Tag Archives: lard

Still Learning in 2010…

Taking the lead from my blogging friends, Todd Pack, Izzie Darling, and Lady Justine, here’s a list of the things I learned this year…if you want to read the full story on any of these lessons, search a keyword or click the appropriate tag in the sidebar:

1. Our dog thinks porcupine poop is dessert.

2. Hope loves Jake enough to share her toothbrush with him.

3. Homemade rolls don’t have to be “pretty” to taste good.

4. Egg cartons are not good containers to start plants indoors in.

5. Dogs love to destroy egg cartons with seedlings in them.

6. Jim’s parents are our biggest supporters.

7. Bleachers are hard things to sit on for more than a couple of hours.

8. I am really out of shape.

9. Seeing a toy from your childhood 40 years later brings you right back to that time in your life.

10. If the winter is mild enough, spinach from last year can survive.

11. Maple vinaigrette makes spinach salad a beautiful thing!

12. There’s no such thing as “too many bird feeders.”

13. Squirrels can do amazing tricks to get to a bird feeder.

14. Some people keep their toilet paper in the breadbox.

15. Mothers-in-law are often right.

16. More people in Saint John knew when the new Costco was opening than were aware of the city’s 225th birthday this year.

17. Rhubarb runs amok if left to grow unchecked.

18. Orthodontists make more per hour than most of us.

19. Sometimes plants get a lot bigger than the seed package says they will…my five-foot sunflowers ended up being seven or eight feet tall!

20. I like portobello mushroom/swiss veggie burgers.

21. Our dog enjoys eating Popsicle sticks.

22. Cosmopolitan was a literary magazine back in the early 1900’s.

23. There is only one kind of hummingbird which frequents New Brunswick: the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.

24. I love Mint Crisp M&M’s.

25. I learned what a “fisher” was, after seeing one cross the road in front of our car.

26. Before you construct a really big birdhouse, figure out where you’re going to put it and how to get it up there!

27. My dad’s a good singer, and I’m not the only one who thinks so!

28. They sell live ladybugs at Home Depot.

29. Right after you purchase twenty tomato plants, the forty you started from seed will rally.

30. Ladybugs aren’t always red with black spots…sometimes they’re brown with cream spots.

31. As long as they’re under warranty, Vogue Optical will replace glasses which have been chewed by a dog!

32. We have a cherry tree, and eight high-bush blueberries I’d never noticed before.

33. “Beaver Tails” are too expensive to buy now.

34. Hope really likes getting muddy.

35. Wallpaper is nearly impossible to find.

36. Hummingbirds are fearless.

37. The Chinese cabbage I planted is not the “head” type.

38. How to make good piecrust…the secret is lard.

39. Some people will ignore a sign that says: “Danger – Do Not Touch.”

40. Deer can be aggressive.

41. Organic broccoli often goes to seed faster than I can harvest it.

42. I love rutabaga!

43. I found out what “purslane” looks like.

44. It’s never a good idea to put a chicken burger into a toaster.

45. I don’t hate all sci-fi…I enjoy “Eureka.”

46. You can purchase a sailboat on the Internet.

47. Ripe canteloupe is not a good lunchbox food.

48. Picking things from the garden in the dark is really difficult.

49. I suck at “Musical Chairs.”

50. The blogging community is full of incredible people…I am so happy to have made their online acquaintances!

I’m looking forward to learning more in 2011!


Filed under blogging, cooking, family, food, gardening, memories, nature, self-discovery

I Owe It All to Pig Fat…

Item #9 on my “bucket list” reads: “Learn to make edible piecrust.” https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/my-bucket-list/  Well, I can cross that off my list, because, wonder of wonders, I actually did it last night, thanks to my friend Eleanor!  She felt sorry for me after reading this post: https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/can-she-make-a-cherry-pie/  The next day, there was an e-mail from Eleanor with a “No-Fail Piecrust Recipe” (my friend, Nancy, said she had one too, but was unable to locate it).  I was skeptical: after (unsuccessfully) attempting to make piecrust many times over the past 35 or so years, I thought I’d successfully caused every “no-fail” recipe to fail…

On our way home from work the other night, I told Jim I was going to try Eleanor’s recipe – I couldn’t remember if we had any lard or not.  Trying to be helpful, he said, “Can’t you just use shortening?” 

My reply was, “Well, ordinarily, that wouldn’t be any problem, if the recipe was for anythng besides piecrust, and it wasn’t me trying to make it…however, I think I’d better follow the recipe exactly, in this case!”

So we stopped at Giant Tiger and picked up two boxes of lard…the recipe only called for one, but I wanted a backup!

I got two boxes for good measure...

