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July 19, 2012
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MATHIS: Why one local chef loves his community

For personal reasons, I've been flying to the East Coast and back quite a few times this year. Not a person who really likes to "be social" on airplanes, I usually get the window seat on the last row. I want a place to just park myself, and maybe do some reading (yes, food magazines are always in my carry-on luggage). But, more often than not, I find myself staring out the window, looking down at the countryside below.

As we do not have a lot of direct flights from Grand Junction to Richmond, Va., I've been connecting through Houston. Looking down, I watch the terrain, at first flat farmlands with its watered crop circles. I see the hills starting, then turn into mountains, and I know we are getting closer to my adopted home valley.

Flying from Houston, we head over Montrose County. As soon as I see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, I know that the two rings of the cabin bells will soon be heard. The pilot then comes on and tells us that we have started our descent into the Grand Valley. (Actually, he says Grand Junction. But, we all know that the valley encompasses not only GJ, but oh-so-much more.)

We really do live in one of the best areas in the country. Yes, we have our problems. But, after spending an inordinate amount of time out east this year (tornados, storms that knock out power to millions of people and destroy neighborhoods, and DO NOT even get me started about the humidity), I think we all need to look around, appreciate, investigate and enjoy what the Grand Valley has to offer.

We are smack in the middle of our bountiful season here. The farmers' markets are all around us; the Olathe Corn Festival and the Palisade Peach Festival are coming up in August. Plus, the Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade and the Fruita Fall Festival will be wrapping up the summer in September.

And, this week, we have the 125th Mesa County Fair. Starting Tuesday, July 17, the fair is a true showcase of our local talents. From the 4-H and FFA, to the concerts, rides, recipe contests, bull riding and the Demolition Derby, the fair really does have something for everyone. You still have tonight and tomorrow to stop by. (The Demolition Derby is in the Grandstands on Saturday night.)

Come on out and, for a few hours, forget about the rest of your life. Grab some cotton candy, throw some balls at bottles, catch a show, ride a ride. We are MESA COUNTY!

Lee is the founder and owner of Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes and Catering. He can be reached via e-mail at decadencecheesecakes@mindspring.com, on the web at www.decadencecheesecakes.com, or by calling 970-256-4688. Also, find him on the web by searching Facebook or by visiting Twitter (@decadenceGJ).

(from Statefairrecipes.com)

Makes: 8 slices

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 55 to 65 minutes

Crust:

Pastry for double crust pie

Filling:

8 cups peeled and sliced cooking apples (about 4 to 6 large)

1/3 cup Karo® Dark Corn Syrup

3 tablespoons butter OR margarine, melted

3 tablespoons sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons Argo® OR Kingsford's® Corn Starch

1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Ground Saigon Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Caramel glaze:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped pecans

3 tablespoons Karo® Dark Corn Syrup

2 tablespoons butter OR margarine, melted

1 tablespoon Argo® OR Kingsford's® Corn Starch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Fit one pie crust into the bottom of 9-1/2-inch-deep dish pie pan. Add apples. Combine corn syrup, butter, sugar, corn starch, cinnamon and salt into a small bowl. Pour it over the apples. Top with a second crust, fold edges under, seal and flute. Cut a few slits in the top crust to vent. Place a shallow pan under the pie to catch any drips and bake it for 45-55 minutes, until the crust is browned and the apples are tender. Combine all Caramel Glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Dollop over the pie and carefully spread it over the hot crust. Bake the pie for 10 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly.


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The Post Independent Updated Jul 19, 2012 06:25PM Published Jul 19, 2012 06:24PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.