Give the Gift of Skill

I was going to write you a lovely blog post about a very pretty caramel apple pie. It was going to be so awesome! Except, the pie isn’t pretty (gasp!), and every step of it has been frustrating, for no good reason. I am not feeling the love for that pie, just this moment.

Instead, let’s take a moment and remember the words of the Starks: Winter is coming. (Yes, we got sucked into Game of Thrones. I will not apologize, nor spoil.) You know what that means, right? Knitting time! Pie making time! And not just for me! It’s also Christmas gift time!

I’m not going to knit you any Christmas gifts. But you know what would be an awesome gift? Skills! Imagine all the guilt you could apply toward getting handknits if you bought your favorite crafty person some knitting instruction!

For a returning knitter with a pattern in mind, 2 hours is a really reasonable amount of time to get reacquainted with their needles and brush up on knitting terminology. An adept (read: otherwise somewhat craftyish) beginning knitter can get a good start on their way in the same amount of time, though they won’t get quite as far (probably, depending on the knitter. YMMV, y’know).

As I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn, I’m a huge fan of gifts that keep giving (also: gifts I can eat. unrelated.). That whole “teach a man to fish” thing, you know. And just think of the adorableness that you’ll get next year as a thank-you!

Thanksgiving happened!

Good afternoon, everybody!

Thanksgiving: crazytown, amirite? What a week, last week! I hope you had a wonderful holiday, full of good food and people you love and not getting pepper sprayed trying to buy an Xbox. As I’m sure you can imagine, we made a TON of pies, then I collapsed into an exhausted heap while everyone else made the holiday happen. Go team!

And we took exactly 0 pictures of the whole thing. Not one picture of a pie, not one picture of the beautiful turkey, nor the round-the-table fist-bump grace (maybe one of the greatest moments of the weekend, frankly). I feel a little bad about that, but what’re you gonna do? In an era of hyper-sharing, we savored our private celebration, and that is as it should be.

And now that it’s over, it’s time to get back to work! (Actually, I was back to work yesterday, but you know what I mean). Pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie! Pie!

Last Call for Thanksgiving Pies!

It’s almost here, it’s almost here! Thanksgiving! The holiday of pies… Are you excited?

Today is your last chance to order some delicious Grumpy Pies for next week. Remember how awesome they are? They’ll totally complement your meal. I thought about having them as my whole meal. I won’t judge you if you decide to do the same.

Look! Remember these beauties?


I don’t remember what’s inside of these Little Pies, but look at those crusts!

You can tell it's good just by looking at it.
My beloved Shaker Lemon. Soon we will be together again!


Aw, the very first Pie Cookie!

You know I want to make you some pies. Go place an order. Make us both happy!

Some things I love this week

Hi!

I’ve been thinking about some of the things that are kind of awesome right now, and that might be of use to you. Has something been totally making you smile lately? Tell me about it in the comments!

This is the best vegetable corer in the world. I have destroyed multiple melon ballers. They are not a particularly well-made kitchen product to begin with (that teeny, tiny weld! So fragile!), and they just can’t stand up to the task of taking the cores out of multiple fruits. Tragic! Not this one, though – This one has been going strong for WEEKS! Maybe longer. It has cored a lot of pears, and shows no signs of slowing down. I think the secret is that the open back means that there’s not a lot of pressure on the little weld, but that’s pure speculation.

Serrated vegetable peeler! It looks gimmicky, and I was, frankly, super skeptical when one was gifted to me. But it’s awesome! It’s particularly awesome if you’re peeling something with a delicate skin. Like, for example, pears. Also does a great job on sweet potatoes and carrots. I feel like it doesn’t get stuck, and despite the fact that I frequently hit my thumb with it, it doesn’t tear up my skin.

Customized tours! Seattle is full of awesome things, how will you choose which ones to do? Nell at Localist Seattle runs an awesome little company that will build a customized tour to suit your interests. I have often been in a new city and felt overwhelmed by the task of choosing what to do. I don’t want to do the tourist things! If you’re coming to visit Seattle (or have family coming!), book a tour with Nell, see the city like a local!

Hot chocolate! I shouldn’t have caffeine late in the afternoon. But I am cold, and I love coffee. Compromise? Victrola’s barely-sweetened, just-hot-enough hot chocolate. Good gravy, a good hot chocolate is a thing of beauty.

Making you pie! Yeah, OK, I haven’t actually started making these pies yet (it’s too soon!) but even the planning stages are awesome. And yes, I do think I’m awesome. Do you not think you’re awesome? You totally should.

Starting the Thanksgiving countdown

As much as I love Thanksgiving, I am not the kind of person who begins planning it months in advance. I don’t want to have to travel, and I’m generally happy (at this point in my life) to just see what group of friends and family accumulates. And then buy a turkey at the last minute.

Of course, I do plan the pies (usually).

Since I’m going to be making so many pies in the days before the holiday, I’m thinking that I probably won’t make super elaborate pies for my own dinner. (Rest easy, raisin-haters, that means no mincemeat or raisin pies!) My exception, of course, will be Shaker Lemon, because, as you know, it is my favorite.

A little bird (read: passing glance at my orders) tells me that people are craving Caramel Apple for their Thanksgiving tables this year. I think we might have Caramel Pear, just to be contrarian (and because IT IS DELICIOUS).

If you want to free up a little time and oven space next week, you still have time to order some pie. Do it! You know you want to…

Persimmons!

I am not a retail-therapy kind of person, as a rule. I don’t like shopping. I don’t like shopping for clothes, I don’t like shopping for shoes, I don’t like shopping for electronics, or apartments, or plane tickets, or even groceries. I do not like shopping.

