Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. Henry David Thoreau

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why This Is Not A Food Blog...

Thanksgiving is right around the corner
and I am in the mood for Pie.
It's really when all the great pie recipes come forth
to tempt us .

Doesn't this look tempting???

I get together with a bunch of young moms twice a month
for fun, fellowship and food.
I am not a young mom any more,
but I cook breakfast for them now and then,
so the let me be in the group.
My friend Lezlie and I 
 got our heads together and decided
that it would be fun to practice making pie dough together.
Lezlie is a great cook and likes to make things from scratch,
so I figured that at least one of us would know what to do!

I have been curious about the shortening vs.lard vs.butter debate,
and decided to bring along some lard to see what would happen.
Time always seems to get away from us at these gatherings,
and I didn't get to actually bake the batch I made,

so when I got home I whipped up two more batches,
one using lard and the other using shortening.

I had no recipe that told me what temperature to bake the 
single, empty crusts,
so I just went with 375 and waited.
And waited, 
and waited.
I finally took them out after about 1/2 an hour
and was not a happy camper.

As you can see, they are not pretty. 
They shrank.
They are pale
and unappealing.

Apparently, the planets were not even remotely
 lined up that day,


I even managed to scorch my favorite chocolate filling,
aka Betty Crocker red cookbook!

I asked my youngest son Kevin to do a taste test for me
and let me know which dough tasted better.

Note to self: ask somebody less honest!

The next day, 

Kevin: Yeah, about those crusts...what exactly happened?
Me: I baked them too long at too low a temp.
Kevin: Yeah, they both sucked.
Me: Right.

Note to self: make sure he knows never, never, never to say those words
to his wife, fiance, casual date, or even his sisters!

As you can see from this pathetic picture,
there are many many problems with these crusts
which tended to distract me from the original question,
which was "which is better, lard or shortening?"

I felt compelled to do some research and 
settle these other issues for my own peace of  mind.
And also world peace.

Note to self: Next time do online research BEFORE you try to demonstrate 
something you havn't done in years!

There is a lot of info about pie crusts on the internet.
Unfortunately there is a lot of disagreement about pie crusts too.
Some of the ladies swear by lard.
Some of the ladies swear by shortening.
Some of the ladies swear by BUTTER.
Some of the ladies say No No No do not use Butter!
Some of the ladies swear by Butter AND lard!

Also there are many blogs that failed to tell me what temperature to bake
the single crust (officially known as a "blind crust")
(Now don't you feel culinary?)
and for how long
I still don't feel real confident about that question!

after hours and hours of studying and searching various food blogs,
I feel ashamed that I went into this whole pie crust gig
with so little knowledge!
There is so much to know!

Let's look at my pathetic pies again, shall we?

Do not bother to comment about the lack of topping here,
I was so disappointed with the crust,
I didn't want to mess with it,
and really, my family knows where the Cool Whip is!

That whole shrinking down to half it's size really irked me!
Just look at them...so puny and small!
That's not a pie,
that's a tartlet!
That's a chocolate pizzalet!

I learned that the key to avoiding that is THIS:

once you have placed your dough in the pan and crimped it all up nice and pretty,

I also learned that it's a good idea to chill the dough in the fridge about an hour
before you even roll it out.
Almost everyone said to do this,
so it must be pretty important.

The experts also stressed the importance of 
chilling the shortening
chilling the butter,
chilling the lard...
one lady even said to chill the flour.

This must be all about the chilling!

They also said to work fast.
Keep plenty of flour on your work surface so the dough won't stick
Add the liquids a little at a time and if your dough
doesn't hang together when you roll it out, add more liquid a T at a time...
I just globbed mine back together and rolled it out a second time and it looked great...
maybe not a good idea,
but I wasn't about to pitch it at that point!

They also suggested using weights to keep a single crust from shrinking.
Lay some parchment paper in the crust,
fill with beans, or pie weights
(one lady uses pennies)
bake for 20 minutes, then take the paper and weights out
poke a bunch of holes in the crust
and bake for 10 minutes more.

Another thing that I didn't like was
the pale, pasty color of my crust.
I think when I try my experiment using butter,
it will have a better look.
The foodies also said that 
you can brush the crust with milk
or a beaten egg and water combo,
to give it that lovely golden glow 
that we have all seen in pictures.
Just not my pictures!
Even after I had baked my sorry  crusts for 1/2 hour,
they were still pale,
even though I almost scorched the bottom of one!

I have learned a lot about pie crusts
and the internet,
and woman's quest for perfection.
Just Google "flaky pie crust" 
and a whole new world of
opportunity lies at your fingertips.

I am eager to try the butter/lard option.
I'm pretty convinced it will actually taste good.
My daughter keeps sending me pictures of Pioneer Woman pie recipes
that she wants us to bake for Thanksgiving Dinner.
And I want to!
I want beautiful, golden, tasty, flaky, tall, proud pie crusts!
Pie crust that would make the Pilgrims proud!

Me:  If at first you don't succeed.....
Kevin: Pie, Pie again!

Happy Thanksgiving friends!
I hope you get PIE!


  1. oh my goodness! this post proves that you couldn't possibly be my mother and that you most certainly and enthusiastically are my mother all at the same time! so funny!

  2. MB--I am no pie expert either. I never have chilled ANYTHING. I am a lazy cook. And making things from scratch saves me $$$, which is why I do it. You like to cook WAY more than I do. Thanks for all your research. I will have to use it as a reference before I next make a pie. :) I love your enthusiasm for life!

  3. I, for one, am totally impressed! I have never got further than "Mrs Smiths Pies", so to venture into the world of crusts from scratch is like...nucular science! I also want to say... keep those pics of Maya coming since for some strange reason I can Not open Kellie's blog! Very Frustrating to this Grammie!! Not sure what else to try??

  4. LOL. There has been a LOT of cooking at this house the last 48 hours, but no pies. (KJ and I did make some pretty killer cupcakes though!) Good experiment. Loved it!

  5. Your too funny! Anything with chocolate I'd eat. I will try out this recipe it looks yummy! Pastry making and me hmmmm... well I'll give it a go! :)
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  6. Kevin is wrong. I tried a piece of one of those pies and I LIKED it! You are amazing. And the crust that you made for my pie for Thanksgiving was also amazing! You must now teach me your ways!


"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." Ralph Waldo Emerson

About Me

My photo
Welcome to my happy place. A place where I can share ideas, projects, and dreams. I am a nester, a crafter, a creator and a dreamer I hope you will find inspiration and encouragement for the journey you are on. I am a Jesus follower, wife, mother and nana. Blessed beyond measure, just trying to live my life gracefully and make a difference in my small world. Join me!