Pumpkin Pie!

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking, cooking, CSA, food, recipe

I recently received two gorgeous pumpkins in my CSA. I was so excited because I’ve always dreamed of making a pumpkin pie from the real thing instead of opening a can! I’d never done it before because I’d always been nervous about picking the proper kind or messing up the process.

pumpkin pie

So I turned to one of my most trusted resource when it comes to food: Alton Brown. You can watch the pumpkin pie episode of Good Eats on Amazon instant. Watching Alton go through the process of making pumpkin puree made me feel totally confident (I mean, it’s actually ridiculously simple so no need to worry) and ready to tackle a pie.

pumpkin pie

It was so delicious that I’ve made a couple and played around with the recipe. Here’s my take on Alton’s pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

for crust
6 oz of gingersnaps
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoon ginger
2 oz unsalted butter, melted

for filling
16oz pumpkin puree
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Crust: In a food processor, combine gingersnap cookies, brown sugar, and ginger until cookies are finely chopped. Drizzle in melted butter and pulse to combine. Press into prepared pie pan. Bake on top of a cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes. Cool before filling.
Filling: Bring pumpkin puree to a simmer in a small saucepan for 3 minutes until thick. Add half-and-half, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Return to a simmer then cool for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, yolk, and brown sugar together until creamy and smooth. Add cooled pumpkin mixture. Carefully pour filling into pie crust and bake for 45-50 minutes, the middle will jiggle a little.

I loooved the pure pumpkin taste that came from the real deal. The canned stuff needs so much cinnamon and clove, etc, just to give the illusion that it’s pumpkin. This pie tastes like pumpkin first and spices next which I really life. Besides, the crunchy crust gives a is a zesty companion to the mild filling.

Best of all, the pumpkin puree freezes really well. I’ve already got a few bags ready for Thanksgiving and maybe even Christmas (if I can resist that long!). I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the can again!

What do you think? Have you ever cooked with real pumpkin? What’s your favorite pumpkin pie recipe?

ps. Some pumpkin yarns!

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By Hand Magazine

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking, cooking, DIY, embroidery, food, knits, recipe, sewing

Have you seen this new magazine By Hand? The first issue just came out and wow, I am in love. I read about By Hand before it was published at the Juniper Moon blog a few months ago and I have been eagerly awaiting it’s debut ever since! They were selling some really fantastic fundraiser t-shirts. (I bought one. I mean, how could you not?)

The magazine is not just focused on knitting (although there are patterns!), it is about the whole handmade lifestyle! There are sections on cooking and growing, sewing and embroidery. I am so excited that that this publication exists!

Big kudos to the team. I can’t wait for more! Buy a copy or read a digital version on their website. And buy a cool tee! How can you not?

Have you read By Hand? What do you think?

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Independence Day Tart

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking, cooking, food, holiday, life, recipe, summer

Sunday Jon’s parents threw a big 4th of July party (although, technically it was Canada Day). They have a huge BBQ every summer and there’s lots of drinks and swimming.

This year I made two berry tarts which are currently my favorite things to bake because they’re simple and easy but they taste delicious and look impressive. And I’d like to share the recipe with you!

Berry Tart
yield 8″ pie

Graham cracker crust adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe
10 graham crackers
1/4 c sugar
1/4 t salt
6 T butter, melted

In a food processor, pulse together graham crackers with sugar and salt. Mix in melted butter and press into a pie pan. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Allow to cool completely.

Mascarpone cream
8oz mascarpone cream
1/4 c sugar
1c heavy cream

Stir together mascarpone with sugar and heavy cream. Pour into cooled crust. Top with berries and allow to set in the refrigerator for an hour before serving.

Next time I plan to use a rectangular tart pan. I’d love to make big berry stripes! I was so serious about the circles of raspberries and blueberries that I almost had my tweezers out! I hope I made Martha proud!


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My First Pie

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking, CSA, food, life, photos

I have an announcement to make! Last week, I baked the first pie I’ve ever made completely from scratch! Baking a pie from scratch has always been on my bucket list. And I did it! I feel like, going into it, this was a huge milestone for me but now I don’t see what was so terrifying about it at all.

