Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm a fibber, but you get pie photos instead.

Yes, I promised chicken photos today. I fibbed.

The new chicks are still in their bin by my neighbor's house. For this, I apologize, but, well, here's my excuse for being a fibber.

I grew, bought and was given food. I needed to deal with the results of that. Really! Saturday morning found me staring at:
  • pea plants that needed picking & shucking or else they'd dry out completely
  • a trash-bag-sized-bag of basil
  • a crate of strawberries
  • a crate of apricots
  • a fridge of beef that had been slow cooked
  • a bed of spinach on its last legs
  • a new pie mold from Williams-Sonoma to try out
So, I decided that since this weekend had cooler temperatures (highs in the low 80s), I could cook.

This project wasn't the first project, but it was the most exciting, so....

I got to try out my new pie mold from Williams-Sonoma!!

It was only $10, and seriously, it was far too cute to pass up. Would it work, though, was the question....

Having made many many pies in my life, I realized that without some bottom support, the filling in these pies would gush out without some support. The support needed to keep the bottom rounded. Since pie dough is pliable, it would likely sit flat on the pan, stretching out the less-strong lattice, resulting in lattice spilling out juicy contents.
I had thought for a while about how to make an easy mold. Then I realized it: Take a circle of rolled foil, and then lay a square of foil on top. The circle is reusable, but any juice that does fall out will hit the square, which is easily replaceable.

The first round, I used some of the strawberries I had. Not perfect, but definitely not a bad start. I remembered that in order to get pie dough to stick together, you have to wet the surfaces that you want to stick. So, before I pressed the mold down, I wet the edges of both molds. They stuck!
Not too shabby. As I got better with the mold, less spillage occurred.

See? The next set, of apricot "pieletts" turned out much better. I realized I had to stretch the bottom piece a little, and once I figured out how much, they looked a lot prettier.

And finally, blueberry! I had enough dough for 15 pieletts, and that was using my standard makes 2 big w/ lattice or 3 no lattice pie crusts.
Here are the blueberry ones, cooked. Much better on the spillage... and the pan in much need of cleaning.
All told, 2 pies of the 15 stuck to the foil on the bottom, so B and I nibbled at those. Two got sent over to the neighbors. and the remaining 11 were frozen. How they handle the freezing/warming up is to be determined....

On to other projects: My friend, Vince, bought me this delicious flat of ripe, farm strawberries. SO fresh. So delicious. The final strawberries of the season! They need to immediately be dealt with, since they were REALLY ripe.

VOILA! Chopped up strawberries. The chickens got the strawberry tops. :)
Next, I went outside to see how many peas were left. I expected to just get a handful, because, you know, I'd already shucked a bunch... Ummm... I got over 10 pounds. Crud! So, I sat, watching reruns of "Pushing Daisies" (swoon!), shucking peas.

Keep in mind that all these peas needed to be shucked because they were old and getting bigger. Luckily, I had already blanched and frozen about 12 quart bags of snow peas for future use.

End result? 9 baggies of 2-cups each of peas! Yes, that's 18 cups. Woo! I froze in 2-cup sections because then I'd know exactly how much was in there. 2 cups is often the perfect amount for adding to pasta or eating on the side. (esp for 2 people)
On to the basil. After plucking, I had an entire bolga basket of basil. And this is not fluffed basil. It is pretty packed. And heavy.
So far, I've gone through about half the basil, and I've frozen 8 or 9 quart bags. Each bag has more than enough for one meal.

And, I found apricots. Yes, that's a LOT of apricots.
Here they are, about 70% of them chopped and diced.
Unfortunately, I think I added too much sugar. So, I'm going to chop up the rest, add them to the syrupy concoction I currently have, and then can it all up.

I did not get around yet to the spinach. That's hopefully tonight!

Finally, I took the approx. 15 lbs of beef, defatted and shredded it, and then packed it into quart baggies. I surrounded the beef in beef broth (to help prevent freezer burn). The idea behind this (I'll let you know how it goes) is that now, if we feel like burritos, casseroles, enchiladas, etc etc etc, I just have to thaw a baggie. No precooking of meat necessary. And, I can be guaranteed that it will be tender. Hopefully, this will save a lot of time.

The meat was the final beef that we bought 19 months ago. We had right at 100 lbs. Oy! But, it was all super cheap, grass-fed, and wonderful. But really, how much meat can people go through? This was the final push, and really, everything needed to be eaten. We were trying to figure out how to do it, since it wasn't as flavorful as the fresh stuff. This turned out wonderfully.

Now, I have decided that I will make sure to buy meat as I need it. There's a great butcher shop nearby, and this way, we actually cut down on our meat purchasing.

So, dealing with food was my weekend. But, as a result, I now have...

  • Raspberry jam
  • Apricot jam
  • Basil Pesto
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen shredded beef
  • Frozen pielettes

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