Tag Archives: pie crust disaster

Worth Eating

I thought I scanned a really old, like 60’s era, Thanksgiving photo earlier this year but I can’t find it so I’m posting a picture from the Orleans post office instead.

So far all the cooking I did in advance is having problems. Except the pumpkin pie which I didn’t really make for dinner today, more like an ongoing snack all weekend. We already cut into it.

Several years ago we were at a party where they served the best chocolate mousse on 9 planets. It was the kind of thing you thought about for days after. The taste, texture and tiny flecks of chocolate. It was a spectacular dessert and I’ve wanted to make it myself ever since.

I used the Cooks Illustrated recipe and it did not go well.

Perhaps I should back up and confess that I was über-multi-tasking yesterday. I had Star Wars IV, special edition on the tube, I made the pie from my own pumpkins (photos sometime this weekend) so I had to process those and make the pie (also crust disaster as per usual) I made the salad, the mousse, our Wednesday night dinner plus I intended to bake some breadsticks which I ended up passing on but I did do step one of the no knead bread recipe.

The mousse was a large pain in the ass and involved melting things in a double boiler, separating eggs and whipping this and that or the other thing into soft peaks and gently folding this into that and everything needs to be smooth. I was also fretting about the not really cooked 2 eggs thing. Is stirring egg yolks into melted chocolate enough? Is the food safety industry overly paranoid and do we not really need to worry as much as they seem to want us to?

By this point dinner was ready and the season finale of Weeds queued up (aside- tiny spoiler: Kevin Nealon, banjo, awesome.) I folded everything as best I could and reminded myself about Julie and Julia and I’m not the first cook to curse at a cooking project that’s not going well. There was no graceful way to get it into the serving cups. My attempt at gentle spooning turned into violent glopping.

Meanwhile, husband and hot food wait at table.

Then I tried to carefully wipe the mess off the rims of the serving cups and it smeared unprettily. At this point I said ferk-it and covered each dish as instructed then threw them in the fridge.

Dinner went fine. We cut the pumpkin pie which was delicious. I finished making the salad without incident and hit the sack without causing harm to myself or anyone else. I worried about the mousse all night and came up with the idea to transfer them into new, clean serving cups.

The mousse transfer is a wonderful idea that totally didn’t work. I only did one cup and it looks like someone dropped it and then scraped it into the dish with a tree branch. I tasted it. Fantastic. I left the rest as they are. Not pretty but taste good, dammit!

Meanwhile, my bread dough came out like bread batter. I’m not sure if I spaced and didn’t put enough flour (probably) or spaced and added too much water. I shaped it the best I could and it’s rising now but I don’t think it’s going to work. I dug out the bread stick recipe from last night because it only needs 45 minutes to rise. Let’s just hope I can turn out decent risotto or we’re going to be eating pizza tonight.

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The Test Kitchen

More Original Art (ha ha)This week feels like it’s gone on forever. I’m beat.

Wednesday’s NYT Dining In had my favorite food porn type of article: perfect pie crust. You’d think after reading and clipping every article of this kind I’ve ever seen I’d be the reigning gold medalist in both the single and double pie crust events. But no, I haven’t even been invited to try out for the team.

Pie lady made 5 pie crusts with various approaches to the fat part: 1 all butter, 1 all shortening and 3 with different amounts of both.

She said butter won hands down. Dang, I don’t like butter crust. (I’m appalled, too but I like what I like.) I use the all shortening method which she says is popular because it’s easier to handle. If that’s easiest I guess I’d better to stick to what I’m doing.

Don’t you think being a test cook would be a weird job?

Every time I read an article and they roasted 18 turkeys, or made 12 kinds of green bean salad or once it was bread pudding and I swear the article said they made 40 different kinds to find the perfect recipe, all I can think about is the stuff that didn’t work. Do they give it to homeless shelters? Do they take it home to their families? Who had to taste and report on 40 different kinds of bread pudding? Do they throw lots away? Are they so sick of bread pudding by the end that they have the perfect recipe for a food they never want to see again in their lives?

I hate wasting food and I remember how awful I felt tossing a huge pan of carrot cake that I’d royally screwed up. I think I forgot half the flour and it was a soupy mess that nothing could save. It made a hollow whump! when it hit the bottom of the garbage can. I didn’t make it again.

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Star Wars Confession

I’m still not in the mood to recreate my train trip post and I still haven’t posted the photos (well, I’ve posted 2 but that happened by accident and I wasn’t in the mood to fix it).

This weekend I continued my bitter project of tossing writing crap. I don’t think my attitude is completely healthy but whatever gets you through. I’m making tons of rooms on my shelves and drawers and getting a tiny smug sense of satisfaction. It reminds of this relationship I had in my mid-20’s that ended with particular tragedy and the guy gave me a cassette of Edie Brickell and something else, I think a folk singer. I *STILL* can’t listen to Edie Brickell. I taped over what he gave me with Megadeth and Racer X.

Petty, childish and strangely satisfying.

