Sweet as Pie Winner

Congrats to our Pie-in-a-Jar Giveaway drawing winner! Mark Ishman will be enjoying a personal sized Five-Spice Pear-Apple Pie made by “The Peace of Pie” bloggess, Jessica Gelineau. A huge ‘Thank You!’, Jess, for helping us kick off the holidays with sweetness and fun. And thank you to everyone who played along, we’ll do it again soon!

Jess has been years working her way through Ken Haedrich’s pie book and savoring every bite. For the rest of us longing to sample this recipe, we include it here with Jess’ notes sprinkled throughout.

And if you just can’t get enough, visit Ken Haedrich’s Pie Academy website to access how-to videos, recipes, and all of his books. Happy Baking!

Crust: Ken Haedrich’s Basic Flaky Pie Pastry

Single Crust:

Cut up 1/2 stick of cold unsalted butter into small pieces and set aside. Measure out 1/4 cup of cold vegetable shortening and set aside.

Combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Toss well, by hand, to mix. Scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients and toss to mix. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it is broken into pieces the size of small peas.

Add the shortening and pieces and continue to rub in until the fat is all in small pieces and very much incorporated into the dry ingredients.

Fill the 1/4 cup you were using for shortening with cold water. Sprinkle half of the water over the mixture. Toss well with a fork to dampen the mixture.

Add the remaining water, 1 1/2 to 2 tbs. at a time, and continue to toss and mix, pulling the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl on the upstroke and gently pressing down on the downstroke. Add a little more water, 1 tsp at a time, if necessary, until the dough can be packed together in a ball.

Once it is packable, make a ball and press down to flatten it somewhat into a thick disk. Wrap the pastry (I use a piece of wax paper and fold all the corners under) and refrigerate until firm enough to roll.

Filling:
3 and 1/2 cups peeled, cored, and sliced Granny Smith, Cortland, Northern Spy, or other apples
3 and 1/2 cups cored and sliced ripe pears, peeled or unpeeled
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
Cornmeal Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1. If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.
2. On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 13-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2 inch deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
3. Combine the apples, pears, lemon zest, lemon juice, orange juice, and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
4. Mix together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the cornstarch, and five-spice powder in a small bowl. Stir the mixture into the fruit. Turn the filling into the chilled pie shell and smooth the filling with your hands to even it out. Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make the topping. Put the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Scatter the butter over the mixture and pulse until it resembles fine crumbs. Empty the crumbs into a medium-size bowl and rub them between your fingers to make large, buttery crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.
6. Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375 F. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them evenly over the surface with your hands. Tamp them down lightly. Return the pie to the oven, placing it so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Just in case, slide a large aluminum foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below to catch any spills. Continue to bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, another 30 minutes.
7. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

In the beginning…

You can almost smell it

Made by hand

Crumble topping

Happy ending!

Pie Giveaway Time!

Thank you everyone for putting up with me last month. NaNoWriMo is no small thing.

To reward your patience, and to celebrate THE END, we’re having a drawing for a giveaway! Pie eating contest Pie throwing contest Pie-in-a-Jar Gifting is a great way to kick off the month of December, and it’s so much better than Figgy Pudding.

By “we”, I mean a collaboration with my favorite pie baker, Jessica Gelineau. Her luscious pie blog, “The Peace of Pie“, has kept me company for years. The stunning visuals are almost as good as tasting, and calorie-free. Jess is a wife, a mom, a math teacher. She wears as many hats as most of us do, but tops it off with a baker’s hat. Read her story here. I’m just saying that if you were born with a “pie thumb”, it’s a sign. And the world is holding their cuppas and waiting. For pies. On your front porch, Jess.

Now, I’ve been known to exploit the mason jar epidemic back in the day, as you recall. I will never eat a salad in a jar. But Pie-in-a-Jar, as she puts it, is as exciting as it sounds:

  • They’re pies. In JARS.
  • They’re so super cute.
  • What’s better than a slice of pie? A whole pie to yourself.
  • What’s more socially acceptable than eating a whole pie? Eating a whole mini pie.
  • What’s easier to transport than a jar with a lid?…Nothing.

