Tuesday, October 28, 2008

coasting along...sweetly

Today I awoke to fluffy snowflakes drifting across the wintry morning sky. When I let Timmy out for his morning break I couldn’t resist stepping out into them for just a minute. Of course I hurried back to the bedroom to tell my sleeping husband, “It’s snowing!” I’m real sure he appreciated that. Yes, it doesn’t take much to excite me, lol! I still feel that child like awe, that sense of magic when it comes to certain things, most especially things like first snowfalls, the first fireflies in summer or the first flowers in the spring. The feeling has never worn thin.


As much as I would like to be more ambitious or aggressive in my approach to finishing or beginning some projects, I am not in that particular place at the moment. Lately it’s like the season has settled into my soul. So I have been doing little in “accomplishing” and instead I have been tinkering. A little baking, a little crocheting and still keeping up with routine maintenance around the house. And for now that feels like enough.


Today I was going to run some errands including stopping by our nearby rural bulk food shop to pick up a few things. Instead I baked pies. (See what I mean? I’m just kind of coasting through the days right now) I figure with all the berries we were able to gather and freeze over the summer, I may be baking pies and cobblers all winter. Nothing wrong with that, though.


I’m a good pie baker. No brag, just fact. But then it really doesn’t take a lot to be good at it. You just need a dependable dough recipe and the right ingredients and tools.


Here's my basic recipes for pie crust and cooked berry filling. The dough recipe will make five 9 or 10 inch crusts. I usually make two double crust fruit pies and one shell for a cream pie or to freeze. The filling will fill two 9-10" pies.


Basic Pie Filling (berry or cherry) for two 10” pies


About 10 cups of fresh or frozen (and thawed) berries

1 ½ - 2 cups sugar depending on particular berries and their tartness. This time I used black raspberries, so I used 1 ½ cups sugar since they are naturally sweet. If I were making elderberry or sour cherry pies I would likely increase the sugar to 2 cups.

6 T. cornstarch

Up to a cup of water if needed. Sorry, I don’t measure, I just pour a little out of the tea kettle if necessary to make sure they are a little liquidy.


Mix sugar and corn starch in a bowl. In pan, place berries. If fresh, mash down somewhat to get them juicy. If from the freezer, do not drain.


Add sugar mixture and stir in well. Add a little water if necessary. Cook over medium high heat until bubbly, glossy and thickened, stirring continually to prevent sticking. Remove from heat to cool.


Dough for five 10” pie crusts


6 cups unbleached flour

2 cups Spectrum organic shortening or lard.

1 T. salt

about ¾ cup cold water


Mix salt and flour together.


Add shortening and mix with pastry blender until it looks like this.


Add water by sprinkling it over the dough mixture with a spoon then working it in with your hands until you get this.


Once blended, form a nice sized ball of dough with your hands and pat it out somewhat on a piece of wax paper. Lay a second piece of wax paper on top and begin rolling it out.


You must be firm with the rolling pin and turn the wax paper around fairly often to get an evenly rolled crust. I have always rolled my dough like this because it’s never failed to guarantee me a nice crust without integrating too much flour or having it stick to the rolling surface or having your rolling pin stick to the dough. It just works for me.


When adequately rolled, peel off the top layer of wax paper, flip the dough into the pie plate and then carefully peel off the other layer of wax paper that is now facing you.



You will do this again for your second pie.




Once you have filled your crusts with pie filling of your choice, then repeat dough rolling process for your top crusts. Just before applying top crust, wet edge of bottom crust. This seals the two crusts. Crimp edges by pinching dough between your thumb and index finger…at least that’s how I do it. Then with a knife edge, shave off excess dough. Vent your top crusts to allow steam to escape and bake as directed. I like to lightly sprinkle some sugar on the top crust. Just makes a prettier pie imo.


I bake my fruit pies at about 425 for 12-15 minutes to brown, then another 30-35 minutes at 325.


Tah Dah! Who cares what's for dinner, let's eat pie!



10 comments:

  1. Great pies! Snow, really? And we had 90 degrees here today. Summer just won't go away here in the desert!

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  2. Sniffff...I can cybersmell those pies.
    I miss gathering berries in the Pacific NW, but I don't miss the snow.

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  3. I feel the same way about the first snow, although that didn't quite qualify for me because it didn't last very long. A good dusting on the ground will get me excited about "first snow" day.

    I love it when you tinker, especially when you bake! Because it generally means that we get something really yummy to eat. The berry pie was no exception. John said not long before you came over that he was having pie for dinner, and he ended up being half right, LOL. A couple of gorditas, and then he dove into the raspberry pie, after which he ate a piece of cheesecake left over from his birthday. What a SWEET dinner! Thanks so much.

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  4. Those are absolutely beautiful pies! I love pie. Everything about it is appealing to me.

    Yes, I still have the feeling of giddiness over seeing the first snow. My first thought is still, "Maybe there won't be school today!".

    I talked to my mom on the phone today and she said they got 6 inches of snow there in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia. She said school was cancelled today and was yesterday too.

    It is cold here in the Kanawha Valley, but no snow.

    Thanks again for the photo's of the pies.
    Matthew

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  5. Hey, thanks for the play by play! What a good resource it is for all of us. The pies look delicious, and I'm glad you got a little beautiful snow - we just got rain.

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  6. I would pick baking pie over running errands anytime!
    Those pies look delicious!

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  7. Thanks for everyone's nice comments and hello, too, to some formerly unseen folks.

    Btw, the pie was delicious! I saved you a piece. :)

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  8. Yummm....berry pie! MUCH prefer those to apple...any day!!

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  9. Nice looking pies. Making homemade crusts is another thing on my "to do" list. I have never had good luck in the past so I gave up. I am ready for the challenge again.

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