oh my! blueberry pie!

pie oh my

Preheat oven to 375°

I have given you basic pie dough recipes before, and they are on the blog.

Sometimes even I take a shortcut- If I do not feel like rolling my own dough out, I purchase Marie Callender deep dish pie crusts.  They are in the frozen section of your grocery store. I did that this time.

Filling:

Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries washed and drained
1 1/4 cups of Florida Crystals Demerara Sugar
6 tablespoons of flour
1 generous teaspoon of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
The zest of one medium-size lemon and the juice of half of that lemon

In a large mixing bowl mix all the filling ingredients listed above together. Fold gently and thoroughly you’re not mashing anything.

Set bowl to the side

Crumble topping:

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Florida Crystals Demerara  Sugar
1 cup Quaker quick oats (plain not flavored)
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter cut into little bitty squares
1 1/2 f teaspoons of cinnamon
1 scant teaspoon of cardamom

Use a  pastry cutter or pair of forks to blend the topping ingredients together until soft crumbles form- Crumbles should be relatively uniform in size. Put the topping in the refrigerator for half an hour to 45 minutes.

Before you put the pie together, if you are using a fresh or frozen pie crust now is the time that you use a little  softened butter In a light coat and spread gently on the bottom of the crust in the pan. It keeps the crust from getting soft. It is a tip I picked up from watching Chef Robert Irvine on TV- used to use the Martha Stewart egg white painted along the bottom of the crust, but I like this better.
ghk-marie-callednder-pie-crust-1109-s3-mdn
Fold your berries into your deep dish pie crust and spread the crumble topping evenly on top – I tend to be slightly mounded in the middle of the pie crust. Do not overfill your pie crust or your oven will hate you later.

I make a light tinfoil piecrust covering edge for my pies before I put them in the oven, or you can use one of those pie baking rings .

Another tip: Because this is a fruit pie I generally cook it on a cookie sheet Or a shallow pan like a jellyroll pan in the oven- That way it saves on spills later

Bake the pie at 375° for  approximately 50 to 55 minutes, depending on your oven.

Pie will smell delicious and you’ll see some of the blueberries bubbling through the crunchy topping when it is ready.

When the pie is  finished put it on a baking rack to cool, which ideally should be at least four hours so the filling sets.

fl crystals
Pie is best served the day it is made I think, and should be served at room temperature. You can serve plain or with good vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

I will note that this organic Florida Crystals Demerara sugar is exceptionally good for baking fruit pies with – I tried it on a whim once because they said so on heir packaging, and guess what? They were right.

The final note is I have never written this pie recipe down before, so I hope the proportions are correct. To me baking fruit pies is like making homemade pasta – have done it for so long it is sort of instinctive – I grew up around people who cooked and baked – so from trial an error I just sort of learned if stuff felt right and so on.

Enjoy!

 

quilts!

One of my most favorite things are vintage handmade quilts.  Maybe it is part of the legacy of having had a Pennsylvania German grandmother, I don’t really know.  I am not a quilter, but I admire it as a  usable folk art form.  I actually have a couple of friends who are quilters .

Quilts are just cool, and quilting has been a popular craft in the United States since the 1700s.   In a sense, it is the ultimate folk art . ( A fun blog to check out on the topic is Tom Miner Quilts and Folk Art.)

Some of these vintage quilts can be very expensive, and they come in all colors and patterns.  Many tell a story, yes story quilts. Or memory quilts.  I hear there are quilt shows, but have never been to one. Quilts are history in textiles.

I look for simple quilts.  I find them at tag sales, church sales, flea markets and there are a lot on eBay if you know what you are doing.

I will admit I am cheap, so I won’t pay much.  A lot of people decorate with quilts, and there is a Pinterest Board about that and a little video on HGTV’s website that is about decorating with quilts.

I use my quilts, and I like to look at them so you will often find a stack perched on a guest room bed.  I know people who have quilts tabbed and semi-mounted for wall hanging.

Country Living Magazine periodically has things about decorating with quilts. (Speaking of Country Living Magazine, you can still nominate this blog for a Blue Ribbon Blogger Award until July 29, 2012!)

A couple of quilts I have acquired have needed a little TLC and I have learned to patch them with scraps of ribbon, lace, and fabrics that meld with whatever the quilt has as afar as color and pattern.  And you know what? For a loving hands at home bit of TLC, it works just fine!

Vintage quilts were made to be used, so seek them out.  I will note that no vintage quilt ever goes on a bed without being cleaned first.  I have never bought one that is dirty, truthfully, just something I think makes a common sense best practice.

