I probably won’t be the richest grandma so I doubt I’ll leave copious amounts of money to a school or hospital; I won’t end up buying a ton of jewelery in my lifetime so there will be no diamonds (sorry, grandchildren); and there’s a good chance I won’t be leaving behind large amounts of land in the hills of Wisconsin (are there hills in Wisconsin?…you get what I mean).
My hope is that my grand kids will tell their friends about how their grandma looked so sweet and small yet she was strong, told sarcastic jokes and had a foul mouth. I hope they tell their friends that whenever I visited, I made them the most elaborate ridiculous lunches and wrote them the sweetest notes for them to find at lunch time. And I hope they tell their friends about how their grandma, with her super veiny hands, made the best pies ever.
When it comes to the beverage of choice, Thanksgiving has always been about wine. And beer. But mainly wine. Even growing up, Thanksgiving was that time when my parents would bust open the “fancy” bottle of wine a relative brought back from some region of Spain and we all discussed its legs and body like we knew what we were talking about.
Thanksgiving was the time when my parents would serve me a glass of wine at the ripe age of thirteen because that’s what you Latin people do – we give our kids wine! My fellow American friends always thought that was so strange and awesome, but in South America alcohol and kids isn’t that big of a deal. You give ‘em a little sip because it’s a special occasion, you know? Sharing is caring.
Now, cooking is different. When you’re cooking it’s a cocktail time…and in this case, thyme. Cocktail thyme! (I’m annoying myself today, too, don’t worry.) I love a good spritzer. It’s because deep down I’m a grandma who loves her spritzers and maybe, just maybe when no one’s looking I put a few ice cubes in my wine, too.
Wasn’t Pie Week fun?! I kinda miss it already. I’m already scheming for a possible Cookie Week in December? And maybe more pie. Always more pie.
On Wednesday I’m headed up to the Bay Area for a very short trip for Thanksgiving, so I figured some of you might actually be heading to other people’s homes, too. I love hostess gifts that have a nice personal touch, and since this time of year is so crazy, they need to be quick and easy. I looove having winter herbs in my kitchen for cooking and making cocktails. These herbs will all survive a cold winter – they’re considered “aggressive” herbs, or so they say.
Supplies you’ll need to make this lil’ quick and easy DIY:
- 3 small terra cotta pots
- Assorted colors of acrylic paints
- Painter’s Tape
- Acrylic Top Coat Spray
- Winter Herbs: Rosemary, English Thyme, Mint, Cilantro or Sage
- Paint brushs
Step 1: Brush each pot with two to three coats of paint. Allow ‘em to dry completely.
Step 2: You can do any sort of patterns that you like. I figured it’d be nice to do all an assortment of patterns that all sort of compliment one another. For the first one, I cut out triangles from the painter’s tape and placed them on the perimeter of the pot.
I gave it two coats of metallic light gray paint, allowed it to dry and then removed the tape.
Step 3: Continue with a different pattern. I chose little hand painted dots.
For the third and final patter, I used a spouncer – which is my favorite tool and word – dipped in paint to make a larger polka dot pattern.
Step 4: I allowed the pots to dry completely, about 30 minutes, and then sprayed each pot with a clear top coat, which will help protect the terra cotta pots against moisture, weathering and overall handling.
Step 5: Divide the herbs between the pots and fill with potting soil.
And that’s it! Super easy and quick. Tomorrow I’ll show you a cocktail recipe to use with one of these herbs. You know, so you can give your host the gift and then use it to make something. Super classy!
By “classic pumpkin pie, ” I mean pumpkin pie spiked with rum, obviously. You know me.
This whole week I’ve spent under the covers with the sickness. Amelia thinks sneezes are the most terrifying thing in the world. Whenever I dramatically sneeze, she flinches, bracing for the worst. She’s a weirdo. Luckily (for me and her), the sickness has almost run its course.
One of the many downsides of being sick is the loss of taste. I literally can taste nothing. Everything tastes flat, bland, the same. Except this pie. I tasted every little sweet and spicy note and looooved it. At its base, it’s a classic, awesome pumpkin pie. Not too eggy. I have serious issues with super eggy pumpkin pie. It’s sweet but obviously not too sweet. And the spices! Hello. Perfect amount, I think.
