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HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Worry, With A Side of Tart

The last thing anyone tells you about parenting is just how scary it can be. Sure, you hear about the cuddles and the hugs and the giggles and all the lovely silliness and bliss that comes with becoming a parent. What you hear less about, though, is how terrified you can get when your wee one gets sick.

Huxley felt warm to the touch Friday night. He wouldn’t let me take his temperature, so I let it go. He was restless all night that night, and increasingly warm to the touch come Saturday morning. When I finally was “allowed” to take his temperature, it quickly went from around 102 degrees to 104+, just like that. What has followed was an entire weekend and entire Monday full of a hot, hot baby. When he got sick this morning, all over himself and all over me, we decided it was time to visit the doctor. Swollen tonsils and a red right ear pointed to an ear infection.

Poor fella. At least we now know what we’re dealing with. In the past few days, though, Hubs and I have been little boxes of stress, anxiety, and fear. When your tiny guy is sweating through his pajamas and his hair and feels like a little inferno when he cuddles up next to you, it makes your heart race. The numbers on the thermometer weren’t helping, either. Thankfully, calls all weekend to the on-call doctor assured me that his body was responding to the fever reducer we were giving him, his appetite was as robust as ever, and his disposition remained upbeat, so all pointed towards the better, not the worse, case scenario.

And, so, we’ve been quite preoccupied. We’ve been quite exhausted. We’ve been seriously, desperately in need of some healing pie, which is what I’m sharing with you here today. In two days, we’ll play host to 14 adults and 4 children for a big Thanksgiving feast. A dear friend is bringing a Tarte Tatin and a cardamom pumpkin pie (this woman seriously knows me), while I’ll be baking up my Eggnog Pie and the Cranberry Mince Tart from A Year of Pies.

While pie certainly can’t heal all wounds, it certainly comes close. Huxley’s fever continues to creep down today and he’s as chipper as ever, playing with trains in the kitchen with Hubs right now. I think all is on the mend, and I know I’ve got pie-filled-thoughts to thank for that!

 

Cranberry Mince Tart (reprinted with permission from A Year of Pies, Lark Books 2012, an imprint of Sterling Publishing)
Without question my go-to Thanksgiving dessert, this tart showcases the best of what cranberries have to offer. While not for the “faint of tart,” the fruit’s inherent puckery-ness is tempered by the inclusion of raisins, currants, crystallized ginger, orange juice, and sugar. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient listing-the dish comes together very quickly. And do serve it with the orange whipped cream detailed below, as it even further balances the berries’ “bite.”
Makes: One 11-inch tart.

You Will Need:
1/2 recipe Basic Pie Dough (recipe follows)

Orange Whipped Cream
-1 cup heavy cream
-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
-1/2 teaspoon orange extract

Filling
-2 cups granulated sugar
-1/2 cup water
-1/2 cup orange juice
-6 cups cranberries (two 12-ounce bags)
-Grated zest of 1 orange
-1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch
-1 cup pecans, chopped
-1/2 cup dark raisins
-1/2 cup golden raisins
-1/4 cup currants
-2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt

 

To Make:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare the crust
1) Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 11-inch removable bottom tart pan. Trim the overhang to 1 inch, then fold it inside the tart pan, pressing it against the pan’s fluted sides.
2) Prick the bottom of the crust about 6-7 times with a fork. Place the crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
3) Line the crust with parchment and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, then remove from the oven, leaving the oven on and reducing the temperature to 375 degrees F.
4) Remove the dried beans or pie weights and parchment paper from the crust, and cool it slightly before filling.

Prepare the orange whipped cream
1) Combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar and orange extract in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
2) Using an electric mixer, beat at highest speed until billowy peaks form.
3) Transfer the whipped cream to a serving bowl and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve with the pie.

Prepare the filling
1) Combine the sugar, water and orange juice in a medium-sized saucepan and heat, stirring, over medium-high heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
2) Add the cranberries and orange zest and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, 5-7 minutes, until some of the cranberries have popped and the liquid is gently simmering.
3) Remove from heat and whisk in the arrowroot powder or cornstarch until it is fully incorporated into the cranberry mixture. Set aside.
4) Combine the pecans, raisins, golden raisins, currants, crystallized ginger, spices and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.
5) Add the cranberry mixture to bowl with the nuts and fruits, and stir again to mix thoroughly.

Assemble the tart
1) Pour the filling into the prepared crust, using a spatula to spread it evenly.
2) Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, until the crust edges are golden brown and the filling is set.
3) Cool at least 1 hour before serving with the orange whipped cream, and first removing the sides of the pan.

