Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Up in the cool gray north

Ok, so driving in a rental car on a rainy night through a city I've never driven through before--a little hectic! But I cowboy'd up and now after a night on the aerobed, I'm up and at 'em in cool, gray Seattle, drinking some good french press coffee at the Sun Cafe in Phinney Ridge. Mike and I went through the T-day menu last night, and I did have to do a little special pleading to get some green stuff on the menu--in Mike's eyes, completely superfluous on a day dedicated to stuffing, mashed potatoes in multiple flavors, gravy, turkey pit-cooked in the Weber, marshmallow-topped MBY casserole ("more butter than yams"), Velveeta mac n' cheese, 3 kinds of pie, an a jello mold. But I'm flying my Cali flag and bring the famous Bay Wolf pomegranate-and-persimmon salad to the table, perhaps without the goat cheese and pecans since there will already be a maple-walnut pie to follow. And maybe I'll even slip in a panful of lemony-garlic kale, too.

Lots of greens--dino kale, ruby chard, broccoli rabe--growing in the neighbors' front gardens here, which is nice to see.

More to follow! And feel free to post or call with all your piemaking questions--operators are standing by!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pie Therapy

Happy Thanksgiving week, from the Pie Queen!

Or, as she's being called these days, the Pie Therapist.

Talking about pies, as I do all the time but especially at this time of year, I'm continually amazed at how many people have serious fear of pie-ing. So I put out a call for potential patients, and got three: Kevin, Leslie, and Nancy, all of whom got a free one-on-one session with the Pie Therapist, and at the end, a hot pie coming out of their very own oven.

More fun stuff from the archives:

Lard Crusts!
I'm writing this deep in the Southwest Airlines scrum at Oakland Airport, on my way to the festivities in Seattle. My ticket to the party at Mike and Renee's? A tub of organic, local, happy-pig lard, packed in my suitcase next to the sweaters. This is not the first time I've traveled with apples and lard in my suitcase. Which makes me either a) weird, or 2) dedicated to supreme pie action.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

turnovers to the people

Well, hello! I missed you.

But not enough to write, you say. Thanks for working those abandonment issues, PQ!

Mmm, yes, well, be that as it may, PQ is back and just in time for Thanksgiving, pie time! As usual, we are offering a free fear-of-pie-ing class. Have the PQ in your kitchen, get covered in flour, and be freed from your dependence on those horrible frozen crusts forever! Flour, salt, a little sugar, butter and/or lard: voila, pie crust!

In fact, I'm getting going early with the pie-making this year, thanks to the benefit for Julie Kahn's Florida documentary Swamp Cabbage on Sunday. Turnovers for 150? Sure! It would only be more difficult if I had to take all of them up to Marin on the bus. But amazingly, PQ has a car now--her first ever! It's been a friend these past couple of months, toting crates of apples and boxes of pears home from hither and yon. The theme of the benefit dinner is wild & foraged, and really I should have been picking blackberries and scavenging for local apples and figs all these past months. But time got away from me, or something, and all of sudden, I was madly searching around for turnover timber that I could get for free or cheap. What's in the kitchen now:

-25 lbs of apples and a huge, beautiful Musquee de Provence squash, gotten in trade from Julia at Mariquita, for working at her bi-weekly Mystery Box pickup outside Piccino on Thursday. I ferried flats of strawberries and big plastic bags of veggies into Smartcars and Priuses for a few hours, and came home with a sense of duty done.

-Another milkcrate of knobby little apples, picked with Lauren of Produce to the People. Through Neighborhood Fruit, Lauren heard of a guy out in the avenues who had extra apples up high on his backyard tree. Being a fellow Bernalite, she picked me up in her truck and we nipped over there, ladder and pickers in hand. The guy was rather bemused to have two flannel-wearing cheerful ladies in his backyard, taking turns getting the fruit off his tree. Weirdest part: after telling us about a recent surgery he had to remove some moles from his torso, he insisted on whipping up his shirt to show us the rows of metal staples in his back and chest. He then followed us down the street and gave us both his card.

-40 lbs of beat-up kitchen pears from Frog Hollow, which I had to pay for, albeit much less than their usual $4/lb.

Wish I could have scored some quinces and huckleberries, but these will work...so now onto the pastry making! Am thinking of trying the quick-puff recipe in my Williams-Sonoma baking book, which is essentially just regular pie crust that's rolled and folded, rolled and folded three times to increase the flakiness and butter-layering. Report to follow!