To enter your name in the drawing, please make a comment in the Message box, below. You have until Sunday, December 8th, 2019, at midnight to add your comment. On Monday, into the sorting hat you’ll go and the lucky winner will be announced the 10th.

The winning Pie-in-a-Jar will be a Five-Spice Pear-Apple Pie from Ken Haedrich’s pie cookbook, because she just bought a big fresh jar of five spice powder – the one alluded to in the Butternut Squash pie in her latest post, here. This is how the story begins, and this is how the story ends.

You really, really, want to be a part of this story. I mean, these things inspired poetry!

Stay tuned, ya’all. Even if you don’t win, you’ll win. Next week I’ll post the recipe, links, and more festive pie fun so we can all raise a cuppa together.

 

A Little Note on the Present

This week’s winner of our CozyPhones headphones Give-Away is Ruth, from Simi Valley!

Congratulations, Ruth, your headphones are hopping your way this very moment.

And a big thank you to everyone who participated, that was so much fun.

Today is Friday, and although a great many blogs are in my head, I think we’ll be short and sweet and deliciously in the present moment.

So often I have fun bragging on the tough stuff, if only to remind us all that the golden moments shared on Facebook are only the brilliant bits between the daily grind of traffic, hairballs gifted by the cat, refrigerators full of mystery leftovers, and dirty socks hidden under the car seat from three volleyball games ago.

I wondered what that smell was.

Today was a gift.

I got to see my sons because high school is finally out for the summer. They haven’t changed a bit. They walked around the house, remembering when they used to live here.

Then they went to the beach.

I got a haircut (or my eyebrows lowered, however you choose to view it) and my product-wielding girlfriend reminded me that I could work long shifts during the week and still have a little sass left over for the weekend. Just barely.

My main squeezin’ Hubby and I went out this morning and had sugar with sugar on top for breakfast with a side of liquid sugar, because this cute little cake shop moved into town and they aren’t about to serve acai bowls. Or bee pollen. Or veggie cakes. No. Eat your sugar America!

I was a wee bit jittery thereafter and went to my massage appointment to meditate on my life choices. I burn a lot of calories just listening to the rehab mood music. I felt the sugar melt right off again.

It’s all about balance.

I even called my mother today. Boom.

At the moment, I’m sitting with my little tatertot as she sleeps, waiting for her mom and dad to come home from a much-deserved date night. The kid and I have missed each other and we had some catching up to do. We chatted about her soon-to-be-here baby brother and we worked on her big-sister sass.

She’s got what it takes, I think.

I sit here this evening, grateful and content.

The month of June kicked off with a fifth-grade play, a birthday and a baptism, then stampedes through two graduations, a wedding, Father’s Day, a baby, and a two-week family road trip to Victoria, Canada that will swing it right past the fourth of July.

Don’t blink. You’ll miss it.

CozyPhones Review and Give-Away

Who’s ready to hop into summer and win a prize?

This is my first product review and it’s really something I can get behind. Full disclosure demands that I inform you that the nice folks at cozyphones.com sent me this sample free, in exchange for an honest review on my blog.

And by honest, I’m sure they meant: have so much fun with it that everyone fights over it and you come up with ideas about it that the average mom hasn’t even thought of yet…or even the company.

“She has FIVE kids!” they thought, “if anybody can make this froggy hop, she can!”

And how right they were.

For a completely thorough review, I borrowed some kids in the proper age range: tadpoles to peepers. There are so many things going for these headphones, the fun factor is only the beginning.

When you’re a little swimmer in a big pond, it’s hard to keep up. You want to play with mom’s tablet, but the big kids’ bulky earphones are way too heavy, and they slip off. Earbuds are pokey in my ears and the cords are all in the way. Solution: CozyPhones earphones.