We’ve gotten 6 pounds of apples from our CSA for the past two weeks! (The summer CSA ended yesterday. As much as I’ve loved bundles of beautiful veggies and experimenting with new foods, I have to admit that I’m relieved it’s over. We just couldn’t keep up with the volume of food we were getting. Lesson learned!) I knew it was time to take the big leap and make apple pie. Our favorite apples are the courtland. I can’t remember what other varieties ended up in the pie…probably a little of everything.

I used Martha Stewart’s old fashioned apple pie recipe. The crust is her pate brisee. Wow! It really was a brisee to make. (Sorry, had to!) I feel like a champ! I didn’t think the pie crust was going to turn out because apparently I have the tiniest food processor in the world. I gave up and just started mushing with my fingers. This is the point I recognize in everything I make when I decide that I will not get too emotional over the outcome because it doesn’t look too good so far. But after chilling in the fridge, it turned out great. I did a little dance in the kitchen.

Yummy! I can’t wait to make another one! (Next time I will actually take pictures of the pie cut open. I’m so bad! I was too busy devouring it! Delicious!)

Have you made a pie before? Were you scared? Am I being silly? What’s your greatest baking achievement!?

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We All Scream

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking, cooking, DIY, recipe, summer

Hey there! Hope you all beat the heat! Now that it’s cooled down a bit, I can get back to blogging. In case there’s another freakishly hellish heatwave, here’s a delicious Green Tea ice cream recipe to chill us out.

I’m so excited that we now have an ice cream maker! We’ve always wanted the Kitchen Aid attachment. I think it’s one of the main reasons we bought the mixer in the first place. There is probably no feeling greater than digging into a pint of your own homemade ice cream!

Green Tea Ice Cream
adapted from Alton Brown’s vanilla ice cream recipe from “Churn Baby Churn 2”
3 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons matcha powder

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine half-and-half and heavy cream. Stir occassionally, bring to a simmer, and then remove from heat. Wisk egg yolks in another bowl until light in color. Gradually wisk sugar into the eggs. A little at a time, add small amounts of the cream to the eggs until a third of the cream is added. Then combine the rest of the cream. Return to the saucepan over low heat and stir. The mixture will thicken and coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pour into a container to cool for thirty minutes before adding vanilla and matcha powder. Refrigerate this for 8 hours. Pour mixture into ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then freeze overnight for desired texture.

It is not a short process but it is well worth your patience!

AB’s recipe is based on a rich, gourmet-style ice cream. The kind you find in those tiny $5 pints at the bodega across the street. Way more delicious than those bargain ice creams you can actually afford to enjoy.

And, if I may just take a moment to brag, I was lucky enough to meet Alton Brown at a surprise book signing a few weeks ago. I had him sign this Polaroid of us. He wanted to know where I got film these days! 🙂

Have you ever made ice cream? What’s your favorite flavor?

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Judith G. Klausner’s From Scratch

Written by Sarah. Posted in art, baking, cooking

I hope we’ve all had our breakfast! Isn’t this piece by Judith G. Klausner just amazing?! Her collection of works called From Scratch is about the resurgence of hand crafting and the importance of packaged foods.

Her statement is fascinating:

My work is about choice. As a woman in the twenty-first century, I can choose to spend my day baking a loaf of bread, or to grab a package off a grocery store shelf after a long day at work. I can choose to spend my evenings embroidering. I can choose to combine these things and call it art.

Check out rest of From Scratch. It makes me feel hungry and crafty all at once!

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How I Spent My Allowance: Oxo Pop Containers

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking, cooking, no clutter, redesign, want

When we started working on our apartment, we made a few rules. No more dirty dishes lingering in the sink. Chairs are not closets, put your clothes away. And tupperware without lids are garbage.

