Pie #4: Blueberry crumb pie

13 Jul

Well, I planned to have this post up on Friday night, because my Friday nights are so glamorous that I really have nothing better to do than write about pie, but then…catastrophe! No no, the pie didn’t turn out bad. Worse.

Our internet went out.

And my phone died.

So I pretty much just gave up and went to bed early. Then yesterday was Biscuit’s second birthday, so I did in fact have better things to do than write about pie.

Don't eat too many before you pour it in!

Don’t eat too many before you pour it in!

Just before we left for our vacation, my friend Katrina brought by a whole box of blueberries. With no time to do anything proper to them, I shoved them in the freezer like a good little hoarder. Then, I took a limited sample, non-scientific survey on Facebook and twitter, pitting key lime pie against blueberry pie. Blueberry won. I think I had the deciding vote.

Like with so many things I do, I just made this recipe up as I went, scribbling notes and measurements on a notepad. Sort of like in the lab. Unlike in the lab, however, I am not waiting a ridiculously long time to transfer these notes to the “official” lab notebook (all you scientists know you’re guilty of it!) but proceeding in a timely fashion. Originally I had planned to do a beautiful and fancy lattice top, but my laziness took over. Instead, I added a crumb topping because it’s the favorite of my old running buddy, Erica (@sassysparky on Twitter), and way easier to make.

Just look at the loverly crumbs.

Just look at the loverly crumbs.

In the spirit of full honesty, Coco didn’t like it, but she’s a strange one who doesn’t like fruit, so don’t trust her judgement. I personally think it tastes wonderful, which, due to my sinus-infection dulled tastebuds, means it must be jam packed with great flavor. Here’s an idea, though: you make it yourself, and then decide whether you like it or not. Okay? Okay.

Bubbly and ready to eat.

Bubbly and ready to eat.

Blueberry Crumb pie

For filling:
4 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2/3 cup sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon (~3 tbs or so)
some lemon zest, or not, depending on how lazy you feel

Mix together in a bowl, eating some if you want but definitely leaving most in the bowl. Pour into an unbaked pie crust.

For crumb topping:
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbs butter

Cut butter into flour and sugar until you have crumbs. Spread evenly on top of the pie filling.

Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes, until bubbly and the crust is a golden brown. Allow it to cool before slicing and enjoying!

Sad, sad pie. About to be eaten.

Sad, sad pie. About to be eaten.

One last thing before you rush out to start baking – in an effort to not annoy my actual real life friends on Facebook I started a Facebook page for the blog, which you can find here. Like it if you want to get posts in your Facebook feed (or just to boost my ego), or don’t like it if you’re happy following via twitter or email. I am not planning on posting much more to the page than just blog posts, since the whole point is to not annoy people by filling up their feeds. We all have that friend we’ve blocked because of the 1000 pictures of flowers or the 8 million quizzes they post every day, right? Yeah, I’m trying not to be that guy.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, everyone! See you next week for some posts about something or other. Oh, like Biscuit’s blanket, which I finished the night before his birthday!

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Pie #3: Ice Box Lemon

6 Jul

Whew, it has been a whirlwind of a week and a half. Last weekend we were up in New Jersey for a family reunion/beach trip with part of GP’s family. I had no idea there are beaches where the water is cold in July. It was down right frigid! I’ve swam in warmer waters in March down here in the South. I was also confused by the fact that the temps never got out of the 70s, and that, despite being by a giant body of water (otherwise known as the Atlantic Ocean) it was not humid. My theory? When we drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel we actually went through a portal to a new and mysterious land where it remains cold all year long. Somehow the rest of the family got there too, so there must be lots of portals. Maybe they’re all disguised as toll roads.

Ingredients

Ingredients. That’s the whole list.

We departed this strange world and reemerged in the land of heat and humidity (aka North Carolina) on Monday only to have my family come in for a visit on Tuesday! My brother and his family stayed and played until yesterday, and Biscuit and I dropped my mom off at the airport today. It’s always sad to see everyone go, especially since it means no more older cousins around to entertain my children for me and wear them out so heartily that they sleep a full hour past their normal waking time. It was like magic. Sweet, sweet, magical sleep.

On the 4th of July, which is my second favorite holiday, we had a little birthday party for my kiddos, since they both have birthdays in July. Naturally we had cake, but we also had pie, because….um….well, we didn’t really have a reason. Oh, here’s one: I said I was going to do this pie a week thing here on the blog, so I made a pie.

