Writing, Filming, Baking

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The past few weeks (months, really) have been a bit of a blur. I’ve been writing a lot, but none of what I’ve been working on can be shared here. At least not shared yet. My long writing projects were wrapped up after a recent trip to Golden, Colorado, though, where I filmed an episode of Sew It All with Ellen March. You’ll be able to find my episode on PBS this fall! Can you guess what I was writing about for Sew News magazine and my episode?

SewItAllsetWhen I got home, there were two things I wanted to do, which were sleep and finish reading A Clash of Kings. After I finished my book and caught up on much needed Zz’s, I wanted to spend some quality time in my kitchen. Baking was exactly what I needed, to work with my hands and have an excuse to abandon my other responsibilities upstairs in my studio.

yolksHave I mentioned I’m lucky enough to be part of a Book and Pie club?  It’s exactly what it sounds like- a club that reads books and eats pie. It’s wonderful. 

pastryLast night we had a meeting for the book Mink River, and although I was terrible and didn’t get very far into the book, I’m inspired to finish it because of how much the other club members loved it. It’s an interesting book that reads sort of like poetry. It takes some time to delve in and process the language and tone, but it’s lovely nonetheless.

piecrustI chose to bake up  my Grandma’s Rhubarb Custard Meringue pie, which I had been craving ever since I saw rhubarb pop up on my Instagram feed.

rhubarbpieIt was perfectly sour and sweet, but I do need to find a new crust recipe. I can’t ever seem to make a crust that’s as flaky and soft as I want. It’s pity that I’ll have to keep baking pies and trying, eating it for breakfast with a hot cup of coffee. Just a shame.

  • Laura Sorenson

    Err… could it be matching plaids? Congrats on the projects and I’ll look for you in Sew News and on PBS!

    The pie looks yummy and I’m sooo sorry you’re going to have to keep experimenting and eating pie for breakfast. 😉 …BTW, I personally think pie is the perfect breakfast! I have a super easy oil based pie crust recipe that comes out pretty flaky if you want to experiment with it. You can get the recipe here: http://athomeoncalicocreek.blogspot.com/2012/10/pie-tutorial-this-year-has-been.html

    Have fun finding the perfect crust recipe!

    • Haha- it is matching plaids! 🙂 Thank you & I’ll be sure to let everyone know when my articles are available.

      Thanks so much for the pie crust recipe! I’ve never heard of using oil in a pie crust, but I’m happy to try it out. I usually use either butter or shortening, but since they aren’t giving me what I want, I’m up for anything. Your pie recipe looks soooo good! I see you’re in Oregon- whereabouts?

      • Laura Sorenson

        I just checked out your G-Ma’s recipe and I’m thinking I need to drive into town and get some rhubarb! 😛 (I live about 45 minutes south of Eugene) I see in the recipe that you use a pre-baked crust… I don’t know how long it takes to bake until the custard is set so I may be concerned for nothing. I also don’t have any experience making a pie crust with anything but oil but I’m thinking that the crust edges will get over done if you use a pre-baked oil crust, particularly if you make it super thin. When I make pumpkin pie I put the custard in an unbaked crust but a pumpkin pie takes about 55 to 65 minutes to bake completely. (15 min. @ 475 & 40 to 50 @ 350) Does it take that long to bake the rhubarb pie?

        … I’m thinking that some serious experimenting is in order! …my guys will be happy that it looks pie is back on the menu!

        • DO IT! It’s so delicious! I pre-bake the crust because I don’t want the pie crust to get soggy & gross from the custard. It’s a very wet custard before it bakes, so I don’t know if the pie crust would fair well if you didn’t pre-bake it. If you are worried about the crust getting too done, you could cover the edges with aluminum foil or get a “crust shield” at a kitchen store. The rhubarb pie does take quite a while to bake. I test it by putting a knife in the center until it comes out clean, but honestly, I usually get worried about leaving it in too long and take it out while it’s still jiggly, even though the knife may not be completely clean. I mean, it is a custard, after all, and it will also continue to bake and set after it’s out of the oven. You don’t want it to be completely firm. You’ll just have to make it, test it, eat it and then make it again! 😉

  • Mary

    I am also a pie fan and agree completely with oil crust pies! Mine always turn out great and are a little healthier too! Was going to ask for the rhubarb recipe but saw that with a click I had it. Thanks again and congrats on your PBS debut!

    • Thank you, Mary! I’m eager to try out an oil pie crust now. I can’t believe I’d never heard of that! I hope you like the rhubarb recipe- it’s my faaaavorite.

