3 Comments Karen HamiltonMay 26, 2012
One of the skill by-products of growing a garden is identifying plants or plant families before they mature. As I’m new to the game, I have no freaking idea what I’m looking at sometimes. Help me figure them out this summer. Here are two to start it off.
This is growing in a raised bed along our front walkway. Grows low to the ground and flowers are dime- to nickel-sized.
Four of these foot-high shrubs are growing in the shade by our front door. The tiny, clumping blooms are crimson. They’re even more vivid in real life.
5 Comments Karen HamiltonMay 19, 2012
Ever since a friend introduced me to the movie Waitress, I’ve been longing for the day that I could bake together with my children, humming the ditty Keri Russell sings about pie. Under the tutelage of Eagranie Yuh, my daughter and I learned her path to a magic pastry crust and made our very first pie together.
I dub this creation Mommy Loves Kaitlin Straw-berry Much Pie. Sing along with me, won’t you?
Baby don’t you cry
Gonna make a pie
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Baby don’t be blue
Gonna make for you
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Gonna be a pie from heaven above
Gonna be filled with strawberry love
Baby don’t you cry
Gonna make a pie
And hold you forever in the middle of my heart.
And now, on to the recipe.
You could skip making the pastry dough and use a store-bought shell, but where’s the fun in that? We used a 50/50 combo of butter and leaf lard that Eagranie had rendered herself. I’m now a firm believer in the magic that melted pork works into pastries.
I usually double this recipe each time I make it. Half goes into the pie I’m baking that day; the other half gets shelved in the freezer for emergency pastry needs.
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour, refrigerator cold
- 1/3 cup sugar, refrigerator cold
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 lb unsalted butter, refrigerator cold
- 1/2 lb (leaf) lard, refrigerator cold
- Up to 3/4 cup ice-cold water
- 3-4 cups of (fresh) strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 – 1 1/2 cups sugar, to taste
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- A few shavings of lemon zest
- 1 tsp minute tapioca (optional)
- Rolling pin
- (Pyrex) pie plate
- cooling rack
In a large bowl, thoroughly blend flour, salt, and sugar.
Working as quickly as possible so as to not warm the butter, use a knife to section off large chunks of butter into the large bowl. Throw flour blend over the butter chunks until well coated. Cut butter into your flour blend with your hands or with a pastry cutter. Repeat this process with the (leaf) lard.
Eagranie taught me that a pastry crust gets a superior flake when the clusters of fat are not the same size — a state difficult to achieve with a pastry cutter. Says she:
When you’re incorporating the fat into flour, do it gently. Whether you’re using a pastry cutter or your hands (my preferred tools), you’re aiming for a sandy looking texture. There should be some pea-sized chunks, some smaller chunks, and some even smaller bits. The mixture should still be loose. Trust me, it’ll all come together in the end.
Have your ice-cold water at hand in a liquid measuring cup. Pour a trickle of water in to the mixing bowl and incorporate into the flour with your hand in a circular motion, taking some loose flour from the bottom and centre of the bowl with each pass. Clench some of the mix in your hand. At this point, the mix should fall back into the bowl like powder. Repeat until the mix changes texture, from gritty to on the verge of sticking together. Near the end, stick your hand in the cup and sprinkle a few drops of water in at a time. You don’t want to add too much water…just enough for everything to suddenly hold together.
Once it does hold, take out of the mixing bowl and form the dough into 1 or more balls the size of a hamburger or kaiser bun, which should be enough to roll out into a circle for your pie plate. Wrap in cling film and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (60 minutes is ideal). This cools the fats back down, relaxes the gluten you’ve developed, and makes the rolling process much easier.
Fit the strawberries in the pie plate before slicing. You can fill it flat or mound it up 1-2″. The typical pie plate has room for 3-4 cups of whole fruit.
Slice then taste the strawberry batch you have. How sweet is it? If it’s quite sweet, measure off 1/4 cup of sugar and mix it in. Taste it again. Sweet enough? You can stop there. If it needs more, keep adding 1/4 cup of sugar and mixing it in until the sweetness is to your taste. Try to cap it at 1 1/2 cups.
