Pie 12.0

Pie 12.0

My daughter chose “Lulu’s Lemonade Pie” from Sugar Butter Flour for Pie 12.0, a perfect choice for a hot summer day in the southland. The picture in the cookbook is pretty and pink. Take a trot to this site to read about the purported history of how pink lemonade got its pinkness. Ahh, refreshing, right?

I didn’t realize my first mistake for hours after I made it. As I lined up the sugar and butter and flour for their portrait for this post, while the dough for the crust chilled in the fridge, I realized (whoops) I used bread flour for the crust. I traded the bread flour for the regular flour for the photo, but it was too late for the crust. What a way to start. When I rolled out the dough it was quite tough. No kidding.

While at the beach a week ago I got a text and email from my sister about a package that could not be delivered to my house. We’d stopped our mail during the vacation. Anyway, in our text exchange I asked her what was in the package. I always ask this before birthdays and holidays, and nobody ever falls for it and tells me. My sister, fresh from watching all four seasons of the Great British Baking Show, couldn’t contain her excitement and told me: New icing tips and bags! Surprise (almost). No more cutting the corner off a Ziploc for my pies.

At the stupid market I had contemplated the lemons by weighing them in my hand and guessed I’d need at least four for the recipe. I bought five. I don’t have a juice squeezer thingie but I do have strong hands, so I put the flour sifter in a small blue bowl (to catch the seeds and other solids) and I squeezed those lemons by hand. Turned out, I only needed two.

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Also in the stupid market, I checked off the ingredients carefully from my list. Eggs. check. Lemons. Check. Butter. Check. Heavy cream. Check. Half and Half. Check. Back home I sighed and dropped my clenched shoulders. I unloaded the bags in my kitchen to find there was no Half and half. None. I scanned the receipt. None. I closed my eyes and relived the dairy section in the stupid market.

Milk, heavy cream, coffeecreamersourcreambuttereggscheese.

Hmm, said my mind, you’re such a dithering dolt. I did not even look at the Half and half. Who the heck crossed it off the list? Anyway, extraordinary chemist that I am (recall the raspberry vinegar from a recent delight) I made my own: 1/2 whole milk, 1/2 heavy cream. How hard can it be?

I didn’t have any red tights to boil, or red cinnamon candies to dissolve, or any cranberry juice, so I just followed the recipe to make my pie pink: I added three little drops of red food coloring. Pink enough.

I must confess, the actual name of this bake is “Lulu’s Lemonade PieS,” as in many mini pies. The crust dough and all the fillings were to be divided amongst eight little cutie-pies. But, like the lemon squeezer and (until recently) the frosting tips, there are no mini pie shells in my kitchen. Gasp. Get over it. So I made one big pie instead of eight little ones. The physics of this modification demanded a 50-minute bake, rather than 30. When I checked the monster at 30 minutes, the filling almost sloshed over the side. You can imagine how my bread-flour-based-crust reacted to 20 extra minutes of drying in the oven. (Alas, someday I’ll get it right. Perhaps I’m not quite ready for my debut on TGBBS.)

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While I worked and sweated, across the counter from this old baker sat a lovely young woman and her lovely friend. Together they are not yet 60 years old. They chatted and drank coffee and laughed. One was my daughter, and the other calls me Aunt Laura but is not my niece. My daughter’s sole job, besides choosing the pie recipe, was simple: separate the pink from the non-pink jelly beans. There were 17 and I needed 16. Perfect. At least something was going right.

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I whipped up the cream for the topping and spooned it into a frosting bag with one of five or six tips I wanted to sample. After many frosting tips it was clear: I’m not qualified. I must practice. To the utter horror of my audience, I scooped up my first attempt with a spoon and tossed it back in the bowl to try again. The lovely chef/caterer who thinks I’m her aunt suggested I practice later with actual frosting instead of whipped cream. She’s pretty smart. She and daughter licked that whipped cream bowl to a shine.

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As an encore, I must disclose my dear husband helped RE-decorate after he saw my messy pie. We were just back from the beach where we made drippy castles (with no children helping–just two oldies playing in the soft silky sand) every day.

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So my DH jumped in and made drippy castles on my pie with the new frosting tips.

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Pie 12.0, like almost all her predecessors, turned out delicious despite my strenuous efforts to screw it all up. Conclusion: if it tastes delightful, it can look like a sand castle. Your mouth won’t know.

The fall semester starts in four (4!) days. Either I will be too busy to bake, or I will be desperate for the relief of baking. It is quite impossible to predict these things. Please excuse me either way.

