Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pie for the Apple of Your Eye!

An easy way to delight your lovely spouse (of whatever gender) is to bake a pie.
I mean easy; really, really easy!

Get a pie shell. In theory, you can make one, and I have done so; years ago that's the only way I baked. But pie shells are cheap and quick in the frozen aisle so, as long as you are fastidious about recycling the little pans they come in, grab some and feel no guilt. (This is about the only part of this method that I didn't get from an ancient Betty Crocker book. Check her out: her kung fu is strong!)

Now, check your oven. It needs three things: first, is to be basically empty. Some people like to store pans in there, which is not a problem, and some people like to forget the Thanksgiving turkey in there, which most definitely IS a problem - so safety first, have a look. Second, it needs a cookiesheet or some other thing like a splash pan on the bottom rack. This will cut down on the amount of very annoying cleaning you will have to do it you ever move out of your apartment or want to sell your home. Third, it needs another rack in the oven near the top; leave plenty of space for the pie to bake without getting caught on fire by contact with the heating elements. (Not that this has happened to me except for once, and in that case it was a pizza and it wasn't really in contact with anything bad except the cardboard it had come in on. Word to the wise!)

Set the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Now get to work assembling your pie!

You'll need fruit; just about any fruit will do, and this is the genius part: forget about measuring. You can't measure it precisely anyway so why bother? Just get about as much as your eyeballs tell you will more or less fill the crust.

You can save a little time by purchasing bags of already-cut-up fruit, if you're the sort of person who would light a cigar with a paper money. Don't do it! Just get whatever fruit is on sale, then pull out your knife and cut it up! A couple of apples come apart in less than a minute each, and it can be a soothing meditation to do it well. I favor peaches; we love them around our house, but there's always one or two that we don't get to until a little too late. No problem! when they get soft, just make them into a pie. You can also use almost any sort of berry; part of my standard car kit is a couple of breadbags so we can go berrypicking if we spot blackberries by the side of the road. Either way, pie is a great way to save a little money and reduce a little wear on our planet by using food items that might otherwise go to waste.

Now you may want to add a little sweetener and a little moisture to the fruit. I do both at once with agave nectar; again, it's not important to measure, just dollop some on like you're putting ketchup on fries. If you prefer, you can use sugar and a little water. Some people add a little lemon juice to perk up the flavor.

The last element is something to thicken up the mess. While some people swear by cornstarch, to my mind that gives the pie a strange, glossy look. Much better is just a little bit of flour; a couple of dashes of the most unrefined flour you can find will do. Mix it all up so you have a jumble of fruit bits coated by the liquid-and-flour mix; not swimming or embedded in it, just coated.

Drop the fruit mix into the pix crust. If you have too much fruit mix, make a 2nd pie, or use it for cooking something else. If you have too little, add in a little of what ever other fruit you have around. Berries are especially handy for this; their flavor may be too intense for a standalone pie but they make great add-ons to pies made with their bigger brothers. After a while your eye will learn how much to prepare; you've got to expect a few screw-ups at first. Nice thing about cooking is, you can eat your mistakes and there's no evidence left.

For extra quality, put on a pie ring (the pie, not on you!) The pie ring has two purposes: one is to protect the exposed edge of the crust from the heat of the oven; the other is to show that you've been listening to your wife when she was telling you how handy they are. It's an inexpensive gift that lasts longer than cut flowers!

In theory, you can improvise a pie ring with tinfoil; just take a strip of foil in width one inch and in length the diameter of your pie shell times pi (3.14+), then run it around the edge and fold over the exposed bit of shell. HOWEVER if you do this, you will be wasting the metal; the result will be caked with food and pretty much non-recyclable. Anyway, you do NOT want to have tinfoil in your kitchen at all, since it is the easy and wasteful solution to too many problems. Follow this week's Change the World Wednesday tip and Just Say No To Tinfoil. You will be occasionally inconvenienced, but with a little thought (and cribbing from Betty Crocker), you will find a way around it that will actually deliver better results ... as the pie ring demonstrates.

Now slide the pie in the oven for about an hour. Take note of the time, and set two or three alarms for about an hour; if you get deep into a game, you do NOT want to forget the pie in the oven! (If you are really really sure when your wife is coming home from whatever she's doing while you bake, you can earn EXTRA points by putting the pie in the oven 50 minute before that... let HER open the oven and be enfolded by its hot sweet fruitpie breath!)

Making a pie for your honey is 100% guaranteed to score you some major points, and it's easy.

As easy as 3.14+

2 comments:

Small Footprints said...

You are so creative ... I just love how you work the CTWW challenges into really interesting posts!

Mmm ... I'm going to have to send this post to my hubby ... making me a pie would definitely get him major points! Of course, he makes a mean vegan chocolate cake! :)

Thanks for a wonderful post (as always).

Small Footprints

rewinn said...

Small Footprints - you are very kind. I love your weekly challenges, they really get the Muse singing.

This week's "Trash Walk" challenge should be fun!

Stay super!