Monday, July 30, 2012

Gooseberry? Making Fresh Gooseberry Pie!

If you're not related to my Grandma Evelyn...then you may not know what a gooseberry is.  But today I made a gooseberry pie...and it rocked.  So, I am going to encourage you to get out to your farm stands and farmers markets, and if they are selling gooseberries, snatch them up. 

homemade gooseberry pie

I would compare this pie to a tart cherry pie...but better.  Trust me. 

Now for a tip on gooseberries.  You have to pick them over.  Say what? 

Let me introduce you to a gooseberry.  See, there's a fluff end and a stem end.  Just using your fingernails, pinch them off at the berry base.  That's it.  You don't want these in your pie.  Yuck.  So take the time to pick em over.

Now....for the pie.

Step 1. Make your favorite pie dough for a two crust pie. If you need a good pie crust recipe, please use my favorite recipe as it will not fail you and is tender and flaky and all that is good in a pie crust. Plus, you can choose to use Crisco or Lard with your butter. Options are so nice. Put the crust in the fridge as you make the filling. A nice cool dough will cook up so beautifully.

Step 2.  Filling time.  Recipe as follows...

Fresh Homemade Gooseberry Pie
3 cups ripe gooseberries (remember to pick them over)  I used two half pint cups and ended up with close to 3 cups
3/4 Cup Sugar
3 Tbl. Honey
3 Tbl. Cornstarch
Pinch of Salt
2 Tbl. Butter

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Put all the ingredients except the butter into a saucepan and cook over medium heat.  While cooking, smoosh the berries with the back of your spoon.  You don't have to crush them all, but get most of them.

Just bring to a light boil and when mixture starts to thicken, remove from heat.  Stir.  You don't want this to burn.

Now, pour your filling into the bottom crust.  Dot the filling with the reserved 2 Tbl of butter.  Top this with the top crust.  Crimp the edges.  Cut slits in the top crust for steam to vent.  I use the 3 slit method.  Go with what feels right.

Top pie loosely with foil and place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes have passed, turn temperature down to 350 F,  remove the foil from the pie and cook until the crust is a lovely golden brown.  This took me approximately 20 minutes.  Pay attention.

Let pie cool.  This is an important step.  While it is cooling, the pie is finishing its cooking and thickening up and becoming a thing of beauty.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.  Yum!

Thanks for reading.  Hope you can find some gooseberries and give them a try.  They're an old timey food that I think are fun and unique, and definitely due for a comeback.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

And the Gold goes to....



Wrong team.  I do like saying it though.  I think we need to come up with a holler for the Yanks that's as cool as what Australians have.  I mean, we do have U.....S.....A   U.....S.....A    U.....S.....A...and that's pretty good.  I guess it'll do.  I'll just secretly be jealous of the Aussies.

I love the Olympics.  It doesn't even matter what the sport is.  There's just something about athletes, who are at the top of their game, competing, and showing the world how they have mastered their sport.  I am just putting it out there, that I will be watching Women's Taekwondo, Badminton, Handball, Trampoline, Table Tennis, Equestrian, Canoeing and Sailing just as much as I will be watching Swimming, Track and Field and Gymnastics.  I just think it's fun. 

Let me tell you a secret.  When the Olympics came to Salt Lake City...the one event I was desperate to see in person...Curling.  Oh yeah and it was awesome.  I was so excited to be there in person.  To have the Olympics in the place where I live!!  I want it to come back.  Let's hear it for Salt Lake City 2020!!  I don't even know if they've decided who gets it in 2020...but let's hear it for Salt Lake City!!!

In honor of the big event going on in London, I made this.  Oh, the Union Jack.  What a fun thing to make.  It was a bit complex...those triangles...they were a little tricky.  But in a fun way.  You get to use newspaper templates!  Tomorrow I'm gonna put the how-to on.   But for now, it's just fun to enjoy.  Obviously I took some artistic liberties with the fabric I chose, but I feel that it's alright, because, you still know what you're looking at.  I got this tutorial from Lily's quilts.  It's called the Double Fat Jack and I think it's adorable.

Want to see the reverse?

U....S....A    U....S....A    U....S....A

This, I just made of on the fly.  I knew how much space I had to work with and I knew how many stripes I needed, so I basically just faked it.  I think it turned adorable.  Old Glory never looked so...arts and crafts.

So, go out and support your team...or the host city...or maybe even the Saudi women who are going to compete in the Olympics for the first time ever, and let your colors fly.

