Sunday, December 27, 2009

Weekend off means tasty home cooking

Chocolate Eggnog Pie - I'm afraid to post how easy this recipe is, but the filling is just 1 3/4 cups of eggnog in place of milk on the instant chocolate pudding/pie mix. The crust is made from Famous Amos chocolate sandwich cookies with the cream scraped off. I wanted to make my own chocolate cookie crust for the first time and most recipes call for chocolate wafers. Chocolate wafers at my grocery store run $4.79 for a box that would barely make enough to cover the pie dish. I thought about using Chocolate Teddy Grahams (3.79 for a much bigger box) but then saw the sandwich cookies and decided to improvise. As a bonus I had left over Oreo knockoffs.

I also made a Potato Leek Soup that came out very well.

Potato Leek Soup (recipe adapted from The Irish Heritage Cookbook)
6 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
2 medium leeks
1 onion
2 celery stalks
4 tablespoons of butter
2 bay leaves
5 cups chicken stock
2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup (approx) heavy cream

1. Saute the leeks, potatoes, onion and celery in the butter in a large pot for about ten minutes.
2. Add the spices, stock and 1/2 a cup of the milk, reduce heat, cover and let cook until vegetables are tender. About 30 minutes
3. Discard the bay leaves, let soup cool for 15 minutes. Blend in batches using a food processor or blender.
4. Return to stove and add remaining milk and heavy cream.

The soup goes really well with buttermilk biscuits. I went with the first recipe from Google found here. Tip of the day: If you don't have a round biscuit/cookie cutter use a drinking glass. I learned that one making hammentaschen with my mother.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy (slightly belated) Chanukah!

I went home to Maine for a few days of Chanukah and there was occasion for pie. I made two apple blueberry pies. This was the first time I had worked with frozen blueberries before. They worked just fine, which means it is probably time to get over my need to only use fresh berries. The fillings is approximately six medium sized Cortland apples and 1 cup of frozen blueberries with 1 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of tapioca. Unfortunately the filling did bubble over a little bit which made the overall pie less pretty, but I was happy with my dreidel cutouts.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dog Sitter Pie

I made a plain apple pie for my dog sitter for while I was away. It tasted good, but I guiltily present the laziest pie edges ever:

What can I say....I made it after a very long week and I still had packing to do.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Savory pies are great and all, but bring on the snickerdoodle pie

Friday was the first night of Chanukah and I celebrate by doing my once a year latke frying. I also made pie. Two of them. The first was a simple chicken, mushroom and leek pie. I had a leek and mushrooms to use up. The filling is sauteed chicken, mushrooms (half white button, half crimini) and one medium sized leek. I sauteed the leeks and mushrooms first then put them aside to cook the chicken. Then I let it all cook together for a bit in the pan. I added a tiny bit of milk to the mushroom and chicken juice in the pan and some flour to thicken everything up. I used some leftover fresh sage as well as some salt and pepper.

Earlier this week I'd seen a recipe and pictures for Snickerdoodle Pie go up on one of the baking blogs I read regularly - Baking and Mistaking. I thought the idea was fantastic. I played the peruse the internet recipes game and decided to instead of following the more frequent cake like recipe to go with what more of a custard recipe. I used this one. Now I think I may have to make a whole lot more custard pies. If I did this one again I think I'd put cinnamon into the actual custad part instead of just sprinkling cinnamon sugar on top.

Next up while it's in season...Egg Nog Pie.

Thanksgiving: Dessert

The last three pies from Thanksgiving.
Cranberry Apple

This was again a plain butter crust, and the insides are just granny smith apples, fresh cranberries, sugar, and tapioca to hold it together. I used a little extra sugar than I normally would in a fruit pie. I believe it was about a cup and a half. I did not use any regular pie spices. This was all about that cran-apple flavor. I got to use my new food processor for the first time on this one. When I bought the bag of cranberries I had sudden flashbacks to the horror that was depitting cherries and the mess it made of my kitchen. I knew that I couldn't leave the cranberries whole in the pie. Luckily, my new Kitchen Aid chopped the entire bag in less than 20 seconds. True I had to then clean it, and that is never fun, but I think the trade off to not have to slice or crush a bag of cranberries and end up with juice everywhere was well worth it.

Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Pie.
I didn't make this one. In general I don't much like either sweet potato pie or pumpkin pie. As those go this was however quite good. It was made by the lovely Marci.

