On Turning 29 and Peanut Butter Pie

So far 29 has taught me…

that cinnamon sticks do not light on fire and therefore cannot double as birthday candles, and also smell not like cinnamon when burning.

sometimes taking care of a sick person can be a blessing in disguise. It’ll lead to lots of cuddle and couch time.

a good birthday present to yourself upon turning 29 is disinfecting the entire house.

birthday parties at this age include some little people who may not even be able to join in on the conversation. This does not make parties any less enjoyable. We may be growing up, but everyone is still game to adjust their grown up schedules so we can all still hang out and be friends like normal.

time goes by so. fast. In the blink of an eye I’m a year away from 30. I remember when 30 sounded so old. Now it feel like NBD, just the next thing that’ll happen in this life.

Perfection is not something that comes on the first time. Well, rarely anyway. Who among us can say their first time having sex was awesome? Bad first date that turned into many more amazing dates? Who doesn’t feel there was some room for improvement in the first real job they took, the way they handled themselves in their first job? Perfection, let’s be honest, 29 years have taught me that it doesn’t exist, thank God. But ecstatically amazing, drool-worthy, break out the happy dance? That does exist. Twenty-nine says it exists if you admit to your mistakes, learn from them, don’t kick yourself, and give it another go.

Perfection did not exist in the first peanut butter pie I made for Michael, and at the tender age of 27 I did not know how to admit that. For the last two years I have heard endlessly about the perfect peanut butter pie from Smokey Bones.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Cranberry Pear Pie

Do you ever feel like you’re going to lose it? If the dog puts her head sweetly on my leg one more time and looks at me with those puppy dog eyes. If the cat utters another single meow as she begs me to toss her duck tape football toy. If one more car drives by my house TOO LOUDLY. If one more part of my body, my leg, ear, arm, anything, itches. If one more insignificant item drops to the ground, and I am forced to bend down and pick it up. I swear to God I will explode.

I may or may not be on my period.

I may or may not be perpetuating that stereotype that women go crazy on their periods.

Dudes, this does not give you the green light to throw a girl’s period/pms in her face when she’s being “weird.” This is called a double standard. It’s cool.

It’s days like this that I should not have jars of Nutella in my house. Or half of a pie. But I’m so glad I have half of a pie in my house for two reasons. One, it’s a damn good pie, and I love a damn good pie. Two, it was a result of a damn good weekend.

My trips this fall seem to be coming at just the right times, just when I need distraction the most, when I’m getting too caught up in my own weird head. This past weekend I drove up to Milwaukee with the dog to do the Lakefront Discovery 15K with my friend Heather. More on the race in a later post.

Car rides with Mir.

Before my arrival in Milwaukee, Heather alerted me of a pie crust she had made that was waiting for me in her freezer. We had plans to fill it with nutella (that pesky condiment again), apples, and cherries, but somewhere between the free post-race beers, the dude in pink and purple spandex, the guy painted blue, and lunch at a lovely local restaurant called Cafe Benelux we changed our minds…cranberry pear would be a much better filling.

We didn’t start the pie until around 9 p.m., and if you know a thing or two about pie making, you know a pie takes about an hour to cook, and then has to cool. Completely. Like it’ll tempt you on the counter for another hour as the filling continues to thicken. So we didn’t actually eat any until breakfast the next morning. But let me just say that when we did….mmmmm.

This pie should probably end up on your Thanksgiving table. Who wants traditional apple or pumpkin anyway? Or it could just end up on your Wednesday night table. But you should really make it ASAP while the pears are in season. And, lucky you, fresh cranberries should be appearing in groceries soon in preparation for the holidays. If they aren’t freshly around though, just check your freezer section.

This pie is sweet and fresh from the pears and perfectly tart from the cranberries with just a touch of spice from the cinnamon. It’s this perfect combination. If, however, you do not like a tart pie, you can add more sugar. I just happen to like my pies kind of slutty.

You have all sorts of crust options! It’s really exciting. You have my personal favorite, a vodka lard/butter pie crust, a non-vodka butter and crisco crust, or an all butter vodka crust. Feel free to use all butter in that non-vodka crust if that’s your thing. Just sub the crisco with the same amount of ice cold cubed butter. Heather and I made this pie with a crumble topping. It’s way yummy. You can totes make this a double crust pie if you heart desires though.

