Deep Dish Archive

 
24
November
2015

The Real Big Apple

Check this out!

The Real Big Apple

The biggest apple ever?  I think so!  It more than fills my extended hand.  It's a doozy, anyway, and it makes me happy.

OK, of course New York City is the other big apple.  But this isn't about cities, it's about ranches and really big apples.

Where do your apples come from?  Seriously, where do they originate?  For that matter, who's tending the soil that grows any of the plants that you eat?  Where do those people live? 

My food people live all over the world.  Coffee from one place, grains from another, turkeys from somewhere else.  We all know it's pretty global when it comes to food these days.  Many of us are making an effort to pay attention to fair trade and organic and other values when we can.  I hereby acknowledge that paying attention to those things represents a level of privilege than many people do not have.

Because of the secondary costs of shipping food -- like apples -- around the world, it is worth thinking about our food choices and from whom and where they come.  We humans are connected and it does matter.  When apples come from New Zealand or blue berries come from South America, the pollution from that air or sea transport adds up and becomes a cost that the Earth bears.   

I’m no angel about all of this.  The berries I buy in winter don’t come from around here (the Southwest U.S.).  But I do make an effort to buy food grown or produced in the United States and even more locally when I can. 

That’s why I have to give a shout-out to this apple.  It came to me as a gift from a friend, Jeannie, who lives on a ranch in Northern New Mexico, a ranch that has apple trees at least 100 years old.  This apple, she promised, was perfect for pie.  There are many varieties of apples on that old ranch, names unknown, but they can be pegged for what they’re good for:  pie, fresh eating, or applesauce.   And Jeannie was right:  this apple is perfect for pie.

She gave me a whole, full bag of these apples:  what a beautiful bounty.  The actual big apple pictured above is going into my Red Hot Apple Pie this Thanksgiving.  I’m looking forward to sharing this new favorite recipe made with perfect pie apples.

In this season of thanks, my gratitude is especially for such a gift, such a reminder that the best can come from close by, that good apples made into a good pie can be the very essence of the season:  kindness, warmth, and home, shared with those we love.   

Whatever your version of a perfect big apple is this season, I hope you find it and celebrate it!  And, thanks for sharing, Jeannie!

24
July
2015

A Mystery

Sweeter than Expected

A Mystery

Things don’t always go as planned, right?  Normally, when we have visitors I make them a pie.  Not this time.

I meant to make our recent guests a pie.  They arrived from Australia with the intention of visiting here in Albuquerque, then seeing more friends in Denver and Portland, finishing up in San Francisco before flying home again from Los Angeles.  Nice trip!  It was their first visit here and I was ready to show them around New Mexico, wine and dine them a bit, even serving up a “blue ribbon” pie.

As things unfolded, I was made aware again that we aren’t in charge of much and that it’s good to allow for mystery. [More than the mystery of how to succeed with meringue!]  The usual jet lag and dehydration seemed to take their toll on our gentleman friend, and his wife and Havens and I thought he’d recover after a good night’s sleep and plenty of water.  Instead, his health continued to fade.

Of course our attention turned to his care.  Plans for touring were cancelled, meals were had quietly, the great scotch we’d intended to share over laughs was shelved, and concern grew.  Eventually he ended up in the hospital, then hospice.  He died there are few days ago.

I share this with you because it has been a wonderful experience.  That may sound surprising, and it is even to me.  The truth is, we have found a sense of wonder and peacefulness about this process, as challenging as it has been.  It has allowed us to give from the heart, to stay in the present, to “hold space for what is,” and to expand with a sense of knowing that, somehow, everything was turning out as it was meant to.  We have embraced the mystery and found love everywhere we looked.

There’s a sweetness to this that goes way beyond pie. 

Blessings and love, Rebecca

13
March
2015

Pi Day of the Century! 3.14.15

Pi + Pie

Pi Day of the Century!  3.14.15

Remember "pi"? That magical goes-on-forever number that is the result of dividing the circumference of a circle by the diameter? Yep, that's pi, commonly known only as 3.14. Hence, March 14th is always "pi day," beloved by math teachers and assorted number lovers.