Mix in the salt, nutmeg, flour, and lemon zest.
Strawberries hold a lot of water, so a filling made with strawberries would water-log the bottom pie crust long before the pie is cooked. Adding flour to the filling mix helps, but adding too much will make it taste too starchy. Eagranie’s trick was to add a teaspoon of minute tapioca. The tapioca absorbs any excess liquid after the flour absorbs all it can. It also adds a subtle chew to the overall filling.
Time your steps so that the filling sits together for about 20 minutes before assembly.
Once your dough has rested, roll out two circles approximately 1/8″-1/4″ thick, sized 1-2″ larger than the circumference of your pie plate. Position the first circle into the pie plate, using gravity to drape the outer edges into the inside rim such that there is little to no space for air bubbles to form between your plate and the crust. The dough should hang over the upper edge of the pie plate by about an inch.
Add the pie filling to the plate. Roll out the second dough crust on top. Seal the crusts together using your favourite method. Brush top crust with milk (matte finish) or egg white (shinier finish) and sprinkle with sugar.
If you want to get snazzy about it, do a pie lattice or add dough ornaments instead of a solid top crust. For me, the choice largely depends on my strawberry content. If I mounded the filling 1-2″ above the top edge of the pie plate, I use a solid crust to keep it together. If the berries will make a relatively flat pie, I lattice the top.
Bake 20-25 minutes at 450F. Reduce to 375F and continue baking until the pie has been in the oven for about 60 minutes. You’ll know it’s time to eat when the top crust is flaky and golden and your home smells like an episode of Strawberry Shortcake.
Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, whole fresh berries, or all of the above. I know you want all of the above.
1 Comment Karen HamiltonMay 19, 2012
My favourite celebrity chef is Jamie Oliver. I love his home recipes, own most of his cookbooks, get a kick out of his Instagram feed, and follow his many social changes. The one that is nearest and dearest to my heart, now that I have a family of my own, is his Food Revolution campaign.
And today, May 19th, is Food Revolution Day.
Around the world, local volunteers and organizations are hosting events today to educate children and families about “real food”. There are 4 events in British Columbia that are listed as official Food Rev events:
OYW Eat Fresh, Eat Local
at Richmond Country Farms in Richmond
Haney Farmer’s Market Taste and Try
at Haney Farmers’ Market in Maple Ridge
Organic Fair Food Revolution Day
at Organic Fair Farm and Garden in Cobble Hill
Urban Ag Book Launch Garden Tour
at Maurer Art Studio in Naramata
Buying tickets to these events online will send your proceeds to the Food Revolution Day coffers. Your funds will be used to support the programs run by the Jamie Oliver Foundation, namely to kick-start the Food Education Box program in the US and the UK. Canadians and global supporters will also benefit from this program in August once the digital Food Education Boxes are published.
Donations are being collected till May 31, 2012.
What am I doing for Food Revolution Day?
In honour of Food Revolution Day and the imminent strawberry season, I’ll illustrate a mother-daughter strawberry pie day from last season, when my daughter was 18 months old. Recipe, movie references, and pastry techniques from the amazing Eagranie Yuh. Watch for it at 10am.
Been meaning to check out Richmond Country Farms since we moved nearby, so I’ve got a hot date with my now 2-year-old toddler at the OYW Eat Fresh, Eat Local event this afternoon.
Post-nap, we’ll tend to our 3 vegetable gardens scattered throughout the Greater Vancouver area. The little one loves to help out.
What can you do for Food Revolution Day?
Here are just a few suggestions of the many ways you can have participate in the Food Revolution.
- Take your family to a Food Rev event (above)
- Host a dinner party in your neighbourhood
- Teach your kids a new recipe or make a meal together today
- Attend a cooking or gardening class with your loved ones and little ones
- Blog and/or share stories about real food and the Food Revolution online
- Download free Food Rev e-books and dinner party starter kits for more inspiration
- Make an online donation between now and May 31, 2012
I’d love to hear what you’re doing, so drop me a line to let me know. Thanks for getting involved.
Viva La Revolución!