For pretty much the entire day today, I’ve been repeating a phrase silently to myself. “Pay attention to what you pay attention to.” I’ve been reminding myself, with gentle nudges, to notice and note the activities and tasks that I’m most drawn to, that bring me the deepest satisfaction and joy, that feel less like work and more like, well, like living. By paying attention to what you pay attention to, to what perks you up, gets your creative juices flowing, and comes effortlessly because it’s what you desire and crave, you do yourself a huge service. You create and carve out a life that brings fulfillment, that feels like breathing, not gasping for air.
Which totally relates to how I feel about baking this pie. I’ve made it twice in the past 5 days. When I’m baking, I’m jamming. Which is to say that, for me, baking comes naturally. It’s what I most prefer to do in the kitchen. When flour and sugar and butter and fruit and flavorings mix and mingle, I’m a happy lady.
Strawberry season is seriously in affect. I picked a flat of organic strawberries at the farm down the road from me this past Friday (for only $18, friends!). This pie was the obvious and necessary means of heightening the happiness that strawberries bring me. When I’m making pie dough, I am fully present. I’m not thinking about anything other than making the pie dough, searching for the tactile and visual cues giving me the head’s up that the dough has reached its sweet spot. It’s never an effort, or a chore, or a labor. It’s an opportunity to engage all of my senses, to get me out of my ever-loving mind, and to tether me firmly to time and place. It might look like a pie, but really, its an exercise in mindfulness.
Want to Zen out on pie-making yourself? Here you go.
Strawberry Crumble Pie (from A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies)
Makes: One 9-inch 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
-1 ½ pounds strawberries, stemmed and halved
-1/3 cup cornstarch
-1/3 cup sugar
-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Make the Pie Dough:
Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-large mixing bowl. 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. Slowly drizzle in the ice water. Stir with a mixing spoon until the dough starts to clump.
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. Divide the dough in half and shape into two flattened disks. Wrap each dough ball in cellophane and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Prepare the crust:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator, saving the other to use within the next few days or placing it in an airtight bag in the freezer for future use. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the crust overhang to 1-inch and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the bottom of the crust about 6-7 times with a fork, then place the crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Line the piecrust with parchment and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, and then remove from the oven, leaving the oven on. Remove the dried beans or pie weights and parchment, and cool it completely before filling.
Prepare the filling:
Combine the strawberries, cornstarch and sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl. Set aside.
Prepare the crumble topping:
Combine the flour, salt, brown sugar, and butter in a medium-size mixing bowl. Crumble together with either your hands or with a pastry cutter, leaving pea-sized chunks of butter in the mixture. Set aside.
Assemble the pie:
Pour strawberry mixture into the prepared piecrust. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly across the surface, packing down as needed to accommodate the entire amount of the mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. Cool the pie at least 1 hour before serving.
There are friends, and then there are capital F friends. You know what I’m talking about. There are the friends you run into occasionally around town, when you’re reaching for the same wedge of cheddar at the cheese counter at Whole Foods (it could happen), that you chat up and catch up with briefly and think kind thoughts towards. And then there are the friends who email you that they picked a ginormous cache of morels mushrooms off their parents nearby property and offer to bring them over for dinner. Faryn and Eli are those kind of friends. There are friends that help you move from one location to another, and then there are friends that help you move morels from your fork to your face. True blue, forever and ever friends. Those kind. That’s them.
A week ago today, our buddies came over with their almost 4 year-old son, some awesome 6-packs of beer, and a beautiful blue paper bag filled with morels the size of your entire hand. Have mercy. Glenn decided they’d be best showcased á la fried chicken, which was perhaps the most excellent decision he has ever made, at least in matters of fungi, that is. He served them alongside mountain trout topped with homemade watercress pesto and sorghum-sweetened mashed potatoes topped with a fried sage leaf. For dessert, I stewed some rhubarb with fresh-squeezed orange juice, maple sugar, and a vanilla bean, and then served the whole pink mess atop vanilla ice cream. Groan worthy, that meal was. Good friends, indeed.
Chicken-Fried Morel Mushrooms
You Will Need:
-Morel mushrooms, in any amount you have the immensely good fortune of encountering
-One egg, beaten
-1-2 teaspoons smokey paprika
-Pinch of garlic powder
-Pinch of salt
-Freshly ground black pepper
-Lard or peanut oil, for frying
1) If the morels are big, slice them in half lengthwise. There are different schools of thought about cleaning them, but we usually wash them in cold water and let them dry off on a dish towel.
2) Once they are dry, dip each mushroom in the beaten egg, then dredge in a bowl containing the mixed dry ingredients.
3) Fry the mushrooms in a heavy pan with at least a quarter inch of oil. Cook on medium heat (make sure there is a sizzle) for a couple minutes then flip them over and cook for a couple more minutes until they are a nice golden brown-light mahogany color all around.
4) Drain for a few minutes on a wire rack and sprinkle with a little extra salt if you like. Serve and enjoy.