This year, because the next 2 numbers in the sequence are 1 and 5, and Pi Day falls on 3.14.15 -- the only time it will do that this century -- it's very special.  Of course this calls for pie, the natural extension of pi. So, prep some pie and call your friends and family, because it's time to celebrate. Any excuse for pie, right?

Pi t-shirt

Special thanks to Pie Pal Havens for finding and modeling this t-shirt. Wish I had one!

09
July
2014

Pie in the Sky

High Hopes

Pie in the Sky

Sometimes we have high hopes:  We see things going our way, see ourselves being successful and having fun.  We hold thoughts of what could happen that would be really cool.  The hopes may be a little out there, really high, but we hope anyway!  Why not?

Check out this “pie in the sky” slice.  I had very high hopes for this pie.  People often ask me what my favorite pie is and, without hesitation, I always answer “fresh peach.”  Oh, those ripe, flavorful peaches, dripping with sweet juices, all wrapped in flaky pastry, baked into round deliciousness.

Serenading some peaches recently, I was attempting to seduce them into a perfect pie as I peeled and sliced them with love and anticipation.  They were ripe. They smelled good!  They had good texture.  Yay!  The crust came together easily.  I even made a lattice crust, which I think is perfect because it lets you see the juices bubbling and the pretty blush color of the peaches.  First peach pie of the season.  I could hardly wait.

Ever have times like that -- where you are happy with the doing, with the expected outcome, with yourself?  Fun in the present moment with an eye on what’s ahead.

Well, then, you also know how things turn out sometimes:  not at all like you expected.  As so it was with this.  It looked inviting, complete with tiny pockets of peach juice sweetened and thickened, peeking through the lattice as expected.  The underside was golden brown.  I let it cool, waiting for the moment when I could finally have some with a little cup of espresso.  It was awful. 

What happened?  This is “gakky,” my inner critic said.  Too much tapioca and sugar, I am sure.  But the main thing was that the peaches had so little flavor. That was the deal-breaker.  I nearly cried with disappointment as I put most of it down the garbage disposal, not even sharing it with trusted pie tasters nearby.

What’s up with fruit these days?  Am I the only one consistently frustrated by the lack of flavor in store-bought fruit?  It’s starting to get depressing.  And I’m not just talking about everyday big grocery stores.  The same tastelessness applies to fruit from most high-end grocery stores as well, with the exception of some produce from the co-op.  But that’s really expensive, even for those of us dedicated to spending more of our shopping dollars at locally owned stores that pay their employees living wages and that provide high quality food.

Well, I’ve renewed my commitment to shopping for fruit at the farmers’ markets in town, even though I am so NOT a morning person and you have to get there early for the best selections.  I’ll go for the peaches, raspberries, apricots and rhubarb.  I’ll go for the zucchini, too, and the greens and peppers.  Kale?  Not so much.  But whatever I get there, it’s got to be better than whatever was shipped 900 miles or more to get here.  If I only get to make one really good peach pie per year, using peaches from a nearby backyard or farm, then so it is.

I’m keeping my “pie in the sky” hopes.  I’m willing to try and have things not turn out the way I’d hoped, and then try again another time with a new version.  We all need hope! 

Keep baking, friends, and share your current version of good summer pie here http://www.piepals.com/my-account/submit-recipe .  Because we all need good pie, really good pie.

 

14
March
2014

It's Pi Day!

It's Pi Day!

Pi* day is here!  It is March 14th today (3.14), near the “Ides,” about which we’ve been warned.  Is there some warning related to the 14th?  Heck, no.  Only that we not have too much Pi. 

What would that be, too much Pi?  Maybe being too numerical, too caught up in calculating, in figuring, in trying to plot things out, needing to have an explanation that makes perfect sense, where everything adds up and comes out as expected, according to the formula.  While math is exacting and can be beautiful – as with fractals – how much of life is precise like that?  Why do we seek that?  I think we seek that kind of left-brain calculation because we’re uncomfortable with the unknown, the fluid, with the ebb and flow of “that which is taking form” and “that which is releasing form.”  In other words, with the messy truths of life on planet Earth.  Things are always taking form and leaving form.  With every breath, we ourselves change.

Yet we try to establish truths and constants, with some hope that they will comfort us, make us feel safe, make us feel like we understand and have a measure of control. 