One of my favorite movie food scenes is from Waitress. You know, the movie with Keri Russell (Felicity), where she plays a waitress who loves making pies. She names each pie after a sentiment running through her bones, like “I-hate-Earl-Pie,” “I-hate-my-job-pie.”
The other day as I was rolling out and crimping, I started to think about my feelings and what’d I’d name my pies. I’d probably have a “Will-Amelia-Ever-Stop-Chewing-Stuff-Pie,” and, “The-Most-Heartbreaking-Part-About-Adulthood-Is-Learning-Your-Parents-Aren’t-Perfect-Pie,” and, “Am-I-Going-Down-The-Right-Path-Pie,” and lastly, “Joshua-Is-A-Dream-Pie.” I just got all real with y’all. Pie therapy: a new method for de-stressing.
Pie is my love language. And this week I’ll be serenading you with butter and caramel and fruit. It’s PIE WEEK!
Each day I’ll be bringing you a new pie. Some will be classics with small twists; other’s will be new-to-me (and you, hopefully) combinations.
Thanksgiving is next week and if you’ve worked it right, you’ve got the savory stuff down. You have your turkey reserved and situated. Dessert, though, might still be up in the air. If so, I urge you to make a lil’ pie. What’s great is that all of these pies can be made the night before and then served the next day. They all keep well.
I’ll admit that the first time I made pie, years ago, it was a complete disaster. I blame myself for being a terrible reader of instructions AND pies aren’t “easy as pie.” (That might be the most inaccurate, idiotic idiom I’ve ever heard.)
Pie has its challenges, though it’s definitely not impossible. Hopefully these tips and photos will help make you successful at da pie-a-makin’.
INGREDIENTS:Freeze your butter. Start with frozen butter. I generally freeze the butter for about an hour or so prior to starting.
Step 1: Possible obvious advice: Careful when measuring out your dry ingredients. I always weigh out my dry ingredients (because I actually find it easier than dirtying up cup measures). If you do use cup measures, make sure to fluff the flour, scoop it and then level it off with a butter knife.
Step 2: Use a box grater to cut up the butter. I find this WAY easier than breaking it up using a pastry cutter. Just shred the frozen butter atop the mixed dry ingredients. The end goal when making pie dough is to get the butter to resemble pea-sized bits; well, if you use a box grater, you’re already there. This makes it so you handle the flour mixture less, which will result in a tender pie crust.
Step 3: The key to good pie crust is everything should be cold, cold, COLD! This includes the water. I usually drop a few ice cubes into the water so the water is chilly.
Step 4: I usually add about 50% of the water I need to the dry ingredients, mix it together, AND then add more water a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Knead the dough a good ten times and form it into one cohesive ball. If it’s a bit shaggy, no biggie. When the dough rests in the fridge, the moisture will disburse throughout.
Step 5: This is a double-crust, so I slice it in half and reshape the dough into two discs. You should see the butter striated throughout the dough, creating layers of butter and flour.
Step 6: Let the dough rest. Resting the dough for an hour usually does the trick, but ideally it should be kept overnight. Have you ever had problems with your pie crust shrinking in the oven? This usually happens because there’s too much water in the dough and/or the gluten in the flour hasn’t had enough time to relax. Overnight is always better.
Step 7: Have you ever started rolling, only to find out the pie dough starts to crack on you?! Very frustrating. Allow the dough to sit on a floured work surface for about 10 minutes. This way it’ll shake off its chill, making it easier to roll out.
Step 8: Flour everything. Everything!! Press your rolling pin and roll outward. Give it one push, then rotate the disc a quarter turn, and repeat the process until the pie dough has reached about a 13-inch circle. Keep flouring, too. If the dough seems like it’s sticking to your counter, lift it and sprinkle a little flour underneath.
Step 9: The transfer. I like to do it grandma style by rolling the dough onto the rolling pin and then laying it over my pie pan. Some people like to fold it like a business letter and then transfer it. Both work fine.
