Week 15 Newsletter
Hail Vegetable Admirers!
It's week 15! The weather has taken on a full autumnal mood, meaning that shorts and flip-flops are gone and boots and scarves are in. It also means that summer squash is out and winter squash is in. This week butternut squash makes its first (but by no means last) appearance. It’s time for soups and roasted root vegetables. It is time to no longer fear using the oven! Now we begin baking and roasting and stewing to heat up the house in an attempt to delay turning the furnace on for as long as possible. Let us know how long you can make it!
I really enjoy baking, so cooler temps are nice for that (though I’ve been known to bake a pie in 90˚ weather without air conditioning just because I’m crazy). We have apples again, so pie is just the thing if you haven’t finished the ones from the last couple of weeks already. I’m a little bit known for these pies, in fact, and I’m going to let you in on my secrets. The secrets are far less impressive than the pies themselves, however.
The key to pie is the crust. The inside is basically fruit and sugar, but the whole thing is getting the crust correct. You know that expression “easy as pie?” Well pie crust actually is really easy to make. It’s just equally easy to mess up. I use a basic pie dough recipe from Joy of Cooking and the key is knowing how to work it:
Measure and combine by cutting together in a small bowl:
⅔ cup shortening
2 Tablespoons butter
Stick shortening mixture in the freezer until chilled. Sift together:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Cut half the shortening mixture into the flour in small chunks, then work in with the tips of your fingers until it has the consistency of corn-meal. Add the remaining half the same way until pea-sized. Sprinkle the dough with
4 Tablespoons cold water
Blend lightly into the dough with your fingertips or a pastry cutter until the ingredients hold together. If you need more water to hold it together, I like to run the faucet and dip my hand under the running water to add the tiniest amounts at a time. When you can gather the dough into a tidy ball, stop handling it. It can be chilled at this time for a bit, if necessary.
Split the dough into two balls, setting one aside. Using wax paper (I rip off 4 pieces total – 2 for bottom, 2 for top), press your ball slightly flat before rolling out with a rolling pin (a glass bottle will work in a pinch). Start in the middle and roll outward, then lift the pin and work outward from the middle again in the opposing direction. Always press from the middle and work your way around until you have a circle with enough of an edge to fit in your 9 inch pie pan (glass is preferable).
For an apple pie, I peel & slice up a bunch of apples – I don’t know how many, maybe 5 or 6 – then coat in a bowl with:
½ to ⅔ c. white or brown sugar or a mixture of both
⅛ teaspoon salt
1-½ Tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
These last spices make it a little more like a gingerbread apple pie - amounts are adjustable.
Stack the apple slices in the bottom of your crust-filled pie pan in concentric circles, then place a few pats of butter evenly about the top. Then add your top crust.
Here’s where it’s fun to get creative. When rolling out top crust, I find it difficult to lift the thing onto my pie. So instead, I started cutting out repetitive shapes and making my pie lids that way. You can do any basic geometric shape – triangles, stars, almonds, circles, squares – just be careful to be conservative with your remaining crust. You want it to cover almost entirely. I just use a knife and eyeball it. You can also use cookie cutters. I want pictures! Post ‘em over on our Facebook page!
We’ve got a bunch of other great stuff for you too! Don’t forget to share recipes and photos with us, we’re trying to make the most of all this local fare same as you!
Peace and veggies,
Anna Kiss Mauser-Martinez