What significant thing in your life came out exactly as you expected?  Name one thing.

Me either.  Can’t name one thing.  And today, I find that comforting.  I’ve reached a stage in life where it’s no longer important to invest in expectations, or at least not in calculating and planning so much.  

Now, it’s more about setting intentions and then letting go of expectations about how things will actually turn out.  Now, I tend towards, say, the intention of having a good time, or of being relaxed, or of enjoying time with friends, of being healthy, of being productive or compassionate, or of creating a garden I’ll enjoy, rather than investing energy in any details about those things.  It’s so freeing this way.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t get exacting sometimes!  I do, including around pie.  There are times when measuring matters, like getting the proportions among flour, salt, Crisco and ice water just right, or making the “perfect” lattice.  It’s also true that if my intention is to put love into what I’m doing, it seems to come out well enough and meanwhile, I’m not stressing.  Yay!

So, while I’m glad there are numbers like pi (3.14………), and that some people get a kick out of them, I’m not invested in them.  I’m more interested in any excuse to make and share pie, so if it’s Pi Day, that’s good enough!

Special thanks to a true Pie Pal, Peter, who found this photo of a Pie Day pie.  May you always have good pie, dear friend.

 

*Pi is a special number, representing the ratio between a circle and its diameter.  It can only be expressed in an exact way through the Greek letter “Pi,” as the numbers to the right of the decimal never terminate (thus 3.14159265359…).  Can you tell my partner is a math nerd?

 

Photo credit: Real Science-4-Kids

 

20
February
2014

Passing on Pie?

Can you? Will you?

Rebecca & 2 young friends make pie

There are two kinds of Pie People.  Those who will eat any pie and those who are pie snobs.  I’m the latter.  Both types love pie.  How great is that?

Can you pass on a piece of pie?  It depends?  What about a piece of mass-produced pie?  You know – crust that can bend a fork and overly sweet canned fruit filling?  Maybe, maybe not.  Can you pass on a piece of really good pie – one with a flaky crust and flavorful fruit inside?  Less likely!

But that’s not the point.  There’s passing on a piece of pie, and there’s passing on pie:  the knowledge of how to make good pie and the recipes that go along.  That is passing on pie and is something I value.

Check out these photos that celebrate both of those 2 essential things: 1) teaching others to make pie, the craft of pie, the love that goes into making a delicious pie, and 2) passing on favorite pie recipes.Chocpiepaperedsm

Look at this gem!  It’s a hand-scribbled recipe shared by a Pie Pal who’s now in her 60’s.  It’s a recipe she’s been making for friends every year for G.O.K. (God Only Knows) how long.  Thanks for sharing it, Chris!  (It was our pie of the month recently).  How many of us have family recipes like this, written out by hand and tucked somewhere in the kitchen?

 

And check this out:  another Pie Pal teaching her granddaughter how to make a pie.  How sweet is that? 

PatAddie12.13ed.sm

This is happening all over the country and it makes me very happy.  If you have a pie-teaching story or picture, share it!  The rest of us would love to see you in action, teaching a friend or family member your techniques.

Why does this matter – passing on pie?  Ours is a culture that’s all about fast:  fast food, fast information, fast work, racing through our days.  You know all this.  Even those of us who try to choose a more mellow pace are still swept along sometimes, finding life going too quickly, feeling pressure to keep performing and producing. 

Pie is about slow.  It’s about taking care, doing things by hand, like peeling apples or washing berries or separating eggs.  It’s hands-on, for sure!  It’s about being in the present and humming. 

Back to passing on pie.  If we, those of us who still make pie from scratch, don’t teach the next generation or two how we do it, what will become of our recipes and knowledge?  I’m pretty sure a YouTube video won’t compare to being shown by you how to roll a crust and crimp it.  I’m pretty sure a 30-second clip on Google won’t really help your grandchild understand what “cut in the shortening until it looks like cornmeal” means.  Who will teach children the importance of chilling the dough or using a pie crust shield to prevent the outer edge from burning while waiting for the juices to bubble at the center of a cherry pie?  And who will help the children in your life learn how to weave a lattice?

