Tag Archives: family

Makin’ Pies | A Thanksgiving Recap

4 Dec

“It’s not far I can walk down the block to Table Talk
Close my eyes make the pies all day
Plastic cap on my hair I used to mind now I don’t care
I used to mind now I don’t care ’cause I’m great” – Patty Griffin

Me and my grandparents circa 1982. I think.

Me and my grandparents circa 1982. I think.

When I was little my grandfather used to tell me this story of one of the first jobs he had as a kid. He would go into local stores and look for mold on all of the Table Talk pies that they were selling. His job was to take a little pocket knife and scrape the mold off of the bottom crust and place the pie back on the shelf. It was the depression and totally indicative of the times and the spirit of that era.

Why all this talk about pies and making pies.. well I made several different versions of pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and wanted to share some recipes, links and love. Kate thinks I am crazy, and often calls me a baking renegade. Thanksgiving week was no different. I decided to make four pies this year, one to keep and the rest to give away. They were all pumpkin based, one traditional, a vegan option, and even a gluten-free paleo friendly option! Now you get the picture. For real.

twopies

The traditional pumpkin pies were for my family and for the staff that volunteered to work Thanksgiving morning at Bloc, one of the cafes I manage. This had a buttermilk and butter crust and Kate’s Dad’s pumpkin pie filling recipe. The results… amazing! The crust was evenly browned and crisp and never got soggy even after chilling in the fridge overnight!

The crust recipe is from Joy the Baker’s blog and it is her Dad’s Perfect Pie Crust recipe.
Here’s the link: Dad’s Sweet Potato Pie

I don’t want to share Denny’s exact pumpkin pie filling recipe here, so I have found a similar vintage pumpkin pie recipe that will do the trick.
Carnation’s Famous Pumpkin Pie from 1959 (hint: leave out the cloves in the recipe)
Notes:
– I made the crust in the food processor and it still came out amazing
– I didn’t have buttermilk on hand, so I made my own with 1/3 c whole milk and 1/3 tsp cider vinegar
– I had extra pie crust & filling since I used recyclable pie tins for my lucky pie recipients, so I made a mini pie for Kate & I 🙂

extrafilling

Next up…Vegan Mini Pies, delivered swiftly to the folks that volunteered to work at Diesel on Thanksgiving morning! The crust is made from coconut oil, not shortening and is soy free. It remained very light in color, but yielded a very sturdy, yet flaky crust. I found this recipe on a blog that is amazing and super cute, Loves and Lemons, it was the complete recipe, the author provided.

Again, I made the crust in the food processor, no kneading or hand cutting in the fat for me! The only change I made was that I used canned coconut milk instead of almond milk in the filling, because it is what I had on hand.
Mini Vegan Pumpkin Pies

veganmini

Lastly, a recipe I had been wanting to try out since the first Fall leaf hit the pavement. Paleo Pumpkin Cashew Cheesecake from Paleo Fondue. One word Y-U-M! Kate isn’t even a fan of cheesecake and she loved this recipe. In typical Jess fashion I did make a substitution. I thought the unsweetened coconut crust that she used in her recipe was too “healthy” for my liking at the time, so I made my own crust recipe up:

Gluten Free Ginger Snap Crust
makes enough for a 9″ spring form pan

3/4  package of Mi-Del Gluten Free Ginger Snaps
1 TBS melted virgin coconut oil
pinch of all natural sea salt

1) Pulse ginger snaps and salt in a food processor until evenly sized crumbs are created, graham cracker cust

2) Once ginger snaps are processed, add the coconut oil and pulse until crumbs look evenly coated with oil and wet

3) Coat the bottom of your spring form pan with the crumbs and evenly press the layer, ensuring that the mixture goes about 1 inch up the sides of the pan

4) Place pan on a baking sheet and bake crust in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 mins, check frequently you don’t want your crust to burn. You are just baking the crust enough to set it.

5) Cool crust completely then refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling.

pumpcheesecake

Notes:
– In the photo above I made coconut whipped cream, using chilled canned full fat coconut milk and powdered sugar.

