Another Try at a Pie

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Well it looked good. And it tasted good. But it was still too runny. The last time I made a pie it was delish, but just not holding together. The apples were soft. The crust was flaky. But inside, liquid oozed around the apples. Today I tried again with a new recipe (thanks, Mom) but it still didn’t stay together well.

Last time I used cornstarch as a thickener. That makes for a smoother pie, so I’ve heard. This recipe calls for flour as a thickener. It worked just as well as far as I can tell, but did it work well enough? I am just not sure.

My theory at this point is that my lack of patience is the problem. When I took this pie out of the oven I placed it on a cooling rack. I let it sit for about a half hour. I thought that was long enough. But my family was eager to dig in, as was I. So I sliced it open to find it was not all that cohesive. It seemed cool enough–warm but not hot. But I splashed some of the filling onto my hand. That burned.

I may need to approach pie baking differently, give it more time. I had planned to make this one a couple of hours before dinner. But then I took my daughter to the movies with friends. And I made some chili. The pie had plenty of time to bake and some time to cool. Apparently, my cooling time was not adequate.

We only ate half the pie tonight. The rest, at this point, is in the refrigerator. In the morning I will have to see how it is doing. I am sure my children will insist on pie for breakfast. Call it bad parenting if you want but I am going to let them have it. I mean, it’s for science. If it is cohesive enough at breakfast, I will have proved my theory.  Thanks, Kids!

Update 10/16: I had some of that pie tonight, about 24 hours after I first pulled it from the oven. It was, granted, pretty cooled in the fridge, but it was also pretty held together. Even after a minute in the microwave it seemed to have no runniness. Inconclusive. But it was still dang tasty!

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Pie Time

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Last weekend we picked some apples. If you are not one to frequent an orchard to pick your own apples then you might not know how easy it is to pick too many. One bag is easy to fill, especially when the apples are the size of grapefruits, so it is tempting to fill a second, and a third. Even though there were several of us on this particular trip, adults and youth types, we did not pick too many. Pat on the back for us.

We did, however, pick enough to make an apple pie. I have been using a variation of the same recipe now for years. It is a tasty pie, no doubt. The crust, with a bit of dried mustard and cheddar cheese baked right in, is spot on. It is a good crust. And the filling tastes great–robust apple flavor, not too sweet. But the consistency I just can’t nail.

This recipe calls for two tablespoons of corn starch to thicken the filling. I used the recommended number of apples, and I tried not to add only the humongo ones. More apples means more moisture which means more starch is required to absorb the excess liquid. I know this. So even though the number of apples in my pie matched that in the recipe, I doubled the corn starch. I was going to add only one extra tablespoon but I added two just to be on the safe side.

But the dang thing was still way too runny. I even let it sit a while so it would not flow out just because it was too hot. So, like a late New Year’s resolution, I have decided to just bag this recipe and to find another. This one stinks. I am always afraid I will add too much corn starch and it always comes out runny. Lame, I tell you. Lame. So from here on out I toss that filling recipe into the bin. I’ll keep the crust, but the filling? Ain’t happenin’ no more.

So I am on the hunt for a new apple pie recipe. I have a few in books on the shelf, and I will certainly give the pie recipes in them a try. I guess I will need to just get baking to try a few. Do you have a tried and true recipe that makes the apples pop on your tongue and is just sweet enough? You let me know. I’m game. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Good Day for Pie

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I’m not talking a sweet pie. I’m talking a savory pie. It was cold today, not freeze your hindquarters cold mind you, but seasonally cold. That means below freezing. It had been in the single digits, a couple of nights ago, and I think the cold I soaked in then has been seeping out of me since. It was a good night for a pot pie for dinner.

I had been building up to this pie, a tofu pot pie. I have wanted to make one for several days now. I even bought some tofu, a different variety than I usually use, you know, to mix things up a bit, and that has been waiting in the fridge for this very pie. Yesterday morning, after the aforementioned cold snap, I ran in the morning. I think it got up to twelve degrees by the time I got home. I was warm enough but a bit chilled. If you run, or do anything outside in the cold, you know what I’m talking about. So tonight, since I could be home early enough, I made the dang pie.

I have written about this pie before, so if you want the recipe (don’t be lazy just bake it already) you can find it here.  It involves a big mess in the kitchen, several bowls, a small kitchen appliance and plenty of dishes to wash. And it takes a while to prep. But, I can tell you, this bad boy is a savory winter night delight. Tickles the tongue with tastiness and fills you right up.

Tomorrow morning I will run again. Maybe there will be some light snow. Temperatures will be in the twenties. Typical winter morning (finally! It has been way too warm this winter) for a typical frozen dirt road run. There is the possibility that I will think about dinner again on that run. I may think about what other comfort food will do me right a couple chilly evenings hence. I may hatch a plan to acquire ingredients and hammer out some more yumminess.

My son was pretty keen on having some ice cream at some point after dinner (my wife bought four pints, unable to resist an admittedly great sale). I made a face at that idea. I was too full. That was quite a while ago now. Even now, ice cream seems like a bad idea. Too much pie. Although, I really do like ice cream. Maybe we can just have ice cream for dinner tomorrow night.

(If you have some ideas for dinner, let me know. It is easy to get stuck in the same cycle of meals. I am looking for hearty no-meat dinners with quality ingredients and some gustatory pow).

Pumpkin. Plus Pumpkin.

