This year, I added another person to thank for. This little person has been filling my last three months with joy and laughter. I thought I've learned about loving a brand new person from her brother, but I've learned many new things from her. I am proud to be called "her mom".
This year, hubby and I decided not to have Thanksgiving dinner on our own like what we did this past few years. Cooking the Thanksgiving courses in our small apartment was a bit chaotic last year, which included the turkey smell that was stuck in the carpet for a week. As much as we like having an intimate Thanksgiving supper with our kiddos, we didn't mind waiting a year or two to have it, when we move to our new house.
Thankfully, a family invited us to her house for lunch, and another family invited us for dinner. We had too much fun, too much food, and too much to be thankful for. I made roasted Brussel sprout and an apple cranberry pie for the feast.
Among many kinds of pie, pumpkin pie is my favorite. I may be bias about the taste though since I can't separate the pie from many things I love about Fall. Yes, pumpkin pie is also about colorful leaves, beautiful sky, joyful Thanksgiving, sweet cinnamon smell, warm apple cider, and tasty Brussels sprout!
I planned on making pumpkin pie for church potluck couple weeks ago, but then decided to make galette instead. Galette is much simpler and prettier I think. I used Dorie Greenspan's recipe for the crust and foodnetwork's recipe with some twists for the filling.
Ingredients: 1 canned puree pumpkin
5 Tbs sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolk
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger 1/4 tsp ground cloves
Pinch of ground cardamom
Pinch of salt
3 red apples
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
Memories about my dear uncle often linger in my mind. Initially, I diverted my thought to something else when I remembered him so I didn't get sad. Then I realized that it is a great thing that I remember his love, care, greatness, and sweetness. I wonder if I would be able to paint similar memories on people I love. Will goodness the only thing they remember about me when I depart from this world?
I was reminded of him the most last Christmas. He was a choir director as long as I knew him. In many church events, there would be his picture... ehm... his back because he was conducting a choir. My sisters and I often joked that people knew his back better than people knew his face. One of many hymns that reminds me of him is Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. The first time I heard this piece was when it was sung by the choir he led. Years later he had polyphonic cell phone, a kind of cell phone that was still very uncommon that day. Guess what ring tone he had? Handel's Hallelujah Chorus! He let me and my sister played with his awesome cell phone I think I heard more Hallelujah Chorus last Christmas than the previous Christmases (or I did notice more?)
Flower also reminds me of him. Before I moved to the States, I wanted to take floral arrangement class. Other than my parents, my uncle was a great supporter. He wasn't a flower person but he wanted me to have some skills that could be useful in the future. He was right. I have helped arranging flower for several friends and relatives' weddings.
I made this rose apple pie, which reminded me of him. I used this recipe for the base. The flowers were made out of red apples that were thinly sliced using a mandolin. The sliced apples were then microwaved and arranged to form the roses. The "flower" arrangement reminds me of Valentine flower arrangement I learned in the floral-arrangement class.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you -Philippians 1:3
I signed myself up for getting a basket for our friend, Henry that we were going to visit last Sunday after church. He's been sick for months, so we were going to visit and sing some hymns for him. I thought about getting an empty basket so people can put gifts they brought for Henry. I was in the middle of working on a final project, proofing bread, and going to start making a pumpkin pie for Sunday potluck when hubby hurried me to go to the store to get the basket. He was going to take me there but I refused because I knew he had a lot of things to do. So he told me to go right then, before dark.
I went to a store nearby and thought that I would be back in less than an hour. I went to the store my friend Judy often gets stuffs from, but I couldn't find what I needed. Then I went to a giant store nearby but couldn't find what I wanted either. The stores I went to were packed of people that evening, so it's hard to find store attendant that could help. I knew I hated going to a big store. Long story short, I went to 3 more stores just to get a basket, a bow, and a plastic wrap. I didn't know shopping for such simple stuffs could be that exhausting! My little experience that evening taught me to never take my friend for granted. On the way home, I was wondering how many people do I owe my appreciation for doing something that I thought so simple while it actually was not. I felt really blessed to be surrounded by so many friends, for each of them has unique gifts.