This week it was Ice Box Lemon Pie, AKA Lemon Meringue Pie. It’s my mother’s favorite pie, the recipe is from her mother, and it is dead simple to make. The filling has 3, yes 3, ingredients, and it requires absolutely no cooking. You don’t even need a mixer. In fact, if you are feeling spectacularly lazy, you really don’t even need a pie crust. Just grab a spoon and eat it straight out of the bowl. I won’t judge.

So tempting, must resist!

So tempting, must resist!

Ice Box Lemon Pie

Ingredients:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, separated
3 lemons, or 1/2 cup juice

Mix these 3 together and pour into a prepared pie crust. Use the whites to make meringue, then brown and chill a few hours before serving.

Aaaand, it separated. Boo.

Aaaand, it separated. Boo.

Sadly, this particular incarnation did not turn out as pretty as I had hoped. See up there at the top? The meringue pulled away from the crust. The best way to prevent this from happening is to make sure that the meringue touches the crust all the way around. While I thought mine had, apparently I needed to smoosh it a bit more up against the crust to keep it in place.

Please don't lick your computer screen.

Please don’t lick your computer screen.

Oh well, pretty or not it tasted delicious! Wait, I think there might be a slice left in the fridge………

Chocolate, anyone?

26 Jun

Hey y’all! Guess what? We’re going on vacation! We leave tomorrow, and since I didn’t want to either leave any pie uneaten, or go full out glutton and eat an entire pie in a day, I did not make a pie this week. I know, I know, 3 weeks and I’m already failing. Instead, for those of you who really need a cold treat and love chocolate, I give you this old post, from February of 2012. Yes, we ate frozen pies in February back then. We lived in southern Louisiana, where winter is a mythical season that only exists in the far away places. 

How I spent my day off

22FEB

I had a nice and relaxing day off. I managed to sleep in a little, mainly because Coco had a rough night and needed to sleep in herself. Then I shipped her off to daycare and got to work.

I finished the fronts of my sweater and started the left sleeve. I gave myself a nice manicure, and I sewed a few hexagons for a quilt top. I also made some pie.

It’s a Paula Deen recipe, so you know it’s anything but healthy – Frozen Chocolate Mousse Pie. But it is certainly delicious!  You whip up all this chocolate mousse, which takes forever because it’s a quart of heavy cream and 3 cups of powdered sugar folded into the chocolate.

Then you’re supposed to fit all that mousse into a single 9 inch pie crust. Really?

Really really? This bowl is about 3/4 full with mousse, and it’s supposed to fit in that little pie crust? How, exactly, does that work? I mean I know you can fit a lot of fluffy stuff in a pie crust, and this is supposed to be piled high, but I think a pie that comes 4 inches above the edge of the crust is a bit extreme.

I made two pies. One is half eaten, the other is in the freezer, just waiting its turn next to the ice cream sandwiches.

Pie #2: Banana Cream pie

22 Jun

Hey, look at me! I’ve managed to follow through with this Pie a Week Project for 2 whole weeks now! How’s that for commitment and follow through? I baked it on Friday and meant to get the post up last night, but I got distracted by the new Thor movie. Priorities people, priorities.

This particular pie has been approved by myself and GP, and our good friend Katrina, who so heartily approved she at 2 whole slices! That’s my kinda gal right there. Something is definitely wrong with her husband, though, because he wouldn’t even try it. Who turns down free pie?

This recipe is pretty simple to make, although it does take some time on the stove top. But if you’re like me, you’ll just turn up the heat to make it cook faster because you have other things to do. Like, uh, go for a run. And sweep. And do my actual job that pays me so I can afford to make pies.

Still warm out of the oven.

Still warm out of the oven.

Just look at that gorgeous meringue, would you? You know what I love about meringue-topped pies? 2 things: 1) they have meringue, which is basically fluffy perfection in and of itself, and 2) they are lovely. I love those little beads that form on the top after the pie has cooled down. I know some people don’t really like how the beads look, but I don’t really know how to prevent it from happening. So too bad, just learn to love it, people.

Love those beads!

Love those beads!

Whether you like the meringue beads or not, this is a creamy and delicious pie. The only thing I would change is to add more bananas; there are only 2, layered along the bottom, and I think it would be much better to have another layer of banana slices in the middle of the cream. I would also change the quality of these photographs. It is really hard to take pictures of pie, I need to get another setup for pie-picture taking.

Yes, it is as good as it looks!

It tastes better than this picture suggests, trust me.

