Showing posts with label pie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pie. Show all posts

14 December 2014

Pie for the memories

When I remember my Grandma G, I remember a woman who liked dancing and having good time. Not for her the domesticity of the kitchen, which is a little odd, because I must have eaten at her house quite a lot as a child. I remember many meals of dinners of meatloaf with brown gravy, canned vegetables, and instant mashed potatoes. And picnics with hot dogs and canned baked beans -- the kind that had the chunk of ham fat in it -- and potato salad covered in slices of hard-cooked eggs.


And lemon meringue pie. My Grandma G had a terrible sweet tooth. Doughnuts, snack cakes, ice cream, chocolates -- she loved them all. But she didn't bake much. Except that lemon meringue pie. My father remembers a six month period in which she was always baking bread, but that stopped as abruptly as it started and was a distant memory by the time I came along to eat ham and cheese sandwiches in her kitchen. Mostly, my Grandma kept her kitchen well stocked with Hostess and Entenmann products. And she was generous -- never turned up at anyone else's home without a box of cherry cheese danish or frosted doughnuts.


But the lemon meringue pie. That she baked. And it was lemony and light and as perfect as lemon meringue pie can be.

So. I thought, this weekend being the second anniversary of her death, I'd bake a lemon meringue pie. Can't bake Grandma G's pie, because I don't have the recipe, so I used the recipe in my red-and-white plaid Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. It's more likely she found hers on the back of a cornstarch or sugar container. Or the newspaper. She was always clipping things from the newspaper.


My pie was both a little burnt and slightly runny, but that's okay. Memories of her pie give me something to strive for. A measuring stick against which to measure all other lemon meringues. And, yes, maybe the pie I remember is better than that pie ever really was, but that's fine. We polish the best memories until they are diamonds and forget or forgive the rest.

25 July 2014

Saying Thanks With Pie


My father did some work for us recently and I promised him payment in cash and pie. While he ultimately refused the cash, he was happy to receive a pie. Because this pie was meant for Dad and only Dad, I knew I wanted to make a banana cream pie as he loves bananas, but my mom is allergic and unable to bake him one. There are, frankly, too many recipes for banana cream pie loose in the world but I finally settled on Taste of Home's recipe for "Blueberry Banana Cream Pie." For me, blueberries and banana go well together as the tart brightness of the berries balances the sweet creaminess of the banana. Also, my dad loves blueberries!

The pie was quite easy to make, but I had to go and complicate it by opting to use a "real" pie crust (a Marie Callender frozen deep-dish crust) rather than the vanilla wafers called for as I thought wafers would make it too much like a deep-dish pudding and less like the pie I wanted it to be. Also, I chose to ignore the filling amounts called for in the recipe and use the amounts recommended by the commenters ... creating much more filling than would fit in my deep-dish crust!

Happily, Dad loved the pie and I will have to make it again. Next time, I will use a single 8-oz package of cream cheese instead of the 2 8-oz commenters recommended or the 2 6-oz called for in the recipe to see if that creates a slightly more stable filling (mine was mostly-firm-but-slightly-goopy) and maybe add a little lime zest. Or I might just try Taste of Home's "Creamy Banana-Berry Pie" with crushed pecans rolled into the crust!

30 November 2007

I Do Love Me Some Pie

Since I wasn't hosting Thanksgiving this year, I brought the pies. I made three pies -- two with Splenda and one with white sugar. Originally, I wasn't going to bring pies. I was going to bring Betty Crocker's Praline-Pumpkin Cake, but then I was told I would bring pie. Pie is a traditional Thanksgiving food, you see, and Traditions Must Be Observed.

Sigh.

Not as that bringing pie is any hardship, you know. I do love me some pie ...

"Mixed Berry Pie"
From the Crisco website. Made this pie using two 1-lb bags of thawed frozen mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries) and a box of refrigerated pie crust. Brushed the top crust with a little beaten egg prior to baking to give the crust a little shine (I really need to work on my crimping technique, though).

My husband is a great fan of mixed berry pies and he thinks this one is a repeater. Actually, everyone seemed to really like it and there wasn't much to bring home. The pie was very fragrant and flavorful, but not too sweet and we could still taste the individual berries.

Crisco Mixed Berry Pie

"Chocolate Cream Pie"
Recipe from the Splenda website. Except for the substitution of 1% milk for 2%, I followed the recipe exactly. All the diabetics and chocolate-loving non-diabetics raved about it and took seconds and, as with the berry pie, there wasn't much to bring home.