Since basket hunting took me much longer time than I anticipated, I decided to get a frozen pie crust from a store instead of making it from scratch. For the filling, I used Dorie Greenspan's recipe: Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie. The leaves on top were from leftover unbaked tart crust I made on Thanksgiving day.
Our friend Sylvia usually bakes pumpkin whoopie pie in the Fall and brings to our Sunday school class. I love her whoopie pies the first time I tried. I miss her pies, but I especially miss her. I haven't seen her for a long time because she is a nurse that has to work on Sundays. Sylvia and her husband, Ray are a sweet couple that have taught us a lot of great things. They usually host a hayride party in Fall at their farm. However, this year is an exception since they have to take care of an ailing friend. May God bless them and give them joy in what they do.
Getting a big pumpkin from CSA, I thought of making whoopie pies. I haven't asked the pie recipe from Sylvia, but I found a recipe from my Mennonite cookbook. Sylvia is also a Mennonite, so it can't be too different, right?! The recipe said that it yields 3 dozens of sandwich pies. I think I made mine too big because I only got less than 18. I realized that my pies were huge, so I made them smaller on the second and third batches. Hubby preferred the small ones because the cream cheese and pie ratio is bigger than the larger ones.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Source: From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens
Cream: 2 cups brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
Add: 1 1/2 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
Add just until incorporated: 3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
I'd bookmarked this recipe soon after I got Dorie Greenspan's recipe book in the mail but I took me a year before I made it the first time, for church potluck. Making this tart is much easier than it looks. The crust is a regular sweet crust for a tart; and the rest of the ingredients is mostly apple.
I was surprised to know how many apple this apple tart had. I think this tart might contain more fruits than that of some pies. The fruit content reminds me of our friend who likes to joke about his main source of fruit, which comes from pies such as key lime pie and blueberry pie. He jokes because some pies are often overloaded with sugar and lack of the fruit itself. So, I like that this tart wasn't too sweet. I could have added more sugar, but I knew the apples were sweet enough. Besides, it wouldn't be special anymore if the sweetness level was as high as that of store-brought tart, would it?
Some people said that they liked the tart. Hubby and I liked it too. This recipe is definitely a keeper.
Normandy Apple Tart from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Sweet Tart Dough 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely - you'll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces and that's just fine. Stir the egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before your reaches this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change - heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface.
This past week was a very hectic week for me. It was one of the weeks when a lot of things were due consecutively during the week. I am glad everything turned out well.
Since Valentine's day was in the middle of my busy days, we didn't do anything special. Well...first of all, hubby doesn't follow the main stream, those who make Valentine's day a special day, so I didn't expect anything that day. Now that I think about it, I don't really care about Valentine's day anymore. I am at the point where I am content and grateful for what I have. However, I love to cook something different or make special dessert just for fun. Not for this year though. The only different thing I had this year was one of my co-worker brought heart-shaped Krispy Kreme donuts to office so everyone had it for breakfast. Surprisingly, someone bought Krispy Kreme Valentine donuts at hubby's office too. Haha...
Although we are not big fans of Valentine's day, we celebrated it at church. Our church has a tradition of having a Valentine party Saturday after Valentine's day. That way more people can come to the party since it is not on a weekday; and everything Valentine has already been discounted since it's passed the D day. The main food for the party is spaghetti, inspired by the movie Lady and the Tramp. The side dishes and desserts are brought by people attending the party.
I made mini tarts with egg custard filling which I didn't plan to make. We were invited for lunch at our friends' house and I had to finish some drawings afterward before going to church. On the way from our friends' house, I felt like baking so we went to grocery store shopped for the ingredients. In three hours I got the mini tarts I had imagined. We brought back zero leftover
The church's monthly potluck fell on a day before the Independence day. Therefore I decided to use red and blue fruits that resembled American flag. Since it is berry season, and I'd been over-using a lot of strawberries and blueberries, I decided to use raspberries and blackberries that time.
The day before, I had found a fruit tart recipe that has five stars following the title. I was excited, since that would be the first time I used sets of mini-pie pans my sister gave me.