Please!  Be inspired by this recipe and make a folder full of your favorites to pass on to others in your family.  And, even better, share two or three of your favorite pie recipes here on Pie Pals.  It’s easy to enter your recipe and then you’ll be sharing it with the whole world! 

Please!  Be inspired by this photo and teach someone who’d like to learn how to make pie.  Spend a morning together and create a fabulous memory.  How the pie turns out is irrelevant, even for pie snobs, because it’s the making it that’s good. 

And for sure, someone will eat it. 

02
February
2014

What are your hands doing today?

What are your hands doing today?

Hands.  Recently I was in the occupational therapy area of the Healthplex getting therapy on a smashed (but recovering) right index finger.  The other person getting treatment was a guy who seemed – from appearances, I didn’t ask – to be recovering from badly burned hands, arms and scalp.  He struggled to do basic therapeutic movements with his stiff hands, transplanted skin stretched tight across them, fingers cracked and bleeding.  He worked very hard at simple things, like moving pegs on a board.  Whew. 

How much of what we do every day is dependent on having the use of our hands?  You could make a list that would be almost endless, I’m sure.  Please take a moment to at least think about your list.  Hopefully one of the things on it would be the ability to touch those you love – family, friends, pets, other animals, even plants or books.  And I would include food on the list of things we might touch with love.  The ability to choose and prepare nutritious, good food with love and care is a blessing.  Now I’m not saying pie is nutritious, but you know I think it’s an important part of the food pyramid and deserves to be an occasional treat!

The next time you make a pie, think about how cool it is to have your precious hands to bake with.  Love your hands, love pie.  It’s all good.  Very good!

 

 

 

07
January
2014

Pie Poetry Contest!

Put your love of pie into words! Win a prize!

Pie Poetry Contest!

This contest has closed, but feel free to send us your "pieku"!

The Pie Pals Team. 

 Go ahead, write a little poem about pie! 

What:  We want poetry about pie.  Send in your original poetry about pie and win a prize! 

When:  Due date is February 28, 2014.  Send any time between now and then.

Where:  Send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. *

Why:  You love pie.  Good, homemade pie.

First prize is an original Pie Pals apron, and all honorable mentions will get a free Pie Pals magnet.  Winners announced in March, with winning poems posted on the Pie Pals website. 

Haiku poems are welcome!  I guess that makes them pieku? 

 

 

What else? 

  • Any style of poetry is fine, keep it clean, fun is good, family stories as poetry are interesting, say what’s true for you about pie. 
  • Attach as a Word document if your poem is longer than a half page.
  • Must be your very own original poem(s).
  • Limit 2 poems per person. 
  • Anyone can enter.
  • Entries need to be in English.
  • Drawings, illustrations and photos are welcome but certainly not required.
  • Decisions are final, blah, blah, blah.  You know the routine. 

Just write something and wax poetic about pie!

*Include with your email the following:

 

  1.  Your name and the city/town/village/pueblo where you live, and the state/country.  Also let us know your age if you’re under 20.

  2. Your statement, “I agree to the terms of this contest, and confirm that I wrote this poem and I am giving Pie Pals, LLC, permission to publicize it as they see fit.”  Cut and paste this into your submission email if you want to, or type it in.  This statement must be included for your poem to be considered!

  3. Any tidbits about the poem, your love of pie, your history with pie, or anything else you think we might find interesting about you.  Don’t be shy!  This is all in the spirit of being pie pals – people who love pie and want to share that enthusiasm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22
September
2013

Happy Anxiety at the Pie Contest

Here's how it came down

Happy Anxiety at the Pie Contest

A happy anxiety rises in the air as the judging begins.  Folding chairs squeak and restless movement settles into a collective forward lean.  Attention turns to the former university president’s wife, who is holding the mic and who has been running the show, at least at home, for years.

“Welcome to the 2013 State Fair Pie Contest!  Today we have16 categories of pies, and 61 pies altogether. They look just beautiful and so delicious!”