Chocolate Raspberry Pie

This one was a joint effort with Marci. I made the crust which was a baking experiment. I'd place it as a moderate success. It's a chocolate butter crust. I took the normal ratio I use for a single pie crust (1 cup of flour - 1/3 cup of butter) and replaced 1/4 cup of the flour with cocoa powder. The crust was baked for about 20 minutes using beans as weights to keep it from bubbling up. The filling comes from here.

10 oz. pkg. frozen raspberries
1/2 c. softened butter
2 eggs
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 c. whipping cream
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. raspberry jam
Thaw raspberries and reserve juice. Cream together butter and sugar. Stir in chocolate. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat mixture for 3 minutes after each addition. Fold in whipped cream, berries and jam. Spoon mixture into the crust, making slightly raised crust. Chill for 2 hours.
Decorate the top with fresh berries or whipped cream.

It actually took a while for me to find a recipe that looked good for a chocolate raspberry pie. I think if I did it again I might experiment a bit more and rely a little less on the jam which stuck out a little bit especially the next day. Also, be sure to let it chill. We missed that step on Thanksgiving so it was a bit too pudding like. It was perfect the day after Thanksgiving.

We served all of these with a rum infused whip cream that was really excellent, especially with the cranberry apple pie.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More Thanksgiving...

Academic life got in the way of posting more pie photos, but here are some details on the rest of the savory pies from Thanksgiving.

Turkey, broccoli, stuffing pie

This might have been the easiest pie I made, but also one of my favorites. I sauteed the turkey breast at the same time as for the other turkey pie. I used store bought stuffing for the top and a regular butter crust for the bottom. The filling is made up of sauteed broccoli, garlic, the cooked turkey and a can of store bought gravy. I imagine the whole thing would improve if you made the gravy and stuffing from scratch, but for a quick pie this was really good.

Corn Pie
I don't know why but I really wanted to make a corn pie. I think its because Thanksgiving has always included buttered steam in the bag corn. This recipe calls for a cracker crust, which gives me hope for attempting cookie and graham cracker crusts in the future. Recipe can be found here.

Brussels Sprout and Leek Quiche
I adapted this recipe from here as follows:

1 tablespopon butter
1/2 chicken stock
1 leek chopped (white and green parts)
1 pint of Brussels sprouts
2 garlic cloves minced
2 spring onions chopped
1 Tbs herbs de provence
approx. 5 oz. of chive and onion cream cheese
1 cup Gruyere cheese
6 eggs
1 butter pie shell

Combine first seven ingredients in a pan and saute until tender. Let cool and then stir in cream cheese. Add grated cheese, eggs, salt and pepper. Pour into unbaked pie shell and cook for 40 min at 375 degrees.

The whole thing was baked in a silicon tart pan which worked beautifully this time and let me slide the quiche out and put it on my pretty cake stand.

Dessert pie descriptions soon!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

We interrupt your regularly scheduled pie...

to let you know that at long last I've finally posted some items in my Etsy store.

Please visit Secret Song Designs and check it out!

More pie tomorrow...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving: Turkey Pie with Chive Mashed Potatoes

The filling was made up of sauteed turkey breast, celery, carrot, mushrooms and peas. I also added some chicken stock and heavy cream. It's seasoned with sage, salt and pepper. I put that in a regular butter crust bottom crust.
The top is made up of chive mashed potatoes. I used 8 small potatoes, mashed with a little more cream and butter and then about two tablespoons of chopped chives. It turned out to be the perfect amount to put on top of the pie. The potatoes had cooled somewhat when i spread them on top of the pie. I baked the whole thing about 40 minutes. It probably would have been good to let the top brown a bit longer, but I had lots of other pies to bake that day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy All PieThanksgiving!

Pictures speak louder and words, and I remain in food coma from the seven pies that made up Thanksgiving dinner. Full details to follow in the week to come.

Here's the dog guarding the food.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Preparing for Pie Thanksgiving

I braved the crowd at the big Stop and Shop in Long Island City to get cheap butter for pie crusts last night. There's a pie menu set and now I'm making the battle plan for accomplishing seven pies/tarts.

