Rhymes With Fuchsia

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday Sky: Rainy-Day Cooking

Today's sky, having faded from a uniform, drippy gray (at least it didn't snow) to an equally perfect black, yields the floor to a much more interesting Rangeley sky picture.

I've occupied myself in the approved rainy-day manner, making turkey soup and apple pie. (Many thanks to Joy for the tip on the pearl onions: I'll try it next time.) Do you make your own pie crust? I do. I know several people, including Marjorie, who refuse to have truck with pie crust; I have been told repeatedly that the best way to get it is to go to the store and buy it in a box, but the one time I tried prefab crust I ended up baking a sheet of waxed paper into the pie. Clearly not to be trusted with newfangled shortcuts, I am sticking with homemade, in this case at least. Besides, store-bought pie crust has a vaguely gluey taste, at least to me, and I have a never-fail recipe (of course now that I've said that I'll probably never make a decent crust again).

Your basic pie crust has three main ingredients: flour, grease, and liquid. The flour can be white or whole wheat; I suppose it could be corn or even rye, for that matter, although I can't imagine that rye flour would be a good choice. The grease is either butter or shortening, and the liquid is usually water. I've made crust with cream cheese, which I guess is mostly a liquid substitute, and it's quite good, but I don't usually get that fancy. I started my pie-crust career with a recipe in the Joy of Cooking that calls, inexplicably, for two cups flour, four tablespoons butter and three tablespoons shortening: inexplicably because, unless you're making pie crust during a hurricane (when even plain flour will want to clump), that's not nearly enough grease. Finally, after my twentieth pie crust refused to hold together as usual, it occurred to me that maybe I shouldn't follow recipes so slavishly. Now I take two cups flour and one stick butter and blend them with a pastry blender, or with two table knives in a pinch. Then I take a dollop of shortening and blend that in, and I keep doing that until it looks right. The standard cookbook description is "the grain is pea-sized"; undoubtedly Martha Stewart's comes out in perfectly round peas, each exactly eight millimeters in diameter (I'll bet she measures), but mine is never that uniform.

It should look something like this. If in doubt I err on the side of too much grease rather than too little, because I'm going to be flouring the board and the rolling pin anyway, and the dough will suck up whatever flour it needs. (I also short the flour in butter cookies for the same reason: the Joy of Cooking sternly advises not to handle or roll the dough too much lest it get dry and crumbly due to excess flour, but I find if it's a little wet to start with it holds up well. Two eggs rather than the called-for one also help.) Then I add about 1/3 cup water, blending it in with a table knife and then with my fingers. I gather it into two balls of equal size, which I wrap in plastic wrap or put in sandwich bags and throw in the fridge while I work on the filling.

Liking my apple pies well stuffed, I sometimes cut up too many apples, and I've stumbled on a great way to use the extra ones: after filling the pie I throw what's left (which of course has the sugar and spices in) into a pot and add sliced onion, a little less onion than apple. I let it cook down into a relish; it's pretty good with turkey and even better with pork roast. My family has gone from thinking me weird for putting apples and onions together to demanding that I cut up too many apples.

As for the turkey soup, I presume I make it the way everyone else does: throw the picked-over carcass into a pot, cover with water, boil until the meat separates from the bones, fish the bones out, add celery, onions, parsley and anything else I can think of.

Oh, look, time for dinner.


  • Ah, comfort and satiety. What a lovely thing to do on a rainy day!

    By Blogger Roxie, at 11:40 AM  

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