It’s a lightweight, fleecy headband that is as soft as my blanky and the flat earphones are hidden inside of it. I don’t even feel them. But I can hear VeggieTales loud and clear when they are plugged in, and mom can sit right beside me and enjoy her coffee in peace.

Kindergartners say YES to video games. Mom insists they are educational but iPad time is highly popular. I can sneak in a Dino Trux cartoon and my sibs won’t know the difference: it just looks like I’m wearing a fun headband. The hidden earphones keep me entertained in peace.

Well, at least until they find me.

Peeper is the cool kid on the block. Screen time is usually learning apps on the laptop for homeschooling, and done with bulky headphones on so that everyone else can get their own work done. Not only is this CozyPhones headband way more comfy, but now I can hear mom calling me when I’m in the middle of Super Smash Bros, because it doesn’t plug my ears.

Um, is that a bonus?

Double digits plugs into everything from movies to music to homework. When you’re ten you like to lounge in bed and listen to audiobooks on your Kindle. This headband lets you snuggle right into the pillow without losing your listeners. It’s soft and won’t pull hair. It’s a super cute way to hang out with a Disney playlist in the backyard.

When the kids took a look at the website, which you should do right now (cozyphones.com) they picked out which ones they would buy, making a handy gift list for all you parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles out there:

Our zoological ten year old chose the Panda. The eight and five year olds both went with the “What If Monster” which, for the uninformed, is the star of the book: Jonathan James and the Watif Monster, a must read for anyone who has been raised by the likes of my mother. Ahem.

 

Little man went with the Froggy. Because frogs are cool and everyone knows it.

CozyPhones makes sleek adult versions in lycra or fleece, for runners, travelers, winter sports, meditating, or my first thought: drop it over my eyes, too, and let me finally sleep on a plane!

For that matter, how about it helps my kid finally sleep on the car trip this summer?

This set of CozyPhones earphones is all yours if you win this week’s drawing!

To enter, either put a comment into the box below and tell me where you’re traveling this summer OR send me your info through my “Contact Me” page (top menu, far right).

BUT. If you sign up to “Follow” me, you will be entered TWICE. Enter your email into the box at the top right and then go to your email and “confirm” the process, otherwise, it won’t show up in the entry list. If your email has stopped delivery during the past year or so, it’s time to re-sign up.

This is it, kids! Hop to it!

Push This Button, Win a Prize!

It’s here! It’s here! The end of the year!

A giant “THANK YOU!” to each and every one of my readers, you make my day, you really do!

To celebrate all that’s wonderful about writing this blog, I’ve set myself a flash-goal.

Flash-goal: noun, to suddenly realize you are short by X number of Subscribers and decide immediately to hold a give-away drawing to fill the gap.

I need at least twenty-four honest, hard-working, upright ladies and gentlemen to Subscribe to this blog in the next 24 hours.

Okay, okay, a handful of scoundrels would be perfectly acceptable, too.

“I put my email address into the box right here,” you’re asking, “but even though I’m a scoundrel, I’m super worried…what will happen if I DO push this little Subscribe button?”

  1. My posts drop quietly into your email inbox. The minute they publish. I will never know if you read them or not. I will not hear you laugh or scream “I told you so!” at your kids.
  2. You won’t miss random postings because you have been relying on Facebook to see them. Facebook is notoriously unreliable, even with your BFF status’, am I right? You may have no idea that I generally post every Tuesday and Friday all year long.
  3. Your name gets put into the hat for a drawing tomorrow. If I draw your name, you win a prize!! (I’ve done this before: in March and June.)
  4. Next year, I will start sending out a monthly story that will only go to my personal Subscribers…that’s YOU! The first one will come out January 1st! Oh wait, that’s Friday. This is me, shaking a leg.
  5. An angel gets his wings….well, something like that. Because so far, the one thing you can expect from these chaotic stories is that we really, really keep our angels on their toes.