In the meanwhile I had to link to this comic a friend sent me last night. Yay for nerd/pie humor.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Middle of the Night Pie

I had a friend in town visiting who I had promised pie to, so when I got home on Friday just past midnight I decided to at least make the dough for the pie. Then I just made the whole thing. I was impressed that the line at my 24 hour fruit and vegetable stand was just as long at 12:30 at night as it is during the day.

This one is Four Berry Pie. There are strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.
And I got to play with my leaf shape cutters again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How do you like them apples?

I invited folks over this weekend to do an apple pie tasting. I had seen a recipe on Serious Eats for Apple Peanut Butter Pie and wanted to try it. It may actually be the richest pie I've ever made. I think if I did it again I would not add extra sugar to the peanut butter, it was a bit too sweet for me. I bought three different kinds of apples. I paired the peanut butter pie with Red Delicious.

In addition I thought I would do a regular apple pie with a crumb topping. The apples for this were Fuji apples. This is actually the first crumb topping I've ever made:
The third pie turned out to be my favorite. An apple cheddar pie. I used the regular butter to flour ratio (2 cups flour/10 tablespoons butter) and mixed in 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar and used milk instead of water to form the dough. The filling is granny smith apples, a tiny bit of cinnamon, sugar and another 1/2 cup or so of the cheddar just layered on top. It melted between the crust and the apples, and I love how it made the final look. I also got to play with the fondant cutters I picked up at Michael's last week. This is currently winning the prize for prettiest pie I've ever made:

And since no party would be complete without drink I made an apple cider rum punch. The rum was barely noticeable and I'm not sure it actually added anything to the taste. I got to serve it in one of my tea sets and that always makes me happy. Punch recipe is here, though mine had a bit more cinnamon and cloves. I warmed it up in the crock pot.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fun things

My dad sent me a fun novelty in the mail this week. A rolling pin pen. It is shaped like the rolling pin he sent me from the dollar store a year ago (featured in the title of the blog) which is my favorite rolling pin ever. I know there are many more "hi tech" sorts of rolling pins, but there's something wonderful about just the straight pin that I have. No moving rolling parts, no handles, just the ability to put your weight behind rolling out your dough.

Perhaps the rolling pin pen can be used to roll out mini tarts.

Tomorrow I have people over for apple pie tastings. I'm mulling over pie recipes as I type. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bed Bath and Beyond is a dangerous place...

I'm slowly restoring from the bed bugs which means more pie will happen soon. I'm thinking about doing a series of apple pies while they are still mostly in season. However, in the meantime I've been busy spending way to much money at Bed Bath and Beyond. Their clearance section has been providing me with too many opportunities to buy things I probably didn't really need. A couple of weeks ago I got a tall cabinet with glass doors that now that I've assembled it has proven perfect for holding my two tea sets. Yesterday though, I went in for a new dish drainer, and came out with two new glass pie plates, a new 9x13 and a 7x11. They were on major clearance, about $3 each, and that's nearly cheaper than buying disposable ones. Plus I didn't have a 7x11. Of course where I'm going to put them I'm not sure, but I guess that is why I'm cleaning the kitchen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bed Bugs

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I am taking an anti-bed bug stance. In fact my dislike of being bitten by the critters has led to several months of trying to trap one so that I could finally have proof to force my land lord to send in the exterminators. Part way through September somewhere around five in the morning, I finally achieved the goal of forcing a bug into a ziploc bag. And that then led to the horribleness that was preparing the apartment for extermination. Mostly this involved hours and hours of putting nearly every item I own in plastic bags after first putting it through the dryer, vacuuming it, or wiping it with alcohol. Then I had to live with it like that for the three weeks between extermination treatments. I give you the pictorial tour of my apartment and belongings.

This is the bedroom pile from front and back.

The precarious living room pile:

The stuff from my kitchen so that they can spray those cabinets too:

And finally my bathtub filled with every stitch of clothing and bedding I have:

I don't remember how many trips to the laundromat I made. Since the first treatment I have cleared the tub, but now all those bags are all over the apartment with the rest of the piles of things. I also probably threw out twenty or so giant bags of stuff.

In six more days hopefully this whole experience will be over. The dog and I can't wait. He still doesn't know what hit him and why he has to jump over bags to try to get anywhere. And then I can go back to cooking and baking and being generally domestic.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The lengths you go to bake...