Right-o, on to the recipe. This is a sort of mash-up of two different recipes, one from a Home Economics Teachers cookbook from 1975 and one from an issue of Food Network Magazine. I’m only including the recipe for the filling; either a baked crust or a graham cracker crust will do, and the meringue, while heavenly, is optional. But I suggest a baked crust and, of course, the meringue.

Banana Cream Pie filling
2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tbs butter, cut up into small pieces
2 bananas, sliced

1. Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and pale yellow, then add in the cornstarch and mix well.
3. Slowly add the warm milk to the eggs, mixing continually. Then place it all back in the saucepan, and turn up the heat to medium high because you are impatient and hate stirring. Or leave it at medium and just have more patience. Your call.
4. Whisk the mixture continually while cooking until it begins to bubble and thicken up, about 3 to 5 minutes. Once it starts thickening, add the butter all at once and cook a few minutes more. Remove from the heat at let it sit for a minute.
5. Slice up the bananas and layer them on the bottom of the pie crust. Pour the cooled filling on top. (Here’s what I would do in the future: layer of bananas, half the filling mix, 2nd layer of bananas, rest of the filling).
6. Make the meringue and place on top of the warm pie. Bake at 375 deg until browned and lovely.
7. Let cool at room temp for a couple of hours, then move to the fridge.
8. Eat it, and share it with friends after a long afternoon at the pool!

A productive and crafty morning

18 Jun

This morning started out pretty poorly, what with Biscuit being ornery and me having to make an extra trip home after dropping the kids off at school because I didn’t bring water play clothes for Coco. So I was in a pretty grumpy mood by 8:45 am. Fortunatley, as the saying goes, music soothes the savage beast, and rocking to some tunes while pounding out 5 miles of speed work on the beautiful greenway did, in fact, raise my spirits. When I got home I began to execute a plan that has been fermenting in my brain for awhile. See, I have this really strange desire to learn how to cross stitch. But since I don’t know how, I decided that I really need to do some more embroidery. I did a tiny bit ages ago and really like it, and now I want to do more. Probably because I’m tired of working on Biscuit’s “baby” blanket. Which, by the way, looks like this now:

6.5 squares to go!

6.5 squares to go!

This Genius and Terrific Idea is to make little embroidered quilt squares with the kid’s names on them. Originally I thought to just hang them in their rooms, but I think it might be even cuter to hang them on the wall outside their room. A sort of “This room belongs to:” type thing, only more colorful and fun. At least until they are old enough to be embarrassed by the stuff their mom makes for them. I dug through my old fabric pieces and found some odds and ends of blue batik that works for Biscuit. Bonus: I already have blue embroidery floss that perfectly coordinates. Score 1 for me. Buried even further down were some leftovers from Coco’s baby blanket. I laid out some patterns.

A piece-y mess

A piece-y mess

Not so messy

Not so messy

For Biscuit’s I just went for random placement of pieces that would yield a rectangle. For Coco’s the goal was even color distribution. I dug out and dusted off my sewing machine, which has sat in a closet for about a year now. Then I sewed and I pressed and I sewed and I pressed and after about 30 minutes I had these two cute little quilt squares.

I like it!

Much neater, and Coco will love it. Because it has pink.

Much neater, and Coco will love it. Because it has pink.

The plan is to embroider the kid’s names on them and frame them, but not to actually quilt them up. Although I was attempting to make them 8X10, they both turned out slightly larger. Eventually I’ll have to trim them to fit a frame, but for now, I’m leaving them. Now I just have to brush up on my embroidery skills and get to work! This will either take a matter of weeks, or a year. Here’s hoping for the former.

Pies! All pies!

13 Jun

Here we are, moved in to our new house for almost 2 whole weeks, but still far from being unpacked. Our bedroom looks like a storage container, and there are no pictures hanging to identify that an actual family lives in this abode and not just a group of squatters that brought their own furniture and food. There are, however, and astounding amount of toys spread throughout the house. And hey, the kitchen’s completely set up!

To break in the new kitchen, the kids and I made a delicious pie yesterday – Strawberry Rhubarb, which just so happens to be GP’s favorite. While baking I had this genius and ambitious idea, which I ran by twitter to pretty good reception.

Here it is: I bake a different pie every week for as long as I can, blogging the recipe and delicious food pictures as I go. Sound like fun? I think so, too! Plenty tweeps had suggestions for types of pie, so I now have several weeks worth of ideas to keep me busy. Add any off your own suggestions in the comments!

Pie is an acceptable breakfast food, right? Because I want a slice right now.