What I do like, though, is the cultural experience of Goodwill. And the cultural experience of an unfamiliar grocery store. And sunshine! Especially when everything is terrible.

So, we took a walk to the big Goodwill, where there was a very exciting Glitter Sale! happening. There was a camera man interviewing people about their experience shopping at a Goodwill Sale. So that happened.

I bought coffee cups. When we had a house guest the other week, I remembered that we only have 2 coffee cups. Goodwill is the solution to this problem! One of them has a giraffe on it!

On our way home (after dim sum, where I sat in ‘the decider’s seat,’ as Ruth calls it, and ordered too much food), we stopped at Mr. Pie’s favorite seller of Asian vegetables. We bought eggplant, and a giant bottle of rice vinegar. And I made an impulse purchase of persimmons.

I had never eaten a persimmon before! Scandalous, I suppose. But… All those warnings about bitterness, and they’re so squishy…

And kind of awesome! I got Fuyus, which are more approachable (edible un-squishy), and also allegedly more bland. I think I’m going to make a persimmon tart with some of them, or perhaps persimmon butter? Either way, I am definitely going back for more.

I’m going to call this one a retail therapy win, which is a rare thing in my world.

New Day, and apologies

Hey there.

I hate to do this, because I think that “apologetic blogger” is kind of the worst, but it needs to be done.

I apologize for my recent absence. I had a really bad week last week. I can’t think of the last time I’ve had so many ridiculous, horrible things all in such a short period of time. Luckily none of my injuries are permanent, and once the miasma of anger and ennui clears I’m going to have some pretty good stories. Today is a new day, and a new opportunity for awesomeness. I am ready.

While I was in hibernation, I did manage to create a backlog of bloggable adventures. Here are some things you can look forward to this week:

I had a doughvember disaster! (What’s new?)

I ate my weight in yellow vegetables! (But I am not yellow!)

I did some thrift- and produce-retail therapy! (And tried a new fruit!)

I found this punk DIY kitchen site. There is nothing punk about me, but I do love it. Last week they featured a recipe for pickled eggplant, today there are pears in earl grey syrup. I am all over that shit.

AND! Thanksgiving is next week! Hurray, hurray! I can’t wait. Things are looking up.

Now: time to make the donuts pie cookies. I think they’re pear cranberry today, and they could be yours!

Cranberry Apple Pie Cookies

This morning, yesterday’s cranberry sauce met its tasty fate, in the form of classically seasoned (sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg) apple slices and delicious buttery pie crust. As I expected, everybody is getting along swimmingly. Mmm, the flavors of fall, gotta love it!

I’ll be out and about with these bad boys in a couple hours. I will be making a stop in Upper Queen Anne around 1. Want to see these cookies in your lunch? 206.457.6716, or tweet at me.

Prelude to Pie Cookies

I noticed a problem with the recipe. It’s been updated. Carry on!

As I mentioned on Twitter earlier, I bought cranberries over the weekend. I saw them in the grocery store and found myself powerless to resist them. After the holidays I tend to forget how much I love the tartness of cranberry. Did you know what the “wet-pick” method of harvesting yields fruit that goes directly to juicing or freezing? All those bags we see in the store are picked by hand, not by the iconic flooded-field method. (Cranberries are grown in Washington, but I’ve never seen them in the farmers’ markets – you?)

At first I thought I might just hold on to them until Thanksgiving (They last forever! Seriously, like a year in the fridge), but then I realized that they needed to go into pie, and urgently. So, tomorrow’s Apple Pie Cookies will be extra special: Apple Cranberry.

I made a small batch of fairly classic cranberry sauce to go into my cookies. It’s also, conveniently, just the right amount of sauce for a 1 or 2 person household.

This sauce would be perfect if you happened to have some turkey cold cuts in the fridge and wanted to spice up your sandwich, or if you’re roasting a chicken and want to get into the Thanksgiving spirit.

Wash and sort the cranberries, combine all ingredients except water in a saucepan, cook over low heat until the cranberries start to burst and become soft. Remove from heat, stir in the water, then apply liberally to toasted bread topped with turkey and gravy. Or refrigerate overnight, to get a more balanced flavor.

No baking without patience

Yesterday I wrote a post about my love of sourdough, to kick of Doughvember. Today, I am eating the loaf of bread that was baking yesterday, and I feel I should tell you about it.

Here’s my single biggest lesson about baking in general, and yeasted breads specifically: patience is your most important tool.

I can already hear you groaning, as I am also groaning quietly to myself. “Patience? Really?” Unfortunately, yes. The best flour, the most perfectly temperate kitchen, the most magical yeasts (either from the wild or from a package), they’re all worth nothing if you don’t give them time to do their work.

My case in point: Someone *coughmecough* didn’t give her dough a sufficient second rise yesterday, and instead leaned on the superlong, low temperature (because my kitchen is freezing) first rise. And then made the opposite mistake once the bread was in the oven: did not set a timer, lost track of time, over-baked.

Sheesh.

Of course, the other mistake I made was one that no amount of patience could have prevented: I remembered that rye flour is the key to a healthy and vigorous starter, but forgot that I don’t like a bread with lots of rye in it (at least, not all the time).

Luckily, the taste isn’t bad, just a little heavy on the rye, and the crumb is, ahem, sturdy enough to stand up to cold butter, and there’s something very satisfying about sour bread and sweet butter. We’ll call that the positive.

I fed my starter yesterday to make this somewhat disappointing loaf of bread, and I’m not planning another loaf today. Reminder to myself for Friday: take a deep breath, give the bread some time.