as well as peel and slice the apples. (my days of standing and peeling apples at the sink are long gone, with my back issues) He agreed without hesitation and because his enthusiasm washed over me, I told him I would make homemade vanilla ice cream to go with that pie! THAT offer stems from both our craving, of good vanilla ice cream. Aside from India, Mexico, and Europe; namely Italy, we don’t find creamy, tasty ice cream. If it can be found, the texture tends to be grainy. Why? I have no idea.

FREEZER ICE CREAM: no cooking, no eggs, and no hand-cranking needed!
Blending the three-ingredient Ice Cream
Daryl got help in the market to try to find “vanilla,“ using translator. He was led to this package, but then noticed another packet with English words. No liquid vanilla, so powder will have to do.
I ended up using this vanilla option
SHAKE IT BABY, SHAKE IT! A mixer would have been easier, but not as much fun!

One of the ingredients needed for homemade pie crust is a product we call Crisco. This would prove to be the biggest challenge to acquire, since we never see this or even old-fashioned lard in the markets. Daryl would not be deterred though.  He went to the butchers and bought a couple pounds of pork fat, to render his own lard. I told him I needed 2/3 cup of lard in the end. He didn’t quite get me enough, but after cooking the pork down for 24 hours, I told him I will cut in some cold butter with the lard, to make up the difference, and hope for the best! I’m almost sure Crisco or solid vegetable oil would be better for flavor, but when in Rome, or in our case, Armenia, do as the Armenians do! (with what they have to offer)

Ready made vegetable shortening in America. Much easier! Not my photo
Pork Fat to render Lard from
Cooking raw pork with fat takes a long time, but in the end, there would be about 20 pieces of “crackling.” Yum, if you are in to that.
Draining the rendered lard into a cup, we ended up being short by about 1/4 cup

My darling hubs even came home from the market with a rolling pin! He could not find a pie dish, but found glassware, that will work in the “deep dish” pie category. (I had to send him back to the market for more apples, though, because not being a baker, he had no idea how much apples cook down, during baking).

This is cinnamon. It’s not a strong smell, so I used extra
This was suppose to be nutmeg, but the photo of corn had me wondering. I used it, and hoped for the best. No strong smell. I wondered if it was cornstarch. I needed both, so used quite a bit and again, hoped for the best.
A guideline recipe: I omitted the water, lemon juice and brown sugar. (brown sugar is not found in markets many places in the world). Daryl cut and peeled the apples, and I mixed sugar, nutmeg/cornstarch, cinnamon and tossed it all together; sprinkling with some cold water. Then, we poured the prepared apples into the waiting dish with pie crust. I dotted the apple mix with butter, then rolled out the top crust and laid it over the top of the apple mixture. Crimping the edges of pie crust together is much easier and prettier with a pie dish with an edge, but I did the best I could.
Messy business!
After cutting “breathing” slits in the top pie crust with a sharp knife, it’s ready for the oven!

Our host family at our Homestay, have a partial outdoor kitchen under the patio, with a stove/oven which we can use. In our apartment, we have a hot plate, but no oven to bake the pie.

Okay, update: After I converted the 425 Fahrenheit oven temp to Celsius at 218, Daryl discovered the outdoor oven had a 1-4 setting ??? He asked our host which setting would be closest to the 218 Celsius. It was then they just said to use the oven in their home, which has the proper settings. With language barrier, this was probably the easiest option for all.

As a bonus to pie making, and to the joy of generations of the young kids in my family, the leftover pie crust dough can be turned into “Cinnamon Pinwheels.” It’s a version of Cinnamon Rolls, using butter, cinnamon, and sugar. I have great memories of eating these as a kid.
After spreading the three ingredients I did have on hand (normally I do add brown sugar) over the leftover rolled-out dough, I rolled and squeezed lightly all of it into a long roll for cutting into bite sized pieces. Gobbling up the pinwheels, after they come out of the oven is the prelude to eating the delicious Pie everybody can smell, but can’t have yet. (big kids dig these little treats, too)!

Pinwheels ready for the oven!

Before we began the adventure of making the Apple Pie and Pinwheels, I already made the Freezer Vanilla Ice Cream, as it needed at least 8 hours in the freezer. We did not have an electric mixer, so Daryl and I took turns shaking the container, till our arms were too tired to go on. We could not get it “whipped to a peak,” but you know what? I have no doubt it will work, because the flavor was already awesome!

FREEZER ICE CREAM: AFTER Three ingredients are mixed, PLACE IN FREEZER FOR 8-24 hours

The end result of the Apple Pie, Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream and Pinwheels were a hit! We shared some pinwheels with our host family. They had never had anything like it. They liked them.