I used my Pampered Chef easy Accent Decorator Gun to make the Cool Whip peaks and it worked really well considering I use it four times a year on average (usually for deviled eggs).

Splenda Chocolate Cream Pie

"The Great Pumpkin Pumpkin Pie"
Also from the Splenda website. I followed the recipe exactly when I made this pie and it was surprisingly good. The filling was very spicy and firm, but not dry, and with an excellent mouth feel. A really nice breakfast pie, I kid you not. Yes, there is a little brown sugar in this pie so it is not technically sugar-free, but close enough for government work.

27 November 2006

The First Thanksgiving

Turkey Day turned out rather well. There were only six of us and everyone pretty much behaved themselves and managed to have a good time. I think. It was my first proper Thanksgiving and I was just a bit freaked out about the whole thing, but there no disasters. Everything tasted very nice and there was more than enough to go round. Even the eponymous turkey came out perfectly. I used the "Roasted Turkey" recipe from Southern Living's 2005 Annual Recipes which called for spreading sage butter between the turkey breast and skin and then thoroughly buttering the rest of the turkey before plunking it on a rack in a roasting pan which had been filled with 32 oz of turkey broth. The turkey looked beautiful when it came out of the oven -- a caramel-y maple brown -- and tasted very nice, too.

Because I wanted to make Thanksgiving as easy on me as possible, many dishes were prepared ahead of time and the whole meal ended up being far more "conventional" than I had intended. I used Betty Crocker's "Make-Ahead Garlic Mashed Potatoes" recipe to make the potatoes Wednesday afternoon. The stuffing was made in the slow cooker that morning ("Slow-Cooker Cornbread Stuffing" from Southern Living's 2005 Annual Recipes) to shave some time off the turkey so I could sleep in.

Instead of roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta and maple glazed balsamic baby carrots, we had Green Giant Niblets® Corn & Butter Sauce, Campbells® Green Bean Casserole (Mom), and cooked sliced carrots (Mom). Rather than homemade French rolls pressed with sage leaves there were Pillsbury® Oven Baked Crusty French dinner rolls. Butter was an ordinary stick of Cabot® rather than the fancy-shmancy compound butter I had considered making. The mince for the apple-mincemeat pie (Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, Meredith Books: 1998) came out of a jar and was doctored with great abandon. Splenda®'s Great Pumpkin Pumpkin Pie replaced a salad of autumn fruits. The Husband's "Chocolate Swirl Muffin Cake" (doesn't eat teh piez) was a complete baking mix hack job. The cranberry sauce came out of a can.

Yes. Thanksgiving dinner was pretty much a complete hack job. And, like most hack jobs, completely fine. The food was delicious, everyone enjoyed themselves, and no-one missed the compound butter. Except me. I still want to make a nice compound butter and use one of those decorative butter molds to shape it into strawberry leaves or something. I've wanted to do this ever since I read the part in Little House in the Big Woods where Caroline uses carrots to yellow the winter butter and then presses it in a strawberry leaf mold ...

21 October 2005

Butternut Squash & Apples All Lovely in My Tummy

Did not make pie. Could not make pie without pie crust. Well, not a real pie. Could have made some kind of Bisquick "Impossible" pie, but that's not "pie" pie. Could have made my own crust, yes, but didn't have time what with the mowing of the lawn, the raking of the nuts, and the frantic cleaning of the house after The Husband invited The Parents over for supper. We did not actually cook for them -- took them to the rib place -- but the house had to attain a certain level of cleanliness pretty damned quick, because The Parents were going to want to visit after eating and my mother was bound to make some gentle comment about how busy I must be and how dusty my drapes are ...

Agh.

I did make a nice apple and butternut squash bake that was all yummy-yummy. The recipe was off the back of a wrapper and, of course, I threw said wrapper away in my mad dash to tidy the house. However, it was a pretty basic recipe and I'm pretty sure it went something like:
Peel, core, and slice a couple apples (mine are small so I used three) and toss with a pound of bite-size squash chunks in a greased 13x9 baker. Mash ¼ cup butter (I brought mine up to room temp, because warmer seemed easier to mash than colder), ¼-ish tsp. of nutmeg and cinnamon, 1 tsp salt, and ½ cup brown sugar (I used ¼ cup of white). Sprinkle mix over top of squash/apple combo and cover. Bake at 350° for 50-ish minutes.
While lovely in my tummy, this dish came out less chunky then I had anticipated. As I stirred it round the casserole after cooking, the apples almost completely dissolved and most of the squash looked on a more "mashed squash" consistency. Next time, I might leave the squash in bigger pieces and chunk, rather than slice, the apple.