Also I cleaned out my closet and I FINALLY hung up the giant vinyl signs that Steve and Denise gave me for the Attack of the Clones DVD sales. I now have a giant Boba Fett that looks over my desk and a giant Yoda and light saber in my yoga handstand practice area. It’s awesome. I hung the Yoda, Obi-Wan, Anakin one in the laundry room. It pleases me greatly that I have better Star Wars stuff than pretty much all the other kids. I have an Obi-Wan bank, talking Yoda, life-sized cardboard C3PO cutout, Darth Vader phone, and R2D2 mini-robot and a photo of me and young George Lucas that was a photo on the wall at a Cafe 50’s type diner in San Francisco. (Mel’s?). I know. Sad but all true.

I also have a moleskine that I put a retro Princess Leia sticker on and I got a great compliment in line at the movies the other day. Also an awesome Anakin Skywalker backpack that Bob got for me in Chinatown in LA. The clerk asked if it was for his son and he said, “No, my wife.”

If Revenge of the Sith is still on big screen this weekend I’ll see it again. It will be #9. I saw (big screen) Phantom 13 times and Clones a mere 7. I saw the special editions on big screen: Ep IV (5), Ep V (3) and Ep VI (3). I have no ideas how many times I’ve seen them on DVD or VCR. I’m not a TV in the background type of person but I often plug in one of those movies when I’m doing an extended cooking project. I watched IV and V the past few weekends — the old “before special” edition and thought it was cool.

I have no idea why I’m writing out this extended Star Wars confession. I feel perfectly healthy and at relative peace with the world.

Also, completely unrelated but I think I’ve discovered my pie crust problem. It’s the fat. I went back to my Betty Crocker recipe this weekend and was extra generous with the shortening and it was about 90% more successful. Yay.

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Random Round-Up

The Oregonian did a big “any moron can make a pie” pep article with a completely foolproof crust recipe which I tried and had my biggest disaster to date and there was more of it. I was completely fearless about adding water because I read that it depends on how dry the flour is and given my long history of patching together sandy piles of flour, I figured this had to be it.

Nah. Super big pile of sand that I desperately patched together. And she said to use parchment paper when rolling it out and she’s a crazy lady because everything that wasn’t sand stuck to the parchment paper.

When done, it looked pretty and brown but also I sort of over-baked it because I was doing too many things in the kitchen at once. Have you ever done this? You hear your timer and you think, okay I’m just going to finish doing this — whatever and wash my hands and then grab that thing out of the oven then suddenly 10 minutes have gone buy and you’re like: oh shit! That’s what happened.

The crust was way too tough. I could tell the minute I tried to put a knife into to take out the first piece. It’s perfectly edible, but still not right. My next tactic is to buy a kitchen scale and exactly measure my ingredients. Maybe that will help.


Also this week I dreamed that I read the new Harry Potter in paperback. It was a small throwaway book and I didn’t know what all the fuss was about.


Last night Bob and I watched an incredible movie called The Sea Inside. It won the Oscar for best foreign film and I’m not going to lie, it’s a tough one. But it’s beautifully made and fantastic acting and an amazing trio of women characters supporting Javier Bardem. Worth the effort.


This is an item about movie theaters that is good food for thought. This guy suggests that theaters offer monthly passes so that for a flat rate, a person could see as many movies as he or she wants. The idea being that people will try more movies they wouldn’t ordinarily see. For me, I’d be more likely to go to movies on weeknights because I’m too cheap to pay full movie price and usually go only to matinees. But here’s why it wouldn’t work. First I’m not sure how the box office would be reported and whether Hollywood would like that comingling of $$$). Second, when you went to the movies people would be more likely to go in and out and try different things which would severely diminish quality of experience. I personally go to less movies because I don’t like dealing with parking, crowds and jackass people who talk and are noisy.

Here are some super cool pictures of clouds.

And finally, here is a HILARIOUS story about an illegal copy of Revenge of the Sith and the subtitles. (added: looks like this site might be down and I don’t have the inclination for research right now, so good luck.)

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Catch Up day

New Yorker – Finished at Last
We got our last New Yorker on our subscription over the weekend. I was only one behind at that point but I sat down and plowed through both issues and now I’m done. No renewal for us, I like the magazine but it’s too much — I’m going to read some books for a change.

After troubleshooting my pie crust for the past couple of months I think I figured out part of my problem. One of my foolproof pie tips said to be careful not to use too much water. So all this time I’ve been adding the most skimpy amounts of water. This last pie I put the entire amount the recipe called for. I didn’t even add a tablespoon at a time, I just poured it all in and hey, what do you know. The crust actually held together. I guess it was a little tough. But at least it went into the pie plate without a struggle.

Just because a restaurant has been around for a long time and lots of people go there doesn’t mean it is good. Case in point: The Holland. This was a restaurant in downtown Vancouver and we’ve been there for breakfast a couple of times, usually because it’s a convenient place to meet the in-laws if there are relatives in town. I never liked it. I’m completely challenged when it comes to breakfast foods I will eat so I was pretty much limited to the oatmeal and even that was icky. Last time I was there it had obviously been sitting under the lamp: nice skin on top. I mean, come on, how hard is it to serve an edible bowl of oatmeal? But my reasons for not liking it go beyond that and now that I’m sitting here typing this I can’t even articulate them.

We drove by there a week or two ago and the Holland was closed and I didn’t feel sorry. There was an article in the paper and Bob saw it and asked why they closed it and I just said, “Because it was a bad restaurant.” I didn’t even read the article.

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