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Buttermilk Clouds

Pies, Pies....I love pies!

finished_pie by you.

Let's just get it out there. We all have something we do better than the average person. Or it is our favorite thing to do. Or it is what you do best. For me, that is baking pies. As a matter of fact I came very close to naming this blog "Pie in the Sky" because - I love to make pies...I love eating pies...I make an awesome pie...My blog template's header image is a sky drawing (I choose "Buttermilk Clouds" for other reasons which is a whole new post.)

I will probably post about pies and pie paraphernalia often. :-) And, as luck would have it, I made a pie yesterday! For the first time I actually took some photos of the different phases of making a pie.

three_apples by you.

It is fall in Illinois, and we are lucky enough to live close to Mills Apple Farm. That is the starting point for all my best apple pies. Mills is a family-owned farm that I have gone to for, I guess, 25 years or more. My husband makes fun of me because I won't get my apples anywhere else. For me, it is so much more than the apple. I enjoy the ride in the country, seeing the trees heavy with ripe apples, looking at all their homemade jams and jellies, smelling the heady aroma of hay and ripe apples, getting a gallon of fresh cider and looking at their mums and fresh cut sunflowers.

Their apples are always crisp and juicy. Perfect for eating out of hand or tucking in a pie crust. I'm not so particular on the type of apple I use. Whatever is in season will do. My last batch of pies (and I mean batch...I made six and gave pies away to the neighbors) was Jonagold. Yesterday I used Fuji and Braeburn. I do think I get a slightly better pie if I use two different types of apples, but sometimes I only have one type and it turns out great. I do choose the biggest apples I can find for making pies. Simply because it reduces the peeling time. Depending on the size, I use 4-5 apples per pie.

rolling by you.
The base for all pies is the crust. Without that, well, all you have is hot fruit. I find that people are afraid of making a crust from scratch. When, in actuality, it is extremely simple to make. Years ago I found this recipe for a mixer pie crust: crust_recipe by you.
And for many years, I actually did use a handheld mixer to make it. Flaky and tasty. Eventually I decided it was too much of a bother getting the mixer out, and started using a pastry blender. Only recently, with the addition of a food processor (welcome to the 20th century), have I started using it to cut the shortening into the flour. Now, depending on my mood, I use either the food processor or the pastry blender. Each method works, with the processor edging out the pastry blender for ease. When I make a pie with a crust on top and bottom, I use the recipe for a 2 crust pie and a 1 crust pie (total 3 cups of flour altogether ... understand?). Reasoning...I like lots of crust to work with. Other little tips/quirks:

  • I make a glass of water with ice in it first thing so it will be very cold when I add it to the mix
  • If working alone (ie my husband isn't helping me peel apples) I will make the bottom crust first, roll it out, put it in the pie pan and put it in the refrigerator then get the filling ready.
  • It truly depends on the humidity in the air as to how much water to add, so I gently toss the flour/shortening mixture after the addition of each tablespoon of ice water and when it starts to clump up and act like it will hold together good, I'm done adding water!
  • After adding enough water, I handle the dough as little as possible (gather and gently press into a ball and roll gently) because it is at this point that if it is handled too much, it will be tough and not flaky.
  • If I think ahead, I will measure out the shortening and put it in the refrigerator to chill. If not, I use it straight from the cupboard.

slicing_apples by you.
The pie filling itself is not a science. Using a mandolin (mine is a great inexpensive one from Progressive) makes slicing the apples a cinch. They come out thin and uniform. A huge bowl is done in minutes. Usually for 3-5 apples I use 1 1/2 cups-2 cups of sugar and about 1/4 cup flour. A sprinkling of cinnamon and a few pats of butter and it is done.
almost_ready by you.
My newest fad for pies is making a double crust and completely sealing the top and bottom edges together. Then I brush with the top crust with heavy cream/half & half/ evaporated milk/milk...whatever I happen to have that day. After the milk brushing I sprinkle with sugar, cut an 'X' on the top and pop it in preheated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes. At that point I get a big spoon and push sections of the crust into the filling randomly. Return it to the oven and bake another 23-35 minutes. I usually cover the edge of the crust with foil so it won't over brown. The bonus with baking it this way is the juices from the pie rarely overflow.
juicy by you.
This method makes such a beautiful pie! All that is left to do is wait for it to cool (if you can) and enjoy a big slice. My husband likes it with ice-cream...I prefer it without. Either way, it is a taste sensation!!!

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By: Sharon Pickering | 10/30/2006 at 3:43 PM | | If you want, you can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Buttermilk Clouds. About me.TaDa!!!


Buttermilk Clouds

ties together a few aspects of my life that I love. Cooking, photography and playing with blog templates. So, it is a labor of love, near and dear to my heart. I get inspiration from all around me. Cooking is a natural...I cook for an appreciative crowd - my family. From that I have developed a few quirks - I cannot pass up a cookbook or a bowl. (I don't know what is up with the bowls...the cookbooks I understand, but the bowls???) I have every type of casserole dish imaginable, not to mention pie plates, wooden spoons, pots and pans...the list goes on and on. The crowning jewel of my kitchen is my Kitchen Aid mixer that my son bought for me...was it two Christmas's ago? It's truly a 6 quart capacity bowl , industrial strength, luscious cream colored appliance masterpiece. OK, so I really like my mixer.What is not to love?

Photography has evolved within me. For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed drawing...pencil and ink. But, for the last several years I have not done either for one reason or another. Within me I feel the need to create - art, items of beauty, expressions of what I am feeling or seeing. Somehow this had to manifest it's self or leave me feeling 'not finished'. That is where photography came into play. It started with a digital camera that I bought for my husband and a trip to Bermuda. I would get up early and take long walks through picturesque neighborhoods snapping hundreds of shots a day of what I liked. As it turned out, the photos were gorgeous - not your normal run of the mill snapshots. (At least that is what I think!) Take a look at some of my photography at Looking through sea glass... For the Bermuda shots scroll down to Fall in love all over again...Bermuda style. Two of my favorites are the sailboat with the Christmas lights on the left and the pink house with green shutters. Since that trip I have continued snapping away.

All that leaves to cover is playing with blog templates. That is the geeky part of me coming out. I love working with CSS/HTML and editing my template. As a matter of fact, this is my second blog. My first is BlogU which concentrates on providing helpful tips for other bloggers to customize their blogs. (Shameless plug...check it out. You will probably find something that you can use to make your blog better.) I realize this aspect of my personality probably seems out of character considering my love for cooking and photography. But, I guess that is what makes me unique.

Buttermilk Clouds will cover recipes I like, photos of food and all things to do with cooking. I know you will enjoy reading my blog - because I will enjoy posting, cooking, taking photos, and tweaking my template!!!

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By: Sharon Pickering | 10/29/2006 at 4:47 AM | | If you want, you can leave a comment by clicking here.