Category Archives: pie

The bird announces a pie.

Christmas before last my three daughters gave me a set of six matching Le Creuset items that also pretty well matched the blue in my kitchen curtains.

I had completely forgotten to use the pie bird until I saw him in a drawer yesterday, and putting him together in my mind with last summer’s peaches in the freezer, and scraps of pie dough also in the freezer, I came up with a pie plan for this morning. Here’s the result in the very lacking two dimensions.

I already ate a piece this afternoon, and found that the peaches did not make it through the winter with much of their flavor intact, even in the deep freeze.

The scraps of crust, some of which were even older, fared much better even though they were in the freezer section of the refrigerator.

All in all, it was a good use of things already on hand that might otherwise have been thrown out long ago, so I don’t feel too bad about the ho-hum-ness of the finished product.

Ho-hum?? The dear bird is announcing anything but that. A pie of any sort around here is an event!

Pear Pie of the Year?

“Pie of the Week” was the inspiring category of postings at Gigi’s Firefly Cottage blog…

I wish I could bake a pie once a week. I also wish I could have a whole day of prayer and contemplation every week, and a day of gardening, and a loaf of bread baked every seven days or so. But at the rate I’m going, I should set my sights lower– perhaps one pie every six months or so? (If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, and eat more pie.)

My latest pie is Pear. It’s the first pear pie I’ve ever eaten or baked. The thought of eating this subtle fruit any way besides fresh or dried never appealed, until I read a recipe on one of my favorite blogs recently, a recipe that made me think pear pie would be worth a try. I was prepared in mind, then, for the display of pale green Bartletts at a fruit stand where I stopped for a snack on Monday.

The price was right, but you had to buy a big bag of them, more than Mr. Glad and I could possibly eat. I thought, “This is my chance to bake a pear pie,” and I brought them home, and there was my deadline in front of me: within two days they would be pale yellow, and the pie would have to be baked.

Here is my new white pie dish waiting for its pears. The hearts on the cloth that is under the clear vinyl were my solution to shoe polish stains about 15 year ago.

But where was the recipe? Nowhere to be found. Had I imagined it, or just lost it? The pie had to be baked, so I researched ideas on Epicurious.com for quite a while, settling on a this recipe that featured lemon, maple, and ginger to add complexity.

 

 

I made a couple of changes: doubled the ginger and forgot to put in the sugar. I’m so glad about that last omission, because the maple syrup made the pie just sweet enough for my taste. All the various flavors blended nicely and nothing overpowered the pears. I found it to be quite lovely. It was hard to know just what the added flavors were.

 

This pie was thickened with instant tapioca granules. I discovered I didn’t have instant, so I ground some small pearls in the blender and then sifted out the bigger pieces. The finished product was a bit soupy, maybe only because it was still warm.

But my husband often doesn’t like new taste sensations, especially the first time. After having a slice of this one, he said it had nothing that made him want to keep eating it. I should have that feeling; after eating more than necessary, I quickly wrapped the rest of the pie, dish and all, in heavy foil and stuck it in the freezer.

 

Maybe my pear pie will be the Pie of the Century!

Baby Week


During the week that Seventh Grandson was born, I did take quite a few pictures, but I only lately managed to make them available to my blog. I present a sketchy photo journal of my time here with the family so far.

When I arrived in town, walking was the order of the day. Behind the hospital nature paths wind about, surrounded by ponds and trees such as these birches.

 

 

I am sleeping in a room with this quilt. A grandma in H’s church made this quilt as a wedding present last year. This year she sewed a smaller quilt for Baby.

During the waiting time I sat in a corner of the hospital room and worked on potholder tops. This one uses some scraps from the crib quilt I made earlier.

After a while I did a second free-form design in aqua and purple.

In my sewing basket were two ratty and thin potholders I had basted together already. While H. was in early labor I put a bright spicy new cover on them/it. That item doesn’t need to go home with me and get stuffed and backed, so I gave it to her potholder drawer already.

 

 

Fast forward to Day 3 or 4, and Baby is wrapped in The Quilt, showing its cozy Minky backing.

I took a video of eight deer on the back lawn, while the fawns were prancing about playing with each other. And this still shot of one of the deer looking into the laundry room window. The deer often study us through the windows when we are watching them.
It was raining the first two days of Baby’s life, and when the rain stopped, the leaves had become autumnal.
Some Jonagolds that we got at the apple farm ten days ago went into this pie, which I baked in H’s convection oven. Maybe the oven is the reason it came out looking so perfect? It didn’t taste perfect, though, because those apples don’t have enough complexity in their flavor.

Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of the household cats, and the most curious about this new resident.

She caught her first mouse this week.