  • Nicole

    I also made a rhubarb thing this week. LOOOOVE your hair!!

    • I always forget that you can get rhubarb in the spring. I always consider it a summer dessert for some reason. I need to pick up some more while I can! Thanks for the haircut compliment! 🙂 I really like having it short. I’m kiiind of debating 1/2 shaving it this summer, but that might be a bit too “punk” for me.

  • I like the idea of that club! I love reading & baking, hopefully soon I’ll have time to do them both again 😉

    • It’s amazing! Good books and PIE? What’s not to love? 🙂 Perhaps your book and pie club can include cute baby Lucas and an easy book about shapes. 😉

  • Shari

    Another vote for the oil pie crust recipe…I got mine out of the old red and white gingham cover Better Homes and Gardens cookbook! It has never failed me and is sooo easy!

    • I’m liking the sound of this oil pie crust more and more! I think I’ll use one when I make another rhubarb pie this next week. I’ll look up your Better Homes & Gardens recipe and compare it to the one on Laura’s blog. Thanks, Shari!

  • deyoungt

    I love the recipe in my grandmothers 1950s Betty Crocker cookbook. It’s a basic recipe but my mom taught me to roll the crust out between two sheets of wax paper. Makes for a wonderful crust!

    Love the sounds of your club!

    • Hi there! Yes, that’s the one that Shari also recommended in the comments. I’m going to look for it! I hadn’t thought about rolling out the crust between wax paper until I saw Laura’s comment and blog either, so I’m going to try that next time. It will make for much easier clean-up! Thanks for letting me know you also like the crust. I’m so intrigued by it.

      You should start your own book and pie club! It’s really great.

  • Michelle

    Pie crust: I use a mix of shortening and butter, generally I am happy with it, but after abandoning my food processor recipe booklet I haven’t settled on a recipe I love – I do find that letting it rest for an hour or so makes a world of difference, especially if using butter. And I still need to make this rhubarb custard meringue pie of yours…

    • I’ve used both shortening and butter before, but never tried them mixed together. I did a bit of reading on pie crusts, and I guess that butter has a bit too much water in it, which will mix with the flour and start to create gluten while the dough rests, resulting in a tougher crust. I think I’ve just over-kneaded it or something. My grandmother always used just butter, and her crusts were amazing. I don’t want to give up on butter and shortening, so perhaps I should try them mixed together. Is there a particular recipe you use?

      And YES! Make the pie while fresh rhubarb is easy to find!

  • Heather

    Hi Amy, back when I could eat grain, this is the recipe I used, it always turns out! It makes 5 single crust pies or 60 tarts:
    5 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
    1 lb Crisco (blue box) – frozen and cut into chunks
    Cut the Crisco into the flour until crumbly…you know!
    In a one cup liquid measure:
    1 egg
    1 overflowing tablespoon white vinegar
    1 tsp salt
    Beat briefly with a fork, then fill to the top with cold water
    Gently mix into the flour mixture, I don’t bother forming it into a ball at this point, I just grab enough from the bowl for one crust and pat it into a ball before rolling out. Put in your pie pan, crimp edges, etc. and put in the fridge for half an hour or so or freeze for 15 minutes. Put filling in and pop in the oven. A warm filling will make it less flaky, so chill the filling first. Makes AMAZING chicken pot pies, or any other really, but chicken is my favorite (not a super sweet tooth person). Enjoy!

    • Thank you so much, Heather! I really appreciate you taking the time to share your recipe. I had pretty good results with the Better Homes & Gardens oil crust recipe the was suggested, but I’m looking for a little bit more salt in the crust. I’m very intrigued by the egg and white vinegar in your recipe. I’ll give a try- thanks again for sharing!

    • Kathi S

      I was going to post my late grandmother-in-law’s similar recipe, but you beat me to it. It really is a great pie crust recipe, allthough a radio “expert” dismissed it as not being “authentic”. Ha! Here is Grandma’s version, anyway.

      3c flour
      1 tsp salt
      1 c cold Crisco
      1/4 c very cold butter, cut in cubes
      1 egg, beaten with
      1 Tbsp white vinegar
      & 6 Tbsp ice water
      Cut butter and Crisco into flour mixture
      Lightly mix with egg mixture, being careful not to over mix.
      Makes enough pastry for double 9″ crust

      • Thanks for sharing, Kathi! I will definitely try both versions and compare them. I have a lot of pie baking to do! 🙂