Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pie Crust Tips and My Favorite Crust Recipe

Trust me. It really is "Easy as pie" with this recipe. This is a great no fail method that has unavoidable consequences. You will be in charge of pies for every holiday. So use at your own risk.

First some tips that will make it no fail:

Pie Crust Tip No. 1:
When Measuring your shortening use water displacement. What's that? Let me show you. I have a 4 cup measuring cup and I only need 1 2/3 Cup of Shortening. 4 - 1 2/3 = 2 1/3, so I fill my measuring cup up with water to the 2 1/3 mark and then add shortening until it fills the water up to the whole 4 cups. (You do need to push the shortening down under the water for an
accurate measure) Easy and you won't have to battle air pockets and the shortening sticking to your measuring cup. Eh.... Good tip huh.

Pie Crust Tip No. 2:
Don't use a pastry knife! Use your hands. Just grab the ingredients in your hands and sort of rub it gently between your palms and fingers of your two hands. Do this until you no longer see any dry/white flour. Should be crumbly. Use this method especially if you feel your crust has been tough in the past. This really keeps the crust flaky.

Pie Crust Tip No. 3:
For the love of Pete, DO NOT OVER MIX YOUR CRUST!  I have watched several people (who claim to know pie crust) mix their crust into submission.  We are talking Kitchen Aides people...  Or kneading it like a loaf of bread.  Pie crust should be light and flaky. Treat it accordingly.

Pie Crust Tip No. 4:
Rolls your crust between plastic wrap. I like to place two pieces side by side overlapping by about two inches to make it wider. Make two of these then roll the crust between your two wider sheets. This makes table top to pie pan transfer a lot easier. Simply remove the top sheet and flip it onto your pie pan. Then smooth it out and remove the other plastic sheet. There! Done.

Pie Crust Tip No. 5: 
After your crust is rolled out and in the pan, let it rest in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking.  This will minimize shrinking in the oven.  This is particularly important with any pie that requires a baked crust before the filling is added.

Alright. Down to the baking!

My favorite pie crust recipe and it's a mix. 
Say what?! It doesn't get better than that (this recipe makes 4-5 crusts):
5 C. Fluffy White or Wheat Flour (Don't pack it in)
1 1/4 tsp. Salt
1 2/3 Cup Shortening

Measure flour, shortening and salt into a large bowl. (Sort of sprinkle the salt around to ensure even distribution and don't forget to use the tips outlined above!) Mix these ingredients together.

Now, at this point you can store it in the fridge for about three weeks or the freezer for way longer. Great if you want to get some of the mess out of the way before a big holiday.

Now that you have your crust mix, for one crust:
1 1/2 C. Mix
Cold Water

Put your mix into an appropriately sized bowl and begin adding water and mixing it in. I like to just add one tablespoon of cold water at a time and gently mix it in with a fork. Continue doing this until the dry crumbly mixture is gone and you have big globs of pie crust ready to roll out.  It shouldn't be wet/soggy feeling when you are done.  If you get too much water, just add a little more dry mixture and incorporate it in gently.  In my opinion, a little wetter is better than too dry.
Form into a ball and squish it flat so that there is minimal tearing around the edges.  Begin rolling it out with a rolling pin using tip 4.  I like to kind of rotate it around and flip it over a couple of times to keep it round.  Then transfer to and press it into your pie dish.  Trim edges and decorate your rim how you like.  Often I'll just trim it off and call it good, depending on the occasion. Let your crust rest in the fridge.  Finish pie according to filling instructions.

*Don't forget to poke holes in your crust with a fork IF you are baking the crust without filling.  It allows steam to escape and prevents big bubbles.

If you have any questions about pie making, please just ask.  I am happy to help out how I can!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Missing: Have You Seen This Sock?

 I just hung this ribbon in my laundry room today to keep track of matchless socks and, HOLY COW, it was so easy to find the matches as I did laundry today. This idea is a keeper!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Red Ticket, Green Ticket - Easy Reward System

We have tried A LOT of different job charts and rule enforcements in our almost ten years of parenthood. Some better than others. We had one that was close, but in the end it was too hard to manage and keep track of. So, after a few months of free for all, I am again ready to try yet another system.  This is what I came up with.
This idea is a fusion of several methods that we have tried and grew up with. I am very hopeful because of how simple it is. If you do something naughty, you get a red ticket. If you do something good, you get a green ticket. Green tickets buy rewards such as TV/video game time or a treat from a goody cupboard. Red tickets prevent use of green tickets and to remove the red ticket the child must do a job given by the parent. That's it in a nutshell.
To earn green tickets in our house, our kids do homework happily, brush teeth, do their daily jobs, and do acts of kindness for each other without being asked. Red tickets are earned by breaking house rules and general disobedience. We added yellow and orange tickets to place emphases on two house rules we felt need special attention and enforcement. Pretty simple. Now let's see if it sticks....  :)

Here is how I made it:

Materials Needed:
2 Coordinating sheets of double sided 12x12 Sheets of scrapbook paper.
Green Paper
Red Paper
Sewing Machine with Thread

1- Cut one sheet of 12x12 paper in half to make two 6x12 rectangles. These will be the pockets. On mine it's the floral and the red.
2 - Trim other 12x12 paper to 10x12. On mine it's the Brown.
3 - Take one 6x12 rectangle and position it in the middle of the 10x12 paper. 2" above and 2" below of the background showing.  Sew along the bottom edge of the smaller rectangle only.
4 - Take the other rectangle and position it on the bottom edge of the background paper.  Sew along the entire outside edges of the whole thing.
5 - Sew in the pockets.  Just divide it into three equal sections and sew straight up from the bottom to top to make the pockets. 
6 - cut 1x6 strips of red and green paper to use as your tickets.
7 - Add names and you are ready to go.