My Adventures With Apple Pie

I know that right now you are thinking about that movie American Pie, but don’t.  It was nothing like that.

My #1 child, who I shall hereafter refer to as “#1,” recently celebrated a birthday.  I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, and he replied, “apple pie.”  Hmmm.  I immediately listed the pros and cons in my head.  Pro:  I don’t have to make frosting.  Con: pie crust is way harder to make than frosting.

I don’t want to brag here, (well, actually I am bragging, so I guess I do want to brag) but I make amazing pie crust.  I learned how to do it from Emeril Lagasse one day while watching Emeril Live.  I wrote down the recipe and everything.

2 cups flour, 1 cup shortening (or lard), 1 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup ice water

You have to mix it really gently and carefully with your hands.  You start without the water, and then add the water in.  I’m not really sure what happened.  DH says I added too much water, but what does he know?  His pie crust is only half as good as mine.  Maybe it was that I used a different kind of shortening than I normally use.  Who knows?  Long story short, the dough was way too soft, even after chilling for a couple hours.  I’ve never had this problem before.

Oh well, it’s #1’s birthday, so press on.  I rolled out half the dough and pressed it into a pie pan.  My good glass pie pan inexplicably disappeared, along with the lid to my crock pot, so I was stuck using a Marie Callendar’s pan.  I considered the merits of blind baking the bottom crust before filling vs. not blind baking the bottom crust, and decided I better do it.  It’s #1’s birthday, after all.

I put the pan in the oven and proceeded with other preparations.  I peeked in on the crust after a few minutes, only to find it had shrunk substantially.  After spouting the necessary expletives, I remembered the blind baking weights.  Well, I don’t actually own blind baking weights, but I do own dry rice, which is what I prefer to use.  I put the dry rice in a baggie, tried to press the crust out as much as possible without burning myself, and placed the rice in the bottom of the pan.

After a few more minutes in the oven, I peeked in again, only to discover a melting plastic baggie in the middle of the pie crust, and rice spilling out and embedding itself into the crust.  I honestly don’t know how I got so stupid.  This is one of the dumbest things I have done since the day I burned the end of my index finger on a hot griddle.

I quickly removed the pan, and fortunately the melting was only happening on the top, and only a few little dry rice grains had spilled out.  Apparently, God wants #1 to have apple pie for his birthday too.  At this point, I decided the pie crust was blind baked enough, and I proceeded to fill it.

A couple hours earlier, I had peeled and sliced about 9 apples.  DH helped me, but I think it was only because he wanted me to do something else with my time.  I added all the apple pie yummy stuff that Martha Stewart told me to add, and I let the apples sit.  The funny thing is that after awhile, juices from the apples start to accumulate at the bottom of the bowl.  As it turns out, 9 apples was way too many for one little Marie Callendars pie pan, but I got most of the filling in, and I poured in some of the yummy apple-and-cinnamon-juice from the bottom of the bowl, too.  I made a pretty little lattice of pie crust on the top.  I am no good at making the edges look good, but it’s even more difficult, nigh on impossible, when the dough is too soft.  So the edges were kind of smashed together and ugly looking.  Oh well.  At least #1 will have a tasty birthday pie.

I used leftover pie crust and leftover pie filling and made little tarts in the muffin tin.  They looked so cute.  I’m sorry to tell you that I have no pictures of this.  I placed the pie and the muffin pan in the oven next to each other and started cleaning up.  After a few minutes, I noticed smoke billowing out of my oven, and opened it up to see what what happening.

There were two small fires in the bottom of my (electric) oven, no doubt started by the yummy apple-and-cinnamon-juice overflowing the pie pan.  I called for backup, and DH came to rescue me.  I pulled the muffin pan out, and he poured salt on the right fire.  The left fire went out on its own.  I put the muffin pan back, and left them to bake more.  There was a second similar incident, which ended in my pouring my own salt on the left fire which had reignited.  The pie survived both incidents, adding to my belief in divine intervention.

When it finally came time to serve the pie, I was pretty excited.  While serving, however, I discovered my fingers were getting absolutely black from the bottom side of the pie tin.  Funny how fire does that to a pie tin.  I was gooey blackness, too, that doesn’t just rinse off, but requires soap and scrubbing and hot water.  Gross.