Step 10: Trim the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch overhang. There will be a bit of shrinkage, so just prepare for it.
Step 11: Crimp, if you like! Or braid it. You can also take a fork and create little indentations. Place the pie pan in the freezer for 20 minutes. This is also a good time to preheat your oven. If you’re filling it with fruit, do it post-freezer trip.
Here’s what I like and why.
1. Pie Pan – Glass. I like this Pyrex one. I love vintage-y pie pans I find at yard sales, but they heat unevenly and get way too hot. I like that the Pyrex ones are inexpensive and see-through so I can see how the crust is doing.
3. Box grater. See above for my long-winded, very passionate reason why I use a box grater! Another thing that would work is a food processor with the cheese grater attachment. But do we really want to clean a food processor? Not really.
I know this week I’ve thrown you some renditions of Thanksgiving classics, but when it comes to cranberry sauce I like my stuff simple. Classic. Don’t throw sage in my dang cranberry sauce. Don’t put bacon in my cranberry sauce. I’ll get an attitude.
I have very fond memories of buying cranberry sauce from the can and plopping it onto a plate and carefully slicing it in between the can-rivets. I loved it. For years, even after I got into cooking, I’d still buy cranberry sauce from the can–it was emotional, I think! But now I just can’t do it, especially considering how simple and easy and delicious homemade cranberry sauce is.
One of my favorite “single-person” meals is a baked sweet potato with about three tablespoons of butter on top. It’s the most delicious thing to eat when all I want to do is sit on the couch and watch a TV show. I love the act of eating something and watching something. In film school, I’d go to Chipotle right before class and sneak a burrito into the theater and sit in the back while watching some super artsy movie. It was very much against policy to eat in our school theater, but I couldn’t help it–I wanted to watch the movie AND eat.
Whenever I do go to the movies now, I always try and convince Josh to get a burrito before, but he always wins because his argument about sitting down at an actual restaurant like a real human versus sneaking burritos in my purse is a valid one, you know. Sooo…now you know my single-person/gossip TV meal. This gratin is a hella fancy version of that…sorta.
This is Thanksgiving-table worthy. It’s cheesy and slightly sweet and delicious.
I try to be a good person on the daily. When I’m going into the coffee shop, I always hold the door for the person behind me. I smile at strangers. I smile at cute babies…and even more at cute doggies. I give people the benefit of the doubt. I call my mama on the regular. I try to tell the truth even when it sucks. I eat my vegetables and I like it.
So, if all that doesn’t work and I’m sent to hell at the end, I guarantee it’ll look like a mall on Black Friday. There will be people and shopping carts everywhere. Babies will be crying (because they know what’s up!). There might even be a few lil’ people toppling over each other fighting over some game console I’ve never heard of. People will be outside in tents camping to get the best deal on a TV. It will look a lot like the weekend of Thanksgiving. That’s what my hell is.
My idea of heaven is cooking soup in colorful socks. What? Yes. Maybe even Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas will be blaring in the background. Cooking soup and making snacks! It’s my favorite pastime. This lil’ tartine is a perfect snack/breakfast/lunch meal.
Thanksgiving Madness. It’s totally a thing. When I was younger, I used to take Thanksgiving VERY seriously. I’d cook the entire Thanksgiving meal including dessert, and since I had way too much on my plate, something would inevitably fail or not turn out and I’d get super bummed.
But now I’m just like, so what, who cares. There’s a chance that the turkey might be on the dry side, you might burn something, heck, I dunno, you might even drop a whole dish on the floor (I’ve done this). I recommend to treat those moments with laughs and shrugs…and then proceed to pour a ton of gravy over the turkey–that’s what it’s there for anyway. Thanksgiving cooking is supposed to involve lots of wine, laughs and way too many cooks in the kitchen. All that makes it Thanksgiving.
If you’d like some ideas for sides and stuffing and dessert, I got some.
Stuffing Muffins – People will think you’re the most adorable person in the world if you make stuffing muffins. I mean, look at them! Cuteness central.