Contestants and their friends are impatient for the judging.  Four judges work, each one taking one type of pie at a time: first the apple pies, then blueberry, then cherry.  Next come the peach, peanut, pumpkin, and pecan.  Finally the “other fruits” -- an interesting and diverse bunch, including pears, plums, and luscious apricot hand pies – plus the chocolate and tart entries.

judgesatworkedThe judges take their time, and ours, considering the pies.  They check the bottom to see if it’s cooked enough (“No soggy bottoms!”), see how it cuts and holds together, taste the crust, taste the filling, taste the crusts again, all while keeping a poker face.  They really do give attention to each pie or tart, noting the strengths and weaknesses, and labor over deciding which ones to honor.

In each case, a third, second and first place ribbon are awarded and winners announced.  The best part of the whole thing – well maybe the 2nd best – is how everyone applauds one another.  It’s the most generous audience you’ve ever seen.

And the delight, oh, the joy, of winning!  Sandy, one of the community of pie bakers who’s been entering for years, won “Best of Show.”  You should have seen the bright sparkle in her eyes when it was announced that her tart won!  She was one happy camper, and everyone there was happy with her.

And the best part?  Eating pie with friends afterwards. Pie, pie, pie everywhere!Friendspie2013ed

I’m going to ask some of the Pie Pals who were present at the pie contest here to share their ribbons and recipes, so watch for more in the next few days. 

I’ve posted my two blue-ribbon recipes, for peach and rhubarb-raspberry pies.  Please help yourself!

Cheers, Rebecca

30
August
2013

Easy Does It Pie for Labor Day!

Angel Pie

Easy Does It Pie for Labor Day!

It’s Labor Day weekend and time to chill a little.  It’s time to spend time with family and friends, maybe enjoy some really good food.

Easy as pie, as they say, and this one surely is as easy as they come.  Try Angel Pie and see if you don’t agree that this is one of the better treats you can make for a warm weekend of kicking back.  It’s light, fluffy, lemony and fruity all at the same time.

An added bonus:  it’s gluten-free!

While relaxing this weekend, I’m going to appreciate especially those who have been or still are part of labor unions.  They help make for a middle class in America.  Here’s to everyone who works hard and contributes to their families and community! 

18
August
2013

The Scent of Unconditional Love

Cinnamon Rolls After School

The Scent of Unconditional Love

School has started here in the Southwest.  Busses are plodding along full of children, parents are arranging their lives to accommodate school schedules, and teachers are facing a new year with this crop of kids and youth.

When I was young, still in elementary school, 11 perhaps, my maternal grandmother, Alice, came to live with us.  She had been widowed the year before, after 42 years as a farm wife in the countryside of North Dakota.  A woman of modesty and humor, she was married to the northern prairie and survived those years of plucking chickens, hot winds, feeding farm hands, growing most of the family’s food, and blizzards with grit and fortitude, as farming and ranching folks often do. 

After the farm sold at auction, she began a new chapter of her life.  Finally she was free to be her lively, travel-loving, urban self.  As a young woman she had traveled from North Dakota to exotic places like Lake Louise in British Columbia, and then worked far from home in Seattle.  She thrived in the energy of the city and only left when she was called home because of a dear cousin’s death. 

Marrying Adolph, the farmer who promised they’d move to town one day, she acclimated to life on the farm but never really liked it.  Like many women, she made the best of things and raised her children with love and attention -- and one eye on the horizon!

When she came to live with our family near Los Angeles, we just scooted over and made room, making her welcome.  She, in turn, looked for how to love us back.  And gosh, did she find ways!  One of them was baking.  You know where this is going.

Grandma Alice timed the cinnamon buns, the homemade dinner rolls and the cookies to be coming out of the oven as we were arriving home from school.  And then there was the bread, still warm, sliced and blanketed with butter.  We could smell the aroma from outside the house, dropping book bags at the door and running to the kitchen. 

Now, years later, I realize why I’m always drawn to bakeries and baked goods.  It’s not the sweets that draw me in, really.  It’s the unconditional love wafting on the aroma.  I don’t even have to buy anything.  The scent alone is enough to make me smile and say, “Thanks, Grandma!  I love you, too.”

So, friends, what aroma or scent reminds you of unconditional love?  Last night friends shared their versions:  the smell of rain, the smell of warm biscuits baked by a grandmother, a mother’s favorite blue soap.  And you? 

07
August
2013

Looking for Love at the Diner

How good is their pie?