There you have it, our Thanksgiving recapped in pie recipes. You should try all of them, but if that is too overwhelming, just take my advice and bake at least one of the recipes above. It will be worth it.

 

 

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Let’s Celebrate! | Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats

22 Sep

Every family has their own little traditions or occasions to celebrate, ours included. 🙂 This post is a celebration of Ollie. We found him on Petfinder and knew that we had to give this little brown Boston Terrier, a puppy mill survivor, a proper home. A home where he always has a toy to comfort him, a brother to play with, homemade treats to snack on, and someone to cuddle.
ImageMy favorite memory from the first week Ollie lived with us, happened at my parents’ house, my childhood home, in Dracut, MA. It was my Aunt’s 60th birthday and the family had decided to go out to lunch and then have cake and ice cream back at my parents’ house. After lunch, Kate and I made sure we were the first to arrive back at the house. Then Auntie came in and called out for Stevie “Where’s my Stevie?” “Come and see your Auntie!” All of a sudden, to her surprise, this tiny little white flash came running down the hallway! She had the biggest smile and greatest birthday surprise — puppy love from the newest member of our family!
In honor of Ollie’s adoption anniversary we took him to the Somerville Dog Festival in our neighborhood on a recent Sunday afternoon. A field full of games to play, prizes to win and free treats to sample… any dog’s dream. Followed up by some homemade dog treats for the boys to enjoy. Yay!

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Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats
Recipe credit: Adapted from an original recipe by Courtney Danyelle Georg (instagram handle: triceracourt) 

Makes 40 – 60 treats (depending on the size & shape you choose)

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 cup 100% pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 TBS natural peanut butter
1 TBS ground flax
1 TBS honey
3/4 tsp cinnamon

1) Preheat the oven 350 degrees

2) Line two baking sheets with parchment

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine all the ingredients

4) The dough should be dry and come together in a ball when mixed

5) Add a few drops of water if the dough does not form a ball while mixing

6) Remove dough from bowl and place on a floured work surface

7) Using a rolling pin roll dough out to 1/2″ thickness, cut out shapes using a cookie cutter shape of your choice

8) Bake for 20 minutes, then take the baking sheets out, flip over each treat, and then rotate trays before returning to oven

9) Total bake time: 40 mins

10) Turn oven off after 40 mins and let cool in oven on the baking sheets

Stevie and Ollie loved them — they couldn’t get enough! Also, we made a little package for our dog walker to share them with her pack 🙂

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Happy baking! Enjoy the recipe — I’m sure your pups will! Below is a photo of Ollie with the prize he won at the Somerville Dog Festival. He carried all around the festival and all the way home on our walk. What a character!

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We Made It! | And…What the Heck is a Dutch Baby?!

30 Dec

YAY, it’s almost 2013! Which means, we’ve made it through the holiday season unscathed. I know…so dramatic. But in addition to the goodies & gifts we like to make around the holidays (granola, candy cane bark, sweet cards & gift tags, DIY all purpose cleaner (more about that in a future post!), broccoli shallot quiche, avocado coffee cake, the list goes on and on…) my Etsy shop, Opal & Ollie was bursting at the seams with holiday orders (I had over 100 Etsy orders in 1 month — not including the 2 local shops I had to keep stocked up!). So I feel like it’s totally acceptable to breathe a deep sigh of relief and reset after a few days off. Now on to organizing, cleaning & putting away our abundance of Christmas gifts (wheeeee!).

