Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Pie*ography

My pie*ography begins  not with me, or even with a single pie, but with my grandma. Grandma Schmidt was your typical Iowa farm wife. She was a hard worker who knew how to cook delicious comfort food. She never saw herself as a great cook, but anytime we visited we knew we would be filled up with all our favorite foods. And what better way to end a home-cooked meal than a slice of freshly baked apple pie? No doubt, Grandma showed her love through the food she made for us.

It was Grandma Schmidt who first taught me to bake pies, though years of practice has helped me improve my skills. Pie baking connects me to the past. Both to my heritage of simple, humble home cooks, and to a time in the past when pie-baking and home-cooking was a part of every woman's life. It was through these everyday acts that women took care of their families.

Making a pie is not especially difficult, yet it is becoming less common for people to make their own pies from scratch. Isn't it easier to take a perfect-looking pie crust from the freezer or order that beautiful pie from your local bakery? Maybe, and I'm not passing judgment on those who take those routes. However, for me, there's something nostalgic about taking the time out to bake a pie from scratch. I feel it keeps me connected to my roots and is a way I can show love to my family or any guests who come for a piece of pie.

For me, the pie that best tells my pie*ography is my grandma's crumb-top apple pie. It's simple and rustic-nothing fancy, but it's a tried and true recipe that always takes me back. It's like a slice of love on the plate, a reminder of where I came from and a part of my heritage I want to pass on to my own family.

Grandma Schmidt's Crumb-Top Apple Pie
Pie Crust (makes two crusts):
1 1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. lard
1/4 C. Crisco (I use butter flavor)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
5-6 Tbsp. cold water

Mix flour and salt in bowl. Crumble in lard and Crisco. Add baking powder, continue to crumble together. Add water and stir just until combined. Mold into two balls, roll out thin on floured board or counter. (The extra pie crust can be frozen or made into cinnamon sugar "crust cookies".)

4-5 C. apples, peeled, chopped
1/2 C. (generous) sugar
1-3 tsp. cinnamon (to your liking-I use a lot)

Mix apples, sugar, and cinnamon. Place in an uncooked pie crust.

3/4 C. flour
6 Tbsp. butter
1/3 C. sugar

Crumble together and sprinkle on top of fruit filling. Bake pie for 30 min. at 400 degrees. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 30-35 min. until filling is bubbling and topping is golden brown.

I'm linking up to the first Pie*ography Thursday over at Na-Da Farm Life. There you'll find pie*ographies and recipes from other bloggers. You can also pick-up Pie*ography by Jo Packham from your local bookstore or library for more pies.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Possibilities of a Handbuilt Home

Yesterday I brought home a new book from the library and it's gotten me thinking of a whole new kind of projects for my house. Ana White's The Handbuilt Home has plans for thirty-four fun and functional builds for the home.

I first saw one of her plans made up over at Homespun Living. And once I saw the Farmhouse Bed, I fell in love.
Farmhouse Bed Plans

Now I've been introduced to the matching bedside tables.

Farmhouse Bedside Table Plans
But Ana's projects are not limited to bedroom furniture. One stop at and you'll find hundreds of FREE furniture plans for every room of the home. Plus there's a huge collection of show-and-tells from others who have built the pieces. Thankfully I have a handy husband, but I'm hoping to learn some new skills when we undertake a few of these projects this year.

Until then, I'm going to keep dreaming of all the possibilities. Maybe a new buffet?

Planked Wood Sideboard Plans

Dresser with Open Bottom Shelf Plans

Or the perfect sewing and craft table?

Modular Cubby Plans
Craft Table Top Plans

I could go on, but take a little time and check them out for yourself.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Finally Some Snow

A few years ago at this time we were digging out from under two feet of snow. The past few winters, however, we've been hard-pressed for any decent snow. This year the small amounts we have gotten have often been followed by strong winds and frigid temperatures-not the best weather for playing in the snow. Finally we've gotten some measurable snows and have normal temperatures so we had to bundle up and get outside for some snow time.

We tromped around in the yard and I pulled the kids in the sled. They took a few runs down our hills. It's nice to have a slight slope to the yard. It makes the perfect toddler-sized sledding hill.

This was Lillian's first time really getting to play in the snow. She enjoyed walking around and wanted to help Daddy with the shoveling. After a while though, her mittens kept falling off and she had had enough of the snow. Still, she had fun. With more snow and mild temperatures in the forecast, we'll definitely be spending some time outside this week.