Holiday Cook-off

Grandma Julie’s French Apple Pie

I’m pretty sure I was born with a rolling pin in my hand… As far back as I can remember, baking has been at the heart of the holiday season. From Christmas cookies (8 different kinds) to Norwegian delicacies like lefse, we’ve always prided ourselves in our confections!

Every year, my Grandma Julie would come visit us at our home in Lake Tahoe for either Thanksgiving, Christmas or both holidays. She raised my mom to cherish holiday traditions and share our sweet creations with friends and neighbors.

The nostalgic recipe that reminds me most of my Grandma Julie is her French Apple Pie. I’ve helped make this for the family every year since I was 2! Now that I have children of my own, I get to share my love for baking and pass the torch on to them. From rolling the pie crust to patting the crumble topping, I can hear my grandma guiding me.

Four years ago my grandma passed away. The holidays aren’t the same without her, but I feel her close to me when I bake, especially during the holiday season. Her spirit and joy for the season lives on in her recipes and in our hearts. This year, it was exciting baking with my girls and letting them do almost all of the work!

Prep Time: 30 minutes | Bake Time: 1 hour | Total Time: 1 hour, 30 min


Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 Pillsbury Pie Crust
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1.2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. All Purpose Flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 6-7 apples cored, peeled and sliced (look for them at the Channel Islands Farmer’s Market!)

Topping Ingredients:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cube (½ cup) butter or margarine 
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Special Materials needed:

  • 8-10” Pie Pan
  • Whisk or Pastry Cutter
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Apple corer or peeler


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Take out pie crust and allow to warm to room temperature (10-15 minutes)
  3. Mix all dry ingredients for filling in a bowl, whisk until clumps are gone
  4. Roll pie crust out and place in pie pan, crimp edges (need inspo? click here!)
  5. Fill unbaked pie crust about ½ full of apple pieces
  6. Sprinkle a little less than ½ the dry ingredient mixture
  7. Fill pie crust evenly with remaining apple pieces, then the rest of the dry ingredients
  8. Dot with 2 tsp. Butter 
  9. For the topping, mix the brown sugar and cube of butter
  10. Blend in 1 cup flour until crumbly
  11. Press topping on pie, making sure crust is covered, punch air hole in center
  12. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees for 45 minutes (Cover pie edges with string of foil when reducing heat
  13. Remove from oven when golden brown and allow to cool
  14. Keep pie at room temperature until serving, refrigerate after cutting 
  15. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy making this recipe as much as I do. Also, a word of caution…this recipe never has leftovers because everyone goes crazy for it! (I highly recommend making a second one to enjoy all to yourself!)

Sports & Leisure

Meet The Pirate: Alberto Arroyo (aka Tito) #30

Saturday, the VC football team clinched the 2021 Northern Conference Title, defeating a past rival, Canyons. A key player in the success of our Pirates this year is Kicker/Punter, Alberto Arroyo. 

A Carpinteria High School alum, Tito wasn’t raised playing football, but rather soccer.  (It’s not uncommon for the Kicker/Punter to be a soccer player.) Originally, Arroyo had no interest in football, but before his sophomore year of high school, he was recruited by some friends who recognized his talent. He decided to play for fun! He played 4 years of soccer and 3 years of football with the Carpinteria High School Warriors. 

When asked about adjusting his kicking technique as he switched from soccer to football, Tito explained, “The technique is way different, especially with the follow through. It took time for me to get used to it.” Arroyo attended training camps where he was able to work on his technique and strength as a kicker. His lifelong soccer training served as a great foundation for his kicking career. 

In his senior year, Tito had friends already attending Ventura College who recruited him to continue his football journey and play for VC Pirates. In 2019, Tito joined Ventura College Football as a kicker. He played a lot during his first season and the Pirates went 8-3 that year. 

In 2020 when the pandemic hit, Tito and his teammates were able to continue practicing despite not having a real season. They trained together and united as a team. The players grew closer to their coaches and respected each other on a whole new level. Arroyo mentioned in 2019 when he first started all the players didn’t play as a team as much as they all did for themselves. During Covid, they began to take their coaches advice more seriously and created a bond amongst the whole team and coaching staff. 

With the lifting of the restrictions from the pandemic, the Pirates football team emerged united as a powerhouse team not to be reckoned with. After an undefeated season so far, last Saturday the Pirates defeated Canyons, a rival team who had beat them in 2019. Ventura College and Canyons were the top two teams in Southern California. Tito attributes that game as his favorite because so much was riding on it. It made their victory that much sweeter. Tito’s punts and field goals were essential to the success of the team.