That’s it.

24 Subscribers in the next 24 hours.

C’mon, guys, you got this.

What? You are already a Subscriber?? And you want a prize, too?

Excellent point, I love that enthusiasm.

Write to me in the comment box below, and tell me which of my blogs was your favorite this year. Honestly, go ahead and make it up if you’re like me and can’t remember what you had for lunch, let alone what you read last week. I love you regardless!

Scoundrels can use an alias. It’s fine by me if you want to be known as “Scooby Doo”.

And if you have friends who would enjoy my writing, please forward this to his/her email or share this post on your Facebook page, or print it out and staple it to the street-corner telephone pole.

Because sharing is caring.

Stocksy_txp18d901favz7000_Medium_158214

Oh, right. The prize will be a random sampling of my favorite teas. Perhaps you don’t care for tea? You must have me over immediately. I can fix that.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

We have a winner for yesterday’s Father’s Day drawing!

Congratulations to Ms Lyn, who checked in to my website at 7am and was brave enough to mention her similar memories with always-awesome Soap-on-a-Rope.

A tremendous THANK YOU to everyone who took the extra ten seconds to enter by either Subscribing or Commenting. Not everyone is familiar with blog bits, and it’s good to practice, eh?

Here’s a photo of the drawing in progress:

 

Kid number four helped out this morning, as kid number five is down at his new high school helping with an art project. Kid number four agrees with me that we should’ve sent a sleeping bag with him, hint hint.

But we can’t.

Because we also have basketball practice, simultaneous dental appointments, Bible class, and dinner to make. Mini BBQ Meatloaves, if you’re interested. Somewhere in there we’ll swing by the pharmacy, the bank, and visit Grampy in the skilled nursing facility.

The front door handle broke. I just remembered. It broke in the locked position.

Well, we’re just going down the chimney guys. Life’s too short to fix stuff.

Oh, and don’t forget kid number four is also practicing his driving. Yeah. Got his permit last week. Oh, you’re going to hear a lot about that in the near-ish future.

All part of this relaxing, spa-like experience called “Summer Vacation”.

Anyway.

Your names went into the cookie jar and we put Hubby’s new socks next to it, because, well, he got new socks and I just think maybe we should have sprung for a new mountain bike instead.

I’m pretty hopeless at gift giving. Just make a note of it and cut me some slack. It is what it is.

Lyn, your delightful Memories-on-a-Rope are headed your way.

Shower in bliss.

Thanks, everyone, for reminding me I’m not alone in the trenches.

And that my cookie jar is empty.

Put it on the list.

Fathers Day Give-Away

And here you thought I didn’t do holidays!

You’re right.

But this isn’t a holiday.

It’s an excuse to take my dad out to breakfast and eat french toast with wild abandon.

The man had three daughters in a row, all of whom were supposed to be sons, so I buy him some french toast, too, coffee on the side.

My mom continues to live a life of deep gratitude for us girls, and my dad had to be content with a lifetime of Father’s Days expecting the same three gifts: soap-on-a-rope, cheap cologne, and socks.

It never occurred to us to buy him manly things.

A chainsaw. A new TV tray. Conway Twitty records.

The 70s were full of exciting options, but we were completely distracted by Barbies and bicycles.

If you grew up sporting twin hair braids, embroidered peasant blouses, corduroy bell bottoms, and pleather jackets, you rocked the 70s.

If you ever hung beads or curtains instead of doors in your doorways, you rocked the 70s.

If your dad ever had a full afro on his head with a matching mustache…and he’s not a black man…you may have grown up in the 70s.

If your dad finally took out the afro but kept the ‘stache because he “closely resembles Tom Selleck”, well, you had one studly dad, I guess.

The scents of my childhood include English Leather, Old Spice, Noxema Face Cream, and Irish Spring bar soap. The Avon Lady would come around every month or so and leave us lipstick samples and perfumes like ‘Sweet Honesty’ and ‘Hawaiian White Ginger’.

