Heaven and Hell Party: Shepherdess Pie

All the Hell food: Pie in the Woods

From top left: 7 Sins Chili, Angel-Hair in Devil Sauce, Barbeque Chips, Fire Roasted Peppers, and Spicy Jalapeño Cornbread.

A friend of mine likes to throw potlucks.  But not ordinary potlucks – themed potlucks – like Bad Puns where people brought “Brownie Points”  or  (Non)Traditional 7 Course Meal where the person assigned to the fish course brought fish sticks.  Recently he had a “Heaven and Hell” potluck.  Pre-potluck recon indicated that there would be a lot of Hell dishes coming but not much on the Heaven side, so I wanted to bring a Heaven dish.  Problem is, Hell dishes are a lot easier to come up with – anything spicy and/or fiery can be said to be devilish, whereas for Heaven you have angel-food, angel-hair and ambrosia salad.

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The Moment of Truth: Pie-Crust

Fresh Pie: Pie in the Woods

So, with a name like “Pie in the Woods”, I should probably talk about pie, right?

I have been sitting on this post for various reasons, to wit:

  • Lack of a good anecdote to post with the story: I’m using this list as an anecdote substitute.
  • Sub-par photos: I don’t have good luck with cameras, and thus don’t want to spend a lot of money. That, coupled with bad lighting, my lack of photo-editing knowledge, and my lack of tripod (last night I took a picture by setting the 10 second timer and then holding the camera in place under my chin!) leads to less than stellar photos.  With the help of my friend, Sir Photoshop, things have gotten a bit better, but I’m not too happy with my pie-crust photos.
  • Not only is the recipe involved (not hard, just tedious to explain), but there is also a lot of science behind pie-crust that I wanted to include because I’m a geek.  This made this a very long post to write, and since I’m lazy I kept putting it off.
  • Fear of judgement: My Fairy-Pie Mother reads this blog, and she’ll know what I get wrong.

So that’s why you haven’t seen this recipe yet.  But I now have three completed recipes in the pipeline that I can’t post because they all involve pie-crust (only one is a traditional pie – this crust just lends itself to several of my recipes) and I want to get the ball rolling.  So here it is!

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Ode to Deborah: Cabbage-Mushroom Galette

Galette and Roasted Broccoli: Pie in the Woods

I want to introduce you all to a friend of mine.  She’s the kind of friend who’s always there for you with helpful tips and suggestions when you’re stressed out.  The kind of friend who is full of useful information.  The kind of friend who inspires you.  Her name is Deborah Madison, and she wrote Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

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Post-Thanksgiving Post: Ginger-Orange Cranberry Sauce

Molded Ginger-Orange Cranberry Sauce: Pie in the Woods

Did everyone have a tasty (and overly filling) Thanksgiving?  Good.

Since I became a vegetarian, Thanksgiving has lost a lot of its charm.  We always gathered at my Grandma’s house, and like a good Iowa farm-wife, she offered three (count ’em three!) kinds of meat: capon, beef, and ham.  In addition there were mashed potatoes (which I’ve never liked, yes, I do know that this makes me a freak of nature), salad, cranberries, rolls, spinach balls (the best part!), and funeral casserole – a vegetable casserole so-named because a friend of my grandmother always brought it to funerals.  As you can see, limited options for me, although I never was as uncomfortably full as the rest of my family.

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Not just for Omnivores: Biscuits and Gravy

The summer before 8th grade my family drove to South Dakota and did all the touristy things.  This meant a lot of eating out, and at many of the breakfast places they had biscuits and gravy.  This was the first time I’d ever seen the dish, and as it looks rather gelatinous and bubbly, (think The Blob) when kept in a warming pan, I avoided it.  And a bit more than a year later I became a vegetarian, so I never tried it.

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Rescued Tomatoes: Fresh Tomato Sauce with Lemon

When I was younger I didn’t like tomatoes, except in the most processed forms (pasta sauce, pizza etc).  Since then I’ve grown to really enjoy tomatoes, and like cooking with them.  Sadly, I rarely am afforded the opportunity as my best friend has a tomato-intolerance.  Since she can’t eat them, we don’t keep them around and my tomato-intake is greatly diminished.  (I have considered ending our friendship over this, but she puts up with my eggplant-intolerance, so I guess I can’t).

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Save the Spinach: Wilted Spinach Salad

So, you know when you buy a bag of spinach at the store with the full intention of harnessing all of its super-powers?  You bring it home, and then life happens, and all your spinach-related cooking plans go out the window.  Or it just gets lost in the fridge.  And then a few days later you return to your spinach, and its no longer full of bright green promises.  Instead, it’s wilty, or maybe even a touch slimy. The texture goes before the taste, but who wants to eat limp spinach?

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Trois Magnifiques Oeufs!

I made this sandwich for lunch today (minus the ham of course) with eggs from our chickens. Super Tasty!

Three eggs!  Since one of our hens (Coco) NEVER lays, this is a good day.

From Left to Right: Superman, Betty, Coco, Miss Bossy-pants and Ginger

this french farmhouse

farm fresh eggs, backyard chickens, croque madame recipe

Three beautiful eggs – that is what I found on Monday morning. We have been waiting and waiting (and waiting) for our hens to lay and were starting to feel as though they never would. Last Thursday, Justin put a golf ball in the nesting box to try to encourage them, and it must have worked! When I opened up the coop on Monday, my facial expression was probably that of a little girl who just found out her parents bought her a pony. It was so exciting.

It’s like magic,” Justin said with a huge grin.

There they were, a little gift from our feathered friends. Small, perfectly oblong and the prettiest pinkish brown I’ve ever seen. I felt so proud you would have thought I had laid them myself. I immediately called Justin at work, “GUESS WHAT?! The bitches laid eggs!” (By the way, that is a term…

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Na-cho Post! Sweet Apple “Nachos”

Today (I’m still calling it today since I haven’t gone to bed yet) was a pretty great day.  Obama won!  And he called Joe Biden a “happy warrior” which made me giggle.  I could end the post there, but wait, there’s more!  In the morning I canvassed for Marriage Equality with my best friend and got really positive responses from voters.  I got a free taco at California Tortilla because I voted – om nom nom.  (California Tortilla is an awesome burrito place, they’re quirky and fun and they correctly predicted Obama’s win – I dare you to argue with their prediction methods).  Lastly, I went to two free yoga classes in a row. I’m feeling joyous and flexible and full of life. One of the classes was Dahn yoga which I had not tried before. It was this crazy energy based kriya yoga.  Super silly, but also wonderful.  You should give it a try if there’s a studio in your area.

I like Yoga

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Taste of Autumn: Stuffed Squash with Fennel and Apple

First off, does the word “squash” look really weird to anyone else?  I mean, S-Q?  Who starts a word that way?  

I love fall. Before people who know me call shenanigans, let me clarify that I do not like being cold, so any displays of autumnal dislike can be directly linked to a lack of sweaters.  Moving on.  The sky seems bluer in the fall.  I think it’s that it’s finally cool enough that going outside isn’t torture, and combined with the beautiful fall foliage one can appreciate the sky more.  The natural colors and earthy scents, (leaves, apples, fresh-turned soil) make me feel more connected to the earth than the riotous colors of genetically manipulated summer flowers.  It’s just cold enough that wearing all your cosy clothes and curling up under a blanket with a good book becomes wonderful.  Warming, substantial food suddenly becomes the best thing in the world. And, of course, every kids’ favorite part about fall:

Yes, I will go slightly out of my way to step on that crunchy-looking leaf!

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