October 17, 2013


I kind of feel like I’m giving away the farm here, but a friend asked for my pie crust recipe. I am never one to deny anyone pie.

My recipe has been handed down from my grandmother. She hand wrote it for me on an index card, and it’s probably one of my most cherished cooking items. There’s something spiritually nourishing about seeing this visual link to the generations of women in my family.  If you look at the picture, you’ll also notice how much I have elaborated on what’s in the original recipe. I love that Nana wrote it knowing that I already knew all the basics because I’d watched her and Mom do it a million times.

The great part of this recipe, in addition to how super simple it is, is that it’ll make a top and bottom for one pie or two bottoms. You can freeze the dough if you don't need all of it and just defrost it in the fridge for next time. This makes it really flexible. I’ve used it for dessert pies, turnovers, quiches, and savory pies. It’ll also make enough crust to fit my deep dish, 9-inch Pamper Chef stoneware pie plate, which is an accomplishment all in itself.

One last note: I know I was talking all about whole foods last time. I totally use butter-flavored Crisco to make my pie crusts. It is not a whole food. But it does taste good. You can use butter if you prefer.

2 ¼ c all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 to 3/4 c shortening
8-10 tbs ice water

Preheat the oven to 425.

Fill a small bowl with ice and cold water. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the shortening in with a pastry blender or two butter knives. You want coarse crumbles throughout the flour. Add the water a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing the dough with a fork. Keep adding water until the dough forms a ball. Be careful not to make it too sticky. If it does get a little wet, just sprinkle with some flour.

On a floured countertop, knead the dough until it’s smooth and flexible. Divide the dough in two. Roll out using a floured rolling pin. Another trick: when you think that you’re crust is big, turn your pie plate upside down and use it as a guide to see if the crust is a bit bigger than the pie plate. You want a little overflow to help make the yummy edges.

When the crust is big enough, roll it back onto the rolling pin like you’re rolling up wrapping paper. This will allow you to roll the crust off the pin and onto the pie plate without any muss or fuss. Press the crust into the pie plate. If you just need to bottom, you can roll up any excess at the top and flute the edges. If you’re doing top and bottom, wait to flute until the top goes on.

If you’re baking the crust for a one-crust pie like a chocolate cream pie, either pierce some small holes with your fork in the bottom and sides or place aluminum foil inside the crust and fill it with uncooked, dry beans. If you skip this step the crust will puff up when you cook it. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

October 12, 2013

Let's Eat

Delicious, delicious calzone.....

I’ve been thinking about food a lot lately. I’ve been hearing small comments from other moms and starting to wonder if things in my kitchen are a bit unusual. It’s not that I’ve heard anything bad. Please, please, please remember that I’m not out to get anyone or accuse anyone of bad cooking. Mostly I’ve heard about how people hate meal planning, how cooking is not something they like to do, and references to how often they eat out.

Mixed in with this has been trendy eating like the whole food movement (eating/cooking foods in their most basic form), gluten free (essential for some; trendy for others), and paleo (eating like a cave man). The one that really had me confused for the longest time was the term “whole food.” It strikes me the same way “organic” gets Josh. It doesn’t matter how many times I point out that the label refers to the way the food was produced, he argues vehemently that there are no non-organic foods. He’s right. Likewise, while I understand that people are referring to non-processed foods and anyone walking into a grocery store is introduced to many items that no one should really eat, the term sits oddly with me. I think it comes from the fact that, for the most part, I was raised eating whole foods. What seems really weird to me is that anyone wouldn’t eat that way.

Here’s the thing. If we have pancakes for breakfast, I get out milk, flour, sugar, eggs, etc. and make pancakes. If we eat cookies, I get out milk, butter, sugar, chocolate chips, etc. and make cookies. If we’re having spaghetti, I get out canned tomatoes, garlic, and basil and make sauce. When we indulge in pot pie, I make pie crust, use leftover chicken I cooked, cut fresh veggies, and make a sauce with a roux and stock. Are you sensing a theme?

I’m not trying to brag. Honestly, that’s just the way I was raised. That’s how Mom did it. We’re not perfect. We totally order pizza. We don’t buy organic because the price tag gives Josh chest pains. We use lots of white flour and granulated sugar. I’m just trying to explain how puzzled I become when confronted with what is probably much more common in America—households where a lot of parts of dinner come from cans, boxes, and the freezer. And it makes me so curious.

What do you cook? How much of it is from scratch? I would love to take a no-judgment survey and hear about what goes on in your kitchen. While we’re on the subject, does any of this make you curious what goes on in my kitchen? Is that something you’d like to hear more about?

Maybe we can cook together.

October 2, 2013


Mom-nesia: (n) loss of a large block of interrelated memories caused by child birth.

I find myself at a bit of loose ends this morning caused by a bout of Mom-nesia. Yesterday I found a reminder in my email that I’d signed J up for Parents’ Morning Out. Surprise! When I signed him up for three or four sessions to cover my piano lessons, I thought they started next week. Here I am. No piano and no kid, because I saw the email too late in the day to cancel the reservation.

On the plus side, I’m going to get a pedicure later on. I would be using the gift certificate I got for my birthday last year, but I didn’t read it and neglected to book with one of the two people specified by the gift card. I’ll be paying for it instead.

I’m not sure if it’s sun spots or early onset dementia, but I suddenly seem to be going through a bout of serious Mom-nesia. I can’t seem to manage to organize anything properly. Yesterday I got lost driving home from Lebanon (town, not country) and ended up on my way to Indiana. The worst part is that I didn’t notice until we passed signs for Breese, IL. “Hmm,” I wondered, “I’ve never heard of that town. Where am I?” I almost missed picking H up from school because of it.

What do we do when life spirals to the brink of chaos? Well, I’m getting a pedicure. But I’m also feeling like I’m not up to snuff. I’m feeling like J is getting too many bottles, which makes me feel both like I’m a bad mom and that I’m horribly judgy because lots of babies get lots more bottles because their moms have to work and be gone. Where is the balance?

I fear I have entered a new phase of life where not only do I need to write things down to make sure they happen, I also need to cross reference, create alerts, and check in with Josh as a sanity keeper. I’m becoming my dad. (Sorry, Dad!)

While perusing in Lebanon prior to my unplanned country drive I saw a sign that said, “Moms are like buttons. They hold everything together.” Lord knows it’s the truth. When I get really frustrated I remind Josh, loudly and with a little bite, that the family wouldn’t function without me. If I don’t get myself together, we might find out how true that statement is.

Government shutdown notwithstanding, this is actually a great time in our family’s story. Josh is home EVERY night, H is increasingly independent (and back talky), J is growing so fast, and I am trying hard to make some room for myself with choir and piano. We don’t even have to attend four out of town weddings in the span of two months this year. Life is actually pretty relaxed.

Maybe that’s my problem! Not enough stress! I’m used to Josh being gone; organizing multiple cross country trips; shuttling children hither and yon; cooking, cleaning, and shopping with a baby on my back; and whistling a merry tune all the way. When faced with what many would consider a normal existence, I’m having a bit of trouble adjusting. We will file this under “First World Problems.”

I’m still going to have to make some concerted efforts to recheck appointments before scheduling babysitting, but while I’ll do so, I’ll remind myself that life could be way worse. Plus, my toes look cute.

Printer Friendly