It’s Pi Day, friends. And while technically that means a celebration of ” the mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and is approximately equal to 3.14159″ (thank you, Google!), when you love pie like I do, it’s also an opportunity (er, excuse?) to enjoy a bit or two of something delectable. Also, I’m feeling especially full of pie enthusiasm given that my book is the #1 selling pie book on Amazon on Pi Day (which Glenn lovingly photographed and surprised me with-he’s my biggest fan, truly). How cool is that?!
To that end, I’m sharing a spring-themed recipes from A Year of Pies with you here today. Frozen Strawberry Pie is my chilly homage to a close childhood friend, Erica, and a sweet, frosty way to get you pumped about spring (just a week away!). On Pi Day, I say, let them eat pie!!!
Frozen Strawberry Pie
This is my attempt at recreating a pie from my youth. When I was around 10 years old, my good friend Erica and her older sister made a yogurt and fresh strawberry frozen pie that was the very definition of spring. My version includes the addition of heavy cream and cradles the entire ethereal concoction in a homemade graham-cracker crust. While opting for a pre-made version might be tempting, resist! This crust is the absolute perfect ratio of sweet-crunchy harmony. Although Erica and I long ago fell out of touch, I like to think that, should she happen upon this recipe, she’d feel I did her beloved pie justice.
Makes: One 9-inch pie
You Will Need:
*Graham Cracker Crust (recipe follows)
*9-inch pie pan
*2 cups whole-milk vanilla yogurt
*3 tablespoons honey
*2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
*1 cup heavy cream
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Graham Cracker Crust
*8 ounces graham crackers (about 2 cups)
*8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
*2 tablespoons granulated sugar
*1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Optional garnish 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
Prepare the graham cracker crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Crush the graham crackers either by pulsing them in a food processor or placing them in in a plastic freezer bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin.
Combine the crushed graham crackers, melted butter, sugar, and salt in a medium-size bowl and stir until fully mixed.
Press the mixture into the 9-inch pie plate, covering the bottom evenly and pressing the crumbs halfway up the sides.
Bake the crust 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool completely before filling.
Prepare the filling
Combine the yogurt and honey in a large bowl. Stir in the 2 cups strawberries.
In a medium-size bowl, using a mixer or a whisk, beat the cream and vanilla until billowy peaks form.
Fold the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture.
Assemble the pie
Pour the filling mixture into the cooled crust. If desired, arrange sliced strawberries in a circle around the outer edge of the pie.
Freeze at least 4 hours before serving.
Happy Monday, everyone! I’m coming to you today from our second-floor craft room/office/guest room. As hoped, I was able to make some serious headway organizing and revamping it over the weekend. Now I actually know right where my floral crafting supplies, glue tubes, paint brushes, rubber stamps, gift bags, wrapping paper, journals, craft books, scrapbook paper, stationary, and so much more are! Glenn made a gorgeous shelving unit for corralling everything in and, once the rest of the room is all tided up and presentable, I’ll share some images with you here. I love finally getting to a project that’s been driving me mad for some time. Move things around, tidy them up, and it’s like you’ve got an entirely new house, relocation not required.
My mom is downstairs playing with Huxley. With the new book, I’ll be needing some in-home care for the little guy once a week, so that I can have time to write the new book and work on recipe development without repeated requests of “Mama, come play in the cave?” (Huxley has a “cave” Glenn built into the attic space in his bedroom, done up with fur pillows, “cave”-dwelling stuffed animals, and faux rock motif paint on the walls) or “Can I go to my sandbox?” distracting me from the task at hand. Since Huxley is just as smitten with his “Gigi” as she is with him, it’s a win-win. Loving attention and direct playtime; can’t beat it.
This weekend was pretty quiet, just like I like it. That first image is of the “snow” that fell. I swear it looked fierce when it was happening. Soon as the sun fully crested the ridge behind the house, though, it was gone. Ephemeral beauty, at it’s best. Otherwise, there was much egg-eating happening (Glenn is the king of the “strata frittata”, his creation, and he’s been working on soft-boiled eggs with great success). I’m the kind of gal that like greens for breakfast, so we enjoyed eggs with broccoli as well as with creamed spinach this weekend. So good . As long as our flock keeps laying, we’ll keep getting creative with means of eating their offerings! And as evidenced from that pillow shot, there was ample time spent cuddling, hiding, and giggling. Perfect for weekends, or anytime!
Here’s wishing the week ahead is filled with health and happiness for you and yours!
A while back, I showed another of Glenn’s Strata Frittatas, and several of you asked for that recipe. Here it is, way overdue, but just as good as ever!
Collard Strata Frittata
For the eggs
-12-16 large eggs
-3-4 ounces of milk
-A couple pinches of salt
-A few grinds black pepper
-A dash of hot sauce
-Butter for the pan
-A tablespoon of dried herbs of your choice
-6 ounces grated melting cheese of your choice
-2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
For the greens
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 bunch collard greens, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped into small pieces
-1/2 cup wine (white or red)
-1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
For the garnish
-A couple tablespoons of chopped, roasted red pepper
-A couple tablespoons of parsley or cilantro
Cooking the greens
1) In a non-reactive pan, such as stainless steel, saute 1/2 onion in olive oil, for about 10 minutes, until they start to brown a little.