IMG_5324Thanksgiving is on the horizon so today I did a little prep for it. I baked up and then pureed the two pie pumpkins that have been waiting on the counter for just this holiday. My plan is to bake a pumpkin pie (natch) as well as a pumpkin cheesecake. The pie will be light and delicate. I like it like that, different than the denser pumpkin pies I admit to also readily enjoying. The cheesecake will be heavier, a thick creamy cylinder of deliciousness.

Once the pumpkins were out of the oven and cooled and pureed, I tossed the pumpkin seeds with a little oil and a little salt and roasted them up in the hot oven for a pre-dinner snack. They made a fine pre-dinner snack. While I turned those seeds in the oven, and while I whipped up dinner itself, I sipped my latest beer–a pumpkin ale, light on the spice.

I like a decent pumpkin ale but most of the ones I have tried are pumpkin spice ales, heavy on the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and hardly tasting of pumpkin. I created this beer to have an ale worthy of the squash moniker. It has a zip to it that makes me say Hmm as well as Mmm. Good stuff.

On another note, I finally (finally) planted the dang garlic. The last week has been crazy cold and things have begun to freeze up. Today, however, offered a warm enough window. I dug up one garden bed and popped in some bulbs saved from this year’s harvest. Hopefully they will appear as green shoots in the spring.

While I will have to wait many months for the garlic, next week I will get to enjoy a pumpkin pie, a pumpkin cheesecake and a fine pumpkin ale, all in one day. In the meantime, there are these toasted pumpkin seeds to polish off. You know, before they get stale.

Apples on a Beautiful Day

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Yesterday was a stunner. Clouds skimming the horizon in the golden light of fall. A warm breeze. Warm but not hot, cool but not cold. The day smelled of grass going to seed and leaves in the corners and apples. So we went to pick some of those apples.

Shelburne Orchards is the spot of choice to pick apples around here. It sits above Lake Champlain so picking apples means walking the rows of fruit trees with a stellar view. We, my daughter and a friend of hers and I, arrived early in the afternoon. The place was as busy as yellow jackets in a cider bucket. Kids, college students, families, older couples. Everybody in the county was represented. And they were all smiling and having a good time in the orchard.

We picked Cortland and MacIntosh. The picking was pretty good but finding the ripe ones was a challenge at times given the crowds that had been through. They have lots of trees, however, so we filled a bag and walked back through the orchard to pay. Of course, they don’t just sell apples, but apple and Vermont products of all sorts–cider (pasteurized and unpasteurized), pies, pre-picked apples (those all look pretty much perfect), maple syrup, and so on. We left the register with half a dozen cider donuts and some cold cider settled on top of our bag of fruit.

We were not ready to leave just yet, however. The girls were hoping for caramel apples but that was a no go–they were not on offer. Instead, we got in line at the Betty Bar. There they served up Betty Cones–waffle cones with vanilla ice cream and warm apple betty layered inside. That was surely the treat to start off autumn. We left with full bellies and enough apples to eat straight up, to cook into jam, and maybe even to make a pie.

There will be apples to pick for a while yet. One pie won’t be enough so I will have to head back, maybe in October for some different varieties. At this point I will even dare to wish for another perfect day.

Soup and Bread

That’s what’s for dinner. I had to be home to meet my daughter off the school bus. It isn’t always easy to work when she comes home, especially when it is just the two of us, and frankly, I want to spend time with her during that window. So we did that. She told me about her day, showed me what she brought home. The kid is a gem. She smiles and feels proud of herself. I feel lucky to witness that every day.

Once she started chilling by herself, I stuck some sweet pumpkin in the oven to bake. I started bread dough. I turned the pumpkin into soup and the bread into dinner rolls. It is the easiest dinner ever.  It took a little time but was not hard to do. So we ate bread with our hot soup together at the table. My son didn’t eat much. I think he is getting sick. It seems most kids are getting sick these days. It is only October and plenty of children are missing school. Too bad. Maybe the soup and bread will help.

We have nine pie pumpkins left. Enough for some pumpkin muffins, maybe more soup, and a pie. Later in the week I will whip up one of those. I want to make this pumpkin pie I learned about several years ago and tried only once. It is light but rich. I want to experiment with it and maybe make it again for Thanksgiving. What’s not to like about pumpkin pie?

I may be getting a little something in the head myself. I have been wondering if I run every morning, will that help me stay healthy, meaning will it prevent sickness? I know I will be healthier in general if I run often, but can it ward off the viri?  Can it keep the bacteria at bay?  I guess I will see what I can find out with my R of one.  I had a short run this morning. Maybe I will go longer tomorrow. It was awfully hard to get out of bed in the dark this morning. I am hoping it won’t be so tough the next time I try it. I love running as it gets light, but it has been all dark these past days. It is dark when I leave the house and dark when I return. Easy there, Winter; it’s only October.

So I will try my running and pumpkin health plan for a while. That soup will last for a few days. When it runs out, that’s when I’ll bake up a pie, or at least some muffins. That ought to be good, no?

Dark Now

Just back from an early run. It seems to be getting darker and darker in the morning. Oh, wait, it really is getting darker and darker. I left at 5:30, ran a shortie since I have to be off to work in a short while. Back just after 6:00. It was dark when I left. It was dark when I returned. It is still dark. Good old headlamp.

Made an apple pie last night. I’ll have that for breakfast. Stayed up too late. Ordered holiday cards–the early bird deadline to get a big discount is today. Family is asleep. Current tasks: make coffee, get out of these ridiculous running duds, take a shower, shave so I look halfway presentable, get a haircut, get novel manuscript in the mail, cloth myself, eat pie.

I’m off to it. Bring on the day, whenever it may come.