Monthly Archives: October 2013

ready to freeze and enjoy all winter

Scenes from My Week or These Pies are not Gluten Free

Holy moly, I bit off very nearly more than I can chew.  On Saturday, Jason and I made our yearly pilgrimage to Hollabaugh Bros. for apple “picking” (can you be said to have picked them if you selected them from a bin?)  Despite some cold, wet, gloomy weather and some changes we found at the farm, it was a great day.  We came away with 101 apples and three handfuls of pears!  Good grief.  The plan was to make apple butter for canning, apple pies for freezing, baked apples for breakfast, and maybe cider if I got terribly ambitious.  Unfortunately, getting the apples coincided with the start of a very labor intensive project (more on that soon).  So for the last three days I have been up to my eyes in pies and the smell of slow simmering apple butter has filled our house. . .and I have been completely overwhelmed.  I’ve been brooding in black like some apple angst-ing, pie baking Hamlet: Alas, poor York!  I knew him. . .  (Wah, wah.  York,Yorick, get it?  Sorry, a little apple humor!) applescale applechunk appleevolution

However, this morning I rolled out my last pie top, and processed a dozen jars-o-jam. . .butter.  Cider is not going to happen.  I have learned my limits people.  For the last several months I feel like I have been taking on what seemed to be perfectly reasonable projects that turn out, for one reason or another (usually my own dreadful inefficiency), to be absolute monsters!

Speaking of monsters, let’s talk about these pies.  Pie making is actually therapeutic for me.  Despite the fact that I will not savor even a single bit of the finished product, I love every part of the process.  I make the dough, an all butter dough, by hand, because I like to control the final texture exactly.  I peel, core, slice and season the apples, and until this batch, I even layered in each slice in spirals to get the most densely packed, fall proof pies possible.  Control freak, right here!  Well, that hand layering didn’t happen this year. . .did I mention I was feeling overwhelmed–curse you, apple butter!  As we speak there are 18 cup pies and half a dozen mini pies residing in my freezer, right on top of my massive stockpile of tomato soup :).  I would love to be able to tell you that the pie recipe is original to me, but credit must be given where it is due.  The dough and the filling are Martha Stewart’s.  I have used these recipes for eight years now and for a stellar, let-your-apples-shine pie, I know none better. pie1 pie2 pie3 cuppieduo

My tips:

1. freeze/chill your butter, your bowls, your water. . .everything that will touch the dough that can possibly be frozen or chilled.

2.  Don’t try to do pie dough in a hot room; you will regret it.

3.  Kitchen scissors are your friend for cutting clean edges.

4.  It is almost impossible to flour your rolling pin too much.

5.  Save those dough scraps.  They roll out just as well the second (or third) time.

So now that the apples are down to a manageable quantity, I am going to focus on my one little (big) project, getting ready for the Marine Corps birthday and its accompanying cake, and on getting my home ready for holiday guests (yes, it is taking us a long time to transition from being a one bdrm household to a two bdrm, but we are getting there)!  I hope you all have had a marvelous weekend/week.  Any of you take on any crazy projects lately?  I’d love to hear about them! minipie

alllayers

International Identity Crisis Spaghetti Squash “Lasagna”

If you have been with me for a while now, you have come to realize that consistency in posting is not my strong suit.  Being still uncertain of my camera and a fear that what I cook is either too boring or not “good” enough to share are top reasons for my infrequent entries.  The second concern is strong enough that I don’t like to tell people that I keep a food blog.  I get embarrassed if someone asks me about it, something to do with the implication that if you write a food blog you are/should be either more knowledgeable or a better cook than “other people”. . .and I am fully aware that I am not and dread having others think that I think I am!  Then I come to a moment in which I remind myself why I started this blog in the first place.  It wasn’t to win awards, find sponsors, or get a cook book deal (have you noticed this intimidating trend among food bloggers?), fantastic as those things may be; I started writing in the hopes of being able to help people.  In my own way, with my own often unimpressive food, I would like to make a difference.

In addition to these tiny self-esteem issues :), travel and a family business venture have been keeping me on the run.  We recently spent ten days in Georgia trying to make up for the family time that was cut drastically short by the diabolical Christmas flu (note: we will be getting flu shots this year!).  At the same time, Jason (that’s the hubs) is starting a pretty exciting, very tiny business  and I’ve been lucky enough to get to help out with a few minor things, like building a photo light box for his product pics and some drafting and sewing.

So, in a great big nutshell, that is where I have been.  I didn’t get on today intending to have a public therapy session, despite how it is panning out so far.  Nope, I wanted to share a recipe.  I mentioned a few months ago that Jason loves, LOVES marinara and pasta but that I have developed a . . . block against it.  It is crazy, I know, but I feel a little sick just thinking about it.  So, we are still looking for ways to satisfy his sauce longings and keep the cook happy too.  This dish has actually been hanging out in our arsenal for years, but has always played a distant second string to the real noodles.

Chorizo and Feta Spaghetti Squash “Lasagna”

Does the title make better sense now?  This “lasagna” is composed of Mexican chorizo, goat feta, and a basic Italian marinara.  You could easily resolve this identity crisis by doing a more standard italian sausage and mozzarella, but I really enjoy this flavor combination.

shell

strands

basil

lemon

feta

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finalsquash Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash

1 batch basic marinara

3/4 lb mexican chorizo (or sausage/meat of your choice)

6 oz. feta (or mozzarella)

tomato

olive oil

salt

pepper

oregano

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400.  Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds, and place flesh down on parchment lined pan.  Bake at 400 until shell gives slightly under pressure (between 40 minutes and and hour, depending on the size of your squash).  Remove pan from oven.  With forks or spoon, scraping/scooping width-wise across the squash, remove the strand like flesh into a strainer.  Lightly salt and pepper squash strands and leave to drain.

In large pan over medium high heat, brown meat.  Pour off excess oil when complete, then add 1.5 cups marinara sauce to pan.  Cook meat and sauce together for approx. 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In hollowed shell, place and press down a small amount of squash.  To this base add one quarter of the meat mixture to each.  Top with one quarter of cheese.  Now distribute one quarter of remaining squash strands and press firmly to create a tight package.  Repeat process, ending with next layer of squash.  Top with sliced tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with oregano.  Return to oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until juices are bubbly and tomatoes are coloring.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

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