Looking for Love at the Diner

It’s kind of like looking for love in all the wrong places.

I was on a road trip with three friends recently and, just in time for lunch, we saw this sign on a roadside diner.  The whole roadside diner idea was appealing:  comfort food, big booths with padded vinyl seating, and a waitress with her name on the back of her belt refilling coffee cups.  Perfect!

The sign promised pie, so we checked out the refrigerated pie case immediately, before even being seated.  Featured there was a selection of fruit and cream options, including cherry, apple, lemon meringue and coconut cream.  The hostess reassured us that, yes, everything was made right there at the diner, just like homemade.  Oh, yum!  This was going to be fun!

The booths were full of local folks, so we settled down at a wooden table for four in the annex.  Sure enough, Betty brought lots of coffee and we ordered everything from country fried steak to enchiladas to a Chinese chicken salad.  Everything was pretty good, given that we were many miles from the nearest sources of fresh ingredients. 

Then the moment we’d been looking forward to:  sharing a piece of pie.  There was lots of talk and we finally agreed on the coconut cream, as it did look the most beautiful and all of us were in the mood for few bites of something sweet and blissful.  And if the pie was shared four ways, no great harm would come to anyone’s diet!

CococreamedShockingly awful.  I mention this not to disparage the café but just to be real with you about what commercially made pie is like these days.  Can you imagine pie so bad that four of us couldn’t finish one piece?  It’s true:  the crust was dense and tough, the filling was starchy to the point of gakky, and the topping seemed to be a cross between whipped cream and plastic.  Really!  We left most of it on the plate.

Do you find yourself looking for good pie and frequently being disappointed by what’s served?  Me, too.

So, my friends, I’m proposing that we once again commit to making pie and teaching others how to make pie and then enjoying it together.  Let’s keep good pie alive! 

And what do you think about making a list of places in the U.S. and Canada where it’s possible to buy a really good piece of pie, based on your experience and judgment?  I’d love to compile a list! 

Start thinking about where you go for good pie in your area and in the next newsletter (Sept.), we’ll set up a system for collecting your personal endorsements and posting them with pictures on a list here at Pie Pals so we can all find that good pie when we’re traveling.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll take more road trips, just for the sake of finding a good piece of pie! 

Yours in the search,

31
July
2013

A Festival for Bread!

How great is that?!

Bread Festival, Paris

The aroma of bread, freshly baked and warm, was wafting from a huge white tent right next to Notre Dame in Paris.  That scent, even more than my curiosity, pulled me into “La Fête du Pain,” the festival of bread.  Where else but France, where bread is so fundamental, a cornerstone of the diet? Served at every meal in generous quantities, bread is one delicious business!

Their bread is delicate, flavorful, needing no spread of any kind.   It stands very well on its own.  Indeed, it is considered rude, gauche even, to ask for butter.

bagettesbakingedSo there was the white tent, beckoning.  I succumbed to the lure and became engulfed in the world of French baking.  Ovens lined the entire back wall of the long space and we, the hungry admirers, could watch baguettes turning golden.  We moved along the other side of the tent, with dozens of bakers busy at work in between:  kneading dough, rolling dough, shaping dough, tending the rising, tending the baking – all oblivious to those of us gawking and drooling nearby.

As we moved along the aisle, windows to the left revealed the spires of the famous cathedral, yet we couldn’t help but give our real attention to other chefs pitting cherries, peeling applies, sprinkling cinnamon, and stirring crème Anglaise.    Tarts and pastries were underway and coming out of the next set of ovens.  Oh, be still my heart.  I want that, and that, and that!pastriesed

Finally the counter for viewing the results of all that pastry pampering and an opportunity for making a purchase.  How to choose?  Will it be the apricot turnover, the apple galette, a slice of the raspberry tart or a whole loaf of fresh bread?   What would you choose?

InsideLaFeteedI chose an authentic community event.  The day was a national holiday in France and between the natives and the tourists, Paris was swarming.  The line to get into Notre Dame was 4 people wide and a quarter mile long, winding past the grandstands and down a narrow street.  Cathedrals are important places of worship, art and history and, at that moment, a festival full of life and vibrancy was more attractive.  “La Fête du Pain” was about something essential and universal, something humans make with love and creativity in the present moment to share with others.  