 
Basic Pie Dough

Makes: Crust for one double-crust pie.

You Will Need:
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/4 teaspoons salt
-1 cup butter (2 sticks), chilled and cubed
-3/4 cup ice water

To Make:
1) Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-large mixing bowl.
2) Using a pastry cutter or two forks, incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, but with several pea and lima bean-sized butter bits in the mix.
3) Slowly drizzle in the ice water. Stir with a mixing spoon until the dough starts to clump.
4) Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and fold it together into itself using your hands. The dough should come together easily but shouldn’t feel overly sticky.
5) Divide the dough in half and shape into two flattened disks. Wrap each dough ball in cellophane and refrigerate for at least an hour.
6) Proceed according to the recipe instructions above.

 

 

Pie Winners & Deals!

Whoa! You people are a pie-loving lot, aren’t you?! Thank you so very much for sharing your thoughtful replies and strolls down pie memory lane. After much deliberation, and serious help from Hubs, we selected Kaitlin Jenkins as the winner. Congratulations, Kaitlin!

Don’t think the rest of you haven’t won, though! Annie at Mighty Nest, the giveaway’s sponsor, is offering a special discount to all small measure readers. Yes, you! You are eligible for a lovely 15% off anything Mighty Nest sells, for one week. That’s mighty generous, friends. Mighty generous, indeed.

Here’s a message from Annie, including the code for redeeming your discount:

Hello Small Measure fans!

Thank you to everyone who took the time and shared a memory involving pie – we truly enjoyed reading them and were inspired to bake more pies! And congratulations to the lucky winner – we hope you enjoy your pie serving set!

At MightyNest, we are passionate about helping families live healthier lives and our mission is to give families the ability to research, get advice and buy natural, non-toxic products all in one place. For the growing number of parents seeking high quality, healthy and safe alternatives to everyday products, Mightynest is a trusted resource. For the next week, we have a special coupon code for you to use: SmallMeasure15 for 15% off your MightyNest purchases.

Thanks, Annie. And thank you, dear readers, for your continued support!

 

Book Review: Imagine Childhood

There are some books that come along that are so inspiring, so full of insight  they need to be shared with the world. Such is the case with Sarah Olmstead’s Imagine Childhood: 25 Projects That Spark Curiosity and Adventure.

I remember, before becoming a parent, how some of my friends that already had children would tell me that oftentimes, the box or packaging a gift came in ran in heavy competition in terms of interest and intrigue with the gift it contained. Once I had Huxley, I discovered they were completely right. Sometimes a scrap of paper becomes a train, or a stick found outside becomes a weed eater, or a box becomes a castle when he’s playing. Children have limitless potential when it comes to play and imagination, especially when engaging with the natural world, and that’s exactly what Imagine Childhood addresses.

Sarah wrote me a while back, asking if I’d like to be included in her book’s blog tour. I was familiar with her lovely shop and blog, and immediately, enthusiastically said “YES!” I’m happy to be today’s tour stop, and so enthused that I get to share her wonderful book with you. Although Huxley is still a bit on the wee side for some of the projects, they are ALL definitely on my agenda for the future. One of the projects will work for him right now, though, and I asked Sarah if I could share it with you all here today, to which she graciously agreed.

Below are images and text from Imagine Childhood for Sarah’s game of Lawn Bowling. So much fun! I’d love you to check out her book yourself. It’s full of lovely images, accessible projects, and oodles of starting points for unlocking a world of creative play with the littles in your life. Let the wild rompus start!

Lawn Bowling

A variation on traditional lawn bowling, in this game, you can either roll the striped stick at the pins or toss it toward them. These two options, in conjunction with color-coded pins, allow for many different games using the same seven sticks. 

Materials:
*7 small sticks or logs, 2″-3″ in diameter, cut to 6″-7″ long
*Paint
*Jojoba oil or beeswax

Making the Game:
1) Take six or seven sticks or logs (leaving the straightest and roundest aside) and paint one end of each with a color; these are the pins. I chose to make two pins of each color, but you can paint them each a different color or paint half of them and leave half natural.
2) For the last pin, paint each end the same color and then paint at least one stripe around the middle to indicate it as the tossing pin.
3) Once the pins are painted, you can seal them with jojoba oil or a natural beeswax to protect the paint.
4) To play arrange the pins so they are standing together in a group. Walk a short distance away and determine your throwing line.
5) From there, toss or roll the tossing pins to knock down as many pins as you can. See below for more suggestions.

