Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pie is happiness. Pie is love.

If you've been a reader of my blog for any amount of time, you'll know I'm all about nutrition.  I've gone on and on about the benefits of raw dairy, organic whole grains (and grinding your own flour), fresh produce, healthy fats, grass fed beef, as well as the virtues of sprouting, souring, and fermenting.  

And if you've been a reader of my blog for any amount of time, you'll also know that I'm obsessed passionate about croissants and pie.  And in particular, those completely devoid of any whole grains whatsoever and made from quite unhealthy fats. 

Yes, it's a bit reckless.  It's definitely hypocritical.  But they just taste so stinkin' good, you know?  And, in an effort to keep my life, ahem, "balanced" (Yeah, that's it) I feel that they are quite needful.  (Convinced? Me neither.)

Anyways, today I would like to talk pie.  Because pie is just a wonderful thing, and we all know it.  Pie is happiness.  Pie is love.


I've always struggled to make a good apple pie.  Awhile back I tried this one and it was fairly good.  Don't get me wrong.  I make a MEAN pie crust.  But, it was the apples... they would either be rubbery or crunchy when the crust was done.  And there would always be this unsightly pool of liquid when I cut the pie. I just couldn't master it.

Then, I stumbled upon this recipe by Paula Deen. I'm not a big Paula fan and I don't think I've ever made one of her recipes before.  But it looked interesting so I decided to give it a try.   It was so easy to make and turned out quite nice.  It definitely was a beautiful looking pie and the apples were cooked just right.  I was happy with it! 

For goodness' sake, PLEASE get your pie crust down.   

It's a basic life skill and one that can actually win you a husband.  And if you already have a husband, I promise you that you will make him cry.  And fall at your feet.  (I'm speaking from experience here, people.)

I have always used and loved Susan Branch's pie crust recipe. It's simple and foolproof IF you do it right.

1 pie crust:  1 1/2 cups AP flour, 3/4 tsp. sea salt, 3/4 cup Crisco (chilled), ice water
2 pie crusts:  3 cups AP flour, 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, 1 1/2 cups Crisco (chilled), ice water

*e-wife's FAQ on pie crust:

-No, do not use "butter flavor" Crisco.  "Butter flavor" is a nasty thing. And shortening is already nasty enough on its own.  Just use the kind in the blue can please and make sure it's refrigerated. 
-Yes, I have tried Spectrum organic palm oil shortening and NO it does not taste as good. 
-Yes, I have tried making the crust with part or all butter and it is not as flaky.
Conclusion: Just use regular Crisco if you want a good pie crust. 

To make the pie crust, simply mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in Crisco with a pastry blender until mixture resembles small peas.   Slowly stir in ice water with a fork until the mixture sticks together.  How much water?  It's an experience thing. Not too much so that it's gummy.  Not too little so that it doesn't stick in a ball.     Stir and handle the pie dough as LITTLE as possible to get the job done.  Form the dough into a ball  (if you are making two crusts, divide into two balls).  Place the dough on a well-floured board and flatten to a round disk with your hands.

Now with well-floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 12-14", depending on your pie plate (you want a little overlap).  Fold it in half, then in half again, and carefully unfold over your pie plate.  Gently press into place, crimping the edges if you like. 

Here are two great recipes for the pie crust.





Two pie crust recipe
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash salt
4 cups peeled, chopped cooking apples 
8 oz unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, chopped into small pieces

Crunch Topping:

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash salt
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a 9-inch pie pan with half of  pie dough. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the apples, applesauce, and lemon juice. Spoon the apple mixture into pie pan and dot with butter. Cut remaining crust into strips; arrange in a lattice design over top of pie.

For crunch topping:

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Using a fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over top of crust. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust and topping are golden brown.

Now, if you're feeling lazy you can just make a crostata.  What is a crostata?  It's basically a free-form pie.  Just roll the pie crust out and plop some filling in the middle, then fold the edges in.   I tried this balsamic strawberry crostata and it turned out beautiful, but wasn't sweet enough.  I added some sugar to the recipe.


Balsamic Strawberry Crostata 
Serves 4 

1 prepared pie crust recipe
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar 
1/3 cup sugar

1 egg 
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Gently toss strawberries with balsamic and sugar in a medium bowl.  

Roll dough on a piece of parchment paper into a roughly 12-inch disk. Place strawberries in the center of dough, leaving about 3" border. Fold dough border over edge of strawberries. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush egg wash over folded-over dough. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over top of dough and berries. Slide parchment and crostata onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Cool slightly or to room temperature. 


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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Little Wedding Prep Fun

A few Saturdays ago, Emma said "yes to the dress!" It was the first dress she tried on, and we LOVE it!  Sorry, no sneak peeks here.  :-)

Last Saturday, we thought it would be fun to get out MY wedding dress for Emma to try on. 


At the time of our wedding (1987), long-sleeved, lacy, high neck wedding gowns were in style.  However, I had seen a photo of Caroline Kennedy in her short sleeved wedding gown, and I decided that is what I wanted to have.

 Alas, the 80's were the era of puffy sleeves.  Bear with me.

I walked into a bridal shop with my mom in late 1986 and saw my dress-to-be displayed in the window.   It was a discontinued style, and was the "try-on" model.  It was the first wedding dress I ever tried on. It fit perfectly, and when they said they would discount the price to $250, we snatched it up!  

It really was so fun to see Emma in the dress.  She somehow made it look modern.





Then I decided to see how the dress I hadn't worn for 26 years fit...


Even though I was still able to zip the dress, I can't say that it was too comfy or that breathing was easy! It felt like a corset!!



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Friday, August 2, 2013

Another wedding!!!

(more details to follow soon)


August 1, 2013   
Minutes Engaged....


The future Mr. & Mrs. Nick Steadman!!

A delightful evening hearing about Nick's charming and thoughtful proposal and celebrating at the Steadman's!