U....S....A    U....S....A    U....S....A    U....S....A    U....S....A    U....S....A    U....S....A    U....S....A

See you next time!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Smitten with Smitten Kitchen...Bacon Corn Hash

I have two favorite cooking blogs. The first, is The Grubery.  And it's not just because my sister is the author on that one.  She just makes good stuff.  My next favorite cooking blog is Smitten Kitchen.  The author of this blog, Deb Perelman, is my cooking hero.  So it's no surprise when I attempt many a thing she puts on there.

So when she made this...

Is it any wonder that I had to make it myself?  I don't think so.

The name of this dish says it all.  Bacon Corn Hash..  It's summer.  Tis the season for all things corn.  Think corn on the there anything better?  Also tis the season for bacon.  Think a BLT with fresh from the garden tomatoes.  Oh yum.  So this tasty dinner is perfect for a Saturday or Sunday evening, after you've gone to the farmer's market and come home laden with perfect produce.

Please check out Deb's blog for the recipe as she saw it.  Here's how I made it.

Bacon Corn Hash
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 lb. thick cut bacon.  Cut into small dice (buy the good stuff...also, buy a pound because sneaks might be lurking to grab some when you aren't looking).
1 lb. Red potatoes.  Dice approximately 1/4" around.
4 ears of corn.  Remove kernels from cob.
1/2 bundle green onions.  Slice thinly.
Salt and Pepper
Enough eggs to serve your family

In large skillet, fry up bacon pieces over medium heat until golden brown and cooked through. 

Remove from pan with slotted spoon and drain over paper towels.

Do not remove bacon fat.  Add potatoes to bacon grease, add salt and pepper to taste.  (Remember these are potatoes, so they'll need a good amount of salt.  Approximately 1/2 tsp.)  Cook until all sides are lightly golden and delicious.  Approximately 20 minutes.

While potatoes are still in the skillet, remove as much bacon grease as you can.  Just use a metal spoon and have a bowl handy.  You may need to tip the skillet to the side a bit.

Add corn and cook approximately 4 minutes.  You don't want it mushy, but not raw either.

Add green onions and let cook for just a minute. 

Adjust seasoning if it needs it.

Meanwhile in another skillet, fry 1 or 2 eggs with runny yolks per serving of hash (unless that creeps you out, then fry them solid).

Place egg on top of hash and eat with gusto.

Serve with a biscuit and maybe fresh corn on the cob as well (if you're like me and can't get enough corn) and you will have the best farmer's market dinner around.  Actually, the only thing that would make this dinner better, is if I had any ripe tomatoes, fresh from my garden, with a sprinkling of salt....soon my precious...soon.

Oh yeah.  That's how I roll.

I'll post my biscuit recipe on here soon.  That way you can experience the best biscuit in the modern world.  Just ask The Mister, he's their # 1 fan.

Thanks for reading!


 p.s.  Happy Pioneer Day, Utah!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie by Mary...Inspiration Cafe

Greetings from Alaska! 
Welcome to another edition of 

Inspiration Cafe!

It's me again, Mary, from Sweet Little Bluebird...

 I'm in Anchorage visiting my sister's family. 

She is busy wife and mom to five very active, hungry boys!

My sister's favorite place to be is the kitchen.   

She is easily the best baker and cook I know!

Whenever you visit, you NEVER go hungry.

Her home runs like a Bed & Breakfast! 

While I'm here visiting, I thought I'd take advantage and 

share something she whipped up in the kitchen.

Today I'm featuring her famous 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie! 

Before I get to the recipe, 

I wanted to share my sister's kitchen remodel done last year...

(They did not DIY)



This is such a fun kitchen to cook in!

Okay, back to the Pie...
My sister has rhubarb in her garden she picked to make the pie.  

I don't know much about rhubarb, 

but I have never seen rhubarb this HUGE in my life! 

As you can see from the photos above, things grow BIG in Alaska!

There was so much rhubarb, my sister made two pies with tons to spare!

On with the recipe...for ONE pie.

You'll want to start with the crust first.

9 Inch Pie Crust (two crust pie recipe)

Ingredients (Our grandma's recipe, perfect crust every time!)
2 C Flour
1 tsp Salt
2/3 C Shortening
6 tbsp of Ice water (very important)

Mix flour, salt and shortening with two knives, cutting into the dough until it resembles small peas/crumbs.  Add the ice water and mix gently until dough is formed.  Divide into two equal balls.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.  Roll out crusts on floured surface. 