My apartment continues to be all packed up due to the bed bug extermination process, and let me tell you three weeks of living out of ziploc bags is a bit stressful. Since baking helps de-stress me I decided to descend on a friend's kitchen and bake piles of cookies to take in to the crew that's working on an enormous show right now at the theater. I decided on three different kind of cookies. A gourmet double chocolate chunk that I've made before, and two new recipes - peanut butter chocolate chip and strawberry pie bars.

The double chocolate cookies come from a recipe from one of my favorite places in the world...the bakery at Disneyworld. The recipe can be found here. In the past I've made them with peanut butter chocolate chips or caramel chocolate chips. This time I used semi-sweet instead of chocolate chunks. I like the combination of flavors better than the straight chocolate.

The peanut butter chocolate chip were the first batch I did. Sadly they suffered a bit for that. It's the first time I've made a peanut butter cookie, and it was also the first time this oven had probably been turned on in at least two years. After the dust burned off (setting off the fire alarm...sorry about that!) I was mistrustful that they had cooked all the way through, so the bottoms ended up burned. The top was crunchy and while still tasty I prefer my peanut butter chocolate chip cookies a bit chewier. The recipe came from the first hit on google for them.

The last cookies turned out the best I think. The recipe came from one of my favorite baking blogs Baking and Mistaking and she adapted it from an Anita Chu recipe. I altered it a bit further because I had two small jars of seedless jelly in my fridge. One was actually strawberry and the othe blackbeerry. So half the bars are one and half the other. Though a few in the middle are a mix. I'm not sure there's all that much difference between making these and making a pie though. But they sure were good.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Really McCormick?

I'd like to take this opportunity to rant about laziness. I've used my fair share of time saving things in the kitchen. I also grew up with lots of meal that included quick items like prepackaged rices and noodles, chicken nuggets, etc. But this goes too far.

I went to the Stop and Shop in Long Island City in order to buy more trash bags and ziploc bags for the great bed bug extermination of '09. I wandered the aisles absorbing a bit of that suburban supermarket feel that I miss and I can't get in any of the three supermarkets I can throw a rock from my apartment window and hit. I like to go through the deli section and the enormous frozen food section and indulge in the fact that everything is clean, there's no funny New York City supermarket smell and there are actually options for each item. But then....then I came across this:

Really McCormick? Apple Pie Spice? People are that lazy that they can't mix their own cinnamon and nutmeg? Looking at its product detail it also includes allspice, but even three spices doesn't excuse this. If you're taking the time to bake an apple pie, I should hope that you can handle mixing a few spices. Are there enough people who need to save the 20 seconds it takes to throw in extra spices out there buying this product? McCormick describes it as "A blend of aromatic spices typical of apple pie seasoning" and in case you're wondering it has no nutritional value.
According to their website if you're interested in Apple Pie Spice you might aslo be interested in "Ground Cinnamon", "Ground Nutmeg" and "Pumpkin Pie Spice". Of course Pumpkin Pie Spice for those keep tracking is the same as Apple Pie Spice with the addition of ginger.

Also....$4.99? Are you kidding me? I bought probably a pound of cinnamon at the Indian grocery store in Jackson Heights for $3.00!

Thanks all the same McCormick, but I'm willing to take the effort when I bake to actually create my own spice mixture for my pies.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Impulse buy

So sadly there may not be new pie for a while as I battle a bed bug infestation. Though an exception may be made for the Dollhouse premiere on Friday if I can convince people to come to the war zone. On my quest for bed bugging prep supplies on the way home today I stopped by that mecca of domesticity the Container Store and impulsively bought a pie saver. I'm excited by the prospect of putting pie in it and then being able to stack things on top in the refrigerator. It bills itself as a green replacement for covering pies with aluminum foil and a money saver no less. I think I've still yet to spend $10 on aluminum foil to cover pies, but presumably someday I'll get there.

I still haven't found a single pie slice piece of storageware. I really want one. Apparently tupperware used to make one but not any longer. While I know I could just put a pie piece in a rectangular dish, I'm fascinated by the idea of a pie slice shaped dish. If you ever see one, let me know.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rosh Hashanah Pie

The last time I was in Maine my little brothers had been begging me to bake a pie. This time I indulged them and made an apple pie in keeping with it being Rosh Hashanah. I thought about using honey instead of sugar but the boys wanted a traditional pie. I used the bit of leftover pastry dough that I had to make a little pastry apple in the center of the pie.
All in all it was a good trip home for the holiday and a very tasty pie.

