Monday, October 19, 2015

Quick & Easy Pie Crust ?

There is a quick and easy pie crust recipe going around on facebook lately. I'm busily setting up my entry as two pies bake in the oven.

I warn you in advance. I am a skeptic. I refuse to use the oil. Instead, I opted to make one with butter and one with coconut oil.

I was taught that the success or failure of a pie pastry depends on how the fat and flour are mixed and how the gluten is developed.

A flaky pie dough is created when you cut the fat into the flour making tiny particles. When the liquid is added the flour absorbs it and develops some gluten. When you roll out the dough, the little bits of fat and moistened flour and flatten and become flakes separated by the layers of fat. Thus it is important to have really cold fat that won't melt when you handle it and why for me, I opt to use a fat that is in a solid form.
Experience tells me that this cannot possibly be a flaky pie dough.

That's ok. Flaky dough is better suited for the top of a pie anyway so I'm crossing my fingers that this will come out as a decent mealy pie dough. Better suited for custard filled pies because it won't absorb much liquid.

So that's the theory lesson on pie dough.

Let's get started.
I made a Cranberry Custard Pie and a Vanilla-Bourbon Pumpkin Pie.

Substitute any fat but keep your proportions the same
Here's your recipe :
Easy Pie Dough

1.5c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS sugar
1/2c oil
3.5 TBS milk

Mix ingredients in pie plate (fork & fingers).Pat and press out into the pie plate. If no filling is added , prick crust with fork.
Bake 375, 15 minutes
Work fat into flour , try not to over handle it !

Press down into pan
Vent it by pricking it with a fork

Cranberry Custard Pie ingredients
Want to make the Cranberry Custard Pie ?

Pulse in blender or chop up 12 ounces of cranberries and add 3/4c sugar and lemon zest.
Spread mixture into cooled crust - I used the coconut oil crust for this one.

Whisk together 2 eggs, 2/3c heavy cream, 1/4c sugar and pour over top.

Bake until set, about 45 minutes.

Pour in the custard !
Here are the Results 

Not thrilled with the filling itself but of the two pie crusts this one had a more pleasant flavour. A mealy dough which tasted more like shortbread than pastry. Non offensive but missed the mark.

This cranberry custard was delicious and the only reason I just kept on eating. The texture was inconsistent and it didn't even hold it's shape. It had a terrible mouth feel as a result and I wouldn't recommend using coconut oil with this recipe if you decide to use it for convenience.

Overall , I did not like the recipe. If I were going to simplify my life with a one dish , press in , easy crust, I would go with a graham crust.

Let me know if you have better luck !

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cooking Without 2

Cooking Without 2

Last time I made an entry on Cooking Without I had 3 days before grocery day/pay day.
Today is 5 days before grocery day. That is a tricky spot for sure.
I was blessed again with visiting friends this week - another family of 5 children. I shopped a day early in case they saw my empty fridge and thought their visit was a burden.  But it's a tight summer and I hope that this isn't the new normal for us.  We recently over extended ourselves with the purchase of a trailer. Now before anyone gives me a pay-in-full speech give me a few minutes on this soap box. 

My oldest is to be 14 this summer and very actively involved now in Cadets, Youth Group, Quizzing Team. In May, he was home ONE weekend with us - he is away at a training and fitness testing day as I write this. He is transitioning towards independence , which we completely support. But our seasons are limited and thus we count that cost as we incur another bill payment. An investment in the family relationships , memories and shared experiences. And so we pay, and we pay the price without regret.

But there's also reality. There's no open fridge policy - I kid you not, they will never be filled. The appetite of a teenage boy is insatiable. And I feel a bit like Neighbourhood Watch or Crime Stoppers as I police any sign of activity in the kitchen!

So I rummaged through the pantry for ingredients that would not be missed any time soon to make something-  some expression of love (YES , food is love). Found three dented old cans inherited from a donation my father had brought me from a closing food bank he was involved with. Blessed treasure. 