If you know of places to find fun quilts, or shows that feature quilts, please feel free to post a comment!

domestic diva monday

Yes I was a domestic diva today and practiced some old-fashioned housewifery.  Apparently I am falling down on the job, because I just realized I still have a bed to change.

I have always been a little Becky Home Ecky, but I have a new appreciation of the stay at home moms and housewives extraordinaire I know.  They make it seem effortless, and it’s not always that at all.

Me, I have a habit of spilling on myself while cooking.  And that is after my morning French Press.

After gardening and straightening up and all that good stuff, I decided to play in the kitchen.

It’s summer, so I do indeed like to use local and cook fresh.  Part of this fresh cooking pays homage to my Pennsylvania German Grandmother and Italian Great Aunts and Grandmother.  Of course from them I get the little of this, little of that, what do you mean I have to write it down style of cooking.

First I made a couple of marinades.  One on little steaks being grilled this evening, and boneless pork chops tomorrow.  The steak marinade was made extra fun with the addition of a couple of the masala blends I have and chili powder mix from Jayshree Seasonings.  The pork is brewing in a marinade made from leftover homemade barbecue sauce.  BBQ sauce is SO easy to make.  And tastes so much better.

Now when I think of BBQ sauce I think of Southern Cooks.  Not just the queen of butter Paula Deen, but ones I have known personally (who are not on Food Network or the Cooking Channel!).

Speaking of the Food Channel, who watches Food Network’s The Next Food Network Star? Well I am and I am rooting in particular for a lady from Alabama named Martie from Team Alton.

So her name is Martie Duncan and she has a food blog called Martie Knows Parties.  Martie is the only true home cook in the bunch.

I found out today that in the weird small world of it all she is a close friend of a woman I am in a blogging network with who tells me she’s  “known her since 2002, and she’s just so nice. She’s completely self-made. She put herself thru college by working as a cop. She did wedding planning, did set design on My Best Friend’s Wedding movie, ran a successful online startup called WeddingPoints.com.

When WeddingPoints went out of business, she was devastated. But she reinvented herself and started from scratch as a blogger with nothing because she (as well as her investors in this business) used  personal savings to give severance pay to her employees.

She’s blogged for MyRecipes and MSN and run her own blog.   She auditioned for Food Network Star even though (and they don’t say this on the show) most of the contestants were actually picked/recruited by the network. She cooked her entry dish in a fire station in Chicago after driving all night from Alabama.”

Is she a perfect person? Doesn’t matter and you can see she is putting her all into this.  And I would rather watch someone like her versus that chick Nadia G. from Bitchin’ Kitchen on The Cooking Channel.  Nadia’s voice and her set assail the senses and I don’t mean that in a positive way.

But back to my kitchen.  I was playing around and cooked up this thing I do with fresh fruit every summer that is like a town with no name.  It has no name.  It is part cake and part cobbler.

I took some cherries and peaches (I am aces at pitting cherries now), tossed them in some orange juice, fresh grated ginger (tip: you can freeze fresh ginger nicely and grate it easier that way), sugar (brown and white), a couple of tablespoons of corn starch.

I tossed that into the bottom of a buttered pan. 

I did not feel like rolling out a crust for a pie (a tip I forgot to share  I think on pie crusts – Martha Stewart says brush your crust in the pan with egg white before adding filling, well I saw on some show of using butter instead and butter works better as far as keeping the pie crust bottom from going mushy but I digress). So anyway in the spirit of desert with no name, I threw some flour in a bowl, added baking powder, one egg, sugar, cinnamon and ginger, a little oil and whisked it up into a cake batter kind of sort of.

Poured the batter over the fruit in the pan, and went to the crumble topping: brown sugar, little bit of flour, butter, cinnamon and ginger and oatmeal.

Crumbly topping added to the fun as third and top layer.  Pan placed in Bain Marie and put in a 350 degree over for I forget how long.  Probably 45 minutes or so.

In between I husked a few ears of the first sweet corn of the season for tonight and tossed together a little potato salad for tomorrow.  The potato salad is with new red potatoes from West Chester Grower’s Market mixed with flat parsley, sweet onion and a dill and herb mayonnaise mustard mix that has a little malt vinegar to it.  This is a potato salad I will add capers and celery and cucumber to if I have them in.

I have to run as I still need to saute a few mushrooms for my steaks and make a salad.  The salad will be fresh greens from the farmers’ markets – bitter and regular, with a vinaigrette of my own creation.

See ya!

(Remember, if you like or love chestercountyramblings, please consider nominating this blog for a Blue Ribbon Blogger Award with Country Living Magazine.)

garden moments

This morning, early and in the rain, I planted.  There is something so amazingly wonderful about planting in a gentle rain – LOL, I can hear what you are thinking, and no, I do not plant in thunderstorms and driving rain.  But light showers like we had this morning?  Why not? As much as everything else, it saves on watering.  You should try it as it is very relaxing.

