Category Archives: Autumn

Easy as Pie?


Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t purport to be a baker. I am a cook. Anytime I am challenged to try making something that requires precise measuring, an oven, and technique, I am loath to jump in. That said, I have a few recipes in my repertoire that I consider things I can manage reasonably well with little effort or frustration. Mostly, these are items that are either a. incredibly easy, or b. things I’ve messed up enough times to finally know what I am doing. Pie crust is one of the latter.

Something everyone should know: “Easy as pie” is a complete misnomer. It’s not something that I think any amateur cook can just pick up and do and feel confident and successful. My first word of advice in this regard is to avoid any recipes written by Martha Stewart. Her recipes, especially those for baked goods, always seem to be written in a way where she sets you up for failure. I envision her cackling in the corner at my discouragement with every disaster I’ve made using her “guidance.” The only advice I take from her regarding pie crust is, “make it cold, bake it hot.”

Here is a good little list to use in pie making:

– use butter, and freeze it for a half hour before making your crust
– use a food processor, if at all possible
– pie crust is only four ingredients: butter, flour, salt, and water (that doesn’t mean pie crust is all that easy)
– use more fruit than you think you need (it is amazing how much it cooks down)
– make pies in a seasonal manner, ie, apple in the fall, berry in the summer, pecan anytime. =)
– chill the dough for at least a half hour after mixing before rolling it out

Speaking of mixing – I tried to make a video of me making pie crust, but it got a wee bit messed up, so we were only able to salvage the tail end. Regardless, I think it is pretty helpful in showing you what your pie dough should look like by the end of the process.
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Curried Lentil and Rice Stew

Since we are going headlong into soup season, I thought I would share this recipe for a quick-cooking supper, based on both my basic recipe for Indian curry dishes and on a soup that the Bun likes to get for lunch from one of the eateries near his office.  It may not look like much, but this dish, with its combination of brown rice, brown lentils, and red lentils, qualifies as a complete protein.  Where I am not exactly sure how the chemistry of this works, I do know that the combination of legumes and whole grains is not only good for you, it is delicious.  With the heat of the chilies and the depth of the curry powder, this stew will warm your belly and your soul, which is much needed in the forthcoming cold months.

If there is interest, I might start a “Meatless Mondays” regular post.  I read recently that this concept started during wartime, to save on resources and ease the pain of the pocketbook.  Seems like a good idea to me, and I love the challenge of creating a satisfying meal that does not focus on meat.

Cocktail Hour: Apples to Apples

I admit that I’ve tried a few “apple-tinis.”
You know, those unnaturally green cocktails made with artificially flavored sour apple schnapps and vodka, garnished with a maraschino cherry?  Any time I’ve tried one, I’ve always thought, “why am I not just eating a sour apple Jolly Rancher candy instead?”  I didn’t set out to make a better, more natural version of this cocktail, but I think I ended up doing so. Continue reading