The pie was actually quite tasty.  The crust was possibly the tastiest (and most fragile) I have ever made.  It was exquisite.  The little apple tarts made for a fun dessert in the kids lunches.  And, it gave me a really good excuse to buy ice cream (like I needed one).  Next month is #2’s birthday.  He better not ask for pie.

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Stupid Picky Eaters

Lately I’ve taken to watching the Food Channel and the Cooking Channel during the day.  I rarely see anything I actually want to prepare myself, but last week I did.  The entire meal looked amazing!  I wrote down the recipes and made mental notes to buy a couple grocery items I needed to make the meal.  Last night was the day I finally had enough time and groceries to do it.

I placed on the table this amazing meal: chicken flautas with avocado dipping sauce, corn pudding, and lime soda.  The offspring were skeptical.  “Try it,” I ordered.  “You’ll like it.”  You’ll like it, or else!

First thing they tried: lime sodas, which is basically a lime-flavored and green-colored syrup topped with club soda.  I gave it a stir, but my syrup was too thick and just sank in a glob to the bottom.  It was gross.  They didn’t like it, and I didn’t blame them.

I had to force the corn pudding onto everyone’s plate, and once it got there, it never left.  No one ate it.  Well, it wasn’t amazing either, so I can’t be too upset about that.

The flautas, however, were really good!  They were spicy, made mostly of salsa and rotisserie chicken, then rolled in a flour tortilla and fried.  The avocado dipping sauce was also amazing.  Yes, amazing!  I made enough for everyone to have 2.   Offspring #1 ate about 2 bites of flauta, despite his telling me it was tasty and he liked the dipping sauce.  #2 ate a single flauta, sans sauce, but nothing else.  #3 ate basically nothing.  I think she may have taken a small bite of the flauta, but it’s impossible to know for sure without a microscope.  DH never bothered showing up for dinner, a possibility I was prepared for, but not prepared for how much it would irritate me.  I made him eat a flauta when he got home at midnight.  That’s the kind of wife I am.

Stinking picky eaters are always making my life difficult.  I will basically eat whatever is put in front of me, and then go searching for more.  But the offspring will take one bite, decide it’s too much onion for them, and not eat anything else the rest of the night.  In fairness, if they had told me they were hungry and asked for food, I would have told them they could eat their stinking flauta like a normal person!

And to top it all off, Jethro is still on a hunger strike.

In more paleo news, I have a new plan of attack.  Since breakfast is my nemesis, I will start there.  I will practice having a good paleo-friendly breakfast, and then skipping lunch.  That leaves only dinner to deal with, which I will probably do at a later time.

Broccoli for Breakfast

Breakfast has become my nemesis.  I can never find anything suitable.  I have given up eating cold cereal for breakfast, except on very rare occasions, but I have never found a good replacement.  First of all, I hate cooking in the morning.  Well, I’m not super fond of cooking at any time, but especially in the morning.  Second, if you don’t cook, you’re left with what?  Veggies for breakfast?  Ugh.

I have begun searching the paleo lifestyle recipes online.  I’m particularly interested in breakfast, since this seems to be the toughest one for me, and the one that sets the tone for the day.  Here are the breakfast options I have found so far:

1. eggs

2. omelet

3. eggs with veggies

4. crustless quiche

5. bacon (I love bacon, but don’t love cooking it.)

6. fruit

7. leftovers from last night’s dinner

8. a different kind of eggs

9. salad (seriously?)

10. more eggs

Why is it that breakfast food so often resemble cake?  Think about it… muffins, pancakes and syrup, cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting, french toast, even croissants are like eating pie crust with butter.  You know what else I really love?  Those breakfast muffin sandwiches from Carls Jr.  I tell myself it’s good because of the sausage and eggs, but oh!  Their fresh baked biscuits are sooo yummy!

This morning, I pulled out my leftover roasted broccoli and cauliflower, reheated in the microwave, covered in butter and myzithra, and ate it right from the container.  I love my cruciferous vegetables and all, but honestly, there is only so much cauliflower one person can eat.  And it’s not much.

I’m off to the grocery store (while hungry… it’s a bad sign).  Maybe I’ll buy some eggs.

Jethro is Starving

I recently treated myself to a $2 Betta fish, which I affectionately named Jethro.  Jethro is male, and blue, with a long tail, and oh yeah… he’s stupid.