Other apple things eaten included an apple cake and some fabulous apple crisp ice cream from Beal's.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Unmentionable Pie

My book club met this past weekend to discuss Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and in honor of it and since I was hosting I decided to bake of course. I made the fruit tarts in the previous post, but decided that I needed something thematically appropriate for our gathering. Incidentally Jane Austen is greatly improved by the addition of zombies and ninjas. The zombies are known as "unmentionables". I decided to take all the remaining fruit in my fridge and mix it up into "Unmentionable Pie". I figured it would be vaguely reminiscent of the mix of zombie body parts.

The filling is made up of apples (which I did buy for this purpose), peaches, grapes, strawberries, raspberries and kiwi.

In addition I also made a vegetable pie using cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, string beans, potato, a bit of cream, cheddar cheese and some broth. A variant of unmentionable pie as it also cleaned out parts of my fridge.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Green and Red fruit tarts

In an effort to branch out from pie and to use my new silicone tart dish I decided to make fruit tarts. I also felt the need to buy several small tartlet dishes and a medium sized one, so I made lots of fruit tarts. It was only when I started to assemble them that I realized I had a color scheme going on. I was impressed with how easy the tart shell was to pull out of the silicone, but I did feel like the sides sank more in that dish than the other metal ones. Still, though the edges didn't turn out perfect the pastry cream came out well and they were tasty and pretty.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New toy means more Pie.

I bought my first (and quite possibly last) piece of kitchenware from William Sonoma last weekend after Crate and Barrel failed me by not carrying a pastry cutter. In honor of my new toy (and the continued sale on peaches) I made blackberry peach pie. Since I was already baking and had some cream to use up I also made cream scones which you can see behind the finished pie. There's even a hungry dog eying them in the background. I made the crust with milk instead of water this time and can't actually say that there was much difference in the taste although the dough itself handled a bit differently. Also I added both tapioca and corn starch and the pie juices thickened much better this time around. Some of that may also have been that I actually let this pie cool before slicing it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

We grow things!

I've never managed to successfully grow anything. It probably doesn't help that among other things I'm allergic to grass. Every now and then though I get struck with an urge to try again so a month and a half ago I pulled all the weeds out of the window box I bought a few years ago during my last "let's grow things" phase. (That one was spoiled by a cat who liked to sit on the herbs I planted). I planted some butter crunch lettuce and like magic it grew!
Isn't it pretty?

For good measure I've also got some basil

And together they help to make really tasty pizza:

This was topped with pesto, provolone cheese, heirloom tomato, mushrooms, butter crunch and arugula and a bit of parmesan cheese. It was an attempt to replicate one of the flatbreads from the California Grill during the last Disney World trip and if not exact, it was still really good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So what if it's hot out, let's make creamy peach pie.

Tonight was creamy peach pie night. This is the first one crust pie I've made and it came out fabulously tasty. The filling is made up of 3/4 cup of heavy cream, six peaches (on sale for $0.88 a pound!), cinnamon, nutmug, 1/2 cup of sugar and 3 tablespoons of flour. The crust was baked for approximately 5 minutes prior to adding the filling in and then the whole thing was baked for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. The best part was that the peaches stayed nice and firm and didn't become mushy.

It was incredibly hot out today here so baking both pie as well as pizza and stuffed mushroom (more on those later) was perhaps not the brightest idea in the world, but hey I signed up for my first grad school class so celebratory food and wine was in order.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A New Toy

I've been in Maine for the last week and bought a new toy while I was there:

Now I just need to decide what I should make it in it first. I'm leaning towards a fruit tart.

I do think it is a bit of a shame that I didn't get to make pie while in Maine. My little brother's desperately wanted me too, but unfortunately there weren't enough blueberries left from when they went berry picking. That and I was too busy enjoying ice cream. There is no where in the city to get ice cream as good as any of the three places you can walk to from my house in Maine. I hear there might be good ice cream in Brooklyn, but ice cream shouldn't be something you have to plan out in advance. I had Cookies and Cream, Blueberry, Peppermint, and Peanut Butter ice cream. I wonder if you could make ice cream with chunks of pie crust and berries.

In other news about a week ago I was tipped off to someone blogging about making a pie a day. I can't even begin to imagine the amount of butter that would take.

