Thursday, July 03, 2008

Seven years of assgrabs and pie

So, seven years ago today Dan proposed to me over IM with the letter O, which is why we consider today our anniversary. I was thinking about it in the shower this morning, about all the adventures we've had, the places we've gone (China! Italy! The Grand Canyon!), the hours-long talks over the phone and IM and in our comfy bed, the dancing around the kitchen and the assgrabs and the tears and the hugs and the joy. So much joy.

In honor of the last seven years, I'm going to write about pie. Because why not? I like pie. Dan likes pie. Pie is really, really tasty, despite being a sometimes food (tm Cookie Monster). My love affair with pie goes back to early childhood, when we ate pie at Thanksgiving (pumpkin, always), when we used apples from the neighbor's tree to make apple pie in the fall, when I picked blackberries off the bush way up on the ridge and brought them home to mix with peaches and pour into a crust. I've been baking since I was a little kid (I think I baked my first solo cookies at around age six) and absolutely love to make pie fresh from scratch, going so far as to process a sugar pumpkin for the best pumpkin pie ever.

Pies I have made:

Chocolate chiffon
Cranberry-cherry (made up my own recipe for this)
Pumpkin, both from canned pumpkin and processed sugar pumpkin
Blackberry Peach
Strawberry Rhubarb
Lime (used regular limes instead of key limes, and it was still quite tasty)
Cherry (from canned, frozen, and fresh cherries)
Sweet potato

I've never made a pecan pie (too tooth-hurtingly sweet for me) or a chess pie or a shoofly pie. I tend to try to make pies that are as healthy as can be (it's still pie, so it's not GOOD for you, but I can certainly make changes to a recipe to up the nutritional value.

And I always make the crust from scratch. Many people shy away from making pie crust, because it can be really, really temperamental. Perhaps I've just made so many that it's not that hard for me, or perhaps I just have good luck with it. But here are my tips for good pie crust.

1. Use a mixture of unsalted butter and butter flavored shortening; you get the best of both worlds. And always keep them as cold as possible (I keep my shortening in the freezer and chop it up into bits before adding it to the flour).

2. Add some spices to the crust, it can really jazz up the flavor. The spices I use vary depending on pie, but I've been known to put in cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger (not all in the same crust of course!)

3. The less you work with the dough, the better. Since Colorado has such a dry climate, I have to use more water in my pie crust recipe than is generally called for, but the secret to a good, flaky dough is to not touch it too much. I sprinkle in water and toss it around with a fork, and when the dough is wet enough I scoop some up in my hands to roll it out, forming into a lump right before I start attacking with the rolling pin.

4. Use flour-sprinkled waxed paper on whatever surface on which you're rolling out the crust. It's much easier to transfer it to the dish or top of the pie if you can just pick it up, flip it over, and peel off the waxed paper, rather than trying to roll it around the rolling pin.

5. Homemade pie crust is nearly impossible to use for making lattice-top pies. If you want the dough to be flaky and tasty, you can't touch it much, which means when you cut lattice strips and start working with them, they will fall apart. The only time I'll ever use storebought pie crust is to make a lattice-top pie.

6. Use a fork to vent holes in the top of a two-crust pie, and always try to make a funky design or spell something that will make Dan (or yourself, or whoever) laugh. This is the secret to a really good pie.

What is your favorite kind of pie?


Anonymous said...

I love, love, love cherry pie. I'm also a French Silk pie fan. Then, of course, there's cheesecake, which is on a whole other level.

Crafty Mama said...

Hmmm. I would have to go with eithe rcherry or peach pie. I love pumpkin at Thanksgiving though. When I was pregnant I went through a period of all I wanted was pie, it even haunted me in my dreams!!

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Berry peach with a bit of tang or pecan.

Anonymous said...

I loooooove cherry pie. But I am afraid of the homemade crust. I use the boxed stuff (for shame!). Last weekend I made my dad a blackberry pie (his fave, but I don't like the seeds).

Anonymous said...

Oh, and congrats on the 7-year anniversary of your proposal! Very sweet. I originally meant to leave a comment that said just that, but then you started talking about pie and...mmmmm....huh? wha?