Tag Archives: pie

The pinch hitter and his Dead Sea Scroll pear/cranberry/blueberry pie

Pies are not on my list of favorites to bake or eat, but I’m pretty sure my husband’s first solid food was pie. So this weekend, I realized it was time to call in my pinch hitter since I’ve been in a no-blogging zone for the past five weeks while teaching.

On Saturday night when I returned from the Country Living Fair in Columbus, there was another Dead Sea Scroll pie cooling on the counter. The pie baker had been busy, so I took a photo and begged him to send me the recipe to share. He did more than that — he expounded. What a guy!

photo (10)Fred’s Dead Sea Scroll
Pear-Cranberry-Blueberry Pie

I call these pies my “Dead Sea Pie Scroll” series. That’s because I use Phyllo dough as crust. It’s frozen and rolls out looking like I think the Dead Sea Scrolls probably looked when they were unrolled after 2,000 years in the desert.

I followed the opinion that it’s very difficult to bake a bad pie.

On Saturday someone placed a bag of Bartlett pears on our back porch. So, I peeled them (about 7). Sliced them and started rummaging through the freezer to see what needed to be dumped.

I found a half bag of cranberries from Christmas and a bag of blueberries. I nuked them for 2 minutes, dumped them into the pear slices and started to think.

What else would go with this? So, in went one-half cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of corn starch and some random spices – ginger and something else that I don’t remember. You can never lose with sugar, but I like to try to limit it – most pie recipes call for lots more sugar than this.

While lemon juice is always good with cranberries, I had none, so I added a slug of OJ.

I wasn’t in the mood to make a crust, but luckily I had Phyllo dough frozen from a previous project. I used that for my pie crust and pie topping. After all, Phyllo sounds like “pie,” so why not use it as a crust substitute? It works.

Poured the fruit-sugar glop into the Pyllo crust, already placed in the deep dish pie plate.

I’d preheated the oven to 350. Placed the pie in the heated over and ignored it for one hour. I added an aluminum sheet on top of the pie so as to not burn the crust after one hour. 

Waited 30 more minutes and took it out of the oven. Didn’t wait to eat.



Episode 1: The man who cooks in triplicate

Having been raised in a fairly “non-traditional” family — at least for the 50s-60s, my husband learned his way around the kitchen at an early age. His dad often cooked — in fact, his fried potatoes are legendary. Technically, they’re probably called rosti, which is a Swiss concoction made with coarsely grated potato, either cooked or raw.

Pies, on the other hand, were his mom’s specialty. When we first married, I was confused by the fact that these pies always arrived at the table with a very thin sliver missing. And she always delivered them to the table with the same disclaimer: “This is the worst pie I’ve ever made.” Her adult children rolled their eyes and in fact, often spoke the words at the same time or tried to beat her to the punch.

About 10 years ago, the hubs embarked on his own pie project — baking a different kind every Sunday. By this time, our daughters were off at college and since I don’t like pie, he knew he wouldn’t offend anyone if one failed. My mom happily joined him in the tasting/rating process.

A few weeks after the failed attempt at vinegar pie (I’m serious) he said he was completely out of ideas and asked ME to suggest something. I knew we had applesauce so suggested he attempt to create something from that. He was so pleased with the result that he developed a whole new attitude toward baking and, subsequently, cooking. He became Invincible Man in the Kitchen.

Sunday has become baking and cooking day in our house. A few weeks ago, I asked what his plan was. His response was that he “likes to cook in threes.” How could I pass this up? Fortunately, he’s a good sport and went along with the deal.

So….that day began a series of “The man who cooks in triplicate.” Most weeks this includes a variation on granola, which he began making after I raved too many times about my mom and dad’s granola, which they began making in the 70s after reading Francis Moore Lappe’s “Diet for a Small Planet.” Someday, I’ll share his recipe — if and when he actually creates one.

The first day in this series included granolaIMG_0169[1], a simplified version of eggplant Parmesan,IMG_0170[1]                                                       and blueberry pie. Each year we buy a case of blueberries from Michigan and he freezes them in small amounts. The new case was due to arrive so he needed to use up the leftovers from last year. IMG_0168[1]

His explanation is SO much better than anything I could duplicate, so here it is. Understand that he — and sometimes my mom, a daughter, a significant other-in-law, a niece or nephew, or some other lucky guest — are the testers and rarely do his pies see the public eye.

Blueberry Pie
The recipe calls for 2 cups of blueberries. I like pies to be really tall, so I put in about 4 cups. That’s probably why is was runny. Just added 2 tbsp. of corn starch. Plus had had to get rid of the blueberries from 2012 to make room of the 2013 batch.

Basic fruit pie recipe for me is:

1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup sugar (I don’t like to put too much in)
Sometimes corn starch
Crust (sometimes homemade from whole wheat flour — which is all we have; usually made from oil, not butter or lard; sometimes purchased.) On this day, he got really creative and used phyllo dough which produced a top that resembled corn husks.

Bake at 350 until I’m hungry.  Sometimes the pie is overdone, sometimes underdone, sometimes just right.  Sometimes I add a top if I have enough pie crust left.

Editor’s note: Yep, it looked this strange. Apparently, it was perfect.






Pieman strikes again…this time, “Sinking Dog Pie”

Pieman was back at it again yesterday….he was in the kitchen at least half of the day — first making a pie, then meatloaf, bread and rolls. Lest you think we wish to pack on the pounds, think again. This is all HIS stuff and it has to last him a week. Well, that’s not quite the truth. I do eat the bread and sometimes the meatloaf, which he tells me I will love this time because he added some “good” stuff (i.e. veggies and herbs) to it.

