I finally did it... I mastered the pie crust. I made apple pies this weekend with buttery flaky flavorful crusts. I was so pleased with myself that I really wanted to call Gordon Ramsay and be like, "you really need to get over here and check this out!" :)
I took one pie crust recipe that I had pretty good faith in and then made changes by using some tips in Alton Brown's Good Eats cookbook and a tip from Martha Stewart. Those tips... apple cider instead of water, I used half butter (for flavor) and half shortening (for flakey-ness) and I didn't overwork the dough. I never really understood what "overworking the dough" meant before until I saw Martha bake a pie on TV. She held a pie plate up to camera to show how you could see color variances where there was more butter in some places after her dough was rolled out. She said those little unincorporated bits of butter were what would make the crust tender and flaky.
Because I didn't want to overwork the dough, I didn't trust myself to use a food processor, and I don't have a pastry blender, so I used two knives and just crossed them over and over.
Lattice before baking.
We still have so many more apples in the house... going to have to find more apple recipes to try!