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Pie 11.0

Pie 11.0

I love chocolate.

This pie cookbook has so many chocolate delights. It’s hard to choose. Someday I’ll get to them all. Apparently the chef didn’t even try to decide which chocolates to focus on for Pie 11.0. She just used them all. I say bravo!

My crazy pie journey started about 4 months ago with the extraordinary Pie 1.0. Eleven pies in, I promise I’m not giving up. Just slowing down. Busy in the summer. Perhaps on a diet so I need to pace myself. And I might never make all the savory ones after the jerk chicken experience. Enough ado. I give you Pie 11.0.

Officially called “In the Dark Dark Triple Chocolate Truffle Pie” from page 86 of the Sugar Butter Flour cookbook, Pie 11.0 was built from dark chocolate, white chocolate, cocoa, bittersweet chocolate, and chocolate cookies, from Ghirardelli’s, Baker’s and Hershey’s–even a small piece of chocolate is ridiculously good. I’ve never thrown out a Hershey in my life.

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Here are the chocolates posing for a portrait. (Coffee photo bombed again.)

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The crust was the same deliciousness I made for Pie 3.0–crushed chocolate cookies. The butter did not explode in the microwave (like it did for Pie 7.0) this time. Ah memories.

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The filling was thin like chocolate milk and baked for 45 minutes until it set.

The topping was chocolate (duh) and fluffy (is that what truffle means? Somebody look that up.) I piped it on with an X tip hooked to a plastic bag, in my normal don’t-have-an-icing-bag-but-a-Ziploc-will-do. Good enough.

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I tried to make chocolate curls for the garnish with a paring knife and my innate skill, but the bars melted in my summer hot hands. I should have just used the cheese grater. Somehow I persevered and managed to make a pile o’chocolate shreds for the top. I licked my hands, washed them good, and finished up.

Another globetrotter, this one. She rode frozen in the car to VA, like Pie 2.0 and was eaten for the three days of a long weekend. Perfect for breakfast with coffee.

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Pie 12.0 will be made in a week with my daughter, who will also choose the pie. Stay tuned for pictures of more delicious stuff you don’t get to eat. Cheerio!

Pie 10.0

Pie 10.0

Back to sweet and fruity.

On page 108 of Sugar Butter Flour I found the recipe for Pie 10.0, known formally as “Razzleberry Buttermilk Custard Pie.” Spoiler alert: she was so delicious, she only lasted a couple days in my house.

Let me start with my stupid market adventure and two hurdles called buttermilk and raspberry vinegar. The buttermilk hurdle was low and I glided gracefully over it, once I realized it was with the milk and not the butter. I found exactly zero (0) bottles of raspberry vinegar after I looked everywhere. (No, I did not ask for help.) But I used my wily-ness to concoct my own raspberry vinegar. After all, how hard can a recipe be when the two ingredients are in the name? I squished up a couple raspberries and poured white vinegar over them and let them get acquainted while I worked.

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The pie shell, the custard filling, and the whipped topping ALL incorporated some buttermilk, all with detailed directions to use either “well-shaken, chilled” or “well shaken, room temperature” buttermilk. (I may have mixed them up on one part.)

The crust was easy, but I overbaked it because I didn’t read ahead and realize the filling would also be baked. Whoops.

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I did weigh down the blind bake with rice, and this time I saved the rice to reuse. Here is the box that now lives in my pantry.

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The filling required a lot of whipping and folding, but I’m almost a professional now, so I won’t bore you with the details. Just when I thought I’d messed it up bad, I read this in the recipe: “Don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit curdled at this point!” I love a good set of directions.

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You can see there, after the bake the crust was quite browned. My dear husband loved it anyway.

I made the whipped topping, but it came out a bit thick and buttery again. Those 12 extra seconds of whipping (plus the warm day) beat my whipped cream to churned butter. Again, no one complained.

And the recipe called for three (3) cups of raspberries–way more than needed. After a sprinkle of sugar we dug in.

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I used the extra raspberries and my new crushed-graham-cracker-crust-and-whipped-cream skills to make these little bonus cups.

Pie 11.0 will be either strawberry or chocolate, and she might travel north by car for six hours. Any requests?

 

Pie 9.0

Pie 9.0

It was a hot, steamy day in early-July. Not your typical chicken pot pie day. My kitchen (and my body) were balmy. Halloween is our traditional chicken pot pie day. I make a nice sour cream crust. I use canned veggies and cook up some quick chicken breast chunks, then mix it all with a can of cream-of-whatever soup and chuck it in the oven, all while answering the doorbell to hand out chocolate to little goblins and princesses. Today’s Pie 9.0 took quadruple the time and effort.

