On Friday I posted my Weekend To Do List and truly believed I had finally done it: made a doable list. But I should have known better. Lab homework always takes about a gazillion times longer than it really should (especially when you’re three hours in and realize you’ve done all of the calculations wrong…) and, as my mother warned me about, home improvement projects always take a gazillion times longer as well… *sigh*
I did get my homework done (that’s kind of mandatory) after much huffing, puffing, sighing, and harrumphing [special shout out to Hubs for the forehead kisses, tea warm ups, dinner making, and general awesomeness!!!]. I also have pretty new lamps. So that’s exciting. As for the powder room… progress was initially made, then promptly un-made. Let me just emphasize to always check your paint colors in the exact same light (including light bulbs!) as they will be displayed in. So now, instead of the stormy blue ceiling and pretty silvery blue-grey walls I had planned on (and boy was it beautiful!), we have a weird blue ceiling and purple walls. Thanks new light fixture. Hubs also had to make several trips to Home Depot to get the faucet fixture to be compatible to the sink. The sink is still sitting in the dining room. But the toilet is back!
All in all, though, it was a successful weekend, despite the set backs (and endless homework assignment). Home ownership is still awesome, DIY is super fun, and school is, well, necessary.
I didn’t make strawberry rhubarb pie, much to Hubs disappointment. So, I was on a mission Monday when I got home from school. Pie: Make it. And I did.
When I make pie, I make pie. Crust and all. Who wants eat a sub-par crust with yummy homemade deliciousness anyway (no offence to those who use store bought crust! I have been known to grab some Pillsbury when I’m in a rush!)? The first time I made homemade crust, I was very nervous. “Homemade crust? Really? Well, here goes nothin’.” Turns out, homemade crust is super easy (and sans preservatives). There are varying degrees of ease depending on the method you use: two knives, pastry blender, or food processor (with the dough blade, NOT the cutting blade!).
I have used all three methods, and while I love my pastry blender, I opted for the easy way out (re: food processor). Making pie crust with a food processor takes about three seconds (ok, I exaggerate, it’s more like three minutes, but it’s still quick).
Basic Pie Crust:
makes (2) 9-in crusts
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar (or 1 tbsp powdered sugar — I have only ever used regular sugar)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Crisco*
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter*
1/3 cup plus a couple of tbsp ice water
Almond Extract (optional)
*The Crisco/butter mixture can be swapped for 1 cup of Crisco. Also, when using a food processor to make pie crust, it’s best that the fats are very cold, preferably frozen.
First, I measured the dry ingredients into the food processor and blended for a couple of seconds. It’s always best to mix/whisk/process dry ingredients together first before adding anything else.
Next, I added the Crisco and the butter (in chunks).
I processed until the mix had balls about the size of peas in 2-3 second bursts (about 30-45 seconds).
Then, I added 1 cup and 1 tablespoon (tbsp) ice water. You can add a cap-full of almond extract to the water, if you like. I processed this until the dough started to form. You want the dough to just stick together. You should be able to pinch a few pieces together and have them stick. If they don’t add more water, a tablespoon at a time until it does.
Next, I dumped the dough out onto some parchment paper (my attempt at keeping things relatively clean), formed two balls, and wrapped them in plastic wrap. I put them in the fridge to firm up, at least 30 minutes, up to two days.
After a couple of hours (I got distracted, ok?), I took the dough balls out of the fridge and rolled them out on our pizza slip (for easy transport) with some flour. I placed one in the pie dish and cut off the excess. The second one I cut into strips for the lattice top (fancy!) and put them both back in the fridge.
Then I started on the nummy stuff!
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie:
*Preheat oven to 425° F.
2 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved/quartered
2 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut to about 1-in pieces
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (I use the lesser amount)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
First, I cut the strawberries into quarters and the rhubarb into pieces and placed them in a bowl.
Next, I combined my fruits and vegetables with sugar, cornstarch, and some salt, and let them sit for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to get nice and juicy.
Once my filling was nice and juicy, I took the pie dish and cut strips out of the fridge. I filled my shell with the filling, then started making the lattice top. Which is surprisingly easy as long as your strips stay cold. I generally lay about five strips down in one direction.
Then, working from the middle out, I add the perpendicular strips by pulling alternating strips down about half way. After each one, I return the strips back to their original position and pull down the others. I do this until I have another 5 strips laid out on top of my pie.
Then I crimp the edge of my pie. This always used to baffle me, so I’d use a fork and my pies would always look funny. Then I learned that if you use either your thumbs or index fingers and kinda squish the crust between them, you get a pretty crimped crust. Who knew?
Also, just because I was feeling fancy I brushed the crust with some milk so it would get nice and golden. Really this is just a “beautify” step and can be skipped if you want.
Now, it’s baking time! I put my pie on a baking sheet and surrounded the outer edges with tin foil (my ghetto pie crust shield) and put it in the oven at 425° for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I bumped the temperature down to 350° and baked it for another 25-35 minutes (I think it ended up being 35 min this time, but it definitely depends on your oven).
I took the pie out, and much to Hubs irritation, told him that under no circumstances was he to touch it until it was completely cool. This is usually the most difficult part of pie making…
Once it was cool… well, you know.
Pie Making Tip: Make your crust first. Have it rolled out, in the pie pan, and ready to go before you start the filling. If the filling sits too long, say 30 minutes (while you’re messing with the crust because it’s been too long since you made pie and you’ve forgotten all your handy tricks… I mean… that didn’t happen here!), it gets a little too juicy and makes for a runnier pie.
Variations: This can easily be made into either Rhubarb Pie or Strawberry Pie (depending on which side of the argument you’re on) by simply leaving out one or the other. However, whichever you choose, be sure to have a total of 5 cups.
All recipes have been adapted from Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker, or, as my bestie and I call it, “The [cooking] Bible.”