2) Stir in the minced garlic, and cook for another minute.
3) Add the greens, and stir well.
4) Cook the greens for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5) Add the wine and stock, as well as a pinch of salt and a few grinds black pepper.
6) Cook the greens, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid has evaporated, then remove from heat and set aside.
Cooking the first layer of eggs:
1) We used a Lodge, square cast iron griddle pan for the eggs, but any large oven-safe pan will do.
2) Whisk half of the eggs, half the milk, a pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and hot sauce (if desired).
3) Heat the pan/griddle to medium-low.
4) Melt 2-3 tbs of butter in the pan, making sure to cover the entire inner surface.
5) Pour in the egg mixture.
6) Sprinkle half the dried herbs evenly over the top.
7) After about 5 minutes, when the eggs start to set a bit, remove from heat.
8) Place under the broiler for a couple minutes, till the eggs are almost set.
9) Remove the eggs from under the broiler and cover them with the melting cheese (not the Parmesan).
10) Place back under the broiler, just till the cheese is mostly melted, then remove from the heat.
11) Let the eggs cool for a few minutes, then invert them onto a platter.
12) Using a second platter, invert them again, so that they are cheese-side up.
Cooking the second layer of eggs:
1) Whisk the remaining eggs and milk with salt, pepper, and hot sauce if desired.
2) Butter the pan/griddle again, and add the egg mixture.
3) Sprinkle the remaining herbs across the top.
4) Cook for a few minutes, till the eggs start to set a little.
5) Grate half the Parmesan on top, and place under the broiler.
6) Cook until the eggs are fully set.
7) Remove from the heat and let the eggs cool for a couple minutes.
8) Spoon the greens evenly over top the eggs on the platter.
9) Invert the second layer of eggs on top of that.
Garnishing and serving:
1) Grate the remaining Parmesan on top, and sprinkle the red pepper and chopped parsley or cilantro across the top.
2) A pizza cutter works great for cutting it up into individual portions.
I like to think that there’s a bit of order to life. While I don’t necessarily believe in fate, I do feel pretty strongly that there’s some latent, underlying intelligence and order and structure that permeates our reality. The cycles and flows and ebbs that characterize the existence of every organism on this planet are in a perpetual dance, an ecstatic rhythm. Which is about as good of a segue into talking about the glorious Pear, Cranberry & Ginger Crumble shown above as any.
Back in November, I held a gathering for my new book, Handmade Gatherings, at Small Terrain, the small-scale homesteading supply shop run by my dear friend Natalie. Since it was her shop, I asked her to craft the guest list. One of the guests I had the pleasure of meeting that day was Karie. In her denim smock dress (with pockets! Love me a dress with pockets, and a woman who similarly appreciates them), Karie and her boyfriend, Rob, were adorable, interesting, creative, and personable. A winning mix. And while I was instantly taken by their company, I was even more so smitten by their crisp.
Many a crisp has been egregiously wronged, in my estimation. Not enough butter, oil instead of butter (horror of horrors), a watery interior, too damp of a topping, excess sweetener, a browned top-the list of transgressions I’ve witnessed inflicted upon crisps far and wide is extensive, and sad. That fateful autumn day, though, Karie redeemed all the crisps that have preceded hers for me.
Based on Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, Karie’s offering was buttery, crunchy, gingery, perfectly sweet, well-set, toothsome, and, well, crisp. It hit every note. Last week, I became obsessed with making it. Cold winter evenings beg for a bowl of warmed crisp, preferably topped with something creamy, sweet, and dairy-based.
Thank you, Karie, for your stand-up crisp. Thank you, universe, for sending her my way, and for the friendship and eats that have been developed as a result.
Here’s the recipe, with Karie’s amended ingredients and Deb’s instructions:
Pear, Cranberry and Ginger Crumble
-1 cup AP flour
-1/4 cup demerara sugar
-3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (or more demerara sugar with maple syrup in it)
-1 cup gingersnap crumbs (about 16 cookies)
-1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/8 teaspoon sea salt
-1/2 cup (4 ounces or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
*I put them in a bag and hit them with a jar and it was SO SATISFYING
-2 pounds (about 4 to 5) large ripe pears (I used 2 Barlett, 2 Asian pears)
-1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) fresh cranberries
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
-3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
-1 teaspoon maple syrup (I don’t know if this really does anything or just makes me feel better about the world)
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup demerara sugar
-2 tablespoons cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap crumbs, ginger and salt. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.
In a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish, mix the pears, cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together then toss it with the fruit mixture in the pan.
Sprinkle the gingersnap crumble over the fruit. Set the crumble on a foil-lined baking sheet (in a 2 quart dish, mine didn’t come close to bubbling over but I see no reason to risk it) and bake it for about 45 minutes, until the crumble is a shade darker and you see juices bubbling through the crumbs.