Aside from football, Arroyo has already completed his AA in Communications at Ventura College. He hopes to continue his football career and transfer to Fresno State in the spring. 

Tito will be playing on Saturday, November 13 at home against East Los Angeles. If they, the Pirates would clinch the top seed in the Southern California Football Association’s Final Four, securing home field advantage throughout the state playoffs. Kickoff at the Sportsplex is scheduled for 6:00 pm as VC Athletics celebrates Veteran Student Night and Military Appreciation Night.

Food & Beverage

5 Local Coffee Shops to Try for Your Next Study Sesh

As college students, we pride ourselves in our abundant coffee intake and our fascination with studying at coffee shops. While it’s convenient to head to Starbucks and Coffee Bean, the Ventura area is blessed with amazing locally owned coffee shops worth supporting! The pandemic hurt small businesses the most and since we’re going to spend $5 for coffee anyways, it’s better to go to someone local instead of The Man. These insta-worthy cafes have creative menus, delectable pastries and are perfect for studying!

  1. Singing Sun: Across from Ventura High School is a quaint coffee shop following the modern coffee shop trend. While their options are limited, the quality of their coffee is high because they serve Sightglass Coffee, a well-known San Francisco-based coffee roaster. There are different seating options including cafe tables, bar seating and their namesake sunlit window seat. Bonus: Singing Sun is right next door to Timbre books, a cute local bookshop also worth supporting!

Best Drinks: Good Fortune Latte, Oatmilk Mocha, Vanilla Bean Latte, Kombucha on tap

Study Vibes: Limited seating, quiet, some outlets, rarely packed, WiFi

  1. Ragamuffin: With two locations in Oxnard and Newbury Park, Ragamuffin is a local favorite across the county. The Oxnard cafe is located in the Annex at the Collection shopping area. You can’t miss it with the beautiful Ragamuffin mural and neon signage. They actually roast their coffee right there in the corner and it always smells amazing. The baristas are well-trained, their drinks are top notch, and their menu has lots of options. Don’t think of it just as a quick stop coffee shop; grab a bite at one of the take-out places in the Annex and stay for a while. 

Best Drinks: Mexican Mocha, Dirty Chai , Brown Sugar Latte (as recommended by their baristas)

Study Vibes: Indoor seating in the Annex, outdoor seating with sun or shade, no outlets, can be busy, free WiFi

  1. Simone’s: A longtime Ventura favorite, Simone’s has two locations worth trying in Ventura. Their original location in the Kimball shopping center is smaller but has an extensive menu of drinks, pastries and entrees. Their decor has vintage coffee shop vibes and they have mugs, jewelry and other gift items for sale. (Be sure to check out their ornaments and gift options around Christmas time!) Their new location opened across from CMH and has beautiful, modern decor. This location is a great place to study or meet a friend with their long seating design. Their staff is always friendly and they have a very loyal customer base. 

Best Drinks: Any Seasonal Beverage, Bianco, Frozen lemonades, Smoothies

Study Vibes: Kimball location is small and sometimes loud but offers adequate seating, CMH location perfect for studying, no outlets, WiFi

  1. Cafe Ficelle: If you want to be transported to a parisian bakery, head over to Cafe Ficelle (in Camarillo or across from Pacific View Mall). Known for their artisan pastries, breads and desserts, you’ll feel classy AF enjoying a croissant and espresso drink here. Cafe Ficelle serves Verve coffee, a recognized Santa Cruz coffee brand, and adding a rich flavor to all their drinks! Both locations are ornately decorated with plentiful seating indoors and out. The Ventura cafe has a large community table perfect for group projects and meeting friends. This is one coffee shop that won’t disappoint!

Best Drink: Butterfly Matcha, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Mocha (all paired with a flaky pastry or macaron, of course!)

Study Vibes: Lots of seating, outlets, WiFi, occasionally loud

  1. Frontside: The newest coffee shop in Ventura is Frontside over on Front St. by Transmission Brewing and Toppers Pizza. This hidden gem is arguably the most instagrammable cafe in the area. The owners are Australian and include Aussie “brekkie” staples like meat pies and fairy bread on their menu along with your favorite cafe staples. The minimalist beach style of the cafe captures the natural light and at Frontside there are no bad angles. Open Wednesday through Sunday, it can be hard to get a seat, but one always opens up quickly. Check it out for a bright place to study or meet for a lunch date! 

Best Drink: Oatmilk Latte, Hot Chocolate, Drip Coffee

Study Vibes: Plenty of indoor/patio seating, often busy, WiFi

It’s a win-win! The quality at all of these coffee shops is infinitely better and you’re supporting the local business economy instead of the large corporate chains. So next time you’re going out for coffee, hit a local spot!