Archive for the 'Books' Category


Beth’s Pie Crust

(Makes two crusts)

Our friend Beth, one of the best Southern bakers I know, came to stay with us last weekend. While she was here, she showed me how to make a good (and unbelievably easy) pie crust. I’ve seen two kinds of pie crust recipes in the past – one is basically a list of ingredients with vague instructions like “mix together and roll out.” The other kind cautions you a million times not to handle the dough to the point that you feel guilty for looking at it. Both make me nervous. The benefit of having an experienced crust baker nearby is that they can say, “It’s going to be just fine” to you and show you some handy tricks. Since Beth can’t be around all the time I thought I would print her recipe with a few photos. I’m using it to make a pecan pie for Thanksgiving, and I’ll include that recipe later.

In addition to ingredients, Beth would tell you that the following will help make things easier, though the food processor and the wax paper are the only gadgets that are essential to this recipe:

A food processor (worth getting one if only to make pie crusts)
Two pieces of wax paper
Heavy rolling pin (Marble is preferable)
White corning ware ceramic pie plate (she buys them on E-bay for about $2.00.)


2 and ¾ cup flour, measured in a liquid measuring cup
1 cup butter flavored Crisco
¼ cup ice water
1 tsp. salt
1 tbs. vinegar
1 egg

Use a spoon to dip 2 3/4 cups flour into a liquid measuring cup (the kind with a spout for pouring). Dump flour into bowl of food processor.

Place Crisco in bowl of food processor with flour. Pulse until it looks like cornmeal.

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In a small separate bowl and in the following order mix the ¼ cup ice water, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tbs. vinegar, 1 egg. Whisk together.

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Pour liquid mixture into processor with flour mixture and process in pulses until it forms a ball or is mostly sticking together.

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Split dough into two pieces. Place one half on a piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic to turn the dough into a ball. Wrap and set aside.

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Gather the other piece of dough into a ball and place it between two pieces of wax paper. Pat the ball through the wax paper into a ¾ inch thick disk.

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Then, using a large rolling pin, roll the disk into a circle.  Roll in the direction of midnight, then 1:00, then 2:00, etc. until you have a circle that is just a little wider than the wax paper.

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Remove the top piece of wax paper. Then, place the other piece dough side down into a white ceramic pie plate.

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Tuck the dough along the side of the plate so that lays flat against the bottom.

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The dough needs to extend beyond the plate slightly all the way around, so gently work areas of excess dough into thinner parts around the pie plate.

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Using your right index finger, bring dough that is extending beyond plate in so that a slight ridge is formed evenly all the way around the plate.

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Finally, shape a chevron crust by putting the thumb of one hand (flat so that you can see the entire fingernail) on one side of the dough ridge and the index finger and thumb of your other hand (so that you see the sides of your fingers, like you are about to pinch something) on the other side of the dough ridge. Bring them together until the ridge is shaped into a chevron pattern all the way around.

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Gather any stray dough from the rim and shape it into the chevrons.

Then finally, gently, using your thumb nail, push excess dough into the curves of the chevrons and gently press the points or each chevron against the pie plate. This will help prevent shrinkage.

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Now you’re ready to either fill and bake, or use a fork to prick the bottom of the crust and bake to be filled later.

I’m sure there are lots of good crust recipes out there, but this is the least messy and Troy proof (in pastry circles I’m known as “Thunder Hands”). But in this recipe your fingers don’t even touch the dough until you start shaping the top of the crust. I’m finally looking forward to making pies! Let me know if you try it.

Coming soon: Beth’s Pecan Pie recipe.


Tucked In

I love WordPress’s Tag Surfer. It pulls a bunch of stuff together for me and suddenly some ideas start to click. For instance on the issue of storage:

John and I do not spend time taking care of our shoes. I’ll come out and say it: it’s a fault. Shoes are expensive, so we should do a better job of protecting our investment.

The shoe problem is a storage issue. John and I have always struggled with the best way to store shoes. We have a rack that is only used when one of us finally gets tired of tripping over our shoes as they lay like lazy pets on the closet floor. The rack takes up too much room in our closet and the shoes slide off of it.

I love this solution. Letting gravity do the work makes a lot of sense. And it would help keep shoes’ shapes.


One person didn’t have room for this product so she made her own. (Thanks to Lucy at Lu Terceiro for the tip.)


Speaking of gravity, check out this set-up for keeping newborns near mom at night without the fear of the kid getting squashed by a snoring parent. A lever tucks under the mattress and supports the cute little bundle. I didn’t post a picture, but click the link. It’s worth it.

And while we’re on the subject of leverage at home, check out this collapsible book case.



Yellow Parlor

Nancy Lancaster’s legendary yellow parlor in London.

yellow parlor

I love:

This yellow.
The silver accents.
The mirror panels around the door.
Hand painted pillows.
Desk behind the sofa.
Blue chairs peeking from behind the skirted table.
The dirty water in the flower vase.

(Photo from Martin Wood–Nancy Lancaster: English Country House Style)