(Once your crust is ready, set aside and start to make your pie filling)

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie 
(Adapted recipe from Joy of Cooking - 1997 edition)

2 1/2 C Strawberries, sliced
2 1/2 C Rhubarb, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 C Sugar, plus extra tsp. to decorate crust
Zest of one orange
1/4 C Quick-cooking tapioca
Dash of Salt
1 - 2 tbsp Butter (use real butter)

*For Rhubarb Pie, replace the strawberries with 2 1/2 cups of rhubarb.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
Mix the first six ingredients in bowl.  Set aside for 15 minutes. Line the pie plate with the bottom crust and fill with the rhubarb mixture.  Slice the butter and dot the pie mixture (see picture below).  Cover with top crust, fold and pinch seams together.  Brush crust lightly with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar. Cut at least four slits into top of pie to vent while baking.    
Bake at 425F for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F for an additional 30-35 minutes.  Be sure to place a cookie sheet or foil on the rack beneath the pie, the juices will likely bubble over!

Remove and cool. This pie is best served warm with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream!

This was my youngest's first time ever having rhubarb... 

She loved it so much, she had second slice!
Thanks for much for stopping by Inspiration Cafe!

Be sure to stop by next Monday!



****This pie looks so tasty, I think I'm going to have to make it!  Please check out Mary's previous post as well for Banana Apple Mini Muffins *****


Thursday, July 19, 2012

So you want to make a what?

You're, it would be really neat to actually make a quilt.  But...then the thought ends there, getting squished by insecurity and a lack of knowledge...and the fact that you can head on over to whatever big box discount store is in your area and buy a fairly beautiful blanket or comforter for...half...of what it's going to cost to make it.

Don't let that deter you.  Make a quilt.  The level of satisfaction you get from choosing your own fabric and pattern and arranging it just how you like...and the fun of putting it together, is so much more than browsing the bedding aisle of Macy's (don't get me wrong, that's still fun).   And, if you ask me, nothing beats the homy yet stylish look of a handmade quilt.  Made by moi.

But, where do you start?

For me, it starts one of two places.

1.  I find an amazing pattern, and am desperate to try it.
2.  I find an amazing fabric, and am desperate to try it.

Luckily for The Mister's quilt, I found the pattern first, which for me is always the better way.  I'm just going to say that I have bought fabric before, thinking how much I loved it...and it is still sitting in my fabric pile waiting for the perfect opportunity to be used.

If you do find a fabric that you love and want to base a quilt around it, I was told by a reliable source (some lady who works at a quilt shop), that you should buy 3 yards of it.  She claims that you can work almost any quilt around 3 yards of fabric.

Okay, so you've find the perfect pattern.  I have been holding onto this pattern, Urban Lattice for over a year I'd say.  I just haven't had the opportunity to make it until now. 

Okay.  Got pattern.  Need fabric.

You need a master fabric, one that all the other fabrics tie into or contrast nicely with.  For me, it was Michael Miller's French Journal Collection, Anjou Papillon (that's the butterfly from Anjou...if my French is accurate...which it's not). 

The other fabric that inspired me was Blooming Tulips from the Magnolia Lane Collection, which is also Michael Miller.

Okay!  So I have a pattern and the starting of a fabric pallet...keep going...we need more!!

Yellow-greens, Yellows and blues, OH MY!  These are some that you buy.  Their colors fit in so nicely with your main fabric.

Then you start raiding your stash to fill in the gaps.  Some tans and black and white and others you think will look nice.

Some you have to reject because, even though you think it's will blend in with the black lattice and ruin the lattice effect.  Including the black Anjou Paillon, shown above.  It will go on the back though, so have no fear.  So will this polka dot, probably.

Then you buy, like, 5 yards of this Alexander Henry Linen-looking cotton because you think, at first, that you are actually going to showcase the neutrals...HA!  Then you remember that isn't how you roll.

Okay, now, during this whole process, you need to be thinking Scale.  You need some fabric that has...

Small scale pattern.  Very, very tiny.

You need some that is...

Medium scale.

And you need some that is...

Large scale.

That's not all!!!!  It's not?  NO!

You need solids!

Your eyes like to follow a path.  They just do.  So, solids will give your eyes a resting spot.  Then after they've regrouped from the awesomeness they've just seen, they can move on to the next bunch and rest on some solids there and recover. 


The quilt pattern that I'm using has a natural path with the black lattice, which allows the eyes to relax a bit, but it's still nice to have the cluster of solids in the middle of each block so as to not fatigue the eyes.

You've got to think about eye fatigue when making a quilt!  I will admit that eye fatigue is not usually my primary concern when making a quilt, but it's nice to consider it.

There you have it.  The beginnings of what is going to be a great experience for you.  Making a quilt.

Thanks for reading!


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