Pie is an acceptable breakfast food, right? Because I want a slice right now.

And so, in a strange moment of planning-aheadedness, I took lots of pictures while baking yesterday. Pictures of pie crusts and delicious filling, pictures of beautifully browned crumbles and bright strawberries and rhubarbs.

And then tragedy struck.

Somewhere in the transfer between camera and computer, the photos disappeared. Well, actually, the computer decided to restart itself right during the transfer and the pictures just vanished. Sad times, man, sad times. That’s about 20 fuzzy pictures of pie that I will never get back.

Fortunately, we are not complete gluttons in this house, and there is still pie left in the plate, providing us with a small bit of evidence of both process and product. Oh, and can someone explain what is wrong with my children? Neither of them will eat the pie! They spit it out as if it tasted of fish oil and grass clippings, and if they didn’t look so much like us I would think there was a switch up at the hospital.

Do you see the restraint we exercised? Impressive, I know.

Do you see the restraint we exercised? Impressive, I know.

Right, back to the main point of this post: PIE!

This particular recipe came from my mother in law, although I’m not sure who she got it from originally. It’s a pretty simple pie, even if you go to the trouble to make your own pie crust, which I do because I find making pie crusts to be a very enjoyable activity. You don’t have to tell me, I already know I’m a bit odd.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie

For the filling:
2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Mix together dry ingredients, then add the fruit. Pour into a pie crust and top with the crumble.

For the crumble, cream together 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 1 cup flour and a pinch of baking soda. Spread over the pie filing.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400deg, then reduce heat to 350deg and bake another 40 minutes until it smells delicious and is a lovely brown color. GP suggests serving it warm with vanilla ice cream, but it is quite yummy at room temp with no ice cream too.

What do you think? Are you going to try it? Let me know if you do, I’d love to hear how it turned out!

Let’s talk about this new house, shall we?

23 May

There have been a few things really taking up most of the space in my mind lately; the clear and easy winner is:

The New House

20140523-093759-34679396.jpg

Behold! The future dwelling of 2 quasi-adults, 2 insane children, a misanthropic cat, and a dog with very short legs.

Very little other things have taken much of my spare thoughts from the house, except for most recently, when I’ve been distracted by baking pies and making ice cream. All about the desserts over here.

There are many reasons we are ready to get out of our current abode, which are being enumerated on twitter in no particular order and certainly in no numerical order. One day I will figure out how to get them all together and post them on here, but not yet, as that requires some sort of internet sorcery that I have yet to master. Regardless, the absolute hands down number 1 reason we are so incredibly ready to move is:

No More Landlords.

Since graduating from high school many moons ago we have lived in college housing and rental properties. Not always together, mind you! We didn’t even start dating until 2 weeks before I graduated from college and moved halfway across the country. Great timing, right? Long distance is definitely the way to start a new relationship, let me tell ya!

I digress.

We close on the new house in 1 week, if the bank gets all the paper work processed in time, which they just better, because we signed the contract 6 weeks ago and they are dragging their feet and I have bigger things to worry about than if other people are doing their jobs my heartburn can’t take it anymore! Whew, lets all take a nice relaxing breath, shall we?

Okay, better now.

Something about owning our own place makes us feel like real adults. Getting to paint the rooms, changing the carpet if you don’t like it, hanging pictures and curtains wherever you want without fear of putting new holes in the walls. It’s pretty great to think about! We are hoping to stay there for a very very long time, if not forever, but I personally have a hard time thinking about it. Having lived a fairly nomadic lifestyle since leaving high school, I find it hard to imagine living in one place more than a few years. I find myself thinking “oh, we should buy such and such a piece of furniture for the new place” followed by “why bother, we’ll just be moving again in a few years.” Then I remind myself that we hopefully won’t be moving again in a few years, and I just can’t wrap my head around it. It’s like I have a block that won’t let me imagine life more than 3 years in the future. Is that just me? Do other people have that problem too? Maybe it’s a science nomad thing? Please tell me I’m not just a weirdo. Well, any more a weirdo than I already know myself to be.

Some other things we are really looking forward to include: a yard, a playroom for the kids, a real kitchen with a pantry and granite countertops, new appliances, a master bath that is bigger than a closet, actual closet space, a garage. Let’s not forget we are more than doubling the square footage from our current place. That’s just the broad overview.

So, the next week will be filled with packing and cleaning and throwing out anything we don’t want to take with us. And probably making some more ice cream. And maybe another pie before we box up our kitchen.

 

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