25.10.11

Bitter Defeat / Butternut Squash Pie / Sweater Progress



Roasted Butternut Squash Pie. 

Oh my my, another pie! After making the bebes another batch of butternut squash puree, I decided that someone, somewhere must have made a pie out of this delicious gourd. I looked it up online and saw that indeed, people have been switching out pumpkins with butternut squash for quite sometime, how have I never heard of this?! After reading through a few recipes to get an idea of what you need to create such a delicious masterpiece I came up with a little recipe of my own, and yes, I will share it with you. Looks yummy right? Not only is is super yum, butternut squash is considered a superfood, is very low in calories, has lots of vit A, B6 and C (great for upcoming cold season) and is high in fiber. 



This piece is the part that I messed up by touching when I shouldn't have..


Ingredients: 

1 batch of butter pie crust (previous post)
1.5 c Pureed roasted butternut squash
nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, clove to taste
3/4 c of whole milk (or 1/2 and 1/2) 
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon melted butter
tincy bit of salt 
3 eggs 
-
Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out pie dough and place it into your dish, poke some holes in the bottom with a fork, I also used a fork to put the little tickmarks on the rim of the crust. Puree all of the ingredients together and pour it into the dish. Stick it in the oven for about 45 minutes or until its set. Take it out and let it sit for a little bit, and then enjoy!




I really loved how this came out. It was rich but not too heavy, very fluffy and had a great flavor. Next time I may reduce the amount of brown sugar and use a little bit of honey, or maybe maple syrup to sweeten it, although you could probably cut out the sugar and leave it to be a more savory pie, as a side dish for thanksgiving. 
 - 
Sweater Update


I'm almost done with the front! Then onto the sleeves, which I will be knitting both at the same time. Im hoping to get it finished before my upcoming trip home to visit my parents, on Thursday. 
-


Bebes

 Here is how the bebes occupy their time inside on these sorts of rainy days, races up and down the hallway. As you can see they are experimenting with various methods of crawling to see which is most energy efficient and fastest. Omi is demonstrating what I have dubbed the "downward dog dash" which Julian is providing the constant, classic crawl. 


Omi clearly has chosen the most efficient method, but lets gives Julian a moment to catch up.


Just kidding, Omi wins! 


In denial, while Omi demonstrates her superior crawl in celebration. 


The bitterness of defeat sends Julian into a dark place.... 


-

22.10.11

Julians Winter Hat - The story of my love affair with Needles and Yarn




Knitting is seriously on my list on top five favorite things to do, ever. When I was a little girl I was always into coloring, painting, creating things, and as I got older, into my teen years I got really into drawing/painting and developed a really close relationship with my art teacher, Mrs. Au. She was wonderfully eclectic and bonkers, and thats why I loved her. She really helped me to learn how to express myself through creating, exhaling all that you have inside of you onto a canvas, or by manipulating clay on the wheel, but towards the end of my senior year, when she started encouraging me to seriously pursue art school scholarships I sort of fell out of love with it, thinking I would be spending all of my life in Uganda or Thailand as a missionary. Not that I gave up on it, something just feel right about it anymore, the brush felt awkward between my fingers. 

Fast forward just a few years and Ive returned from East Africa, moved to Chicago, and met my husband Xavier. After the whirlwind of our meeting, falling in love and getting married I felt so much inspiration and emotion pent up inside of me and sometimes it got the best of me, a lot had changed in a little bit of time and my emotions were like a roller-coaster. As a new wife, I needed to learn to be patient, diligent, and consistent. Knitting had taught me how to be those things. 

When I first started knitting I would get really frustrated when I messed up, or couldn't understand the directions in a pattern. I wanted to be really good, really fast, I thrive on instant gratification sometimes. I would knit along and come across a mistake and just rip the whole thing out and start over, or give up, or throw it away. I had little confidence in myself as a knitter, and as a new wife, often finding myself wanting to just "give up" after Xavier and I would have an argument.  After about six months of serious knitting everyday (we had moved to Orlando because my husband had lost his job at a tshirt company in Chicago, and although he had a great group of friends to welcome me into, I just had a hard time finding my niche and felt very alone, so I spent most of my time reflecting and knitting..) and late into the night I started to actually enjoy the feel of the yarn between my fingers, and knitting itself was no longer a means to an end, it was no longer something I had to do to get to the finished product, but the process itself was what I was really starting to enjoy. I had learned patience from knitting back through rows and rows of stockinette stitch to fix a minor problem, because I wanted my work to be consistent, I wanted it to be correct, I wanted to do the yarn, and the pattern, and the pattern author justice. Now, about two years and countless skeins of wool later, I am a confident knitter, sometimes I don't even have to follow a pattern for the simpler things, like this hat that I made for my son. Recognizing how much I have grown and learned in my knitting has helped to give me confidence in other areas of my life and relationships. I have been able to prove to myself that I can be consistent.

-

Sheep's wool is by far my favorite fiber to work with, there is just something so rustic and cozy about it. There are softer fibers, cotton, silk, alpaca etc, but for some reason I am just so emotionally connected to good ol wool. Maybe its because its the least fussy, most basic fiber to work with (in my opinion) and just looks gorgeous. This wool is from a company called Imperial Yarn. This wool is grown in the US on a family owned and sustainable farm in Oregon, and processed, dyed and spun in the US as well. I love that about this company. Working with a fiber that I can have confidence in just enhances the knitting experience for me. There is just something about knitting for someone I love, putting time and effort into it, and knowing that the fiber being used has been created with the same care and attention for the environment, the animals and the community if comes from, it almost beings tears to my eyes! 


I loved the simplicity of the two ply yarn so much that I just wanted to make something cozy and simple for Julian, especially considering winter in Chicago is swiftly approaching. I looked for a pattern for a simple slouchy baby hat but couldn't find anything that I really really liked, so I sort  of based this hat off of this pattern, but as you can see they are a little bit different, I didn't want to flip the brim up, and wanted more slouch but because the yarn is bulkier than your average worsted its a very dense hat that holds its shape very well. I am going to go up two needle sizes and try again, that may create a less dense fabric that lays a little better, but this hat will do the trick for keeping his little ears warm. 


Omi liked it too, which surprised me, she usually hates hats...

  



19.10.11

 Fall has indeed arrived, here in Chicago most of the pretty leaves are decorating the streets instead of the trees, which, I don't mind. Its been rainy the last day or two, and supposed to be rainy today as well, which again, I don't mind; I've been told that I would enjoy Portland. I have had a very busy last week or so. The bebes are cutting lots of teeth, Julian's bottom two have erupted this week along with his budding sense of independence, Lord help me. We have finally moved his crib into his room, it took me a long time but  I was ready for his big move, he is taking to it well. We really enjoyed co sleeping up until about a month ago, when Julian would wake up in the middle of the night wanting to play, or nurse when he wasn't hungry, leading to sore nipples and a cranky husband. There's lots of talk about what's right when it comes to babies sleeping through the night, Julian still wakes up about two to three times a night, which is inconvenient and sometimes frustrating but I think that he will grow out of it when he needs to, and Im ok with being a little sleepy till then.

I have had quite a few things on my mind and heart this last week, and I think its the change in seasons thats inspiring me. There are so many things that I want to do and try, canning, for example. My momma sent me a beautiful glass jar of home made peach preserves, and it was so delicious, it really inspired me. I also picked up this book about eating seasonally, having a well stocked pantry, canning, growing herbs and being frugal and creative and making delicious food all at the same time. I especially like that there are quite a few recipes that include vermouth to deglaze cooking pots, and a spin on rice pudding that involves quinoa. But, today I am making a pie, and I suppose thats what this post was intended for. Oh, yes, I was thinking about the whole eating seasonally thing because Im making an apple pie, and I don't want this to turn into a blog about apples. but they are in season so there will be quite a few posts involving apples, and probably various types of squash.

_

A good pie starts with a good crust. Some people use lard in their pie crusts, which yields a very flaky crust but lard is disgusting so I will not be using it. It even sounds gross. LARD. egh. I think all butter crusts are the best so thats what Im making. I always make sure to pre measure out all of my ingredients and put them in the fridge to chill before hand, because when you are making something like a pie dough, you want everything to be very cold. I cut the butter in three slices length wise, turn it, slice three times again length wise and then cut across and it makes little cubes that are easy to handle, but I stick them back in the fridge because the heat from my hands will melt the butter a little, and I also put a couple of ice cubes in some water in the fridge so that I have it ready when it comes time. I also do a double layer pie, so I make the recipe twice in a row, I do not do a double batch and then half the dough. 

Butter Crust 
1 + 1/4 c all purpose flour
pinch of salt 
10 tbsp unsalted butter 
Ice water 

-

Mix together the salt and flour, and then using your hands, incorporate the butter , or you can use a pastry knife to "cut in" the butter into the flour. When I use my hands I just pick up the butter chunk and put some flour in my hands and rub it in between my fingers till its crumbly, if you do it by hand it takes quite a while, but I think I prefer it over using a food processor. When you have "cut in" all the butter, you can start adding the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, till the dough starts to hold together. Sometimes it take three tablespoons sometimes it takes five, but you don't want the dough to be slimy or to wet, you want it to just start to hold itself together. When I get to this point I turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it into a ball, pressing in all the bits that fall off. Wrap it up in plastic wrap and smash it into a disc, and put it into the fridge for about two hours. Repeat if you want to do a double layer crust for your pie. 

-

Filling
about 6 - 8 apples, depending on the size
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c white sugar 
1/2 c butter 
pinch of salt
juice from a lemon

Today I used three grannies, three goldens and  one honeycrisp for the filling. Peel and core your apples, slice them to the size you'd like, I prefer a medium slice, so that the apple cooks through but you can still tell it was at one point a real apple, you get a good crunch. After slicing I squeeze a little bit of lemon juice over the apples to keep them from browning while I make the sauce. The sauce is pretty much a caramel sauce, melt the butter, add the sugars, butter and salt and stir just a few times, if you stir too much your sauce will get what I call, sandy, which is bad, you want a good smooth caramel. Bring your sauce to a boil and then turn the heat off and let it cool. 

-

Assembly 
1 egg white

Preheat your oven to 400. I like to do a lattice crust, I think its really pretty and looks harder than it is. The dough will be a bit hard to work with for about a minute but when your hands warm up the butter in the dough it will become much more pliable. Roll out both of your dough rounds on a floured surface, one to about 12 in. in diameter, the other a bit bigger. Fold the 12 in crust in half, so that its in a half moon, and then again so that its in the shape of a pizza slice. Folding the crust like this makes it easier to move from the counter to the pie dish. Unfold the crust and press it into the bottom of the pan (I like to use glass pie dishes so that you can check the bottom when its in the oven, to see if it is burning or cooking too quickly.) Poke the crust with a fork so that the crust wont bubble when it cooks. Brush the egg white on the bottom crust, I do this so that the crust wont get soggy, the egg provides a barrier for the apple juices. Set aside. With a knife, slice 3/4 in stripes through the whole round of rolled out dough. I put the little slices into the fridge so that they are easier to work with, the warmer the dough. the more flexible it is, but the more likely it is to stretch and break. At this point, I mix the apples with the sauce and start placing the apples in layers into the pie crust. I try to make sure that its really even because the apples will shrink when you cook them, as they release their yummy juices, if you have unevenness then your pie will be lopsided on top when it starts to bake. After Ive places all the apples into the pie crust I take the crust slices out and leave them sit for about two minutes. Place the largest strip in the middle of the pie vertically. Place two more strips on both sides of the middle one. You have five vertical strips of dough over your pie. Now take the 1st, 3rd and 5th strips and fold them back on them selves. Place one strip across horizontally, it will overlap strips 2 and 4. Fold strips 1 , 3 and 5 back over horizontal strip 1. Fold back vertical strips 2 and 4 back over themselves, the opposite way you did with 1, 3 and 5. Place horizontal strip 2, which will overlap vertical strips 1, 3 and 5. Continue in this pattern till you have the whole pie pie covered. Pinch off the excess dough and crimp the edges together. I brush the top with a bit of eggwite and sprinkle with brown sugar. Put it in the preheated oven, and bake for about ten or 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 and cover if the top seems to be browning to quickly. Keep it in the oven for about 45 more minutes, or until the bottom starts to turn golden brown. I always make sure to put a pan underneath to catch and drippins. 



ta - da! 


I love serving this with good ol vanilla ice cream and coffee, but it would also be good with a glass of milk. 

10.10.11

Ginger Apple Sauce for Baby



This weekend Xavier and I, along with a few friends, made a trip to an apple orchard in Indiana, Mowry's to be exact. It was such a sweet and humble little place, family owned and quaint as could be. Ive never been apple picking before, so it was a nice little adventure, and stuffing my skirt pockets with apples made me feel like a little girl again, a nice change of pace, when you have your own little one to care for. Here are some of our apples:


I have golden delicious and jonnies here. The apples were priced at 70 cents a pound, which is ridiculously cheap, I got four pounds and a gallon of apple cider for Xavier. I should have gotten more apples, but the fear or not being able to use them all caused me to come home with about two pockets full.  I didn't feel like making a pie today so I decided to make some apple sauce for the bebes, and for me too, maybe. Here is the process, and if you are familiar with making baby food, this recipe is pretty much the simplest, strait forward recipe you could ask for. Its a great one to try if you have never made baby food before either. I recommend trying to find a couple different varieties and try them together, I chose the goldens for their crunchy texture and the jonnies for their sweetness. You can also use the same process for a lot of fruits for baby, peaches, plums, pear, nectarines, Ive used them all, and you can prepare squash the same way. 

Ginger Apple Sauce:

2 pounds mixed apples 
1 tsp ground ginger 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 

-

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees 

 Wash the apples, and leave the peel on. Leaving the peel on retains the nutrients and fiber in the skin. Chop them in half, or use an apple corer (I don't have one so I just removed the seeds, core and stems after baking). Fill a baking dish with about 1/2 inch of water and place the apples openside down in the dish. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the peels look like this, and the apple is soft on the inside. 

Take them out of the oven and leave them to cool and sort of drain, on towels. 


Play peek a boo while the apples are cooling 



After the apples cool, remove the skins, and if you haven't already, the seeds and core etc. Save the water that the apples were cooked in, as you will be using it in the food processor along with the cooked apple mush, it has all the good stuff from the skin in it too. Put all the apple you could scrape out of the skins into the food processor and add a little of the cooking water. If the apples get a bit stuck in the processor just add a bit more water to help it out. Add the cinnamon and ginger. Pulse or puree to desired texture, since Julian and Omi are 9 months, I left it a bit chunky for them, but for younger babies, I would recommend doing a very smooth puree. 


 
Enjoy! 

I love adding spices to the baby's food, and I think they really like it too. Both Omi and Julian enjoyed this apple sauce and I had some too. You could either can or freeze this and it would hold for a few months, which I recommend considering apple prices will go up after the season is over. Or, if you keep it in the refrigerator I would use it with in four days. You could also mix something like this with soaked oat meal, yogurt or even lentils and it would taste great.