Activity Suggestions:
*When using the log pins, you can simply play a traditional blowing game in which each pin is worth a point, or you might assign different point values to each color. These points could be obtained either by rolling or tossing the striped stick.
*Additionally, you might make the game a bit more difficult and try to knock down only one color, with each person or team having a specific color (like bowling and billiards combined). If you enjoy the smaller set, make more pins to make the game more complex.

A Little Glimpse

Ashley English from Dark Rye on Vimeo.

A little known fact about me (unless you knew me when I was 16-17), is that I used to film a monthly news bit at the local cable affiliate for my high school in coastal N.C.. I’d drive my run down Chevette (with no fender and no bumper and no heat and no radio, mind you-classy, right?) to the cable offices, look the camera square in the lens, and state “I’m Ashley Adams reporting for West Carteret High School.” Then I’d rattle off information about football games and visiting speakers and theatre performances and such for that month.

I never watched myself on camera later, when it aired after the national news, but it did get me out of a jam once, when I was trying to rush home to make curfew and accidentally went 36 through a 25 mph zone. The officer took one look at me, said “Hey, you’re the girl from the news!” and, with a gentle warning when I explained my plight, sent me on my way.

Though I’ve done a few videos promoting my books, the last time I was truly on camera was several decades ago. Until this past August, that is, when a camera crew from Dark Rye, Whole Foods Market’s experimental online magazine, came out to our place for the weekend. Several months prior, I’d been contacted by Kelly Le Castre, Dark Rye’s director, inquiring about the possibility of profiling me.

I was hosting a pickling party for the new book in early August and thought dovetailing the two events would work great. And it did. Kelly and her crew, including expert camera work from director of photography Laura Merians, did their thing with mics and cameras while me and my buddies did ours with okra and vinegar.

Then, in late September, Kelly invited us up to Brooklyn. Each issue of Dark Rye has a specific theme. The issue I was to be in would be called “Gather”, so a gathering of the individuals profiled seemed fitting, they decided. At Flatbush Farms, I met my fellow profilees, including: Kirk Lombard (San Francisco-based wild & seafood forager and educator), Robyn Wilson & Jarred Masse (Lakeland, Florida beignet makers at Poor Porker), James Victore and his lovely wife Laura (Brooklyn-based hosts of The Dinner Series), several of the gents behind Brooklyn-based ax producers Best Made Co., Allison Walla (of Brooklyn-based shortbread cookie company Butter + Love), Gustave Reyes (Chicago-based wooden ring maker and sculptor), and Chip Tate (Waco, TX-based owner of Balcones Distillery).

It was a night and a meal I’ll never forget. The food was exceptional. The instant camaraderie was infectious. We were at once silly and serious, hilarious and heartfelt. We feasted on farm-fresh eats and sipped Chip’s whiskey. I loved every minute of it.

So, here’s the end result of all of that goodness! Along with the video above, you can read more from my profile in this issue of Dark Rye here (scroll sideways on the arrows to see photos, get recipes, see my party-throwing mini manifesto, make scented floral bath salts, and learn Canning 101). Do check out the entire issue, though. The videos, photos, recipes, essays, and more are so incredibly captivating. There’s a world of extraordinary humans out there, and I’m pleased beyond measure to have been included in their company.

 

What I’m Digging


Happy Friday, friends! I’ve got a mug of hot coffee in one hand and slice of homemade pumpkin bread with butter in the other, so, clearly, things are off to a great start today!

I’m on the homestretch of my December 1st deadline for the new book (Handmade Gatherings). The past 6 months have seriously flown by. In that time, I’ve hosted 9 gatherings, written about 16, and enjoyed every second of it. I’ve just got some opening bits of the book to pen before I submit the entire beast, so I’ve been working studiously to churn it out in advance of our friends Jen & Jon’s visit this weekend (they own the yome down in the smaller of our two “lower fields”), as well as a heap of family and friends coming to visit next Wednesday-Sunday. I better get crackin’!

I’ve got a Small Measures post up on Design Sponge. I’m sharing my incredible easy recipe for homemade room spritzer. I grew up in a house heavy on the aerosol sprays. My version is considerably easier on the planet, and, in my estimation, waaaaaay better smelling.

In other news, here’s a smattering of this’s and that’s that caught my attention this week:
*Joel Allen and his Hemloft (and overall philosophy) are SO up my alley.
*Loving Karie’s blog.
*Bath cookies.
*The “Family Apothecary” issue of Action Pack looks amazing.
*This would make a great writer’s cabin.
*Plaid Friday sounds like a nice alternative, doesn’t it?
*Local, affordable nut, fruit & medicinal trees and shrubs!
*Marisa’s cranberry solutions.

Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand!