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Archive for the ‘Food Culture’ Category

August 27: Urbana, IL

The Urbana Sweetcorn Festival brought the 80s band Survivor to town!

I didn’t get any corn (for the second year in a row), but I did eat some funnel cake and rock out with my friend Natalie.  Carnival food is sometimes the best worst indulgence.

About to hear “Eye of the Tiger”!

September 2: Urbana, IL

Knowing that the Animal Sciences in the College of ACES at the University studies livestock, they have to do something with the livestock.  I had heard rumors of a meat sciences laboratory.  A lab where I could buy high-quality, local, and very fresh meat at competitive prices.  It became an adventure to find it, and buy some meat.

Well, apparently, the locals know all about it.  And they also know about the eggs sales in the meat sales room, too.  It pretty much looks like a butcher shop with cases of lamb, veal, beef, pork, and chicken you can buy.  It also has cases full of sausages and brats that you can buy.  Here’s what I got:

Hot and spicy polish sausage, smoked brats, rib eye filets, and sliced ham.  The best part is all the packaging says University of Illinois!

The shop also had some helpful posters about beef and pork:

Cuts of beef and where they’re from.
Pork parts labeled.

I cooked the rib eye and ham, but those recipes are in the next post.

How to find Farmer’s Markets in IL

Find a place in Illinois near you that offers fresh farm goods by using Illinois Farm Direct – the farmer-to-consumer directory of locally produced foods.  It’s an excellent source of consumer information.

Thought for the week: “A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.” – William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

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July 8-9: Saint Louis, MO

My friend Erin and I visited the fourth largest metropolis in the Midwest: St. Louis.  We had a great time there, and made sure to snag a pulled pork sandwich at the famous Memphis-style BBQ hotspot, Pappy’s Smokehouse.

We didn’t know until we arrived, but Adam from Man vs. Food (Season 1, Episode 14) has had a challenge here; it was probably one of his tastiest.  The line is usually a long wait, so come prepared.  Here’s the episode (starts at 6:40):

We also toured the Anheuser-Busch Brewery (founded in 1852) at the company’s headquarters.

The historic six-story Brew House (built in 1891) originally served as a train depot.

To stay in business during Prohibition, Anheuser-Busch produced Bevo, a nonalcoholic, cereal-based beverage whose symbol is a fox, brewer’s yeast (the symbol for which was an elephant), ice cream, and refrigerated trucks. The Bevo packaging plant (built in 1917) is on site.  The name “Bevo” was coined from the word “beverage” and the Slavic language word for beer “pivo”, and was pronounced “Bee-vo.”  Read this great article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a year-by-year account of the company’s survival through Prohibition.

Erin and me in the Clydesdales' stables! The Budweiser Clydesdales tradition began in 1933 when August A. Busch Jr. presented his father with the first team of Clydesdales to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition.

The brewery’s sheer size was impressive, and the tasting room at the end was welcome on such a hot day.  The tour offers complimentary beer at its conclusion.  I had two glasses of Shock Top with a bag of pretzels.

In the gift shop, they had these two informative posters about ales and lager (so helpful for keeping track of beer types):

Ales from light to dark: Belgian style witbier, Hefeweizen, American wheat ale, Blonde ale, Pale ale, Porter, and Stout. Enlarge for the descriptions!

Lager from light to dark: American lager, American light lager, Pilsner, Amber lager, Marzen/ Oktoberfest, and Bock.

On Saturday morning, Erin and I hit the Soulard Market in the French Lafayette neighborhood.  Officially established since before the Civil War as a farmer’s market (and unofficially since as early as 1779), the Soulard Market is a great place to get exotic meats like ox tail and wood for smoking your BBQ, among the delicious pastries, produce, and non-food item vendors.  It’s in permanent buildings, so you can’t miss it if you go.

After spending hours exploring it, the City Museum yielded the most unexpected food finds in St. Louis.  On the third floor in a section called “Beatnik Bob’s,” I found some of the creepiest U.S. carnival and roadside attraction exhibits.

In this area, they have the “Corn Dogs Through The Ages” exhibit, where I happened to snap a picture of the seminal work below.  It depicts the importance of holding a corndog to assert authority in Indiana town halls during the Great Depression:

The text reads: "In rural Indiana, during the Great Depression, in order for a person to speak with authority at a town meeting, that individual was required to hold aloft a corndog in the right hand as a 'symbol of authority.' - H. Ploof, 1937"

A plaque next to it also read:

#9. RURAL SYMBOL OF AUTHORITY.  1937 HOMER PLOOFE, KOKOMO, INDIANA.  Little information exists about the artist, Mr. Ploofe.  Apparently a hobo who drifted about the rural Midwest during the Depression, he carved fancy bird houses, feeders, whirligigs, and a few works with political overtones, all owned by a woman in Kokomo, Leena Ginster who appears to have been a sweetheart of this restless soul.  The facts of his statement have been verified and one scholar notes: this custom evolved from rituals of the Kiowas Indians of the region.  They brandished corn husk wands and danced in a circle until one of their members was seized by a powerful vision (induced by the corn wand) and was led to speak prophetic utterances.

Among other artifacts found in construction digs from around the city was this curious pretzel flask.  It’s genius.

Pretzel flask from North St. Louis.

We also rode to the top of the arch!  Overall, the trip was a success.

August 12-14: Springfield, IL

My mom and I visited the state capitol during the Illinois State Fair.  We tried a bunch of different foods, including: jalapeno poppers, Kandy melons (company from Mississippi), 17th Street Bar & Grill Memphis-style barbecue (location in Murphysboro, IL), and FINALLY: a fried Twinkie from Fried What (established in 2002, company from Dallas, Texas).

I’m not sure how much of what we ate really embraced the state of the Illinois State Fair, but some of the things we saw sure did, including this cow sculpted of butter:

The butter cow has been an attraction at the Illinois State Fair since 1922.

Mom and I also explored a diner on Route 66 known for its corndogs (I guess the Midwest can’t get enough corndogs?).  The Cozy Dog Drive-In is worth a one-time, nostalgic meal to absorb the old America; then keep driving.

The founder's wife drew the characters of the Cozy-Dog emblem. So cute!

Thought for the week: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)

Summer is a fantastic time for being unproductive.  And as such, I’ve been absorbing a lot of foodie culture news to now share with you!

ICE CREAM

I’m not sure if you’ve seen this Haagen Dazs commercial, but it’s worth 45 seconds of your life:

Filmed by an Australian advertising agency named The Sweet Shop, the company got its name from its location: an old candy factory.  It shot this high-end cinematography masterpiece in Fiji and New Zealand.  Pretty amazing: an advertising company that embraces its connection with dessert shoots a beautiful commercial about things other than ice cream to get you to buy a scoop.

READING

Meanwhile, the New York Times health blog Well reported on a research article supporting that shifts in the labor force during the past five decades have led to less activity (by 100 calories a day!) at the workplace, and could be a contributing factor to the national increase in obesity.  This factor, however, has been neglected in researchers’ work to find the causes of and stymy obesity because it requires the often difficult-to-obtain longitudinal data.  Instead, we’ve heard a lot about daily things to do: eat fruits and veggies and exercise.  The article is fascinating because it shifts attention from commuting habits or declining leisure-time physical activity to technological shifts and a systemic, environmental change in the workplace:

Dr. Church notes that because the research doesn’t factor in technological changes, like increasing reliance on the Internet and e-mail, many people in service and desk jobs that have always involved only light activity are now moving less than ever, meaning the findings probably understate how much physical activity has been lost during work hours.

Fascinating report.  Suggested food for thought.

While I was browsing at Chicago’s Lit Fest along Printer’s Row at Dearborn and Polk streets this past weekend, I ran into some very focused, food-related history books.  It’s called the Edible Series edited by Andrew F. Smith.  It features the global history of the human consumption of several foods, each with its own individual book featuring recipes and reference material.  You can read about: cake, caviar, cheese, chocolate, curry, hamburger, hot dog, milk, pancake, pie, pizza, potato, sandwich, soup, spices, tea and whiskey.

FOODIE BAND-AIDS

Back to fun stuff!  Foodie band-aids!  So this Seattle-based novelty/ counter-culture company named Archie McPhee started in 1983 and sells vintage-y looking gift items.  In 2002, the company got widespread notoriety for creating the Librarian Action Figure.  But I’m going to focus on something more important: foodie band-aids ($4.95 per box) in the following likenesses:

I’m not saying I’d go out and buy these and wear them.  But they do harken back to my childhood when wearing a Smurf or Mickey Mouse bandage was highly likely.  The company also sells a Bacon Collection of a variety of items that celebrate the smell and look of bacon, and kind of weirds me out in its quality of devotional thought to bacon.

DOUGHNUTS

The Salvation Army celebrated the first National Donut Day (June 3) in 1938 in downtown Chicago to recognize its women who gave doughnuts to U.S. soldiers during WWI.  They were known as “doughnut lassies.”  The tradition continued during WWII to give soldiers the feeling of “motherhood and home.”

From my experience digging through the American Red Cross photo archives, volunteers did similar food-related duties for soldiers overseas, though not with doughnuts exclusively.  More like coffee and snacks.

Salvation Army locations all over the country interact with their local communities around Donut Day with fundraisers or free doughnuts, and both are catching on with commercial franchises like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts.  This is exciting because some are saying dougnuts could be the foodie trend that replaces cupcakes (though cupcakes will always trump doughnuts for me).  A local Chicago fav for doughnuts, with a limited supply and a line around the block every morning, is The Donut Vault located at 400 1/2 N. Franklin & Kinzie in River North.  I haven’t been there (something about mornings…), but this guest blog on NBC gives a pretty extensive overview.

PRETZELS, BEER & THE MARKET IN LANCASTER, PA

Pennsylvania prides itself on its pretzels.  According to my tour guide at the Intercourse Pretzel Factory, the majority (something like 80%) of the nation’s pretzels are made within 100 miles of Intercourse, PA.  In fact, Auntie Anne‘s headquarters moved from Gap (a town close to Intercourse) to Lancaster in 2008, to be in a bigger city and close to its Pretzel University where employees learn to roll pretzels.  In case you’re wondering, Anne sold the company in 2005 and opened up a family counseling center.  The company and its franchises are (as of 2010) now run by FOCUS Brands, the same conglomerate that owns Cinnabon, Carvel and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Frank and I did stop into the Lancaster Brewery Company for lunch next to the huge brewing barrels and tried the 12 (ours had 13 because of seasonal varieties available) 4 oz. beer sampler tray.  On the tray were these varieties and my thoughts (read about some of them here and here):

  • Milk Stout – awful
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberry – not my taste
  • Gold Star Pilsner – okay
  • Strawberry Wheat – awful
  • Rumspringa – great
  • Celtic Rose Red Ale – okay
  • Cream Ale – good
  • Hop Hog IPA – good
  • Shoo-Fly Porter – okay
  • Lancaster Lager – not the best
  • Amish Four Grain Ale – tasteless
  • Hefe Weizen – great
  • Fest Beer – great

Weird that you can’t really buy what they have on the tray in the brewery’s store.  You would think they’d have what they serve, but we found otherwise.  I wanted some bottles of Rumspringa (when Amish 16 year olds venture into modern vices, according to NPR)!

The Lancaster Central Market, only open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, is an awesome place.  It’s one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the country and a great place for good Amish or Mennonite foods, as well as quality meats and cheeses.  The third-generation run and fourth-generation operated S. Clyde Weaver stall cannot be missed.  We picked up some American white cheddar and habanero cheese (way spicy) that we should have bought more of – it was delicious.

Thought for the week: “Eating words has never given me indigestion.” – Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Murphysboro, IL

Last weekend, I visited Mitra and Brandon down in the So ILL.  We toured five wineries during my stay, including:

To say the least, we had a good time.

The following morning, we went out for a vegan breakfast at Longbranch Coffe House in downtown Carbondale.  I was surprised by tasty vegan sausage gravy biscuits.

Me and Mitra at breakfast in Carbondale!

Taliesin & Middleton, Wisconsin

Mom and I drove up to Taliesin (near Spring Green and about an hour drive from Madison) to visit a complex of Frank Lloyd Wright residence and farm buildings.  Wright’s ancestry was Welsh and he grew up in this area of farmland in WI; he named the community Taliesin, which means “shining brow” in Welsh and the name of which belonged to a Welsh poet.  He originally built the home for his mistress, Maymaw, during his first marriage.  It didn’t end well for her and her two small children (from her marriage) – the butler found out she was not married to Wright and went crazy, taking an axe to her, her children, and four other people, then poured gasoline on and torched the house, all while Wright was in Chicago working.  The home has also been burned down twice (the second time was because it was hit by lightening).

Mom and me in front of the Hillside School (studio and theater) at Taliesin.

I think the place is cursed.  To add to the drama, we toured on Friday the 13th, and our car battery died on the way up.  I’m glad we had the battery replaced so it wasn’t completely a scenario stolen from The Shining.

After our tours, we headed to the nearby town of Middleton.  We stepped into the National Mustard Museum, where pretzels are only $1 for taste-testing of hundreds of mustard types!  They have a deal of the week online, if you’re a mustard fanatic.

Life-size French's costume in the National Mustard Museum!

I’m not sure I’d trust every bit of research in the “museum,” especially since it said that the names of M&Ms represent the tradition of mustard making (actually the founders of Mars and Hershey).  Entertaining, but not true, according to Wikipedia.  It also reported that the red and yellow M&M characters represent ketchup and mustard… I also found a chocolate wiki for chocolate lovers.  🙂

We wandered next door to the Hubbard Avenue Diner to get a slice each of the four berry and cherry pie to go.  The cherry was a winner.

And our final to-go food choice from Wisconsin, on the advice of a friend, was yellow cheese curds.  I know it sounds gross, but cheese curds have been around a long time, even making a mention in the Little Miss Muffet nursery rhyme.  They are known as the most musical of cheeses because they squeak like a balloon when you bite into them.  I, of course, had to try them.

Philadelphia, PA

My sister, Susan, joined up with my Mom and I in Philly.  But we did get a chance to stop in at the Reading Market and I got some cinnamon ice cream at Bassetts Ice Cream (which has been around since 1861!).

The Reading Railroad (as in the one on Monopoly boards) built the market in 1892 as part of its downtown passenger terminal.  The market was on a downward spiral in the 1970s and fell into disrepair in the 80s when the trains were rerouted to bypass the terminal.  But it was revitalized in the early 1990s to the current state of awesomeness that it is today. 

There are tons of foodie must-taste stands at Reading Market.  The steak at Hershel’s deli has been featured on the Travel channel’s addicting show, Man vs. FoodWan’s Seafood had the largest shrimp I’ve ever seen!  About the size of my hand, fingers stretched out.  John Yi’s Fish Market offered customers octopus.  Stands that belonged to Amish merchants was closed off – they’re only there Wednesday through Saturday.

Susan also found this clever Joseph Joseph Chop 2 Pot cutting board at one of the market shops.  After chopping, you lift the handle and the sides angle inward, allowing a cleaner dump into a mixing bowl.

Colorful, clean, and easy cutting board!

Thought for the week: “I send you a kaffis of mustard seed, that you may taste and acknowledge the bitterness of my victory.” – Alexander The Great (356 BC-323 BC)

After a stressful week, I found myself listening to Tears for Fears and Queen’s “Fat-Bottomed Girls” and making chocolate pudding.  Not exactly my moment.

Or is it?  Is this just exactly what I need?  Do I need to feel like I’m in a late 90s chick flick dancing around the kitchen a la Meg Ryan/ Julia Roberts/ Sandra Bullock style with chocolate smeared on my cheek and a pudding-covered whisk to use as my microphone, singing “I just died in your arms tonight“?

Anyway, the pudding is actually just a step in making the audience-pleaser dessert: dirt.  A combination of chocolate pudding, crumbled Oreo, cool whip, and gummy worms, it’s a perfect Halloween display.  And I’m in luck.  I have a potluck Halloween party tomorrow night.

I used whole milk to make the pudding extra creamy.

Mixed pudding! I played with the whisk to make swirly patterns.

Crushed oreos added.

Mixed in the cool whip.

Close up. Irresistible.

I don’t have pictures of the pudding cups with dirt and worms since it’s just prep for tomorrow, but I will next week!

I also made some slow-cooker turkey chili.

First I had to brown the ground turkey on the stove with some olive oil.

Turkey turns a greyish color when cooked fully.

Grey. Told you. But I had to drain the liquid before adding it to the crock pot.

I chopped up my onions coarsely and smeared butter on the sides of the crockpot. The layering in starts with turkey then onions.

Then the kidney and black beans.

To avoid splashing, the condensed tomato soup went in next just before lots of spices, including chili flakes to give it a kick. So pretty!

The fun part is mixing those layers before setting it to cook. Ready to simmer for 4 hours.

After simmering. Turkey chili ready for eating.

Shredded some sharp cheddar cheese, some fat-free sour cream and some green onion on top. Mmm dinner.

This is a really tasty chili.  I don’t usually have sour cream with my chilis, but it added such a richness that I have to recommend the toppings.

University foodie explorations

Campus Recreation has a “healthy cooking” program that is surprisingly robust for being housed in the Athletic Recreation Center, or the largest campus gym (which even has an indoor rock climbing wall!).  I was tempted to join the cookbook club until I saw that it focuses on basic skill building (i.e. making chicken and rice).

The instructional video recipe archives are kind of cool.

Or you can see the list of recipes and cookbooks, which have a number of vegetarian options, if you’re looking for some ideas.

An interesting marketing ploy I noticed: the local grocery store County Market offers cooking classes and “healthy food tours” of their stores.  Ironic that the instructor’s name is Hope?

Only in the Midwest

Things like the Chicago Cubs Cookbook make me think the Midwest is cute.  Because you know that these athletes are consuming large quantities of their “all-star recipes.”  But despite a cover photo taken in a style stolen from The Rascals, I remain unconvinced that they make what they eat.  So posed, somewhat comical.

Published August 15, 2010! Order yours now!

Thought of the week from the 1980 movie, Popeye: “I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger today.”

In celebration of my birthday (today!), I will reveal all of the cupcake places I’ve searched out in the past few years.  Some have been in D.C., others with my Cupcake Girls (Vanessa, Mallory and Stephanie) in NYC, and others in random spots on my travels.

Although some argue that the cupcake bubble has popped, I’m still enjoying the boom.  In fact, I directed a corporate-sponsored cupcake-decorating event this past April!

Let me know which places you recommend, or flavors you love to devour!

The District

It seems appropriate to start with cupcakeries in my hometown, which the Washington Post cited as wellsprings of hope amidst the bleak recession of 2009.  Cupcakes were quickly incorporated into the belly of the beast: the House of Representatives’ cafeteria.

I think it all started with CakeLove (U Street), a D.C. bakery that began in 2002 by a Green Line native.  Although I stopped in first during summer 2007 (officially before the cupcake craze), the founder had already been featured on the Today Show, Oprah and had his own show on the Food Network (episode recipes online).  CakeLove has expanded to seven other D.C.-metro-area locations.

Needless to say, this is where I’ll be getting my birthday cake this year.  Any suggestions on flavor?

Other verified cupcakeries:

  • Hello Cupcake (Dupont Circle) – My favorite is the “You Tart!” lemon cupcake.
  • Georgetown Cupcake (M Street) – With its cream cheese-based frostings, this is my favorite cupcakery in D.C.  Any flavor, anytime.
  • Red Velvet Cupcakery (Chinatown) – Good for an after-Verizon-Center-concert pick-me-up, but not worthy of an out-of-the-way trip.
  • Something Sweet (Glover Park) – Sadly, this bakery gets two thumbs down because its frosting lives up to the bakery’s name all too well – it makes my teeth hurt.  Avoid unless you have kids along – it’s very child friendly.

The Empire State

The original congregating city of the Cupcake Girls (CG) since 2008, we have explored the big apple territory together far and wide.  There an endless number of bakeries still to explore on later trips.

  • Billy’s Bakery (Chelsea) – My favorite in NYC!  The gooey buttercream frostings balance the cake, which is on the drier side.  I get my standby favorite every time (vanilla frosting on chocolate cake), and often leave with other cupcake flavors in a box.
  • Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery (Lower East in the Village) – The sumptuous taste of fresh and homemade converge here.  Worth the trip to the colorful shop – plus their cupcake characters couldn’t be cuter!
  • Batch (West Village, CLOSED) – As an experimental aside of the chef of the Asian restaurant next door, this place was high fashion for cupcakes with highfalutin fillings and toppings.  R.I.P. Batch.
  • Crumbs (Union Square) – A chain with several locations on the East and West coasts (and one opening soon in D.C.), this place sucks the fun out of cupcakes due to lack of flavor.  A redeeming idea is the mini-cupcake taste package.
  • Eleni’s (Chelsea Market) – A gourmet’s favorite spot, these cupcakes are often sent as corporate gifts.  The flavor is acceptable, but not stellar.
  • Magnolia Bakery (West Village) – It’s been featured on the show Sex & The City because the cupcakes really are sugary indulgence, but good.  I admit that I own the Magnolia cupcake cookbook, despite the bakery’s torrid ownership history.
  • Big Booty Bread Co. (Chelsea) – I honestly can’t remember much about the cupcakes because I was so preoccupied with buying a t-shirt with the bakery’s logo with Mallory.  But I remember that after I returned the stale cupcake I got, it was good.
  • Butter Lane (East Village) – The latest cupcakery explored by the CG together, this bakery focuses on buttercream frosting and offers frosting shots for $1!

The CG strikes again! Stephanie, me, Mallory and Vanessa enjoy cupcakes and frosting shots at Butter Lane this past weekend.

Cupcakes U.S.A.

  • Chicago: More (Gold Coast) – This bakery is awesome.  Not only is it experimental in its gourmet combinations (salted caramel, key lime, feta strawberry, chocolate champagne, passion fruit meringue, white velvet, etc.), it also has a flavor of the day!
  • Annapolis: Nostalgia Cupcakes (Old Town) – Although way too sugary for me, these cupcakes are perfect for kiddos in town for parades and other frequent family-friendly events.
  • Wilmington: Hot Pink Cake Stand (Historic Old Town) – This cake decorator caters to vegans!  She also offers mini cupcakes, and her best recipe is the chocolate cupcake with peanut butter icing.

So that’s the summary of the cupcake expedition so far.  To be continued…

Thought for the week:The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” – Lucille Ball, 1911-1981

Rolling Thunder is a notorious Memorial Day weekend spectacle along Constitution Avenue in D.C.  Albeit a patriotic tribute, it’s one of the reasons I headed south to visit Charleston, South Carolina last weekend with my family.  Another was the seafood, like this tasty appetizer at the waterfront Fleet Landing Restaurant.

The presentation of Fleet Landing restaurant's crabcake and fried green tomato appetizer es magnifique!

Another was the beauty.  Charleston (and frequently Charleston Place Hotel specifically) is named one of the top destination wedding spots in the country.  It’s not hard to see why.

One of the many Charleston gatehouses brimming with flowers.

And yet another was the company.  I met up with my childhood friend Katie, a cellist in the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, for brunch at 82 Queen.

Is it crab benedict if you get Hollandaise, but no egg? Family brunch + Katie.

I’ll be upfront.  I was on vacation time.  There was no time to think about me cooking in Charleston.  The only cookbook I cracked open was the Second Presbyterian’s merely to browse, which has some tempting family recipes that I tried at its tea room lunch.

I was oblivious to church tea rooms until I ate my lunch there with a full bluegrass band playing 1930s tunes.  The church serves time-intensive dishes made fresh daily from its kitchen.  Items on the menu include Southern favorites such as okra soup, gazpacho, biscuits, salads, chicken salad sandwiches, shrimp roumalade, and to-die-for desserts such as almond torte, chocolate vanilla cheesecake, and carrot cake.  And they take orders via phone for carry out!  (Whoever thought of carry out from the church/the equivalent of your mama’s kitchen?)  But it’s usually for a limited time during the year to fundraise or support a charity.

Yesterday, right before my neighborhood blackout (overloaded grid) and my plans for cooking dinner were derailed, I was happily baking my favorite dessert for the first time: pies.  Per Jillian Michael’s mantra that a great fitness plan is one that can be adopted into your daily regimen (I know the opposite of exercise is making pie, but bear with me), I believe that a great recipe is one that can be modified to fit your daily routine.  So my confession is that I didn’t make the pie crust from scratch.  But the filling was no can, indeed.  That was all my handiwork.

In making my blueberry pie, I first pre-baked the crust to give it a more solid base.  After pinching the dough around the edges, I put some aluminum foil in the center and then put a round CorningWare French White dish in the middle to prevent a bubbling up of the crust during baking.  I probably only baked it for about 8 minutes or so at 450 degrees.

To get frankly Alton Brown style, thermal energy makes blueberries expand and burst open.  For blueberry pies, there are two instances during which this happens: 1) boiling and 2) baking.  Therefore it makes sense to add a layer of fresh blueberries at the bottom of the pie that will burst in the oven.  The rest of the filling is created by boiling blueberries, sugar, flour, and lemon juice until it’s thick and dark purple.  I used lime instead of lemon juice to give my pie a summer tang and poured the boiled layer on top of the fresh blueberries.

Blueberry pie filling

For the top crust, I decided to get creative and make pretty lattice-work with star cut-outs.  I had a small amount of leftover dough, and in my inventive mood, I chopped up a Jazz apple (a relatively new breed of apples) and made a mini version of apple pie.

Blueberry and apple pies. Check out those hand-cut stars!

Pies are perfect for summer, and any other time of the year if you ask me.

Thought for the week: “Don’t get fancy. Have you cooked an apple pie? You don’t know what you did wrong? Do this: Take two or three apples. Put them on a table. Study them.” – Paul Prudhomme, 1940-


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