Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Seasonal Petulance

November 26, 2014

This time of year I sink into my own slough of despair, and revel in seasonal petulance. The holidays are too crowded, too commercial, too costly. Whine, whine, whine. I guess the universe got sick of listening to me kvetch, because – try as I might to be grouchy – I have been surrounded by kindness and love. “Self,” I said, “get over yourself.”

A pie crust in waiting

A pie crust in waiting

The first thing I decided to do was give myself permission to celebrate all the holidays in order. Thanksgiving comes first, and I am extraordinarily thankful for my grandmother’s never-fail pie crust recipe.

Original Recipe

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons vinegar

4 teaspoons cold water

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Sift dry ingredients together, then cut in the butter. Gradually add the egg and vinegar. Pour water over dough and mix.

My Version

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 egg, beaten with 3 teaspoons vinegar (cider or sweet balsamic for a sweet pie, white wine for a savory pie)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Put the butter and flour into a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles corn flour. Add baking powder and salt; pulse a couple of times. Add egg/vinegar mixture. Blend until smooth. You will need to heavily flour the board and pin when rolling out the dough.

The start of my personal, private Advent calendar

The start of my personal, private Advent calendar

Next comes Advent, which for me means the little calendars with numbered boxes and chocolate prizes. The bad news is this year I missed out on my favorite one – they sold out before I even put it on the shopping list. The good news is, I made my own version with all those mint tins I’ve been saving, and some leftover holiday trims.

Lani Longshore Christmas ornaments

Next comes the Ceremony of the Tree. My daughter has decorated the tree for years, but she won’t be home until spring. I was all set to skip the tree, when I remembered the new ornaments a friend gave me. My daughter has her own favorite ornaments, so this year I’ll put up my new ones and some of the older ones that have been buried at the bottom of the storage box.

Lani Longshore Christmas card

I don’t write the Christmas letter until Christmas day. The cards get sent out sometime between Boxing Day and Epiphany. This tradition stays.

Lani Longshore Christmas fabric

Last is the Time of Forgetting. This is the celebration of discovering you’re a day late and a present short. It’s not the best tradition, but it’s one with a long history in my house. I guess it stays, too.

May your season of holidays – whichever ones you celebrate – be joyous.

Luck and wisdom!

Pecan Pie and Where It Took Me

July 11, 2012

July 12 is Pecan Pie Day. As made-up holidays go, this is a good one. I gathered the ingredients for the crust (more on that later), then remembered my collection of warm, buttery, nutty embellishments:

A quick search of the cutting table unearthed an orphaned block and scraps from a civil war reproduction line:

I added a few more fabrics (some from the piles on the table, some from the brown drawer, all fat quarters or less), made more blocks, turned them into half-square triangles, and came up with a classic four patch configuration:

Then I put it on point:

My husband wandered close enough to the studio for me to grab him and show off this latest creation. He said it was very nice but since it wasn’t round he couldn’t quite see the pie. Eureka! Instead of making another wall hanging that would sit in another pile, I decided to make a round quilt to decorate the table:

This let me use a fat quarter that I believe was slipped in my bag at The Cotton Cupboard as a surprise bonus (thank you, thank you!), as well as the orphaned block and various scraps. In addition, I will use some packaged bias binding that I inherited and I will probably use more of my beads than I originally expected as I plan to put a beaded fringe around the edge.

Now for the rest of the story on the pie crust. I was visiting family in the Austin area (which is why I went to The Cotton Cupboard – quilt stores top my list of any must-see sights when I’m traveling) and on the flight home I gave my pie crust recipe to a woman sitting in my row. As I was listing the ingredients I remembered a variation I had made substituting coconut oil for butter. My recipe also uses vinegar and I remembered I have a killer vanilla-infused balsamic. Naturally, when I decided to make something for Pecan Pie Day, this is what I started with:

And this is what I ended with:

In case you want to experiment, here is my pie crust recipe – with variations:

The recipe as it was given to me:

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons vinegar

4 teaspoons cold water

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Sift dry ingredients together, then cut in the butter. Gradually add the egg, vinegar, and water. Pour water over dough and mix.

My standard variation:

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 egg, beaten with 3 teaspoons vinegar (straight or flavored balsamic is fabulous)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Put the butter and flour into a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles corn flour. Add baking powder and salt; pulse a couple of times. Add egg/vinegar mixture. Blend until smooth. You will need to heavily flour the board and pin when rolling out the dough.

Variation with coconut oil:

2 – 3 cups flour

1 cup coconut oil

1 egg, beaten with 3 teaspoons vinegar (cider for a sweet pie, white wine for a savory pie)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Put the oil (which is a solid at room temperature) and 2 cups of flour into a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles corn flour. Add baking powder and salt; pulse a couple of times. Add egg/vinegar mixture. Blend until smooth, adding more flour as necessary to firm up the dough. Form into a smooth ball and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Check consistency, adding more flour if necessary (or a little water if the dough is too dry).

Series of challenges

October 5, 2011

I started this week with energy and a long to-do list. Mom went back to Maryland on Friday, I had Saturday to miss her, and Sunday to get started on my deadlines. Sunday went well enough, but Monday . . . didn’t. Somehow the cough that I thought was on its way out turned itself around. By Tuesday night it was back in full swing – along with a scratchy throat and strained vocal chords, to the extent that this morning when Mom called she thought my husband had answered the phone. So I said a prayer of thanks that Sunday was productive, because I did manage to get finished with my absolutely-must-accomplish-now list.

This first project, however, is not from that list. This is one of the boxes Mom and I made for the crocheted angels. Mom glanced at the soda carton and thought it might be the right size if we cut it down a bit. I pulled out the scissors, hot glue gun and some Christmas fabric.

We made the lid from poster board. Mom was delighted to find a way to recycle the soda carton. I was thrilled to have another use for the stack of Christmas fabric that never seems to get smaller no matter how many projects I make.

Another item on the list was the Challenge Group project. Our assignment was to take a garment-related phrase and turn it into something else. My phrase was “she pursed her lips.” As it happens, my friend Ann Anastasio and I are working on a series of patterns (loosely) based on our novel, Death by Chenille, and its sequel-in-progress, When Chenille Is Not Enough. I decided to use the Challenge project to play around with purse designs.

This inside pocket is made from chenille (like I said, loosely based on the book).

Last on the list is “do something with the rest of the apples.”

I’ve made enough apple crisps for the season, there is no more room in the freezer for applesauce, and I’ve filled three containers with dried apples. Recipes are welcome, but I should tell you I’m a vegetarian so your German grandmother’s pork and apple bake won’t work for me. Here’s one for you, however:

Potato-apple tart

1 large potato, sliced paper-thin

1 large Granny Smith apple, sliced thin

3 oz Gruyeres, sliced thin

2 onions, sliced thin

1 tsp butter

1 tsp olive oil

tsp flour

1/2 cup milk

1 sheet puff pastry

Slice the potato, apple and cheese and set aside. Melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until caramelized or until you run out of patience stirring the rascals. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add milk. Stir until milk stops bubbling, then return to very low heat and cook until thickened.

Spread puff pastry on a buttered baking dish. Layer potato, apple and cheese slices in center, leaving an inch of pastry all around to turn up. Pour onion mixture over top (you may want to spread it gently if it is very thick). Turn up edges of pastry. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.