This morning, when Jess started flipping through cookbooks BEFORE we’d even had our morning coffee, I knew something was up. In typical Jess fashion, she was looking for the perfect compliment for a jar of Nutting Farm maple butter that I’d tucked in her stocking (from our excursion to Eat Boutique — which was amazing, by the way — where Jess met on of her fav bloggers in all the whole world, Joy the Baker). That perfect compliment came in the form of a dutch baby. What the H is a dutch baby, you ask?! Read on…

photo-8

We were first introduced to dutch babies at a small historic inn in rural Vermont where we spent the weekend attending the wedding festivities of our friends Lindsay and Jonathan. The inn keepers cooked meals for the guests so we headed to the dining room for breakfast one morning. Plates were placed in front of us with an odd looking berry-muffin-popover-like thing in the middle. This particular dutch baby was not my jam (you could tell it had been pre-made & heated) but none-the-less I was intrigued. So fast forward to this morning when Jess stumbled upon the Smitten Kitchen dutch baby recipe below. It’s a delicious breakfast treat that’s like a popover and a crepe/pancake had a baby (maybe that’s where the name comes from?!). They weren’t too sweet — just right topped with a dusting of powdered sugar & some maple butter (or in my case, maple syrup). Dutch babies are also called “german pancakes”. Somehow this makes more sense to me now.

Pros: It’s lighter than a pancake. It doesn’t require the baby sitting/tending that pancakes require — since you bake it in the oven. So I was able to enjoy coffee with Jess instead of stressing about when to flip the pancakes & then how to keep the first batch warm as the other batch cooked in the skillet. It’s also really delicious and paired perfectly with maple goodness and soy sausage patties.

Cons: Ours cooked a little too much on one side so one edge was a little dry — but nothing that a little extra maple butter or syrup couldn’t fix!

Recipe notes: We only had 3 eggs in the house so we made 1/2 the recipe. It worked out great. The tablespoons of butter that the recipe calls for is definitely for the batter (and doesn’t include what you use to grease the cake pan) — we thought that was a little confusing. You could totally make these in muffin tins for cute-sized individual portions.

mapledutch

Recipe credit: Smitten Kitchen

Dutch Babies/German Pancakes

Yield 2 9-inch pancakes.

4 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup flour, sifted
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons soft butter

Heat oven to 400°F. Butter two 9-inch cake pans well. Put eggs in blender container, cover and process at until light yellow in color. Remove cover and add remaining ingredients; process until smooth. Pour into prepared pans and bake 20 minutes; then reduce heat to 350°F and bake 10 minutes. Slide onto hot plates. Serve with lemon slices, powdered sugar and butter if you follow recipes to the letter, maple syrup if you’re me and maple butter if you’re Jess. It would be really yummy with fresh berries too.

Happy baby making! (Ha…) And happy almost 2013!

Saving the World | What Lovely Will You Beckon?

17 Dec

I feel oh-so-lucky to have been part of a small team of graphic facilitators that my company (Collective Next) sent to Dallas to scribe the talks at TEDxSMU. Not that I expected anything less, but it was a truly transformative experience. I mean, where else but at a TED or TEDx event could you witness a tiny 7th grader shock the stage with a booming poetry slam performance and then hear a talk about wabi-sabi (the Japanese term for imperfect beauty)?

I scribed a bunch of amazing talks at TEDxSMU but Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s talk Beckon Lovely and Save the World really stuck with me (click on the title to hear/see her full talk). I’m a born “maker” so I can’t quite imagine anything cooler than the thought of a bunch of strangers making things together — or a 10-day challenge to save the world through an amalgamation of lovely.

krouse_rosenthal

I beckoned lovely this weekend in the form of freshly squeezed orange juice. The loveliest thing about this pictured moment? It represents a little snippet of my weekend where time moved a little slower. I took time out of a busy Sunday morning to make something that I then sipped with the one I love in special little juice glasses that I had to get on a step stool to reach. It’s not something I would’ve typically done on hectic weekend morning and I’m grateful for Amy’s challenge.

lovely

What lovely will you beckon this week to save the world? And…you’d better hurry up…we only have until 12/21/12!

Pantry Dinner | Crock-Pot Pork Tenderloin

12 Nov

Slow cookers are the old-fashioned wave of the future, they are an old standard that is seemingly in everyone’s household, but that are seldom dusted off and utilized.
A few winters ago I decided to try to use ours more. For a few reasons: there seems to be fewer and fewer hours in the day, they are really cost-effective and the energy you use to make a meal that will last 2-3 meals is far lower than the gas we’d use to cook the same meal in the oven, and it is the perfect vehicle for cooking any of the frozen proteins that we have stored in our freezer bought on sale for a cold winter night.
The recipe below was made completely of ingredients that we had on hand in the pantry and in the freezer.