So let’s make a pie, bitches, and get out of our heads!

Continue reading

Fake Empires Apple Pie

First off, my friend/coworker Jen and I are taking a work trip out to L.A. on Thursday and Friday. We’ll be carrying four giant checks with us to present to a school as prizes for our art contest. Two of my close high school friends live in L.A., so we’re going to spend some time with them. Does anyone have any suggestions on must-sees, amazing restaurants, or anything else for us? This’ll be my first trip to L.A., and California, and Jen’s second I think.

I’ve kind of wanted to name baked goods after songs or bands. Saturday night, as the National rocked my world in concert (I may have had a religious transcendental experience or two … I swear, and I totally touched Matt when he came into the crowd and walked around as he sang the last song), I came up with my first baked good with a song name after The National’s “Fake Empires.”

Stay out super late tonight
Picking apples, making pies
Put a little something in our lemonade and take it    with us
We’re half awake in a fake empire

Hence, Fake Empires Apple Pie. Oh hey, and it doesn’t hurt that there’s an apple called the empire apple.

I don’t have a strong attachment to how apple pie should taste. It doesn’t evoke childhood memories for me. But I know it does for so many people. Apple pie is one of those dishes that people feel very strongly about. It’s a classic, an all-American standby. So, though I contemplated doing things like throwing in some rum or mixing in ribbons of caramel sauce, I didn’t. I figured best to get down the standard, delicious apple pie first because that’s what people love. You don’t mess with a classic until you know it well. So I figured I’d need at least two attempts at this pie before it was worthy of bringing to a Coffin or Goodman Thanksgiving. Lo and behold, I fricking hit the jackpot on my FIRST TRY. You guys, this pie, it’s sweet and tart, it’s gooey, it tastes like autumn, dare I say it? It’s a classic.

A quick note on the apples you may want to use. I highly suggest either finding a local orchard and picking your own or buying local apples at your farmers market or grocery. You usually want to use some tart apples and some sweet apples. You can’t go wrong with Golden Delicious/Granny Smith mix. If you want to get creative, here are some tips. For a nice mix of sweet and tart, use Jonathan, Stayman-Winesap, Cox’s Orange Pippin, or Jonagold. Straight up sweet choices are Golden Delicious Braeburn, Fuji, Mutsu, Pink Lady, Suncrisp, Rome Beauty, or Empire.Tart baking apples are Idared, Macoun, Newton Pippin, Granny Smith, and Northern Spy. Stay away from apples that become mushy when cooked like McIntosh and Cortland.

And a quick note on your filling not being soupy. (I’ve had this problem and it BLOWS.) Bake the pie until the filling is really bubbling. This will give your thickening agent (flour, tapioca, or cornstarch) time to activate and work. To prevent the crust and top from burning, make a little tent over the top of the pie with foil about 15 minutes in. Let the pie cool ALL THE WAY, like an hour at least, before you slice into it to let all the juices thicken up.

Continue reading

Raspberry Lemonade Cream Pie

First of all, how did I just discover 101 Cookbooks? I’m going to spend the rest of my day reading over her entire site and absorbing all of her natural food and cooking information. OK, maybe not all day since I am at work.

Second of all, I watched Food, Inc. over the weekend (which was almost a week ago, I realize). A very eye-opening documentary about the food industry in this country, and it made me incredibly thankful to have local, conventional or organic produce and groceries, and grass-fed, local, ickiness-free meat at my fingertips. Thanks Farm Fresh Delivery and Goose the Market! You make me feel good about what I shove into my mouth every day. Tehehe.

Thirdly, make this pie. This pie, this pie. It’s all kinds of sweet-tart summery goodness. And the only oven-turning-on you have to do is to blind bake the crust! Which, let me just tell you, is a HUGE plus when outside felt like 100° for two weeks straight.

the lighting in my kitchen sucks, remember?

What you should really be paying attention to here is the crust. Remember how we made a pie in North Carolina with vodka in the crust? That’s the basic recipe I used here, but I changed one thing.