YUM! #teamsaunders!

We are trying to stay entertained, as we wait-it-out to see how future travel is going to be. The push for the Vaccine Passport we keep hearing about is alarming, and discouraging for us. Can we get into Europe by May 20th, without getting the vaccine? This is what we are waiting and praying for. The Rhine River Castle Cruise we are suppose to be on by May 30th; Amsterdam to Switzerland is not looking good for actually happening, due to the travel restrictions. We were told our booking company is scheduling 2022 at this time. Nothing has run in 2021, or 2020 to date, so we are pushing it off for a fourth time; till May of 2022.

In the meantime, we enjoy the kitty cat activity and they make us happy, and fill us up in the pet department, for these long stays. Sadly, I was unable to get our favorite kitty spayed, since the clinics do not provide after-care services. We are not in a position to keep cats indoors, while they wear the “cone” to keep them from pulling out stitches. Feral animals can’t be set loose with a cone on their head, as it would mean certain death. Even if we were able to house her, cat litter is no available anywhere to buy. Big bummer, because now she is pregnant. We also notice another female (way wilder) is pregnant. It’s the normal springtime kitten litters that occur and is the norm in many countries. I wish we could have done more.

Another update: I did receive my new drivers license my daughter sent me from the USA. What a relief and and now do not have to worry about that for another ten years. Next issue is for me to get another Passport. My expiration date is good (2027) but my pages are almost gone! Traveling full-time means going through 52 blank pages, faster than the 10-year expiration date! They use to add pages to existing passports with good expiration dates, but not anymore. I’m good for a few more country visits, but we require the time to get ‘er done, too. So the next three month visa we get, we are doing it! Daryl got his reissued a few years ago, while we were in India. Getting new Passports in other countries is not easy or fast, as the request and old passport has to be shipped to the USA to be processed, and returned to us, here in Armenia. AND, without a passport, we can’t go anywhere.

We are making the best use of our down time. It is never dull, but we are more than ready to get out and travel again; see sites, take photos, and write about our adventures! These are still very challenging times for traveling as we do; moving from country to country so often and not going home.

Why would we want to go home, ever? 😀. We have such a wild time out in the world. This is a photo of a tribe we stayed with (we stayed in 6 different village with the natives) in Papua New Guinea. An expedition on the Sepik River in a dugout canoe, we will NEVER forget!
To see more photos from this expedition, please click on this link to go to my photo website:
https://picsbypen.smugmug.com/Places/OceanicLife/Papua-New-Guinea

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6 Comments

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  1. Glad to see everyone is safe. Puss looks like she is enjoying the warmth. My mother in law always used lard in her pastries, I did too then and it is a long, long time since I made an apple pie xx

    1. Hi Judy!
      Yes, the pie was good. It’s been a year since we had an apartment to play house in. While we do not have an oven, we do have a washing machine. BONUS!
      Do you have the Crisco or other brand of shortening in Australia?
      Lard works for sure, but maybe a little heavier crust.
      Are you inspired to make a pie, now?

  2. Hi there! Happy to hear from you again. FB jail sucks that’s for sure. Your pie came out wonderful and your ice cream was yummy I’m sure. Sorry you can’t go on your river cruise in May. I saw advertisements for the 2021 season not too long ago and was thinking of you and certain you would be able to go this year. I don’t know which company advertised the 2021 River cruises.
    Sorry about kitty being “in the family way” again. Such is life among the wild ones!!!!
    I feed ducks in our morning walks. Mostly thawed out peas. Well, I found a larger bag of frozen peas at Walmart at a much cheaper price. Those spoiled ducks wouldn’t eat them! They Followed me quacking loudly wanting their organic petite peas. Spoiled ducks!
    Anyway, nice to hear from you again. Can’t wait to hear about your next adventure.

    1. Hi Inge!
      So good to hear from you.
      We are making some changes with our blog website, as it’s down time for us. We are tweeking some things, still. Keeping me busy.
      Funny story about those ducks! VERY spoiled, I would say!
      Yes, missing the cruise again is discouraging for sure. We decided to rebook one more time. Fingers crossed!
      We hope to go to Europe for three months end of May. We have to leave Armenia as our visa will be ending. Last year we only made it to Greece. We don’t want to get skunked out of Europe touring again! The vaccine passports and other requirements are a nightmare for us.
      Praying for better travel times to come!

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Hello and Welcome to our Travel Blog Website, We are into our fourth year of our full-time Gypsy Lifestyle; buying one-way tickets to circumvent the globe. We enjoy writing about our experiences and taking photos of our adventuring along the… Read More