And lastly, the food porn alone makes Julie and Julia worth seeing. There's nothing like sitting in the fifth row of the movie theater staring as scene after scene of tasty concoctions go by.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Apple Pie Milkshake

I went for dinner last night at Stand down on 12th and University Place. There was a tasty burger and fries but most importantly there was an apple pie milkshake. I've seen a lot of milkshake flavors before but not this one. So obviously given my current pie fetish I had to try it. And it was mighty tasty. In fact if I could drink that every day I'd be one happy camper...also the size of a whale but that is a different issue. However while the apple pie milk shake was an amazing combination of whipped cream, ice cream, apple pie and cinnamon it leads me to want to make all kinds of pie shakes. Of course this means that I need to get a blender in addition to the food processor I want. But for triberry pie milkshakes I think that will be worth it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Further Value of Tools

The lesson learned this weekend is to never ever make a cherry pie without first investing in a cherry pitter.
I opted to go for the simple standby of Betty Crocker's cherry pie recipe.
This calls for six cups of pitted cherries if you are using fresh ones. I wasn't actually sure how many cherries six cups would be so I guessed. I ended up buying about three and a half pound of cherries which was the perfect amount actually to fill my pie dish.
Having gotten the cherries home it was time to pit them. I have never pitted cherries in my life. I figured the internet that keeper of all secrets would have the answer for how to easily take the pits out of cherries. In fact there are a multitude of different suggestions for how to do this without an actual cherry pitter. While I'm sure that some people may find these suggestions helpful, I failed at each and every one. First I tried a paring knife then I tried a method where you press down on the flat part of the cherry and it is supposed to split open. I got out a paperclip which according to many of the internet sages is the best way to do it. Thankfully I was making pie and not trying to keep the cherries whole because the process I end up with was just ripping them open and pulling the pits out. Every website I looked at did warn that this was not going to be a process that could be done without mess. Boy were they right. By the time I got through all of those cherries my arms were covered nearly up to my shoulders in cherry juice, my flip flops and feet were covered, the dog had licked up more cherry juice from the floor than I want to think about and there were cherry stems everywhere. I stopped keeping track of how long it took me to pull all those pits out, but it was way longer than I have the patience to do again.
Of course since I have next to now counter space whatsoever all of this had to be cleaned up before I could roll out the pie dough. That was quick and easy this time and I opted for a real lattice top this time around.

And after the pie came out of the oven it turns out it was quite tasty. I'm still not sure how I feel about the texture of the cherries and next time I might actually chop them up smaller. I'd also add more flour or corn starch as it was still a bit too juicy of a pie. If I decide to do it again it will be after the purchase of a cherry pitter.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

In Which We Start to Learn the Value of Tools

Cherries are in season and cheap at the fruit and veggie place near my apartment so I decided to make a fresh cherry pie. This is somewhat strange as I don't actually like cherries all that much. On the other hand I do like cherry flavored things, and I remember that I used to like the cherry pie filling that came from a can when I made hamentaschen as a child. Plus I've decided its time to branch out a bit further with the fruit pies.

I decided to run errands before the pie baking and so spent the afternoon at Target ostensibly to buy dog food (which I did, and hauled the giant bag back on the bus) but as with any trip to Target I get inevitably drawn to the kitchen and home sections. On this particular trip to the Back to School section (which does seem a tad bit premature to be thinking about since it is only mid-July) had opened up and I spent time with the office supplies and indulging my nostalgia for Trapper Keepers, Lisa Frank and new boxes of Crayloa crayons, but I digress.

The kitchen gadget wall can occupy for if not quite as long as the one at Crate and Barrel, at least quite some time. I'd been idly thinking about actually getting real baking tools and I was eying the pastry blender. Up to this point I've been cutting butter into the flour for the pie crust with my hands. Now the nice thing about that is that it makes it really easy to be sure you're getting to the right consistency and also there is a theraputic element to squashing chunks of butter with your fingers. However given that I have tendonitis problems in my hands this does sometimes get a bit painful. I was pretty determined to not spend any unneccessary money at Target so I walked away. Then I saw this on the clearance shelf, so for $3.48 I now own a pastry blender. And when I went to make the pie dough, it was so easy and so quick, I might rethink my desire for a food processor.

So this is my new toy:

What I should have also bought was a cherry pitter...but that is a story for another blog post.