Sharing a Slice of Life Through Pie

By Tina LeBaron, Kitchen Store Specialist & Writer for Alaska’s Best Kitchens

IMG_4933 Every now and then you come across a friend or family member at a holiday gathering who hoards their star recipe. My Aunt Sandi makes the best turtle cheesecake, but ask her to share her secret techniques and you’ll quickly learn she is prepared to take her coveted recipe to the grave. And let’s admit, no amount of harassing can stand up to her with her heavy maple rolling pin! Time and again, these traditional recipes end right along with their tight-lipped keepers. And what a shame, no one else can carry on that favorite dish.

It’s my goal to find those in our community who have outstanding recipes and are eager to share! Ralph Achenbach came into the store loving his tried and true recipes so much that, unlike Aunt Sandi, couldn’t help passing them on to an interested ear. My favorite is one his lovely wife Paula learned from an Oregon guest of theirs some 20 years ago while living remote in Copper Center, Alaska. Through the years, they’ve played with the recipe in their kitchen – making tweaks here and there to perfectly suite the tastes of their own family members.


Ralph & Paula Achenbach shared this recipe with us.


This recipe is one that can turn a twenty-dollar bill into a hearty meal to feed a good-sized family, twice! – Apple, Sausage, and Potato Pie with a white cheese sauce for serving.



The copy they sent over to me read, “2 pie crusts, just breakdown and buy the ones at the store, its easier and just as tasty. Or if you want to spend hours and hours in the kitchen and just love making pastry, go ahead and make your own.”

That was a relief for me, since I’d never made a piecrust and have been quite intimidated by the process. Sounds like I’m not alone. But our Chef Lucy wouldn’t hear of it, and taught me how to make the quickest and easiest piecrust I could’ve imagined – and it takes cream cheese (my weakness!).

You see, passing on a recipe does evoke each new cook to take liberties and add a twist here and there – not only making the borrowed recipe their own, but in turn keeping it alive for generations to come.

Apple Master

Even little kitchen helpers can use the Apple Master to peel and slice apples for pie

Apple, Sausage, & Potato Filling

1 pound         your favorite sausage (Jimmy Dean Maple is the favorite)

1 cup              onion, chopped

1/3 cup          diced celery

½ cup             chopped parsley

2                      medium apples – peeled, cored, & chopped

2                      medium potatoes – chopped

1                      medium yam – chopped

2 Tbls             maple syrup

salt & pepper to taste

IMG_4961IMG_4966Crumble sausage in skillet, and cook most of the fat out. Remove sausage from the skillet into a large mixing bowl. Sauté your onion and celery in the sausage drippings until they begin to soften. Turn off heat and add the chopped potatoes, apples, and parsley. Return sausage to the mix, stir in the maple syrup for a little stickiness, and add salt and pepper to taste. Fill piecrust with the mixture.







White Sauce

¼ cup             butter

3 Tbls             flour

3 cups             milk to desired thickness

1 ½ cup          cheese

1 tsp               mustard or ground mustard

dash                lemon juice

salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter over low heat, add the flour and whisk continuously until lightly browned. Begin adding milk until desired thickness is achieved (cheese may thin it down a bit). Add at least a 1-½ cups of cheese or more to taste. Finish the sauce off with the mustard and just a dash of lemon juice, then salt and pepper to taste.

Pie Crust

2 cups            flour

1 cup              butter – cold & cubed

6 ounces         cream cheese

1                      Egg

KitchenAid Food Processor Put the flour in your food processor and add butter. Pulse until you have course meal. Add cream cheese and pulse again until  incorporated. Next add the eggs and mix until dough comes together.


IMG_4935 Roll out half of the dough on a floured surface. Flip the ball of dough as you go to ensure it is coated in flour and not sticking. Roll it out to approximately 1/8”.





Check that it is large enough to cover bottom and sides of your greased pie pan. Lay the dough in pie pan fitting it to the bottom and sides then cut off the edges for a perfect fit.


PicMonkey Collage

After the filling is added, roll out the other half of dough.

IMG_4971Lightly wet the top edges of the piecrust with your fingertip. Lay it on top of the filled pie. Trim extra edges leaving enough extra to tuck under to seal the pie.





Use your pointer-finger to give the edges that nice crimped look. Make two small knife slashes in the middle to allow the steam to vent.



Bake at 325 degrees for an hour and a half – turn up to 350 for the last half an hour if more golden browning is desired.





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