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Category: recipes

Easy as pie

I made my first pie (not just from scratch, but ever) recently. Somehow I thought starting off easy would be making an apple & port wine pie in a cheddar cheese crust. A lofty undertaking, some said, but I thought the recipe was very straight forward. The apple filling recipe ended up being one that popped up all over the web, with slight adjustments, and the cheddar crust was from Martha Stewart, although I didn’t use white cheddar, which is why my crust looks more speckled with cheese.


What’s not easy as pie? This whole blogging business. I’m so impressed with my friends, offline and on the web, who consistently come up with interesting content, have fresh designs, or are just driven by inspiration so much that their creative well doesn’t run dry. Stay tuned for a follow-up post where I delve in depth into: why am I compelled to write, in general; why lack of creative self-discipline is standing in my way; and why I need some help pushing through the writing block hurdles. For now, here’s pie.

Apple-port pie with cheddar cheese crust

For pie filling:

• 1 1/2 c. Sugar
• 1/4 c. Cornstarch
• 2/3 c. Apple juice
• 2/3 c. Port wine
• 2 Tbsp. Butter/margarine
• 1 x Lemon peel, grated
• 8 med Cooking apples, peeled and sliced, (7-8 C.)

For crust:

• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
• 4 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
• 1/2 cup ice water


  1. Mix flour, salt, sugar and butter until mix resembles coarse meal. Stir in the cheddar cheese.
  2. Add in water gradually and mix lightly with fork to create dough.
  3. Turn dough out; gather into a block. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, at least 30 minutes – 1 hr.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  5. While dough is cooling, for the filling, peel, core and dice apples.
  6. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan.
  7. Stir in apple juice, port, butter and lemon peel.
  8. Cook over medium heat till mix boils; add in apples and cook gently till just tender.
  9. Divide pastry in half and roll out one half to fit a 9-inch pie pan (roughly a 13″ circle).
  10. Roll second half of pastry and cut into ten 1/2-inch strips, place on waxed parchment paper and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
  11. Spoon into bottom pie crust. Dot filling with butter. Cover with lattice crust. Fold edges over; crimp decoratively to seal.
  12. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, on lower rack, pie pan placed on baking sheet. Reduce temp to 350 and bake until golden brown for 45 minutes or so.

Red quinoa and edamame salad with ginger dressing

(adapted/modified from a recipe)
A very filling, delicious salad full of good-for-you ingredients. I feel that some of the measurements on the ReadyMade website are a bit off, when it comes to the amount of quinoa they suggest for the recipe. It also may depend on the type of quinoa, I suppose. However, having prepared 2 cups of quinoa I found myself with quite a bit of it that I couldn’t even put into the salad. So, if you want a nice balance of all the ingredients, follow my suggestions.

1 cup quinoa + 2 cups water (for the cooked quinoa)
1 tbsp dried hijiki
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
¼ cup diced carrot
½ tsp olive oil
2-3 cups shelled edamame (depends on how much you like it)
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (I used black, but any sesame seeds will add good flavor)
1 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp agave syrup/nectar
¼ tsp red/spicy sesame oil
dash of crushed chili pepper flakes
¼ tsp sea salt

1. Prepare the quinoa according to packaged instructions; set aside to cool
2. Soak hijiki in cold water for 30-40 minutes; rinse hijiki and simmer on low heat for another 10-15 minutes until just slightly soft; rinse in cold water and drain; set aside
3. Sauté the carrots and peppers in the olive oil and add to the quinoa.
4. Add the edamame to the quinoa.
5. Mix all the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl & add the drained hijiki.
6. Stir in the dressing and hijiki into the salad until well mixed.
7. (optional) Good garnish options: shredded dry nori, some more sea salt and sesame seeds

Lemons and lace

Hi, hello. Whoever is reading this: I’m sorry! Do you remember me? I apologize for a lapse in posts. It’s been a busy couple of months.

NYE was mellow. A fancy pajama party in an apartment overlooking the city. There was much champagne, curry, tropical fruit, conversation, old timey music, and a doll house that we decorated with tiny toy pigs, miniature furniture and various little accessories. I wore all white – a 1940s nightgown.

What do I want from 2010?

Clarity. Focus. Stability. Comfort. Ample time to recharge my batteries and then tackle projects. To be less anxious, and more free-flowing. To follow my own rules and expectations instead of measuring up against others’ seeming happiness. Really, these are things I want any year, any day. I just hope 2010 doesn’t end up being the year where I have to really push up stream with all my strength to get what I want.

On the first Sunday of the year, I scored some really neat stuff at a flea market. Ended up getting four delphite teacups & saucers, a red velvet swing coat, a 1920s tablecloth in very good condition, a faux seed pearl bracelet, an Art Nouveau-looking green pendant, a rhinestone necklace, a white skirt for summer picnics, a pretty striped scarf and green velvet ribbon & tiny mushroom millinery stamens to decorate a hat.

Here are a few of the items:

To help send off a couple of friends who were in town visiting from Europe, we went out for a lovely dinner & some cocktails. As a parting gift, my friend gave me a bag of straight-from-the-farm lemons & fresh rosemary. (Her folks have a lovely stretch of farmland, which they tend to lovingly and grow amazing produce).

After digging around for a bunch of recipes, I assumed, over-ambitiously, that I’d be able to use a dozen lemons to make a dozen different things. Ultimately, I ended up just making two. I started on the process of making a bottle of my own limoncello, following the excellent suggestions outlined here.

P1030829 P1030843
Rosemary for the cookies & lemon zest for both recipes

The beginning of a batch of limoncello

I also baked lemon-rosemary shortbread cookies, using a fantastic recipe from Vegetarian Times.

Freshly baked lemon-rosemary butter cookies, one with a dollop of lemon curd and one with red currant preserves

In following the recipe I linked above, bear a few things in mind:
* If you don’t use jumbo sized eggs for the egg yolks, you may find you don’t have enough liquid to keep the dough from being too crumbly. I ended up adding a little bit of rice milk when I’d pulled the dough out of the fridge after it cooled for two hours. It was still too crumbly to shape into cookies, but adding little bits of rice milk until it gained consistency that I needed did the trick. (I used rice milk because I don’t keep regular milk at home, as I’m lactose intolerant. Milk, or water, would probably do the trick just as well).
* If you follow the recipe exactly, the cookies don’t come out too sweet. I personally like that, but if you like them extra sweet, bear that in mind
* Next time, I plan on using a bit more lemon zest and a bit less rosemary