But, I digress. Let’s go back to the pie. I walked into the kitchen and found him covered in flour. The dog was on the floor, waiting for the first crumb to drop his way. Of course, I bit. “Whatcha making?” To which he answered, “Bread crumb pie number 2.” I kid you not. This is the truth. I think I scowled. He pointed at his pie cookbook (a Christmas gift courtesy of daughter number 2 who shares his love of pie).

My husband is a champion at skirting the issue and answering a question with a non-answer, so I figured this was not the entire truth. Sigh. Here we go. Okay, here’s how the conversation went:

M: What’s in it?
F: Bread crumbs.
M: That’s it? Just bread crumbs?
F: Yep.
M: Liar. No one — not even you — would eat a pie made solely of bread crumbs.
F. Welllll…okay, it has some brown sugar and eggs. And some other stuff.

Of course. “Some other stuff” is always part of the equation, but hey, who am I to argue? He bakes pie like I bake cookies. A little bit of this and a little bit of that, and pretty soon you have a completely different product than that appearing in the cookbook.

I watched for awhile, then left the room, returning when he asked me to open the oven so he could pop in his pie. Later, when it came out of the oven, I peered at it. Yep. It was a pie. Kind of resembled a shoofly pie.

Sinking Dog Pie

Later on, as we rode the tandem around town, he expounded on his latest pie creation. Turns out he added pecans and chocolate. The sinking dog part? Take a look…look very closely because the dogs sunk.

And now, for those of you who want to try baking your very own “Sinking Dog Pie”, here’s the recipe from the master. Keep in mind you may have to change the name if you don’t own dog-shaped cookie cutters. (Just for the record, I did not buy them. Dog, after all, is MAN”S best friend.)

Happy baking!

Sinking Dog Pie

This pie is so simple it makes me sick.  Wait until you have some dried up bread. Instead of tossing it, make a pie from it. After all add sugar to anything and it tastes good.

2 c. (ball park figure) bread crumbs
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 egg whites
2 cups of milk
Toss in some cocoa
Toss in some pecan pieces

Add bread crumbs, cocoa and pecan pieces to the pie crust

Cover the crumbs with the brown sugar

Beat the egg whites and add milk.

Pour the egg-milk mixture over the crumbs and brown sugar

Then, add cinnamon and whatever spices you enjoy.

For a real kick, place a drop of almond flavoring to the mix.

*Concerning the sinking dog, I had too much crust remaining. So, I grabbed a cookie cutter that happened to be in the shape of a dog and placed four on the top of the pie. As the pie baked, the shapes sunk into the pie.

Bake for 35 minutes at 350.

Almost nothing compares to a ground cherry pie

About a month ago, I was inspecting my herb garden and noticed some little green plants that looked vaguely familiar. My fingers itched to yank them out because they WERE NOT HERBS and therefore, DID NOT BELONG.

The capital letters are intended to get the attention of my husband because those green plants BELONG TO HIM. Of course, he knows this, but I just like to rub it in because he has his very own self-described “Man’s Garden” just a few feet away from the herb garden.

What are the little green plants? Ground cherries. Yep, ground cherries…not to be confused in any way with sweet or sour red cherries that grow on trees. Ground cherries are green and each is in a tissue papery husk that looks like a tiny lantern. When they’re ripe, they are yellow, or sort of golden. Never heard of them? Don’t feel bad. Neither had I until I met my husband…kind of like I’d never heard of ham loaf or pan haus (pronounced pawn hawce) — a sort of cornmeal pudding. Of course, he’d never had chiao tzu (jowdza or steamed dumplings if you frequent Chinese restaurants) until he met me. But I digress.

Here’s the thing: The aforementioned little green plants did not originate in the Man’s Garden. Technically, they originated in a woman’s garden, because they were grown in large quantity in my husband’s grandmother’s garden on Columbus Grove Road. The ground cherries he grows are from seeds gleaned from his parents’ garden. His parents got their seeds from Grandma Susan’s garden. Today’s popular “heirloom seeds” have NOTHING on Grandma Susan’s hand-me-downs.

Oddly, a few years ago, the hubs created his very own little “ground cherry” garden behind the A-frame playhouse/tool shed. Then they disappeared and reappeared in an old wooden flower box CLEAR across the yard.

This year, these little guys weaseled their way into my herb garden…sort of in the same way that someone’s morning glories tend to invade the herb garden, and the perennial gardens, and the vegetable garden — which, by the way, died a slow death in July’s heat.

Ground cherries, according to my husband and youngest daughter, are absolutely scrumptious when made into a pie. Actually, Anne would eat them right out of the garden which is probably why there were never enough of them for a pie if Fred didn’t keep an eye on her. While the rest of her college roommates’ parents would send them boxes of cookies, Anne would receive containers of ground cherries.

Papery husk protects ground cherry

Apparently, ground cherries were used by both Native Americans and pioneers, probably in part, because they keep so long when left in the husk. Some people compare them to gooseberries, but my husband would disagree, because he insists that they taste like “NOTHING IN THE WORLD.” Actually, what he really said was:

Ripe ground cherries

“There’s nothing in the world like ground cherry pie. The closest thing might be a Nickel Plate Berkshire steam locomotive roaring down the tracks.”

This probably only makes sense if you really like pie AND trains. Obviously, he does.

His Aunt Ada actually froze and canned ground cherries, so she’d have pies all year around. Sadly, he can only manage them when the ripen in September or October. Here’s Aunt Ada’s recipe.

Ground Cherry Pie

3 cups ground cherries

2/3 cup sugar

2 round tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Mash and cook the ingredients on the stove until the mix boils.

Place in a small pie shell (not deep dish).

Place a crust on top.

 Bake 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, Aunt Ada never told him the temperature. He’s used 350 degrees.