 

 

 

When Baby was six days old, H. wrapped him up in a Moby wrap and we three took a walk. We ended up at the back of their property, with its big Ponderosa pines…

 

…and their cones.
The maple tree in the back yard is changing. Baby is changing every day. I wish we lived in clans all together, so I wouldn’t have to leave one part of the family to go be with another. It’s a reminder that this world, always leaving something longed-for, is not our true home.

French Cooking (Leek Week)

Last week my friend K. let me know that she had a large crop of leeks she needed to harvest to make room for summer plants. Not once but twice I went to her back yard and got a bunch. If you aren’t familiar with this vegetable, you won’t know what a treasure had been bestowed on me. K. says that when she cooks leeks it makes the house smell like a French restaurant. They are in the allium family, but have their own distinctive flavor, not like onions or garlic or anything else.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Leeks need some prep work before you can fully enjoy them.There was my bundle of leeks (the second batch, as I’d neglected to do any documentation of the first) on the back step. These were mostly smaller in diameter than the ones I see in the store, but contrary to the resemblance, they don’t taste like a large scallion, either. And they are dirtier than other members of their family. The next photo was taken a couple of days later, after I took them out of the refrigerator and sliced them lengthwise for cleaning.

Leeks always have dirt between the layers of flesh and you have to spend some time getting them clean. Just plop them in the sink and run the water over them while you use your fingers to loosen the dirt and let it run down the drain.

I accidentally deleted the picture of leeks in my sink, but I think you can imagine it.

Here are the nice clean vegetables. I was preparing to make Leek Confit, a recipe I got online at http://www.epicurious.com/ and then changed a little bit. I made it twice, once using mostly the white part and this time using the whole thing, I found out that it works either way. It is a very easy way to prepare the vegetable, and the finished product can be used as an ingredient in more leek recipes.
 
Leek Confit
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 large leeks, halved lengthwise and cleaned, cut crosswise into 1/4″-thick slices (about 5 cups)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. (I had 15 cups of chopped leeks, so I tripled this recipe and used a 12″ cast-iron skillet.) Add leeks; stir to coat. Stir in water and salt. Cover pot; reduce heat to low. Cook until leeks are tender, stirring often, about 25 minutes.
Uncover and cook to evaporate excess water, 2-3 minutes. Serve warm.

This second picture shows how the leeks turn more of an olive green color after cooking. At this point they are ready to eat as a side dish just the way they are. The first night I made crostini and we spread the toasts with goat cheese and piled the confit on top. That was my favorite. Since then I have also served them alongside or in eggs or as a vegetable dish next to–anything!

The author of the recipe said that the confit will keep for a week in the refrigerator, so I have been hoarding the last bit of my second batch to savor some morning on my eggs or toast. If I get a windfall of leeks again I think this confit would be a good way to freeze any excess.

And after reading pages of recipes for leek tart or quiche, I added some of the confit to whatever typical quiche ingredients I could find in my refrigerator and came up with the following:

Leek Tart
2 cups Leek Confit (recipe above)
4 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons Chardonnay wine
3 slices cooked bacon, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°. Beat the eggs with the creams, wine, salt and pepper; add bacon and leek confit and stir. Pour into a pie shell that has been pre-baked for 10 minutes, and place in the bottom third of the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden and puffed and the custard is cooked through.

I like this picture of the tart, even though it has dappled sunlight on it, and it wasn’t even quite done cooking when I took the photo. I didn’t want to stick a knife in to test the custard before I’d taken some pictures. When I did peek inside, I realized that the quiche was still too soft, and I put it back in and it puffed more as it was finishing.

I’d like to try more variations on Leek Tart–perhaps something that is not so eggy. But I think it would be hard to go wrong with leeks. Their irresistible flavor almost guarantees success, at least in my house.

Here I’d like to give you my favorite pie crust recipe, since I’ve been blogging about pies lately. For most of my life I used the basic pie crust recipe from Joy of Cooking, until a few years ago I discovered Mark Bittman’s wonderful recipe in How to Cook Everything. It is my new standard never-fail basic, and he gives variations for different size pie pans, single and double crusts, and so on. His was my basic, but I have already altered this recipe to make it less salty. He is assuming salted butter, by the way. I am only giving you the ingredients list here, because I can’t imagine using printed directions to make pie crust, and I didn’t write his down. If you don’t know how, find a real person to teach you while standing next to you.

Pie Crust
For an 8-10″ single crust:
1 1/8 cups flour (5 oz.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons cold butter
3 tablespoons ice water
(sweetened/enriched, add 2 tablespoons sugar and/or 1 egg yolk with the water)
For a generous 10″ or deep single crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
10 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons ice water
For a 2-crust pie:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons sugar
6 tablespoons water
Happy Baking!