Crock-Pot Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients
1 Frozen Pork Tenderloin or Center Cut Pork Loin
1 Onion (rough chopped)
3 – 4 Cloves Garlic (smashed)
2 Bay Leaves
1/3 cup German Mustard
1/3 cup Dark Molasses
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Allepo Chile Flakes
1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 TBS Light Brown Sugar
2 TBS Cider Vinegar
1 cup Hard Cider (nonalcoholic cider or beer would be fine)

Steps
1) Spray the inside of the crock-pot with nonstick spray

2) Place the onion, garlic and bay leaves in the bottom of the slow cooker. Put the frozen pork tenderloin on top of the cut veggies.

3) In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients and then pour over pork.

4) Cook on LOW for 7 – 8 hours.

Notes:
1) Spray the measuring cup with nonstick spray before measuring molasses and it will help that sticky stuff come out with ease.
2) Our Pantry meal was rounded out by frozen green beans that are a great economical and tasty option for two reasons: they are flash frozen just after they are picked to preserve freshness and you can often find them on sale for .99 cents for a 1 pound bag.
3) Sweet Potato Orzo “risotto” made in just 15 minutes with 4 ingredients: chicken broth, Earth Balance, salt and pepper. If you don’t have flavored orzo, mashed sweet potatoes would be delish as well!
4) To amp up the sweet potato orzo “risotto” add in chopped walnuts and dried cranberries. Y-U-M.

Trick or Treat | Handmade Howl-o-ween

31 Oct

Kate and I have a great relationship. She’s the maker to my baker. We have a lot in common, but we balance each other out.
Perfect case in point Halloween…. I love Halloween, I love the decorations, the costumes, pumpkins, Halloween candy and most of all throwing a Halloween party.

Every year I come up with the idea for “our” costume, a couples costume usually that entails hours of crafting and several yards of felt. Kate humors me and every year slaves over “our” costume and in true Kate fashion it always comes out perfect. Again, Kate and I have a great relationship. She tolerates watching the “Goonies” with me on the eve of Halloween, she spends hours hand sewing costumes we’ll wear for one night, and she does it mainly because it makes me happy.

This year she crafted my idea for Stevie and Ollie’s costumes too.. taking Stevie’s crate rest into consideration we came up with this…



No Boston Terriers were harmed in this photo shoot.

Stevie the lion and Ollie the lion tamer wish you all a Happy and Safe Halloween from our vintage circus to yours have fun!

Pup Updates & the Kindness of Strangers | Giving Thanks

13 Oct

As I type this post, I realize that it’s too late for Canadian Thanksgiving & too early for American Thanksgiving. But just as I did growing up every night at supper & with every thank you note my mom made me write (yep, I still write them today), we try our best to express our gratitude each & every day for the things we feel oh-so-lucky to have in our lives.

A month ago, while I was in Portugal for work, Jess had to rush Stevie (our eldest Boston Terrier) to the emergency vet care because he was yelping, walking with a hunched back & shaking like a leaf. After a few trips to the vet, some tests and a whole bunch of worrying, he was diagnosed with a chronic degenerative condition called IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease, presenting in the vertebrae in his neck). The vet sent him home with medication (for pain & inflammation) and orders for mandatory 24-7 crate rest. Yes, that’s right, crate rest, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He has to be carried outside <–> inside & to <–> from his food bowls and he needs to spend all day every day for the next 2 months in his crate. Seriously? Seriously! It’s strange & a pain (we live on the 2nd floor and our front stairs are steep & it means we have to take both dogs out separately if one of us isn’t home). But IVDD isn’t to be messed with as it could result in paralysis and/or very expensive surgery. So we’ll all be making the best of it.

