Friday, November 22, 2013

Lots of Pie Crust

After yesterday's post, you are probably thinking, "Dang!  I want lots of pie!"  That naturally leads to the thought, "Dang!  I need lots of pie crust!"  Remember how delighted my dearly beloved was when I discovered the Best Pie Crust Ever?  And I was equally pleased, because it meant I can pretend to not be Pie-Crust-Phobic?

Well, I made three batches of pie crust (this is the third time I have done so), and I'm here to show you how to do it, so you'll always have crust at the ready, in your freezer.


1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup shortening, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups flour

1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp lemon juice

I made this batch in the mixer, so it's easier to see, but I usually just whip it up in the food processor.

Beat together or pulse the butter and shortening until it's an even color.

Add the sugar, salt, flour and powder, mixing or pulsing until it's grainy.  Add the lemon juice.

Drizzle in the milk, until the pie crust dough holds together and forms a ball.

Split it in half.  I always use my kitchen scale to make sure my pieces are even (see the extra lump on top?  That's because the two halves were uneven).

Flatten down into two rounds, approximately 4: diameter each.  These can be rolled out to form crusts for two single crust pies, or a two crust pie.  If you make multiple batches, each piece can be double wrapped in plastic wrap, then put in a zip-loc freezer bag and refrigerated or frozen for at least 3 months (I've not left them for longer than that).

Pumpkin pie, anyone?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Almost Wordless Thursday

There's a lot of planning to be done before Thanksgiving.  Some of the kids are coming home as early as tomorrow night, and the relatives from Denver are arriving Tuesday afternoon.

I'm furiously cheering Dan on to finish his project, and he is in the home stretch.  Finish painting may not get done until after Thanksgiving, but knowing Dan, I'm betting that even that will be done.  (For the record, I am an excellent painter, and can paint a window with a 6" brush without masking or scraping, but I really don't like painting, and do it only under duress.)  You might not see pictures until after next week.  It all depends upon whether my brain is thoroughly muddled or not.

So, here's my food order, to be phoned in on Monday for Tuesday delivery, subject to further additions (and this will last through December, BTW):

 And food plans for this week, next and Thanksgiving:

And I made a "practice" pumpkin pie the other night.  It's never too soon to be absolutely certain that your skills are up to par.

How are your Thanksgiving plans coming along?

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Another Project

Dan is up to something, and his mother may be complicit:

 (this is about 1/3 of the wood that's come through here)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Turkey Meatloaf

While watching me chop beef for soup last weekend, my dearly beloved suddenly piped up: "Why don't you have a meat grinder?"

"Why would I have a meat grinder?"

"Because my mother had one when I was a child, and I think you would like it."

So, having started my soup to cooking, I wandered off to order a meat grinder.  I selected the KitchenAid attachment for my stand mixer, and it arrived on Tuesday.  Last night, I mustered up the courage to try it out, making something I'd never had before.  But the red plaid cookbook said it exists, sorta, and so I jumped in with both feet.


2 pounds ground turkey
1 large onion, minced
1/4 cup parsley, minced
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 cup egg beaters (or 2 eggs, beaten)

I started with turkey cubes, onion cubes and parsley, and fed them all through the meat grinder.  (Note, if you're thinking of getting one, it works terribly at the slowest speeds, and works wonderfully at a speed of 4 to 6.  And adding the spices and so forth to the meat before grinding made it easier to combine them.)  So, mix your ground turkey with everything else.  (You might want to add 1/4 cup bread crumbs to make your turkey meatloaf firmer; mine kind of oozed around and took the shape of the pan.)  Put your loaf into a well greased pan and bake at 350F for about an hour, until it reaches 165 on the meat thermometer.

My boys griped that it looked awfully yellow, but they liked it.  It was moist, and had good flavor.  And by using egg beaters, I made this a pretty low fat meal.

Happy Weekending, everyone!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thorsday Book Review: The Red Badge of Courage

This is not a book for which I would normally go looking.  However, it was this year's selection for "Scranton Reads," a program which is designed to get all of us in and around Scranton to read the same book and have a dialog about it.  (Thought of the day: why are we only to read one book a year?  Is this city on the whole considered too illiterate to complete two books?  Ah, life's unending mysteries...)

The Red Badge of Courage was written by Stephen Crane, who was not even born until 5 years after the Civil War ended.  For that alone, it's considered remarkable.

by Stephen Crane

This is not a book about a specific person, or about a specific battle.  Our protagonist isn't even given a name, age or home, save during his musings back to when he quit seminary school (indicating probably about 18 years old, and from the Northeast), and bade farewell to his mother, who called him Henry.  We meet "the youth", as he's called throughout, while he's waiting to be sent to battle for the first time.  The youth must have been a Northern soldier, and the battle must have been in Virginia; other than that, this book is more generic with regard to events, and about emotions, changes in soldiers, and their reactions to events.

Halfway through this book:  "The youth took note of a remarkable change in his comrade since those days of camp life upon the river bank.  He seemed no more to be continually regarding the proportions of his personal prowess.  He was not furious at small words that pricked his conceits. He was no more a loud young soldier.  There was about him now a fine reliance...."