So I planted the two day lilies and the fun Echinacea I found at the West Chester Grower’s Market on Saturday.  The name of the Echinacea cultivar is “Aloha”, by the way.

I then re-mulched most of the bed I planted in, and stepped back to look.  I felt satisfied.  These three plants complete the look I am going for.  Mine isn’t a formal garden.  It is developing into a garden of moments and even nooks.  I am trying to do a continuity in plants and colors, but because I don’t have a lot of sun everywhere, I am taking advantage of pops of color where I can.

I also mix my kitchen herbs in with my flowers.  Chives pop up next to snap dragons, sage next to Impatiens, hostas and nasturtiums.

I also love wind chimes in the garden.  I found a most delightful fair trade and hand-made strand of bells recently.  They came from Past*Present*Future in Ardmore, PA. They were  fairly inexpensive, and the store has some fun garden accents mixed in with the crafts and jewelry.  The owner hunts for artisans near and far, and this is a real craft goods store.  Not a place to find crocheted tissue box covers, but really cool things.

Gardening doesn’t need to be formal or fussy.   Try it if you don’t.  And remember, you can indeed put almost anything in a pot as long as you have the proper sized pot.  I will put not only herbs and annuals in pots, but Sedum, hostas, and ferns.  I think it is fun to put perennials in pots.  I did a lot of container gardening the past ten years because prior to the Chester County of it all, I was much more confined on space.

I have been getting little texts and Facebook messages from a few of my old neighbors telling me what is blooming in my old garden.  I think that is so nice, and I am glad I left something behind they can also take pleasure in.

Come on now, go outside and get your hands dirty.  Create some garden moments for yourself.

Now if I could only find the garden furniture I want. I don’t need much, but I can’t stand what I have seen new, and don’t want wicker.  If anyone has any leads on vintage or gently used, let me know.

And oh yes!  One more thing – the yarrow I found growing wild is white!

(Remember, if you love chestercountyramblings, please consider nominating this blog for a Blue Ribbon Blogger Award with Country Living Magazine.)

along 202…

Along Route 202 towards Delaware there are so many things….billboards, abandoned old buildings, strip malls, a few farms, more billboards and abandoned old houses.

Can anyone tell me about the house above?  I think technically it may still be in West Chester.

And speaking of West Chester, the tradition that just makes you smile:

 

And here again is the billboard that is the pride of Westtown – just like the giant T.V. you would never want:

 

sharing summer recipes: couscous and cornbread

Yes, I am one of those crazy people who cooks even when it is hot.  I have two dead simple recipes to share with my readers today.  They are not necessarily to be served together, I just happened to be fiddling after gardening.

One is a summer salad with Israeli Couscous, and the second is my spin on cornbread.  Cornbread to me is summer and fall.

Cornbread

Oven pre-heated to 425 degrees.

  • dash of ground ginger
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar (white)
  • 3/4 cup flour (I use organic all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (if you use sea salt, make it a scant teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 2 percent today, but anything except skim will work)
  • 4 tablespoons buttermilk powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4 or 5 tablespoons of butter
  • turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Mix all the “wet” ingredients together.  You can do it with a whisk.  I do add the melted butter slowly and last into the wet.  You don’t want to cook your egg, after all.

Combine all the dry ingredients and whisk into the wet ingredients.  Pour in your prepared pan and top the batter with a dusting of turbinado sugar.

Pop into your pre-heated oven and  cook about 25 minutes.  Today I cooked it a couple of minutes more, other times a couple of minutes less – depends on the oven.  When the cornbread is slightly brown on top, maybe a couple of cracks on the top and a skewer or knife comes out clean, the bread is finished.  Take it out, let it cool, remove from pan.

Easy and delicious.

This bread is yummy plain, with butter, with jams or preserves, or honey.  I like cornbread with honey.  Right now the honey I have is from right here in West Chester – Carmen B’s.

Summer Salad With Israeli Couscous 

 

  • 1 cup Israeli Couscous
  • Spring onions
  • Parsley (fresh flat leaf Italian – I grow it in my garden)
  • Mint (I grow peppermint and curly mint which is a spearmint)
  • 5 or 6 ounces of crumbled Queso Fresco
  • Jayshree Kosher Salt Garden Seasoning (from Florida, their stuff is terrific)
  • olive oil
  • wine vinegar
  • one fresh lemon, juiced
  • fresh radishes
  • pine nuts (optional)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • garlic powder

Boil the dry Israeli Couscous in about 3 cups of water according to directions on package of whatever brand you buy (around 12 minutes.)  Drain it and shock it with a quick dash of cold water and toss into a bowl.  Israeli Couscous is larger, and looks like little wheat colored pearls.  You can’t substitute regular couscous for this recipe.  It is specifically designed for the Israeli Couscous.