I know what you are thinking, that Betta fish are not known for their intelligence, so how would I know if this particular fish is any more or less intelligent than the others.  Here’s the thing: he won’t eat.  I have had him about four days now, and he has still not eaten a single piece of his Betta fish food.

The offspring have posited the theory that he is not yet used to his new home.  Bullcrap, says I.  Do you know what his memory span is?  3 seconds.  (It’s worse than that guy in 50 First Dates) He’s used to his home.

DH’s theory is that he is blowing bubbles, so he is happy.  He’ll eat when he wants to eat.  I reject this theory, too, mostly on grounds that it is not my own.

The forums say the glass bowl is too reflective, I don’t have enough hiding spaces, and I didn’t use a water conditioner.  All of these might be true, but why would a fish refuse to eat?  When the food is right there in front of him?  I think he doesn’t know it’s food.  He thinks it’s just flotsam.

On another note, last night I watched a tv show about a little girl with primordial dwarfism.  She is 2 years old and weighs less than my kids did at birth.  In addition to being tiny, (and adorable, by the way… she looks like a doll!) and developmentally delayed, she has also refused to eat.  She is currently surviving on whatever she can get through a tube.

I’m sensing a theme here.  It seems the worlds smallest creatures are just getting smaller through some stubborn form of anorexia which I, frankly, do not understand.  I have vowed to do my part to better understand this phenomenon by skipping some meals myself.  I will go without food until I get really hungry.  I figure I can make it clear until 10 am or so.

It’s My Kitchen’s Fault

My friend recently asked me to write a Mother-of-the-Year-type book with tips for working moms to keep it all together.  I’m writing the book, even though I am vastly unqualified to do so.  The thing that makes me unqualified is my kitchen.

I blame my kitchen for my own inability to prepare healthy meals.  Here’s what I woke up to:

This is what happens when you don't make your kids do the dishes.

I haven’t done dishes for three days, and I didn’t make my kids do dishes, so what did I expect?  Nevertheless, it’s very irritating, and makes it extremely difficult to make healthy meals.  Instead, I am forced to eat chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.

I formulated a quick plan, which began with emptying the dishwasher.  Elapsed time: same as the time it took to listen to the Moulin Rouge version of Roxanne.  No joke.  I put away the very last item and closed the drawer at the same moment the song ended.  It was like I was in a movie or something.

Part two was filling the dishwasher.  This was particularly odious, because we had chili for dinner and no one cleaned it up.  Dried on chili is gross.  I had to use the expensive dishwashing soap.  Elapsed time:  longer than the song after Roxanne on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.  It’s the one where Ewen MacGregor sings in French.

Part three was taking care of the pie plate that turns my fingers and everything else it touches black.  There is a story about how the pie plate ended up in such a state, but it will have to be a post for another day.  Stupid pie plate turned my favorite kitchen scrubby tool black, too.  Now I have to buy a new one.

The sink is still full of dried on chili and cheese, because this is the "clean" scrubber, the one that is for dishes only.

This was about the time my Moulin Rouge soundtrack ran out of songs, and I switched to acoustic Maroon 5.  Much better.

Part four was cleaning off the counter and sweeping the floor.  This was the part where I discovered that the sprayer on my bottle of Simple Green is broken.  I tried for like 30 seconds to make it work, then gave up and just dripped cleaner on the dried-on-chili-spots on my counter.  It did leave me wondering what my kids were doing when they claimed to be cleaning the bathroom.  I should really check their work.

Elapsed time for all four parts: 30 minutes exactly.  I was not going to do a lick more than 30 minutes work in the kitchen this morning, so it’s lucky for the kitchen that it worked out as well as it did, or the kitchen may have had to go all day in such a mess.  The final result of my 30 minutes of work:

Clean enough for chopping a watermelon

It’s not amazing, but good enough to chop up that giant watermelon I left sitting on the counter.  After all that work, I’m too tired to cook lunch.  I’ll probably just eat a Lean Cuisine while I play Zuma Blitz on Facebook.  (I don’t know why I spend all that mojo on cool powers, when I always get my high score with no powers at all.  This week’s high score: 634,380.  Beat that with no powers.)

There are still lots of grody pans in the sink, but I didn’t want to get too carried away.  It’s the kitchen’s fault, after all.