Toward the end of the battle:  "...The lieutenant, also, was unscathed in his position at the rear.  He had continued to curse, but it was not with the air of a man who was using his last box of oaths..."

At the end of the book:  "A specter of reproach came to him.  There loomed the dogging memory of the tattered soldier - he who, gored by bullets and faint for blood, had fretted concerning an imagined wound in another; he who had loaned his last of strength and intellect for the tall soldier; he who, blind with weariness and pain, had been deserted in the field..."

Stephen Crane's book has endured not because it was a history, but rather because it's a reflection of the human condition during adverse times.  He never went to war, and must have gleaned these private thoughts and emotions from the stories of his elders.  This book was written when he was 25, and he died of tuberculosis before he was 30.  The Red Badge of Courage is a rather slow read, because it causes the reader to stop and contemplate, but it is worthwhile.  (Incidentally, "the red badge of courage" is a bloody bandage from a battle wound, which soldiers considered to be an honor.)  4/5

(This picture hangs in my family room.)

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Crappy cell phone photo of a funny truck. (No, I don't have a smart phone.  I'm happy with my dumb phone.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Garden Tuesday: Guess What Happened?

It was 45 degrees at midnight last night.

And guess what was going on at 3AM?  Here's how it looked at 7AM:

That's right.  The first snow of the season.  We got about 2", and it mostly stuck to leaves and grass.

BTW, remember Dan's project on the patio?  Here it is:

He made a 4 foot square fire pit, and has been collecting fallen branches for the inaugural bonfire the night after Thanksgiving.  Of course, I didn't get out there in the rain last week, after he finished it, because, well, I'm funny about going outside in the cold rain to take pictures.  So I had to race outside this afternoon and take a picture in the 30 degree snow.  Silly me, thinking sunshine would return soon.

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thorsday Book Review: The Lady and The Unicorn

I found this book at the library book sale just 2 weeks ago.  I selected it because of the cover, or, more specifically, because of the spine.

Isn't it pretty?  And once I saw the cover, and discovered that it was written by the author of Girl With a Pearl Earring (fine book and movie), I knew I had to have it.


There is a series of tapestries hanging in a museum in Paris, and this book is a supposition of the story behind them.  The tapestries were made probably in the 1490s for Jean Le Viste.  Exactly when they were made, and by whom they were woven is unknown, but the author weaves a fine story behind them.

The artist Nicolas des Innocents, a talented painter of miniature portraits, was commissioned by Jean Le Viste to create tapestries for the walls of his banquet halls.  M. Le Viste wants battle scenes, but his wife convinced Nicolas to draw unicorns instead of battles, stating that they will be less discomforting for their three daughters, one of whom will inherit the house, including tapestries.  Nicolas, a charming man, tried to seduce the lady of the house, her daughter, one of her ladies in waiting, and a house maid, naturally creating havoc within the household.  After his drawings were completed, Nicolas was then sent to Brussels to meet with the master weaver, assist in reproducing his paintings full-sized for the weaver, and oversee selection of the colors.  There are three sections to the book: commissioning and painting of the original designs, weaving of the tapestries, and the unveiling of them in the Le Viste home at his daughter's engagement banquet.  Each chapter in the book was told from the point of view of a different person, and the events rarely overlapped, so a complete story was told without repetition.  The author also created a plausible explanation as to why, although the tapestries tell a story, each lady is different, and who each might have been.  I very much enjoyed this book.  5/5

I was also delighted when I pulled back the dust jacket and found a reproduction of part of the tapestry!  It made the story just a little more complete for me.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Sugar

My grandmother's sugar bowl and sugar shell

Hope you're all having a good Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Garden Tuesday: Garden

It's nice to live in an old house with unusual features, like a walled garden.

 I'd never seen Burning Bush before I got here, but we have a lot of them, and I love them.

The walled garden is a little slice of solitude right next to my house.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Candy Cookie Bars

I decided to make these using some of the huge basket of candy my boys bought for all of our non-existent trick-or-treaters.  They were a good way to winnow down the amount of chocolate available to me for the ruination of my perpetual diet, and the boys liked them, too!


1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg or 1/4 cup egg beaters
1-1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional: 1/2 cup salted peanuts
assorted candy: I used 5 mini bags peanut M&Ms, 5 mini hershey bars, quartered and 5 mini Milky Way bars, quartered

Cream the margarine and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in the egg, then add the dry ingredients, vanilla and milk.  Beat until combined, then stir in the candy and, if desired, peanuts.  Spread in a 9x11 baking pan; the mixture will barely fill the pan.  Bake at 350F for 24 to 26 minutes, until done.  During that time, the batter will spread and rise so the pan is nicely filled.  Let cool before cutting.

I made mine without the peanuts, and Ryan commented that they could have used more "crunch".  Dan, on the other hand, thought they were perfect.  Mark had no comment, which is par for the course, and better than him admitting that he didn't like it, because dislikes almost everything.

So, there you are: what to do with the Halloween candy that's taunting you.  Or maybe not, because these are pretty caloric, too.  Durn it!  So many dilemmas!

Happy Monday, everyone!