Still, the squish bake was really excellent with baked chicken breast and also very fine on its own for lunch the next day.

Anyway, I have pie crust now. Pie crust that now comes with its own spice sachet, creepily enough. Because there are people in the world who don't keep cinnamon and nutmeg in their pantries? Barbarians! You do not deserve pie!

(And, I'm pretty sure, the pie crust fanatics feel the same way about me).

14 October 2005

I Like Pie

It's supposed to stop raining this weekend and it had better or, by god, I'm going to have to give someone a talking to.

It would help if the cats, understanding that I know the weather is shit and that I know they don't want to go outside, would stop both surreptitiously (Hawaii) and flagrantly (Hedwig) throwing up. Why now? Is it some kind of rain born panic driving them to barf up chunks of dried kittie kibble? Or is it some kind of contest of will? Something like: "Oh, you think you have their attention what with surreptitiously barfing on the stove? Hah! I'll vomit across the living room while they try to throw me out the door, you fucker!"

Made pie. Pie is good. We like pie. Almost as much as the moon (but not as much as a spoon). Used the recipe on the side of the pie crust box (Pillsbury's "Perfect Apple Pie") and it came out pretty damned perfect. Sweet, but not cloying. Moist, but not oozing. Yum.

13 October 2005

But Can She Bake a Cake?

I am not much of a baker of cakes. I am all about the eating of the cakes, yes, but I am not at all about the baking thereof. Oh, I can follow back-of-the-box instructions with the best of them and have even been known to take liberties with said recipes to good effect. But stand me at the kitchen counter with a "from scratch" recipe and I will fail. The cake will be too heavy. Weirdly chewy. Raw yet crispified.

Certainly, the apple bundt I made earlier this week was all those things -- despite following the recipe to the letter. Ought it not have been the most perfect cake ever rather than the sorry piece of ass it so resembled?

The problem is I bought a tote of apples at the farm stand and need to use them. I was planning on sharing apple bundts with work and my parents, but am too pissed off to try the recipe again lest the results be even less wonderful. Yet I still have many pounds of apples. While I have used three in the slow cooker sauerkraut and pork "stew" earlier in the week and will use another three with tonight's roasted butternut squash ... so many apples! But it would have been impossible not to buy them! Glowing ruby and garnet in their rustle-y brown sack, taunting me with their unblemished skins, and intoxicating me with their heady scent! So delicious! So desirable!

Farm stands. Never a safe place for me.

Fine. I will bake a pie. I do pretty good with the pies. Some people ever speak of my strawberry-rhubarb pie with longing. I just wish I knew why I can't do cakes from scratch. I mean, I can make pie crust from scratch quite well (just usually can't be bothered when doctored ready-made can taste as good) so why can't I make a cake from scratch?

And all this because I didn't take Home Ec. as an elective in high school. No, too busy doing the college track thing to learn how to budget household finances or bake a cake. Explains a heck of a lot, really.

17 June 2004

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Oh My!

I made pies for my Dad -- strawberry-rhubarb and lemon meringue! Who needs cake? I love strawberry rhubarb pie since this is the perfect time of year for it. Sure, you could use frozen rhubarb and out of season strawberries to make it in October, but that would be utterly disgusting. Proper strawberry rhubarb pie is made in June with local berries and fresh rhubarb out of the backyard. I cheat and use a ready-made refrigerated crust, but I dust it pretty liberally with ginger and cinnamon and then glaze it with egg or milk to give it a faux homemade look.

The filling recipe is straight out of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, but I'm a bit more liberal with the spices and a bit more conservative with the sugar. The filling should not be a sugary gelatinous pink ooze, but moderately firm and chunky with the perfect mingling of rhubarb and strawberry flavors. The crust should be buttery (with just a whiff of ginger) and flaky -- not soggy and bland. Soggy and bland is always a no, dahlings.

Until Sunday, I had never made a meringue before. It always seemed really complicated and scary. Egg whites! Cream of tarter! All that sugar! And the whipping! So much whipping! And then it all collapses into a rubbery heap, anyway! Surprisingly, meringue making turned out pretty easy. I used the meringue recipe in the red-and-white Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook and it was all very straight forward. Oh, there was a lot of whipping to be sure, but that's what the KitchenAid is for.

Bless the KitchenAid.