*Note: This was meant to be published two months ago, but alas, I suck.
When I was at The Glimmerglass Festival, I started Friday Pie Day, wherein the development team and other various Glimmerglass employees and I would eat pie and drink coffee around 3:00 PM each Friday once we opened the season. Just off Highway 20 was a baked goods stand open on Fridays and Saturdays, run by a wonderful Amish family. Saying these pies are some of the best I’ve ever eaten is not an exaggeration. I have dreams about their blueberry pie. In an attempt to create an atmosphere of community at my new job, I decided to institute Friday Pie Day while we’re in production. Because I am unsure if the Amish have settled this far South and I don’t want to shell out $20 every Friday, I’ve decided to up my pie game and bake my own each week. As you may recall, dear Annes, I have experimented with pies in the past. In the last couple weeks I’ve baked an apple pie, a peace pie, and a strawberry crostata.
The first pie I made was apple, and because one of my coworkers is vegan, I needed to find an alternative to the traditional butter crust. I ended up making an oil pastry crust, courtesy of the 1980 revised 8th edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (of old food no one ever makes because it’s actually pretty gross). Some of the food pictures in the front cover are pretty gross. There’s this broccoli casserole/salad concoction that looks like it has marshmallow with ranch dressing drizzled on top, sprinkled with breadcrumbs. (I’m all for broccoli and ranch dressing, but how do the marshmallows enter this equation?) There’s another picture of what can only be described as a pistachio green jello mold with sugared grapes delicately placed atop the jiggling obscenity. (Side note: Were you ever present for Kim’s recounting of the jellos Dr. Larsen makes the music staff eat at his annual Christmas dinner?) Despite the fact that I wouldn’t dare prepare 75% of the recipes in this cookbook, BH&G saved me this time with a quick, easy pie crust that used ingredients I already had. I would have just used Crisco, but I didn’t have any and it was too late to go to the store (read: I was lazy and I didn’t want to get shot leaving my apartment at 10:00 PM).
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup salad oil
5 tablespoons cold water
1. Sift together flour and salt
2. Pour salad oil and cold water in measuring cup (do not stir)
3. Add all at once to the flour mixture and stir lightly with fork
4. Form into 2 balls; flatten dough slightly
5. Roll out (Pro Tip: Roll dough between two 12-inch squares of waxed paper (dampen table/counter first so paper won’t slip). When dough is rolled in a circle to the edges of the paper, it will be the right thickness for crust.)
For the filling, I cut up the 4 gala apples I had left from my weekly bag of apples and poured an amount of sugar, cinnamon, and maybe some nutmeg, and a dash of vanilla. I was a little worried about the crust because when I tasted the raw dough, it was overpoweringly salty. Fortunately, the end result was just fine. The salt balanced with the sweetness of the apples, though I might reduce the salt to 1 teaspoon in the future. I didn’t want to do a double crust because I was a little low on filling, and I wanted to hide the saltiness of the crust, but I didn’t want a single crust/tart. Instead, I cut out some tiny hearts with a cookie cutter and placed them on top. Since I didn’t use all the dough for the second shell, I made a quick strawberry crostata. This was so simple. I cut up some strawberries that were teetering that fine line between perfectly ripe and rotten, tossed them on the dough, and rustically folded the sides. I took a leap of faith and hoped during the baking process the sugars would caramelize and sweeten the strawberries. I can’t actually tell you how this turned out. I didn’t get a piece of it. The feedback was all positive, but here in the South, I can’t tell if people are being genuine or just being nice.
The last pie in the baking tale is a beautiful peach pie with a lattice crust. My boss invited a bunch of people to his house in Indiana (gross, but at least it’s not Ohio) for Labor Day. You can’t celebrate the symbolic end of summer without a pie. I don’t know where this rule came from, but I stand by it. In traditional Carolyne style, I didn’t really use a recipe. I loosely followed this one from Taste of Home because it mentioned the Great State (Iowa). The pie was a smash success. Again, I didn’t taste of this pie. I had to head to the University of Louisville Football season opener before we got to dessert.
Friday Pie Day caught on. I haven’t baked a pie in a while because my coworkers have decided to bring in pie as well, which is great! Lastly, there is a place in Louisville called Homemade Ice Cream + Pie Kitchen, which sells homemade pies and ice cream. Delicious. If/when you come to Louisville, I will take you to Pie Kitchen. That’s a promise.
Firstly, where did the summer and fall go? Especially here in the hinterland, people are kind of freaking out because the nice weather is rapidly deteriorating and no one has recovered from last winter.
I don’t even know what I did this summer, aside from visit Seatlle and eat my weight in Chickpea Salad (tomatoes omitted because ugh gross).
I feel like I have been cooking a lot, partially because I have acquired a few new cookbooks. I picked up the How Sweet It Is cookbook, since I’ve had pretty good success with the recipes from her blog. However, the cookbook is called Seriously Delish, and that makes me gag so much that I had to buy it for my Kindle so no one would know my shame. In honesty, I used to not care much for this blogger’s writing style (and it is all a hair too cutesy for me still), but I tweeted about making one of her recipes once and she tweeted my back and was really sweet so now I just feel bad that I hate everything all the time.
I also picked up The Beeroness’s new cookbook (titled simply The Craft Beer Cook Book). She is another blogger whose writing style doesn’t do a lot for me, but her recipes are legit and I used a bunch of them when I hosted Thanksgiving last year. I had a misstep recently when I tried to make her Porter Chorizo Black Bean Soup. I tried to make it vegetarian by using Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo, with which I am obsessed. I also made the mistake of trying to make this on a weeknight. I feel like the chorizo got a little charred, and even though I kept adding liquid, the beans never got cooked all the way. Drew loved it, though, so perhaps I am judging myself too harshly. I just find that when a meal bombs, I say to myself, “I can do better. I AM BETTER THAN THIS.”
Drew thinks I am nuts.
Lastly, I have been really enjoying the Thug Kitchen cook book, which surprises me because it is a low salt, vegan cookbook. They totally got me, actually, because I was too busy enjoying all the swearing to notice that was the case. I’ve made a few recipes out of the book now, and they have all been gems. However, as is often the case, I find that I’m happier if I at least double what they recommend for spices. I made their Pumpkin Chilli this weekend in the crock pot, and I definitely added double the chilli powder and probably quadruple the cumin.
I’m glad that you are getting to know your new city and that you have found a place with good pulled pork. I’m also glad that you’ve gotten so much use out of Going Solo in the Kitchen. That book taught me to poach chicken breasts, something for which I am eternally grateful.
Not much else is new here. I have been playing with Drew’s bread machine and using up old mixes that predate me by several years. I also joined the co-op where Dave and Linnea work. This has been fun, because I often see one or both of them when I grocery shop, and they have a great bulk section that contains things like beeswax and french green clay in addition to your usual flours and spices. Would that I could make such a place magically appear closer to you, so as to spare you further disappointing Kroger visits.
My personal Hell is Sam’s Club. Being in charge of the grocery shopping means that I have to stop there once a week and pick up a few things that Drew can’t seem to live without (mostly lunch meat). I did score 300 coffee filters for under $6 one day, though, so it is not always a total bust.