Monday, November 30, 2009

stewing on a dark day

Meet the le Creuset dutch oven I bought this weekend. I'm hopeful that we will be very happy together in the years to come.

The saleswoman at the le Creuset outlet store tried her darnedest to sell me the 7 1/4 quart. When upon lifting it (empty and without the lid) I felt a muscle tear in my back, I opted for the 5 1/2 quart. It seems ample for our family of three.

The weather has turned cold and foggy. As much as I enjoy seasonal changes, it does get a bit depressing when the entire day is dark. There's nothing like a new piece of cookware to motivate a little comfort food cooking. I tried out my new red hot love with a beef stew recipe from Ina Garten today.

Chuck roast meat marinated in an entire bottle of good red wine, two cloves of smashed garlic, and three bay leaves in the dark depths of the refrigerator all night.

A little side note story: at our local New Seasons grocery store yesterday I told the butcher, "I need chuck." As he was giving me the scoop on the various stew meat choices, I noticed a rather goofy looking guy peering from behind him listening intently to our conversation. When I acknowledged his presence, the butcher said, "His name is Chuck."  True story! Okay, you had to be there, it was funny at the time.

I'll post a photo or two tomorrow along with a recipe... or two.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


pecan tart

pumpkin pie

Today I am thankful for stretch jeans and oversized sweaters. Yesterday while I spent a good part of my day creating these two desserts to take to my brother's house today, I was thankful we had stores within a few miles of our house. For some reason I had a few senior moments and had to make a couple trips to the store for things I forgot the first time. I am thankful that my sister-in-law is cooking the turkey and hosting our large family this year.

I am thankful for expressive, beautiful poems like this one written by my daughter a few years back. I found this while cleaning out my office this week...


Wishing all of you a wonderful day spent with family and friends.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

pumpkin pie

pumpkin pie

Have I already told you that I love pie? My secret ambition is to win a $25,000 pie contest so I can leave my obnoxious husband, open my own pie shop and transform my life. Just kidding! That's the premise of "Waitress," a great movie to get you inspired about pie, if you're not already.

On a little trip through Washington many years ago, I stumbled across a darling little pie shop in Long Beach. "My Mom's Pie". It was run by two women who seriously knew what makes a fantastic pie! The older Mom has since passed away, and her friend moved on to other ventures. But I'm doing my part to keep a few of their pies alive. They kindly shared some of their recipes to make this happen. Thank you pie ladies! I've made a few modifications over the years, but I'm sure they would approve. I tried a slew of pumpkin pie recipes before I found this one. It has the right texture and the perfect combination of spices to make it one of my favorite desserts of all time.

This was the first pie crust I learned how to make. Over 15 years ago, in her small, tidy kitchen, my husband's Grammy graciously shared her pie crust recipe and techniques with me. I like the Crisco crust with this filling. It provides a flakiness that can't be matched with butter.

Grammy's Basic Foolproof Pie Crust
(makes one 9-inch crust)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup ice cold water

1. Combine flour and salt in a bowl
2. Add shortening
3. Blend together with a fork or pastry blender
4. Have a cup of cold ice water ready, sprinkling a little at a time over the mixture
5. Work ingredients together gently with your hands until water pulls flour, salt and shortening together. Handle the dough as little as possible. Repeat this until a ball forms and dough is slightly sticky. Stop.
6. Gently dust the dough with flour
7. Divide and roll out with light quick strokes

Pumpkin Pie
a slightly richer version of "My Mom's Pie" recipe
1 1/4 cups pumpkin (I use canned pumpkin, just make sure it's 100% pumpkin, all pumpkin and nothing but the pumpkin)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup half and half
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Prepare the pie shell and keep refrigerated until needed.

1. Mix the spices with the sugar
2. Warm the half and half to lukewarm
3. Beat eggs until smooth and add the lukewarm half and half slowly, beating constantly
4. Stir the pumpkin into the sugar mixture
5. Add egg-half and half mixture, vanilla and salt
6. Stir well, but do not beat
7. Pour into pie shell
8. Bake pie in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes to set crust (this is very important... it keeps the crust from being soggy)
Turn oven down to 325 degrees and continue baking for about 45 minutes. It may seem a little wiggly, but don't worry it will set up a bit more as it cools.