Meet the flakiest artery-clogging mothaheffah around

Oh yes. That, my friends, is lard. A tub of lard. I have a tub of lard in my fridge, just hangin out. I bought a tub of lard at Kroger (but I went through the self-scan because I was too embarrassed to let anyone ring up my lard). About this lard. It’s not vegetarian. Duh. It’s a tub of animal fat and not the best thing for you. But, BUT (butt) it makes the damn flakiest pie crust I’ve ever tasted. So, I suggest you give lard a chance if you can stomach it. You will be blown out of the water.

hi piggy tail

I probably will only use lard when my kitchen is too hot for butter, because all-butter crust is like a tiny piece of heaven. But I’m never going back to a Crisco-butter combo. Sorry, Crisco.

Another quick note. If you’re a bit nervous about rolling out pie dough because it’s sticky and whatnot, this vodka recipe is perrrrrfect for you. Who’m I kidding, it’s perfect for anyone making pie crust. The vodka makes the dough so malleable and easy to work with that you’ll think you’re rolling out Play Doh. Plus you can drink vodka ice teas while you bake.

OK, so on to the pie recipe. Continue reading

North Carolina feasting

Last weekend I went to North Carolina. Oh yeah, I already told you that. I’m obsessed with North Carolina, particularly the mountains. Hm, told you that already too. Oh well, it’s good to reiterate the important things. I drove down to Tryon, NC, this magical little horsey community just almost tipping into South Carolina. Ivey, one of my best friends Bette’s mom, has a house there. The front porch looks west towards the mountains and sunsets. There’s a three stall barn next to the house where Bette’s retired horse Johnny, Ivey’s superstar Joseph, and her newest addition Gus, live.

Renée picks tomatoes for gazpacho

And this summer, Ivey’s planted a little garden filled with okra, tomatoes, basil, and marigolds, too.We spent many of our days off from camp at this house. It’s like my summer retreat. I love it. So I could hardly wait to spend four days there with Bette and Renée, a fellow Green Cove counselor, and Bette’s friend Jennifer. (There was a fifth girl, but I’d prefer not to mention her as she put a big fat blotch on the weekend.)

We rode ponies, went to Bele Chere, visited camp (where I got to hug Lee, the riding head, and my summer momma), and cooked so much good food.

I’ll go in the order we cooked these items.

blackberry peach pie

1. Porch Swings, our beverage of choice. Pimms (a tradition for us in Tryon), gin, cucumbers, 7Up, and lemons.

2. Gazpacho. Tomatoes from the garden, cucumbers, avocado, spices, jalapeños, green peppers.

3. Blackberry-Peach pie. Peaches and blackberries in a buttery crust. Oh and a little vodka.

Continue reading

Confessions

Today I

* ate two small brownies at lunch

* have something heavy pressing down on my chest

* want to cuddle with my pup

* know that this city is too small and that I know too many people here

* hate my cellulite-y thighs

* can’t stop thinking about brownies

* feel like I haven’t seen Adam in forever (forever = Wednesday)

* am feeling the full weight of being broke and not being able to do fun summer things

* need a vacation so badly that if next Thursday doesn’t come soon I’ll explode

* love the purple ruffly tank top I got from Target on Saturday

* love these pictures of my mantra written in sparkler-writing (from Good Food)

Pie…uhm Food…Catch Up

I’ve decided on a new name for my bakery: Piebelly.

I’ve been baking like a crazy woman lately. It relieves stress, and there’s been plenty of stress in my work life lately. Chocolate chip and pecan-cranberry brown sugar cookies, strawberry rhubarb crisp, rum-soaked banana bread, hummingbird cupcakes, sugar cream pie, triple berry pie…

The triple berry pie I’m calling my best pie yet and so I’m sharing it after the jump. It’s the perfect summer berry pie: Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, though I’m sure you could easily substitute raspberries in there. I usually use flour to juice up my filling, but my aunt mentioned tapioca, so I thought I’d give it a try. Must’ve worked well, since the pie was so damn good. I also made some vanilla whipped cream, just softly whipped, to plerp on top. Delicious dessert for a few days.

In a way, this pie was also a 717 pie (the 717 being the magical yellow house that we lived in, with a fourth roommate whom we no longer speak of, in Bloomington for two years). The pie bird, a little guy with a hole in his beak that you settle in the center of your filling and then place your top crust over, was a gift from Samantha. The cheerfully purple-dotted pie dish was a gift from Marnie. Maybe that’s why it was so good!

My weekend will be filled with rhubarb thanks to Smitten Kitchen. Moist and sweet rhubarb coffee cake and little rhubarb tarts. This has most definitely been the spring of rhubarb.

Continue reading