Choosing to live life in the present, whether it’s at a festival in the park or a walk with a loved one down one’s own street, is a way to acknowledge how grateful we are for life, how wonderful it is to be breathing and living today.  May your days be filled with such choices, and with the aroma of fresh, warm bread.

Cheers!

Rebecca, Pie Pal #1

 

23
July
2013

Fruit tarts and baguettes, oh my!

Watching What I Ate

Fruit tarts and baguettes, oh my!

I watched what I ate on a recent trip to Europe.  Yes, I watched as I ate croissants for breakfast, mopped up melted cream and cheese with French baguettes at lunch, bit into Swiss macaroons filled with Kirsch, and bagettesedinhaled delicate (yes, it’s possible) pizzas in Italy.  It was all sort of mesmerizing, really, all of those breads and pastries and calories, just disappearing in front of me. 

Then, they did reappear behind me.  I gained a pound or two while there, but my legs got stronger and thinner because of the walking, and walking, and walking, and walking.

One day, near the end of the trip, I told Havens, “The main thing is, I don’t want to walk as far today as we did yesterday.”  We walked further.  We were in Rome, after all, and were told we had to see the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.  We were staying in a neighborhood, Travestere, which looked on the map like a mile or so from the renowned chapel. 

We started late and did not beat the crowds.  It was mostly uphill and through narrow streets, with one spectacular panorama of Rome along the way.  New satellite dishes adorn ancient villas and fountains are likely to appear around any corner.

The wait to get into the Vatican with a line ¼ mile long and 4 people wide, would be 3 hours.  In the heat.  It was not for the socially claustrophobic!   I excused myself.  So, more walking.  I headed for the green river that runs through the city, and sought the solace of quiet, wide water and sidewalks shaded by sycamores.

Nearly back to the small hotel room with the orange curtains and red bedspread, I stopped for a cappuccino in a bistro with an outdoor patio.  A breeze carried the scent of honeysuckle and my eye rested on violet bougainvillea.  Ah, life is good.  And yes, I’d love a little cookie with that, thank you!

Here’s to enjoying summer! 

Warmly,


Rebecca

Pie Pal #1

16
April
2013

Gluten-Free Pie Crust 101

 Gluten-Free Pie Crust 101

Take a look at this dough!  Oh, my gosh.  This was the gluten-free dough after chilling, before rolling.  It was a mess:  look at how it had crumbled into a bazillion pieces already.  Nothing seemed to be holding it together in any way…how was I ever going to roll it out and get it into the pie dish?

Dutifully, I worked on a cold surface, dusting the rolling pin with more gluten-free flour.  But it just cracked and split and went this way and that, with no pretense of “rolling out.”  This was one radically uncooperative crust. 

Finally, I had to get rough with it. I did something I would never do with wheat crust:  rolled back and forth, back and forth across the dough, pressing hard. It cracked and split at will, and I could almost hear it laughing at my efforts.  I rolled harder.  What in the world was going on here and what would hold this dough together?  The xanthum gum?  The eggs?

With a great deal of persuasion – rough play, really – I got it big enough and loosened it from below.  Okay, whew.  Then, going into the plate, it ripped into 9 pieces.

Onto Plan B:  there would be no lattice on this cherry pie.  The top crust would be made into small pieces intentionally and laid on top.  Meanwhile, the bottom one was pieced together, pinched and patted and molded with fingers to fit and to form something of a lip on the crust.  There would be no folding together of the two crusts, either.  Instead, I built up the lip enough to then use a fork and make a little pattern going around the edge.  That would have to do.  My perfectionist self was getting a lesson in gluten-free realism!

Cherry Pie with hearts top crustAs you can see, the top crust was pieced together by making cut-outs using a cookie cutter.  I highly recommend this solution, as it allows you to create an attractive top without the drama of trying to transfer a large, rolled piece of dough intact onto the pie.

The recipe came from a well-known flour company’s Web site and featured their own gluten-free all-purpose flour.  I’ll post the recipe and comments on the results in the next “Deep Dish” blog. 

Til then, to your health and to happy gluten-free baking,

Rebecca

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