Pies-R-Us

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving found me printing my final choices for pie and pie crust recipes, getting out the food processor and getting down to business.


I put my sticks of butter and butter-flavored Crisco in the freezer to harden up and measured out my dry ingredients. Julia Child must have had a larger food processor than me, for I was not able to put the entire 5 1/4 cups of flour in there and still cut in all the butter and shortening. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I’d already cut the sticks into chunks and begun dropping them into the bowl. Out everything came, and I did my best to divide the chunks equally in half and add them to the food processor with the correct portion of flour and salt.

It could have been that or perhaps my adding not quite enough ice water to the dough, or even the fact that the shortening was definitely NOT chilled enough…Whatever the cause, my crusts ended up very crumbly. The only thing I can honestly say I didn’t do was overwork the crust; at least I did that right! 😉 The end result was, they cracked when I rolled them, even when I did so between pieces of flour-dusted parchment paper. When I blind baked them, filled with parchment paper and dried beans, they became quite brittle.

One of my blind-baked* crusts stuck to my parchment paper when I tried to remove it, so it was history. NOTE TO SELF: Only use the same piece of parchment paper 2 times for blind baking before getting a fresh sheet.

Seeing that my crusts were not destined to be the light, flaky masterpieces I’d envisioned, I resorted to Plan B. Indeed, I had two boxes of Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts awaiting me in the fridge, just to hedge my bet.

One pie, my pumpkin pie, had my homemade crust. It got a little bit too done and stuck to the glass pie pan, but it did taste good. The Pillsbury crusts used in the two sweet potato pies were definitely superior (by the way, I inadvertently only put in half the specified amount of cream cheese, but they were still really good).

I bunched up the Pillsbury scraps with my remaining homemade dough, add a little cinnamon and sugar, and roll it out to make leaves for the tops of my pies. Thanks to the Internet, I found a nice pattern for a maple leaf and used it as a template. I just left the leaves in place on the parchment paper, peeling away the areas around them. When they were done baking, I slid them off the parchment paper with a spatula and placed them on the finished pies.

Long story short, the pies were a success! They really were pretty, and everything tasted good. The whole dinner was good, and it pleased me to no end to see everyone enjoying the food. We ended up seating 12 adults for dinner, along with two kids. We didn’t notice much difference taste-wise between the organically grown, high-dollar bird and the $6 Wal-Mart bird, but it was fun trying something different. We can’t afford to buy the organic ones every year – this Thanksgiving proved very pricey after all of that, even if it was socially responsible and all that good stuff.

Okay, for Howie’s sister Gwen, pictures! Dad was seated early on, and in this photo is obviously eager for the food to be served! I didn’t get many photos of people because I was busy cooking and so forth, but there’s a few.

Howie carving the bird and a close-up of said bird. Luscious!

Howie noshing on veggies, looking like the cat that swallowed the canary. Howie’s brother Steve, aka Fu Man Chu.

Mallory at the kid table, our coffee table. Stephanie and the dinner rolls, which did not burn! 😉 My mom and dad.

It was a good time! THANK YOU to the great folks at the Dave’s Garden Recipe forum and at RecipeZaar!

* Blind Baking is to pre-bake a crust without the filling. It firms up the crust so your filling won’t soak into it and make it gooey or unstable.

5 thoughts on “Pies-R-Us

  1. Enjoyed reading your blog and seeing the pictures. Had not seen a picture of you two for a while. You both look GREAT. BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

  2. You almost make me want to try baking again… almost… then I remember how bad my own pies are and decide it is time for frozen Mrs Smith or Marie Callanders if I actually want to eat a slice!

    I am happy to read that your Thanksgiving day went well. Just think, Christmas is almost here and then a whole new year!

  3. I LOVE all the pictures! It’s amazing how different Howie looks! I bet he would look like a kid if he shaved – I know my hubby does! Mallory is beautiful!!

    Now that you’ve had it at your house, you will be expected to do it every year 😉

  4. Yeah, they just might. Actually, it was a lot of fun and I wouldn’t mind it. If everything had to be “just so” with crystal and china, table set correctly, etc., I would freak. But the family’s casual and it’s not a big bunch of pressure. People bring stuff, too, so it’s not all on us to prepare the entire feast. It’s a good time! 🙂

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