Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Holiday Pie Crust – some tips November 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 3:25 pm

Don't fear the crust!

For years the one thing that filled my cook’s heart with terror was the idea of rolling out pie crust. It was crumbly, it always broke and I inevitably ended up just using my hands to mold the ornery dough into the pie pan anyway.

That is, until I learned a few “secrets” that have made my pie crust woes disappear! So, in the spirit of giving and Thanksgiving I figured I should probably share them with all of you.

Really, there are only a few tricks to the perfect crust.

1. Use about 1/3 pastry flour. This flour binds together better and provides a better texture as well as more hold. My typical ratio is 1 1/2 c all purpose to 3/4 c pastry flour. I like whole wheat, but it really doesn’t matter as long as you use it!

2. When you place the crust in saran wrap to chill, make sure it is a disc shape instead of a ball. This facilitates easy rolling without all the annoying cracking, crumbling and crying usually associated with it.

3. Learn to render lard and use it. It really does make the dough easier to work with than if you go all butter.

4. While you don’t want a sticky pie dough, you do want it moist. Don’t err on the side of dry just because you worry an extra tablespoon of water is going to push you over the edge.

5. This is really the most important…Don’t fear the crust! You are the boss and the crust should know it.

In general, pie crust does take a little bit of practice, and can be overly intimidating, but in reality it should be easy as pie 😉

Happy Holidays and Happy Eating!

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Holiday season – Heritage Turkey! November 21, 2010

Filed under: Eating local,Farmer's Market,Politics — realfoodmama @ 6:16 pm
Tags: , , ,

Holiday Birds

Gobble Gobble!

This year I finally bit the bullet and decided to buy a locally grown heritage turkey. We ended up purchasing a 15 pound bird from the farmer’s market (for an obscene amount of money I might add) and it is now sitting in my freezer, waiting to be defrosted for the big holiday coming up this Thursday. I was very discouraged by the fact that the vendor I purchased the bird from responded quite poorly to me utilizing my food stamps to pay for said bird. My feeling is, for the cost of the thing they should have been lucky I bought one at all! Regardless, this is the only time a farmer’s market vendor has treated me like I am making their life more difficult when I use my wooden SNAP tokens to make a purchase. Hopefully the bird will be awesome and make up for it! (Although it should be noted, no further purchases will be made from this vendor in the future. I don’t need to be treated like a leper for using food stamps.)

The biggest concern with this years bird, aside from politics, is of course the best way to cook a Heritage Turkey. I have never attempted it myself and I have heard such widely contradictory theories as to the best way to go about it. Some folks swear by brining it and then roasting at high heat until it reaches temperature. I have no desire to brine a turkey for a variety of reasons. First, I don’t have a place to keep a turkey in brine for two days, unless you count the garage and frankly, that doesn’t sound very hygienic. Second, I want to try roasting it without the fool-proof guarantee of a brine.

The other option of course is to smother it in butter, which frankly sounds better than soaking it in salt anyway. In fact one of the most interesting recipes I’ve seen involves using maple butter under the skin. A version is found here at the Heritage Foods USA web site. I like this idea as I think the maple flavor would really enhance the (supposedly) richer flavor of the heritage bird. I then plan on stuffing it with apples, carrots and a few sprigs of rosemary. I am hopeful that it will turn out well, and fully intend on taking photos and posting about the results.

In addition to the turkey I also will be rendering some lard for the pie crusts and roasting and pureeing the pumpkins from our garden. For the pecan pie I am going to try a recipe using brown rice syrup instead of corn syrup and the stash of locally grown pecans I have been saving. Also on the menu is some fresh baked bread, a sausage and bread stuffing, the potatoes from our garden, and a host of veggies. Unfortunately I will not be making the green bean casserole this year due to the fact that all of the green beans we processed and froze were ruined when my three year old turned off the chest freezer….alas, we had to say goodbye to 20 lbs of green beans, several whole chickens and some frozen apples. It was quite sad.

I hope that all of you are gearing up for the holiday with as much enthusiasm as I am! I just need to figure out a way to include some goat milk and some eggs in our feast in order to make it pretty much totally home grown! Happy Eating!