Soap-On-A-Rope came in several options, very attractive in the glossy brochure.

Our job was to clean the guy up apparently, and I think it’s time to honor that tradition today.

If you would like to join us in this forty-something year running tradition, please do me a favor and sign up as a Subscriber (in the little box on this page, above on the right).

My blog will send you an email to confirm that your link is correct, and then each of my stories will come right to your inbox as I publish them.

(You can read them or delete them…I will never know!)

Subscribers are the backbone of blogs. The number of Subscribers is what shows the blog’s growth, reading this on Facebook doesn’t count.

Show your support and your name will be entered into the drawing for a lovely scented Soap-on-a-Rope, delivered to your door with my compliments.

Dad is happy to let someone else…anyone else, really…have the manly soap hang in a shower far, far away.

If you are already a Subscriber (you’re awesome!) you can leave me a comment about the 70s (in this comment area below) to enter the drawing. Write in the box, then click on “Post Comment”.

You don’t have to put your real name when you leave a comment.

You don’t have to admit you were raised in the 70s by Tom Selleck.

But you do have to admit to showering once in a while.

"I am your father!"

“I am your father!”

And the Winner Is…

A big “Thank you!” to everyone who played along yesterday for my first ever drawing!

It was so much fun, I plan to have more in the future.

Feedback is a writer’s oxygen. I don’t care if the air is fresh, happy and approving or smoggy, snarky and smelling faintly of three-day-old fish.

If you’re willing to push a keyboard button just for me, you rock.

The lucky winner of this week’s drawing is a brand new subscriber: Sylvia!

Sylvia, thanks for stopping by for a visit.

I am totally happy to send you a potato gun. Use it wisely and often.

I think I speak for all of my readers when I ask you to please post your results here, in the comment box, when you’ve had a chance to fire off a few rounds. Let us know if it lives up to the hype. I strongly support the kid in all of us, even if it’s a little naughty once in a while.

Thanks, everyone, for your topic suggestions. I’ll be sitting in my closet (yes, it’s big enough for my desk and my scarf collection) avoiding distractions (ie: hiding from the kids) and tapping away at the keyboard.

Bliss.

Have a really wonderful week. Toss some potatoes around.

 

Luck o the Irish

The wee leprechaun in me is jumping up and down demanding a game.

Who wants to win a prize?

Today, I’m holding a drawing honoring an Irish legacy, the humble potato.

You can “boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew…” or just take those taters and hold the “War of the Tater Tots” in your yard.

I would have preferred to send out a box of chocolate peppermint patties as a nod to ‘St. Patty’ but they don’t ship as well.

It’s even harder to ship rainbows ending in pots of gold.

Instead, you’ll receive a potato gun toy, shipped to the address of your choice, assuming your choice is a place that amazon.com will ship to.

Amazon claims the gun shoots up to six feet, using small bio-degradable bits of real potato.

Check it out:

Amazon.com: Potato Gun: Everything Else.

To enter the drawing for a chance to win, scroll to the very bottom of this post and leave a message in the blog “Comment” box. Give me a topic that you would like to chat about in one of my future blogs.

Newbies can enter the drawing twice!

Every new subscriber will have his/her email added to the drawing. Enter your email address into the “Subscribe” box in the upper right hand corner of this page, and follow up by “confirming” the email that my website sends there.

(Occasionally, the follow up email is directed into your trashcan by your system. If you can’t find an email from me, take a look in there. You may have to explain to your system that we’re friends so that my emails land in the right spot.)

It’s fast, it’s easy, and at the end of the day I’ll pull a name out of the hat so to speak.

Assisting me in this will be child number five, an unnamed yet wildly gregarious and universally enjoyed six foot two 14 year old.

And he really wishes he could win this drawing.

But he doesn’t have an email yet, poor laddie.

He’ll have to go around throwing whole potatoes, I guess.

Let the Wild Rumpus begin!