Saturday, September 21, 2013

Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

Anne and I went to the market together this gorgeous fall morning. I drank coffee and fed her raspberries and bites of a maple-pecan scone. As we sat, I read her some poems by Seamus Heaney. I wanted to share one with you.


for Philip Hobsbaum

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls swelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pear-Raspberry Pie

Pear-Raspberry Pie |

There's something about a pie. It's homey. Nostalgic. Comforting. The cozy interior of Hoosier Mama Pie Company is tiny: a couple of tables and chairs, an old sea-foam green dresser serving as a checkout counter, and a display case full of pie. But it's where I want to go when my spirits need lifting. I made my husband take me there after some careless knife handling necessitated a trip to the emergency room a few years ago. I sat there with my mom, sharing buttery pie and hot coffee after I found out I had lost a baby, only 8 weeks into my first pregnancy, almost exactly two years ago.

Paula Haney's new cookbook, The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie, is a veritable encyclopedia of pie knowledge. Step-by-step photos of important, hard-to-describe processes (pie crust, anyone?), funny stories, and page after page of fantastic recipes. Pear-raspberry was the first one to jump out at me, because the window for both fruits at the farmers market is happening right now. I know it won't come as a shock to you that I love to cook, and that time in the kitchen is relaxing and very rewarding for me, but making a pie is a special sort of culinary meditation. Mix the dough. Wait. Roll out the dough and shape it into a crust. Peel and slice the fruit. Toss. Wait. Bake for a long time. Wait. Wait. Slice and eat. It's almost a full day from start to finish, and so worth it. Every step is magic. And then, of course, there's pie for breakfast the next day: one of the highest pleasures in this life.

Pear-Raspberry Pie |

Pear-Raspberry Pie

from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

Make sure to use soft, really ripe pears. I didn't, and while the flavor was still amazing, the pears were a little crunchy. This recipe is printed as is from the cookbook. I'm not going to print any other recipes from this book, and I'm not including the crust recipe, because I think you should just go buy it. It's awesome. Go.

1 9-inch double-crust pie dough (preferably from page 24 of the cookbook linked above)
5 cups ripe pears, peeled, cored, and chopped into bite-size pieces
2 cups raspberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch kosher salt

Place the pears, raspberries, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Do not mix. Place the sugar, cornstarch, ginger, and salt in a small bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the fruit, until most of the mixture is absorbed. Take care not to break up the raspberries. Sprinkle Crust Dust (a mixture of equal parts flour and sugar, designed to absorb some of the fruit juice and ensure a not-soggy bottom crust) into the empty pie shell. Pile the fruit into the shell and smooth the top with a spatula. Finish the pie with a lattice top, and freeze for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the lattice with Pie Wash (equal parts cream and whole milk) - be amazed at how easily you can brush a slightly frozen pie crust without smashing it - and sprinkle liberally with coarse-grained sugar. Bake for 60-80 minutes, rotating 180 degrees every 20 minutes, until the crust is dark golden brown and the juices are bubbling thickly. Cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Late Summer Minestrone


...Anyone still here?

I accidentally took the summer off from blogging! I trust that you have been eating well, taking advantage of beautiful weather and farmers markets, and hopefully you've been online less this summer as well!

I'm back, because fall energizes me and makes me excited about what I'm cooking again! And I want to share! To kick off your weekend, a simple summer soup. Late summer means you can put whatever you want in it - seriously. Anything that looks good at the market, or that you have too much of in your garden. Yesterday I was reading a novel, in which a soup like this was described: a recipe that's never quite the same, served with whole grain bread and salted butter. Into the kitchen I flew!

Late Summer Minestrone

(not pictured: pile mountain of unfolded clean laundry, several piles of clutter, unvacuumed floors all made possible by aforementioned novel-reading and soup-making.)

Late Summer Minestrone

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, rinsed well and sliced
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cup shelled fresh cranberry beans (or cooked cannellini beans)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 large can whole tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
Asiago cheese, for serving

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek, carrots, celery and garlic, and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini, beans, tomato paste, and tomatoes, crushing the tomatoes slightly with your hands as you add them. Fill the can again with water, and add that to the pot. Add the herbs, bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer 20-30 minutes, until the beans and vegetables are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with Asiago cheese grated on top.