Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting on a plane (or two)

I’m leaving.  There’s a jet plane involved.  And you know what, I really don’t know exactly when I’ll be back again.  (Could there be a bigger cliché?)

For a new life phase/leap/whatever-this-will-be, I launched a new blog devoted to my experience in India.

(I’ll be updating this one from time to time, too.. maybe.. we’ll see.)

So kiss me and smile for me.  (And read my blog and please! keep in touch.)


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Goodbye (to pie)

An early (and final!) installment of  the Summer o' Pies:

The last pie of the summer is a Southern classic: Chocolate Chess Pie.  Mom used to stop at the bakery next to the train depot in downtown Lawrenceville where they made the best Chocolate Chess Pie.  (Told you it was a Southern classic - there's cornmeal in this recipe, y'all.)  Raechel and I loved these things.

Because time is short and I really shouldn't be baking today, I cheated and used a store bought crust.

This pie is very unique. I think it's technically a custard pie, but it doesn't follow the rules.  It's a unique texture, a unique mixing method, has unique ingredients.  There aren't many pies that contain cornmeal nor that mix flour and sugar together in the dry ingredient stage nor that call for melted butter.

This pie is chocolate. 

Southern, unique, chocolate.  This was the natural choice for my final pie.  We'll have it for dessert tonight.

Like I said, time is short.  The pie is in the oven now.  I might update with pics later.  (Yes, I did already have a picture of cocoa powder on my computer.  There might be a photo shoot's worth of them - what exactly is your point?)

Goodbye, Summer o' Pie.

(Ok, I might have teared up like mad crazy listening to this song.. I have a lot going on in my head/heart at the moment.)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cherry and Peach and Pecan, oh my!

Three pies in one week might be a bit much, one might think. 

But the 4th of July at the beach begs for a cherry pie, don't you think?  Besides, I had the handy assistance of my favorite sous chef.

The way she darts into the kitchen - "I wanna help make! Up, up!" - it makes my heart smile.

The pie was pretty good.  The condo kitchen was just small enough to make me kind of wish I had gone with store bought crust, but it turned out ok anyway.

Check it out y'all.  That star is hand carved.  And those cherries - hand pitted by my sister and me.

This morning, the aroma of peach and cinnamon waft through the dining room tempting me to taste-test the pies that I've made for today's get together.  I..must..resist.

The peach pie is topped with a crumble topping - yes, you read that right.  Maybe that is a little over the top, but this is the Summer o' Pie after all.

I tasted a bit of the filling that dripped out and a crust crumb that was dangling from the edge.  Let's just say I'm ready for dessert today!

Oh, and there's a chocolate pecan pie too - because people deserve options, right?  The pecans, glazed with syrupy goodness, are shiny and fragrant. 

Seriously, is it time for dessert yet??  Seriously.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Comfort Foods

Many people find comfort in familiar, filling, yummy foods.  For me, cooking busies my hands and mind and takes me out of my head, which is something that I sometimes desperately need.  And so, cooking and baking is a wonderful comfort.  This week is proof of that.

A sampling: chocolate chip cookies, pasta with white wine sauce, crab cakes with remoulade, sautéed Swiss chard, and of course a vegetarian (don’t tell Dad) pot pie and a mixed berry pie.

Knowing I’d probably be home late, I made the pot pie filled with leeks and potatoes and mushrooms and more on Wednesday morning and left instructions for whoever arrived home first.  

The crust was flaky, the veggies flavorful, and the gravy just-thick-enough – a success.  (Dad wants me to point out that he baked it off to the perfect brownness.)

Thursday I made a mixed berry pie for my brother-in-law.  (Again, I hope he got a slice.)  

I don’t typically do "pretty" food, but I was inspired by the cuteness of this polka dotted pie.  And guess what I discovered in my mom’s cabinets.  Yep, a decorative pie crust cutter – who knew these existed?  My mom in all her domestic goddess-ness did, that’s who.  

I realized that once baked the little hearts would morph into circles, so I documented the unbaked design here.

By the time I trudged through unlikely traffic on the way to my sister’s house, some pie juices had leaked, but my car was filled with dough-y, berry-y fragrance.  I did take a taste of a heart that fell into said juices, and it was buttery tastiness.  Otherwise, I take my sister’s word that it was good.