Since I was busy writing my thesis that Saturday, I started the fruit-pie making very late. So late that I missed The Thistle & Shamrock, a celtic radio program broadcasted by WUOT, our favorite local radio station. Hubby and I went to grocery store after dinner, so I started cooking at about 9.00 pm. But I had a confident to be able to finish the whole thing not long after midnight...and I turned out to be wrong. Haha...
Making pie crust in this weather is very tricky. The pie crust needed to be cooled and has to be put back in refrigerator once it got softened. Since the temperature had been reaching over 80F, I had to transport the pie dough in and out the fridge frequently. The fact that I wasn't satisfied with the thickness of the crust made things worse. I rolled and unrolled the refrigerated dough several times until I got what I wanted. At the same time, a casserole pan was waiting to be filled. So, I juggled between finishing the pie crusts, baking them, washing and slicing never-ending summer squashes, making egg custard, washing and patting dry the berries, mixing the casserole ingredients, topping the casserole with herbed stuffing, baking the casserole, and assembling the pie.
The whole baking and assembling finally finished at around 3am. The morning I woke up, hubby was washing mountains of dirty dishes I left before I went to bed.
That Sunday at church, red and blue fruits dominated the dessert table. Among those, Issy, a sweet ten-year-old made tasty strawberry muffins, and that was my favorite one. I was happy to visually and emotionally experience the joy of celebrating Independence Day at church that day. Our church doesn't raise any national flag, and choose not to say the Pledge of Allegiance because we believe that we are the citizens of God's kingdom. Yet we are thankful for where God has placed us, and so thankful for the freedom of this country.
One day at dim sum restaurant in Chicago, my Malaysian sister-in-law to be ordered egg tarts. Since we went there kinda early that day, the waitress told her that they had none ready yet, the tart would be ready in 20 minutes (if I remember correctly). After having heavy breakfast, we were super full, yet she was willing to wait for the egg tarts. Those tarts must have been special for her. We left her and our brother waiting for the pastry since hubby, I & my parents still needed to have long drive back to TN. I didn't know or never heard of egg tart before (that I found out it apparently similar to pie susu Bali), so that's how I remember that pastry everytime I have it.
Recipe from: Femina-Masakan Cina
Crust ingredients: 350 gr all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
175 gr chilled butter
4 Tbs water (add if the dough is too dry)
In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Mix in butter with a fork until it is in small crumbs. Stir in water until the mixture forms a dough. The texture should be slightly moist. Divide the dough to 12, shape dough into balls. Chill the dough for 30 minuter. Press the balls into tart molds so that it covers the bottom, and goes up higher than the sides. Bake for 10 minutes on preheat oven at 350'F. Up to this point the crust will be half baked.
Egg custard ingredients:
Recipe from here 280 gr non-fat milk
150 gr sugar
1 tsp. rum
1/2 tsp. vanilla essence
In a saucepan, heat sugar and milk together. Turn off heat once the sugar dissolves. Whisk eggs and milk mixture then add in rum and vanilla essence. Add to the milk mixture. Sift the egg custard and pour into half-baked crusts until egg custard sets (about 15-20 minutes).
Note: once the custard puffs up, take out the pan from the oven then turn down the oven temperature to 325'F and put the pan back to the oven. Once it puffs up the custard will shrink and crack when it's cool.
I love every kind of pie especially pumpkin pie. I know that pie means sugar, butter, and fatness, but it is undeniably good After picking two buckets of strawberries last Friday, hubby requested strawberry pie and strawberry cobbler. I like when he requests something, it saves my thinking time. But when I searched the recipe, wow, there are several kind of pies. After considering many things, I decided to use this recipe. You may need to visit that blog and see the picture of a beautiful strawberry pie since mine is not as pretty as that.
I like the rustic looking of this pie, although mine is not so rustic. I should have baked it in longer time. I thought it is different than pie crust we usually see from grocery market. The taste was really good too. Some ready made pie we got from bakery has weird after taste, I think from the fattening agent they use. I am very pleased with the result, and I will definitely make pie using this recipe, with different fruit.