Chop up a few spring onions (or a bunch of scallions), one or two tomatoes, small bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley, small bunch of fresh mint (you CAN’T substitute dried mint, it will taste gross, so don’t even try), fresh radishes.  Season with Jayshree Kosher Salt Garden Seasoning and fresh ground pepper OR Season with regular salt and pepper. The Jayshree Kosher Salt Garden Seasoning is well worth ordering, or Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt would work too.  Not Lowry’s Seasoned Salt – ick.  Plain salt and pepper might be too bland, but it is entirely up to you.

Toss ingredients lightly and create a simple dressing from the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic.  Whisk the vinaigrette together and pour over salad mixture.   Add crumbled Queso and pine nuts if you so choose.  Toss again and refrigerate.

Easy and delicious.

All the veggies I put in my summer salad with Israeli Couscous today came from the East Goshen Farmers Market.  I would love to share recipes with the market, but apparently, I am too different a person for  the market manager to handle, or I am not politically correct enough, or both.  She had contacted me , wanting to link my blog to the EGFM blog, but then changed her mind.  I was fine with that (and felt bad at the time that she was obviously so uncomfortable having to tell me “oops”).  You see, Birchrun Hills Farms is a producer at this market, I am not changing my mind on how I feel about Farmer-Supervisor Miller and his part in the attempted eminent domain for private gain of Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show Grounds, or the dubious shenanigans in West Vincent.  This is why yesterday, when I had a lunch meeting at White Dog Cafe in Wayne, I passed over a couple of luncheon dishes that were advertised as being made with Birchrun Hills Farm products.

I do however, love the East Goshen Farmers Market even if Madam Market was so impossibly rude last week to me it was embarrassing and hurtful at the same time.  Which given her perky PTA mom persona the rest of the time I have seen her (which is only at the market), was somewhat shocking. It was last week’s behavior that has made me mention the drama a second and last time on this blog.

I am new to this community, so a lot of people are getting to know me.  I totally get that.  But I believe in being active and helpful in one’s community (paying things forward), and last week the EGFM said they were looking for input on gluten-free bakeries and products.  So I stopped to give feedback.  The conversation kind of  came to a screeching halt when she snapped at me how she was a nutritionist.  I am a breast cancer survivor, but I don’t go around snapping that at people when they talk about the disease and possibly use incorrect buzz words and such.  And if I am working on a community event and someone is kind enough  to offer feedback when I solicit it, I am always glad to listen.  After all, you never know where the next great idea will come from.  And well, heck, I know people who have started these farm markets and hired bakeries in this area for organic and gluten free.  I also have friends who live utterly gluten free lives and have to bake on their own because the variety of what they find at gluten free bakeries doesn’t suit their allergies.

Whatever.

I don’t need this gal as a BFF (and since I am blogging about it, a precisely made voodoo doll may be in the process of being crafted or the Welcome Wagon might run me over, I simply don’t know), but I will tell you what, being a newcomer into an area versus being part of the established community has shown me again why you shouldn’t judge before you get to know someone.  Live and let live, and her loss.   I will never be rude to this person, and I will be happy to support the market because it is truly fabulous and with the exception of one farm, full of wonderful vendors.  In that regard she has done a marvelous job.  She can’t help the rest of it.  Just her nature.

To the rest of you, my readers and the people I am meeting here and there as I settle into Chester County, thank you for the warm and friendly welcome.  I look forward to sharing more with you on this blog as the spirit moves me.

Happy cooking!

hot, hot, hot

Yes, indeedy, it almost is hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.  Which is why I gardened early this morning.

I got up with the birds (no, not the 4:30 a.m. birds, even I am not that ambitious), and did my hand watering.  Yes, as opposed to some, I actually like to do my own gardening.  (So when I say “see what I planted?” it means moi with my own two hands.)

This morning was awesome as I my lacecap hydrangeas are starting to bloom and my snapdragons too!

Another new discovery this morning was yarrow growing wild, so I transplanted into a bed with other herbs.  Bee balm is blooming too – the flowers look like Don King’s crazy hair of a yore.

Also, one of the fun things about summer is almost anything can become a vase, and I not only cut my flowers, but herbs too.  My curly mint will find its way into a summer salad with Israeli couscous later…and yes I will post the recipe.

It’s hot as the dickens, so keep cool!