Ok, I am going to take a moment to brag.  My pie crust is becoming a thing of wonder – so flaky and brown-able:

The trick is to follow the directions without being afraid of messing it up.  And to forgo the food processer.  Use your fingers, folks.  Get to know your food.  I’ve taken Julia Child’s No Fear, No Apologies, Hands-On approach to cookery to heart.  (I’m currently reading “My Life in France” and feel that Julia and I are kindred spirits.)

I’m feeling a little better today.

Yes, next time I’m feeling down, you should ask me to stay with you.  I will cook.  It will be good for the both of us.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Southern Summer Night

Lying in the grass with a dog, a glass of wine (or two), and the shining moon, watching the fireflies lit away.  There’s nothing quite like a Southern Summer Night. 

After the pie-making, the heat of the day, the tears, the cuteness of a child, the companionship of a sister, and the sweat, it is a lovely relief.

Ok, ok, there was also a bat flitting around in that Tennessee-Williams-esque night.  But nature gives us all of these things - the coolness of the night, the dog, the moon, the wine, the bugs and the bats. The bats are unpleasant, maybe a bit off-putting, but they are true.  It is reality.  Reality sometimes bites. (OMG with the puns already, I know.)

The night, so lovely… and the bats. Sweet and bitter.

Maybe it was the Southern Summer Night.  But it sure felt right.

There’s a song that goes along with these images.  But it doesn’t exactly fit the sentiment and I’ve been doing too many songs-with-posts lately, so I’ll just link to “Maybe it was Memphis” here. You can listen and enjoy the 90s’ styles (a la country music) if you so choose – at one point there’s an oversized plaid shirt, big bangs, and a cotton field y’all. I do love this song, fyi. Pam Tillis is feeling it, too. (If you don’t watch it now, I don’t know what to say.  I did what I could.)

You should for-def check out this blog for visual and quote-y inspiration though.

Be inspired and go, inspire.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sometimes a pie just doesn't cut it. Some days require the hard stuff.  And sometimes it's not enough.

Chocolate chips cookies can only do so much.

Words are not enough.  That is for sure.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Such a tart!

Low-fat lemon pie and a fig tart - this week’s pies were such tarts! Don’t spread that around, will you?

Excuse the punny-ness.  I’m afraid that this is a trend that will last at least until the summer o’ pies ends.  All the sugar is going to my head.  Please note that my sense of humor is engulfed by my anglophile tendencies.  Britain = my heartthrob.  All of this Olympics/Jubilee/Prince-William-turning-30 nonsense doesn’t help, ok? 

Anyway, back to the pies. 

Dad requested lemon pie for Father’s Day – technically this is a cream pie and doesn’t fit in my fruit pie theme, but it was Father’s Day and lemon is a fruit... 

I found this Weight Watcher’s recipe that served as a perfect end to the roast chicken, green beans, and grilled bread and corn-on-the-cob.  We could all use a little low-fat as we approach the middle of this pie thing.  Plus, it was a satisfying way to encourage Dad to stick to what should be his diet. (Although, I will say low-fat graham cracker crust is crumbly without all the butter to bind it… but still tasty.)

Tart and creamy, they were right when they said that you should make two of these.  My brother-in-law, who had to work on Father’s Day, may or may not have tasted this pie depending on whether or not my sister needed another slice after we left their house.

I mentioned the figs, yes? I couldn’t not make a pie. 

I planned to make a beautiful formed tart using my mother’s tart pan with its crimped ridges and removable bottom, but alas I couldn’t find the bottom.  It has to be here somewhere!

No matter, from perfectly formed to free-form we go.  Increase the oven temp and make your own edge around the frangipane and fig filling.

The frangipane, btw, is super-duper dangerous.  Simple to make and tasting of almond danish, I am tempted to buy puff pastry and slather this stuff on it…mmmmmmmm… C’est dangereux.  Also, I can’t pronounce “frangipane” in English without sounding like a hick and I feel like such a jerk saying it in French, so I will refrain from saying this word aloud.  From here on out it will be an almond pastry cream.

Anyway, I’ve had far too much of this rich tart this week.  What, tart for breakfast is frowned upon?  And then another slice for dessert at dinner is bad too? 

Ok, ok, I feel bad.  I’m going to swim a few laps before this day starts.  Maybe I’ll take a break from sweet pies this week and go for a pot pie instead.  Although today is my brother-in-law’s birthday… We shall see.