We stopped at Jim’s mom’s yesterday afternoon, and I asked her what she put in with her blueberries when she made pie.  She said she’d only made one blueberry one (her specialty is apple), but Jim’s dad had found a couple of recipes on the Internet – some used tapioca, and some used cornstarch with the sugar. 

After supper last night, I pulled out my trusty “Joy of Cooking.”  It’s never steered me wrong (except for piecrust!).  It also gave the tapioca or the cornstarch options.  I went with the cornstarch, being “fresh out” of tapioca (it’s not my favourite thing!).  I was to use 2 tbsp. of cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup of water or fruit juice, and 2/3 to 1 cup of white sugar for every 4 cups of berries.  The berries were supposed to “cogitate” (my word)  in this mixture for at least fifteen minutes before putting them into the pieshells.

This cookbook has been my friend for more than thirty years...

I had enough berries for three pies, which was perfect because the piecrust recipe makes double shells for 3 pies!  I mixed the berries with the sugar and cornstarch mixture, and went off to make the piecrust.  I preheated the oven to 425 degrees (the recipe said 450, but my oven is HOT, and I didn’t want to burn them).

I asked one of my personal photographers (Anna, in this case) to document my pastry-making journey.  I mixed all the ingredients carefully together, using the exact amounts and method given in Eleanor’s recipe.  Not having a pastry cloth (my mom had one), I used some sheets of wax paper to roll out my dough, liberally sprinkling them and my rolling pin with flour first.  Gingerly, I started rolling the little ball of dough…wow!  It didn’t cling for dear life to the rolling pin, or fall apart into a million tiny pieces, or stubbornly refuse to become somewhat oval (all scenarios that I’ve witnessed too many times before in previous attempts).  I hesitated to say it out loud, but thought to myself, very quietly,  “I think this is actually working…”

My first rolling...

My first oval was beautiful…I rolled it carefully up on to the rolling pin, and with only a couple of minor stickings, was able to lower it into the first pie pan.  Ta-da!

Putting first crust into the pan...

First crust successfully in pan...

Trimming off the excess dough...

I did two more crusts, and put them into the pans.  I brought the fruit in, and dumped it into the waiting crusts.

Three pies ready for their top crusts...those are my dad's knees in the background...he was supervising...

Then I made three more ovals for top crusts, some more beautiful than others, but all serviceable.  I laid them on top, and squished the edges together with my thumb (I remembered vaguely that you were supposed to use a little bit of water to seal them, but decided I didn’t want to bother with that).  It was after I had the top crusts on that I remembered that “Joy of Cooking” had suggested dotting the fruit with a tablespoon or two or butter before covering it up…oh, well…my hips would certainly not miss that extra fat!

Pie with top crust on...

Before I put them in the oven, I knew that I should make some holes in the top crust to let steam escape…I might as well do something artsy!

My pretty flower pie...

I even had some pastry left over, so I did what my mom used to do, and made little sugar pies in pot pie pans: a little melted butter, some white sugar, and lots of cinnamon. 

I put all the pies in the oven, setting the pans on cookie sheets in case there was any filling overflow.  They were to be cooked for ten minutes at the higher temperature, and then for 40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

I spent the next hour running back and forth to the oven, checking, rotating pies from top to bottom rack and back, and from left to right side.  Near the end of the cooking time, I realized my folly in not sealing the crusts together with water: there were blueberry rivers running across my preventative cookie sheets (thank goodness I did that – otherwise that goop would have been in my oven burners).  The stuff was burning on the cookie sheets, and smoking like crazy.  I turned the oven fan on to prevent the smoke alarms going off, and pulled the finished pies out of the oven.

Jim and I “tested” one of the sugar pies while the big ones were cooling…the pastry was really good – not too dry, but a little bit flaky.

I’ll be serving the blueberry pies tonight when we have Jim’s parents and his favourite aunt over for supper…I can’t wait to taste them! 

My beautiful finished pie...

For all my piecrust-challenged sisters out there, here is Eleanor’s (courtesy of Canadian Living magazine) recipe:


Lard based pastry- can take a lot of handling, makes a large quantity that can be stored in fridge of freezer.

5 cups all purpose flour or 6 cups pastry flour

1 TBSP salt

1 pound lard

1 egg

1 TBSP vinegar

In a large mixing bowl combine flour and salt, cut lard until mix resembles coarse crumbs.

In a mixing bowl combine egg and vinegar, add enough water to make 1 cup. Gradually pour liquid over flour mixture until dough clings together, press into ball.

Pastry maybe rolled out immediately or wrapped and stored in fridge for 2 weeks, or can be frozen. Makes 6 pie shells or 3 double crusts.



Filed under cooking, family, food, self-discovery