At the end of the 2 months, Stevie will get re-evaluated & hopefully his neck will have healed enough that he can be more of his normal dog self — going for walks, snuggling with us on the couch at night, etc. Sadly he won’t ever be able to jump again or do some of his best tricks (like his “stick em’ up, bang bang, play dead” show stopper) & we’ll have to watch him to make sure he doesn’t jump on the couch or bed or on the dining room table filled with pies at our next family holiday (much to our utter amazement, we watched in disbelief as he boinged straight up off the floor & landed squarely on the dining room table at Jess’s parent’s house one Christmas). But we are so lucky that he’s still part of our little family and that the IVDD was caught very early.

We celebrated Stevie’s 5th birthday with pupcakes for all (remember this recipe?) and a small sigh of relief. Being in his crate certainly hasn’t changed his appetite…

As if the above wasn’t enough stress for two concerned pet parents, Ollie, our younger Boston Terrier (who’s always been a little “special”…SHHHH!) gave us a scare a little over a week ago. I got the call from the dog walker that I’d been fearing every time I saw her name appear on the screen of my phone (up until this call they were very benign check-in emails & texts…always a relief!). She’d lost Ollie during a hike in the Middlesex Fells.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Fells, it’s piece of conservation land (reservoirs, ponds, hiking trails, etc.) just North of Boston that’s over 2,500 acres large — taking up space in 5 towns. I knew when she called me at 11:30am that she’d already worriedly traced her steps several times (before she even told me so) before she called me. She reassured me that luckily, it was a beautiful sunny day and there were lots of people out & about in the Fells. He still had his harness & tags on and was trailing a 10 foot leash so surely he’d attach himself to another group of people & someone would call us in a couple of hours. She said she’d go back & look some more & her husband was leaving work early to continue the search.

I called Jess (who was also at work) & basically lost my sh*t on the street in front the office where I work, hiccuping details through tears. And then, we both went into crazy pants solution mode. Jess: texting/calling everyone she knew who might be able to help; me: posting a picture of Ollie with the few details I knew on Facebook. We both called nearby animal shelters, vets and pet hospitals, animal control agencies, local police, etc. It became a full-time job. (I’ll insert insane thanks here to both of our jobs/bosses. We are very very lucky.) Jess went to the Fells with a friend & her dog to continue the search. Work peeps & other friends joined, too. I stayed at work to wait-for-someone-to-call-me-oh-we’ve-found-your-dog, make phone calls, wait-for-someone-to-call-me-oh-we’ve-found-your-dog, make & print posters, wait-for-someone-to-call-me-oh-we’ve-found-your-dog. But in that time of panic & complete & total solution mode, something really amazing happened — social media, did what she’s so good at doing, she put our cause on blast. I had complete and total strangers messaging me on Facebook, asking me if they could spread the news on listservs, message boards, etc. We had new (like we’ve-only-hung-out-once) friends going to the ends of the earth to spread the news even further before taking off to help in the search. I had friends emailing me saying that THEIR friends were going to the Fells to search for Ollie. There were texts and phone call offers of help. Friends who don’t even have pets were buying treats & joining the search. People, some of our nearest and dearest friends included, quite literally dropped what they were doing and joined the “bring Ollie home” party. It was totally and utterly amazingly overwhelming.

Now…the happy ending. At 5:20 PM I packed a thick folder of flyers into my bag and left for home. Jess was on her way to meet me there & we were going to come up with a new plan/approach. Ollie is small (about 20 lbs) and mostly white and I was sick to my stomach thinking about the dark, the woods and…the coyotes. I got off the T at 6:00 PM and took out my phone to respond to (yes, even more) friends offering help. That was when I got the best text ever from Jess: “Ollie’s been found”. I practically skipped the whole way home. Our dog walker’s husband had found Ollie near one of the reservoirs and he was okay.

I anxiously waited for Jess to get home with Ollie. I gave him a hug (REUNION!) & then carried him straight to the tub. He was smelly & dirty and very scratched/scraped up from his unsupervised “adventures” but he was HOME! Look how tired he was…

People are still “checking in” to see how Ollie is doing. Thank you technology, friends (new & old!), co-workers, family & concerned strangers — our hearts are still exploding with relief and gratitude.

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