(Simply blend pineapple with coconut milk , pour into molds 3/4 full. Add some fruit and freeze. )

Saturday, May 9, 2015



This past year. Oh wow. I just stop there and stare at those three words. There is so much more in those three words than I could dare to write about. A year of growth and heartache, defeat and conquest. The rattling of my life.
If I gained any ground in life, any success it was by grace. I'm still walking through the fog some days. Not seeing where the path is leading or even the direction I'm headed.
So I've tried to stick to the basics. The fundamental truths of what I chose to base my beliefs, my thoughts, attitudes, ambitions on.
And here I am. At the long haul of my oldest son's home education. Watching him evolve into a man entrusted with his own choices and consequences. Four younger ones trailing close behind in succession.
A newly defining relationship with my spouse. With emotional luggage neatly packed but not quite discarded.
A paper of achievement , a supportive following, and a desire to be more to their souls than just a food provider. To have a full sized impact on a part time hour.
Wanting to chase dreams and hold tight to goals.
How far do I run in each direction before one gives way to the other. Because, I'm not really sure I want one more than the other.
When I hold back, is it the fear? Because I haven't yet began to define The Fear to you. 
Funny thing about stuff like fear is that they tend to disappear in the light but I would rather hide it in the dark.
I think I might be close to letting one go - you see, for all that people may say to me about the cooking I really don't feel worthy or successful. I struggle a lot with how I measure up. I have what I think is an amazing chance to be part of a group of chefs. Network, learn and share with people who share this in common with me. But I don't want to go. I'm paralyzed by the fear that I don't reach their standard. They are executive chefs of corporations. I am a housewife. Never shamed me before but somehow going out into a man's world (and 90% are in fact, men) makes me feel ever so inadequate.
I try to rationalize that the worst that can happen is I will embarrass myself the first night and never go back. But what if I don't ? What if it's the best opportunity this day is providing and I miss it ? I'm not talking job opportunity. I'm talking the chance to learn and share an interest. To be a part of something unconnected to my life that still connects me to life. A shoot off the branch . New growth.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cooking Without

Cooking Without - Focaccia 

I have to be the most inconsistent blogger ever. I've said it before, there are so many blogs out there. So many experts in everything that another blogger is probably not what the world needs.
However, I do enjoy writing on occasion and keeping track of thoughts and projects that I might be up to from time to time.
For those who don't know me I am a homeschooling mom to five boys. And they are getting bigger.And they are nearly eating us out of house and home. That , by the way, is not so much a figure of speech for some.  My husband works a very decent job but with a family of 7 and boys rolling into teenage years it's like treading water more days than not.  Currently I have 3 huge turkeys in my freezer bought on sale, six bricks of butter that had been reduced to $1, buckets of whole grains that need to be ground. I have four eggs. One bag of milk (yeah, it's Ontario so it's bagged). Six pears. And three days until grocery day. And I really can't - shouldn't - go buy anything because I already dipped into savings this week to buy gas and fresh fruit and milk. This is pretty much the situation at the end of every pay cycle and it's okay. God is good and we DO have all we need and I have been blessed with a skill set just right for my lifestyle. I'm not Pinterest-best but I can do the job.
My friend recently came over with her five children making the lunch time count 14 people. This is not unusual - my boys had friends over for the weekend and then I had seven boys, plus us. And I want you to know that this brings me great joy to see my house full. A blessing not everyone can boast about. So the last thing I ever want my guests to think is that they are burdening me.
Back to my group of 14..... I pulled off a decent lunch and my friend , always the encourager, suggested I share recipes of how to make much out of nothing much.
I'm going to share a recipe with you for Focaccia. Focaccia is a flat , oven baked, pizza style Italian bread.

750ml water
3 tsp instant yeast
2 3/4c flour
3 tsp salt
1 1/4tsp sugar
2 oz olive oil.

Use your stand mixer to combine your ingredients into a dough.
Oil your sheet pans with olive oil ( I lined mine with foil instead)
Roll out dough into pan (I used two pans, you could maybe even get three out of this)
Put in a warm place, covered for 1.5 -2 hours to proof.
Use your finger tips to press dimples into the dough.

Now the fun. FIND SOMETHING to finish it with.

Brush it with melted butter or flavoured oil or even just olive oil.
Top it with coarse salt, fresh herbs, garlic, cheese, tomatoes, olives, ham/bacon/turkey - Whatever you have on hand.

Put a pan of water into the oven for steam and bake it at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden.

This is a yummy snack, light lunch or finishes off a meal. Very few ingredients with a little investment of your time and effort.

I hope you try it a few times to see how versatile this can be and made with very inexpensive staples.