Because, really everyone, what is the point of having an unpaired piece?! There is no leftover storage in just a lid. You cannot carry just the bottom to work in your bag. They are lies and I cannot stand for it any longer! So I threw it all out. Everything that once held lo mein or burritos went into the trash. And it was time for an upgrade.

Look at these beautiful containers. I fell in love with them. We invested in some Oxo Pop Containers and I love them. It made so much more sense to use some well-made and design-friendly containers instead of beaten up, discolored ones that came with cheap take out.

I love that they are air tight. I’ve started using them to store flour, sugar, and other baking essentials in the pantry. It is so nice to have soft brown sugar!

Do yourself a favor and toss your old tupperware! It’s time to get your tupperware under control!

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Lavender Butter Cookies

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking

Things have been so busy around here for so long that I haven’t had two minutes to bake! I finally made some time to whip up some delicious lavender shortbread cookies and I am so in love with them. They are salty, sweet, and a little exotic!

I used the Martha Stewart French Butter Cookie recipe. I love Martha’s cookies (her iPhone/iPad app is to die for but I’m not allowed to use my phone as a cookbook anymore! Oopsies!) and I feel like I can follow her blindly into any dish. She’s my hero.

I took the plain butter cookie and I added about 3 tablespoons of dried lavender along with the vanilla. (The second time I made it I was feeling frisky so I added about a teaspoon more. Why not!) The lavender adds another dimension to the flavors. It’s subtle but it’s definitely there and everyone notices it. Lavender is not something that people are passive about, though. They either love it or think that it’s soapy.

This recipe is so great. It’s so quick and requires so few ingredients, I’ve made it twice recently. It’s not fussy at all.

I hope you make them and I hope that everyone loves them. How do you feel about lavender? Love it or leave it?

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Love/Hate Macarons

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking

Once upon a time, there was a girl who dreamed of beautiful foods and hand-knit sweaters. That girl, in an effort to eat only pretty desserts and make a gluten-free baked good for Passover, decided to make some of her favorite pastry, French macarons. She had always coveted the delicate little cookies and even made some fantastic and impressive batches of the finicky treats. Her baking ego inflated, the girl went to her kitchen and began to mix some fantastical spring-colored lavender macarons. But, alas! A wicked witch, jealous of her baking prowess, put a terrible curse on her mixer and she over-mixed the meringues! She put a spell on the oven and made the temperature too hot so the shells were cracked and ugly! She sped up time so the girl was so rushed she could wait long enough for the shell to set.

The girl did all she could to fix the macarons from a horrible fate. She even asked a handsome young prince to help her perfect her recipe. Yet, she was foiled.

This story really doesn’t have a happily-ever-after. In real life, it ended with a lot of foul language and throwing something against a wall. Along with the realization that I need to do yoga or go to an anger management class before I attempt to bake again. Also, that taking photos for a blog while baking the most difficult of all desserts is a terrible idea. And reading the recipe even though I think I’ve memorized it would help…

I am incredibly discouraged. And I cannot put words to how frustrated I am. I am ashamed. I closed the door to the kitchen and sulked. But I’m not ready to give up! I’m going to make some gorgeous French macarons if it kills me. I’ve done it before so it must be possible. I know I can do it again.

I accept your challenge, Mr. Macaron. And I will be back! YOU HAVEN’T HEARD THE LAST FROM THIS BAKER!


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Written by Sarah. Posted in baking

How delicious does that look! I’m pretty impressed with myself that I made it. Yesterday, while getting my mind off of the internet, I decided to finally make the baklava I’ve been dying to try out since I had a Good Eats marathon with Jon. I’ve had the phyllo dough sitting in the freezer for a few weeks with little determination to find the lid to the food processor.

Anyway, two things about Alton Brown’s baklava which will now be going into my list of favorite recipes.

First, I probably would never have tried making baklava a few years ago which is silly. Living in the city, I’ve been able to try out all kinds of foods and it’s fun to have harder to find ingredients right around the corner. (I know exactly where to go for Asian specialty foods!) Also, Jon’s family’s international background has introduced me to even more delicious foods I am now craving even though I can’t pronounce all of them properly.


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