My most famous CPP, about five years ago on October 31, had a suspicious hard lump in the bottom, and upon slicing we found the spoon I’d used to mix it. Baked right in. No soggy bottom, but a bit o’stainless steel for flavor. That didn’t happen with Pie 9.0.

Of the nine pies so far from Sugar Butter Flour, this was my first attempt at a savory pie. I learned “savory” from Mary Berry, so be sure to hear it in your head as you read with only two syllables, as I refuse to move my lips as the word escapes.

My stupid market challenges were something called Jerk spice and boneless chicken thighs. Really. Guess what I did? I asked for help twice! The nice lady loading styrofoam meat trays knew just where the awful-looking chicken thighs were hiding. The nice stock boy stopped whistling his weird tune to show me where the Jerk spice was hiding (after Google completely failed) with the Mexican food and not with the rest of the spices. And he gave me a tip: If I actually look at the items on the shelves as I pass through the aisles, I might have noticed the very cheap spice rack of a BADIA brand (not with the McCormick and other spices). Now I have a giant jar of cheap Jerk seasoning. (Spoiler alert: I’ll NEVER use it again.)

As I started Pie 9.0, I made a mental list of what to worry about. Number 1: Soggy Bottom. The pie crust was not to be half-baked or pre-baked or whatever Mary B. would call it, so I wisely spent a glob of worry-energy to ensure success. Then I read the very weird recipe and saw Pie 9.0 would only have a top crust. Cool! No soggy bottom. (See? Worrying works great!)

Instead of berries and chocolate, the ingredient list said onion and pepper and peas and potatoes. The crust needed butter, of course.

The crust mixed up quite wet and easy to work with. It got to nap in my fridge like all of its ancestors.

The recipe suggested turning on the oven to 400F quite early, when it seemed to me there were a thousand more steps to¬† span hours, so I delayed adding more heat to my sweltering inferno. I chopped. I stirred. Things were smelling nice. In the other room, DH was watching Sea Biscuit, so I cheered for Spiderman on a lame horse in between my tasks–kept things lively.

The gravy was simple: measure, mix, heat, stir. Then the chicken and rice and veggies and peas and gravy were mixed and simmered while I rolled out the crust.

[I have deleted the pictures of the raw and cooking chicken. They looked a little vulgar. You are welcome.]

In the end, there was so much filling! It had to be at least 8 cups of denseness. There was NO WAY it would fit in my little pie pan, deep-dish or not. But then it did. Volume can be finicky that way.

The crust rolled easily. I flipped it on top of the mush, pushed it down, trimmed and forked the edges, made a broken heart like the picture in the cookbook, and slashed some knife marks to let the steam out. The whole enchilada got an egg wash. Don’t fret–sometime around when Sea Biscuit (aka Pops) broke his leg, I remembered to turn on the oven.

Enough a do. Here he is in all his glory: Pie 9.0, My Husband’s a Jerk Chicken Pot Pie.

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My husband is not a jerk, but he loved this pie. I might be a jerk, but I did not like this pie. Call me if you want the rest of the Jerk seasoning. Free.

Pie 9.0 was served by scooping with a spoon, per the unspoken advice gleaned from a picture in the cookbook. Slicing is not an option without a bottom crust. Add some salt and have a glass of water handy–the Jerk seasoning can sneak up on you.

I am done with savory. Give me sugar. It’s time to go find that raspberry pie recipe, the pretty one. The sweet one.

 

All the things he cannot do

He just learned to speak the language a few years ago. He doesn’t have a job. He has no money or skills. He can’t drive or cook. He isn’t good at math or reading. He isn’t registered to vote and doesn’t pay attention to the news. He isn’t registered for military service and isn’t qualified for college. He never pays rent or taxes or any bills.

He says please and thank you (insincerely) when reminded, and sometimes I’m sorry when required.

He’d rather play games than listen to politics. He’d rather laugh than argue. He awakes too early and stays up too late. He asks for help constantly. He debates fine details about fairness and will smack a smaller person if no one is looking. He wastes food; he loves ice cream but not peas. He even needs help rinsing the shampoo from his hair and remembering to bathe.

You must be nice to him. Care for his needs. Feed him. Teach him. Help him grow. He’ll get better at all of those things in time.

Love him. He’s just a five-year-old child.