Tag Archives: pie

The Balm of Home

The mister and I have been camping and hiking and wearing ourselves out in the mountains, and I do plan to post detailed travelogues pretty soon. In the meantime I am my usual post-travel self, however that may be described; I’m too tired to try right now.

 

 

 

It was a blessed day today, with time to give a drink to the flowers, wash sheets and bake a pie. The green beans are coming on — I think I’ll pick a few tomorrow. The begonia is brightening a space several yards in diameter, and the ancho peppers look like small trees.

Even I am surprised at how soothed I am just to be in My Place.

The Wedding

Soldier Son has married his true love, Joy. I am still too tired to think of anything philosophical or deep to write, except for Thank You, Lord! My son was a gift to us his parents when he came into the world, and he himself was gifted with a heart towards God, and many other graces.

His Heavenly Father has given him a woman for whom the word pure is fitting, and as a consequence our whole family, and indeed the world, is the richer for their coming together in the fear of God and under many prayers. I’m very aware at the moment that life, and His Life, is all a gift.

 

The setting was amazing, on a hill five miles from the Pacific, surrounded by beautiful and rustic plantings and with a long view of layered valleys and slopes.

A week before the wedding we visited the site and I took pictures of the flowers close up, but that day was too foggy for me to get views like the one above, which gives an idea of the looks of the place.

The weather is often drizzly and cool so close to the North Coast, but the sun was shining for the ceremony and during the reception, which featured not cake but — ta da! — homemade pie! Pearl and I even collaborated the day before and managed to contribute two berry pies from our family.

It was a joy to have all our children in one place, something that hasn’t happened in perhaps five years, and a bunch of us stayed up late after the wedding, sitting around the table enjoying our time together, doing nothing.

Just being thankful family. And now we are increased, glory to His Name, and feeling His love shed even more broadly in our hearts.

Berry Pies

It’s traditional for Mr. Glad to have homemade blackberry pie for his birthday, which arrives at the peak of the wild blackberry season here in Northern California. As a young couple we did our first picking up near the Eel River when we were just making hopeful forays northward, thinking about where to move to when our college days were done.

Later we had the bushes growing like weeds in our back yard and neighborhood, and the children could bring in plenty, so much that there were many more berries than I could bake into pies.  I developed a recipe for blackberry syrup to process in jars so that year by year we had it to pour on pancakes.

Twenty years ago we moved to a less rural part of the county and now have to make more of an effort to collect our pie ingredients. In the last few years it has twice happened that one or two of the children made heroic efforts against busy schedules and blazing heat to collect buckets full enough for me to bake the customary pie or two.

One year I carted one of these pies up the mountain for our Yosemite family camp experience, and forgot the birthday candle. Someone carved a sort of long matchstick from a twig to use instead, but it was pretty much a failure.

At left is the time I baked a blackberry pie at the high mountain cabin where I like to go for solitary retreats or for family gatherings where cooking is appreciated.

This busy-busy summer, there was hardly time for a spark of thought about going berry-picking, so I picked up two bags of mixed frozen berries at Costco with plans to make four pies for the big party that the children were giving B.

I’d used this berry mix once before, to make my usual blackberry pie recipe, the result being a kind of gummy candy wrapped in pastry. As the berries are individually quick-frozen, I speculated that they lose a lot of moisture in the process and must need less thickening than what I’d automatically put in the bowl.

So this time around, I used less than half the amount of tapioca granules called for in the original Joy of Cooking recipe. A little runny would be better than globby. And the pies were a little runny, so if I do it again I’ll use exactly half the thickening.

Getting the edge of the crust to look nice is not the easiest part of pie-making. It took me quite a few failed attempts in my youth before someone showed me to hold the top and bottom layers of crust together as one, while you fold them under, against the edge of the plate. Now you are all ready to flute the edge, if you want. My pinching technique is shown at right in a photo I had B. snap for me. Click on it if you want to see it large.

It seems hard to bake a berry pie without the blue showing through the top crust. Two of the pies I put an egg wash on, and two not. Two had a little less butter in the crust. But they all came out looking about the same.

What was really different was baking them in a convection oven. With the first two pies, I experimented and used the foil collar on one and not on the other, and they baked equally, beautifully brown. So I may not use foil collars ever again!

 

The flavor was excellent, a composite of blackberries (Marionberries, to be precise),  blueberries, and raspberries, with butter seeping in from the crust, and a bit of cinnamon with the fruit. I go lightly on the sugar so that the sweetness doesn’t overwhelm the taste buds.

It was a wonderful party the children had for their beloved father, and he was very pleased not to have to go without his pie.

Apricot Pie


Before Advent, I’d resolved to bake fewer cookies and more pies at Christmas. I managed to do just that. One new pie I made was apricot. It was a big hit. No one ever seems to mind my unusual crust formations. You can see more of this accidental art in the other “pie” category posts.

(The book picture wanted to be included in this blog, for the obvious reason of its title, but also because it was wrapped and under the tree while we were smelling the pie baking.)

Lacking fresh apricots in the winter, I planned to use canned fruit, but in order to get more intense flavor I added some dried apricots.

Here’s how I did it:

Christmas Apricot Pie

4 15-oz cans apricot halves
1 cup packed dried Blenheim apricots
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
dough for a two-crust deep-dish pie

Put the dried fruit in a pan with the water, cover and cook on very low heat until the apricots are stewed and mushy. When cool, add the sugar, arrowroot, and almond extract.

Roll out the bottom crust and put it in the pie plate. Drain the canned apricots and spread them as neatly as possible on the crust. Slather the stewed apricot mixture on top of the apricot halves. Roll out the remainder of dough to form the top crust, and lay it on. Trim the crusts to even them out, and fold the two layers under together so that the raw edges are hiding against the edge of the pie plate. Crimp and flute this rounded edge, and make a few slashes through the top of the crust.
Bake at 450° for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350° for another 40 or 50 minutes. I always like to wrap some foil around the edge for part of the baking period to prevent over-browning. This post shows that technique, and also another vegan apricot pie I made once or twice. I hate to even mention such a variation in the context of a Christmas feast.

What we ended up with was defintely a deep dish pie; the recipe could probably be made with just three cans of fruit, keeping the other ingredients basically the same. The amount of sugar seemed to be just right; there wasn’t so much that it masked the distinctive apricot tang.

If you can’t find Blenheim apricots, I’m afraid you won’t get the same rich flavor we enjoyed. They are worth hunting down. The package I used had been sitting around for the better part of a year with no loss of flavor, and I will probably buy some more at Trader Joe’s pretty soon, so that there won’t be any question about being ready for next Christmas and what may be our new tradition.

The little guy at right doesn’t have much to do with my subject, but writing about pies always seems to make me a little goofy. Anyway, he looks cute enough to eat.