February 04, 2015

Pies for a Cause

It's basically no secret around here that I have few natural talents. I can't play any musical instruments, I'll never be writing for a Masters and the whole of my artistic abilities extends as far as the realm of stick figures.  But throw me in a kitchen and I'll make a darn good pie.

This past fall I made 120 pies for a good friend's wedding (60 individual apple pies, 59 individual pumpkin pies and one normal sized apple pie). Pies are my standby when I get the itch... I'm sitting at my desk and I can't seem to focus... I need to bake. Don't tell me you don't have a vice like that (maybe not an itch quite like that though).

10/11/14, Congrats Bri & Bren!
This weekend I will be attending a benefit dinner & dance for a local woman who is in hospital having a bit of a hard time. When a member of our tiny town has a hard time its amazing how the community can band together and help out.

A couple years ago tragedy struck the very same household when Scott's iconic Black Magic van burnt. A vehicle burning might not sound like an incident to some people but for Scott - a paraplegic and VERY active member of the local Kinsmen club and other community organizations - this wasn't just his van, this was his liberty.

On that particular occasion the community came together with a weekend of fundraising where the different community groups hosted different functions (as a member of the Waldhof Wranglers I helped out with a spaghetti dinner), culminating with a dance and a pie auction.

You heard that right, a pie auction.

Now not to toot my own horn here, but my Pecan and Chocolate Pecan Pies fetched in the range of $300 each. Which is why I'm baking this weekend. I'm not a rich person (actually the opposite, I'm still working on paying off my student loans and am going to be talking to my financial advisor on Friday about getting myself a bit more debt... more on that later, hopefully) so I can't really donate money... but I can bake. When I was told there would be an auction (a regular one this time, not pie exclusive) I bought butter. I'll be donating a "lot" of pies (probably 2 - 4... I haven't actually started baking yet) and hopefully since winter is getting chilly and long around here... stomachs will be grumbling.

On that particular occasion the turn out was phenomenal and the pocketbooks open and just shy of $30,000 was raised. So stay tuned, I'll (hopefully remember to) take pictures of the pies and let you know how they do at the auction. If we're really lucky, the locals are feeling hungry as well as generous!

February 01, 2015

Changes in the greenhouse and some baking!

Before I jump right into the changes in the greenhouse, lets get this straight... my bedroom is currently my greenhouse.
Oh come on, who doesn't have a chandelier in their bedroom?
As a girl who doesn't own her own property (yet) but is so dead set on farming, I've got to work with what I've got. So let's take stock of that right now.

I've got: 
  • two windows (south and east facing) with a nifty '80s style ledge under them
  • A bag of potting soil, some seed packets and some self watering pots
  • 2 feet of snow and -32C weather
  • One APHA gelding (more on him soon, promise)
  • Ambition
As soon as the weather warms up enough and the snow disappears (whichever comes first) I'll be out there with a shovel digging up the parent's yard and building myself one heck of a garden.

But today I spent my lazy sunday transplanting some of my plugs and baking!
The end result of taking apart a couple starter plugs.. here's hoping I didn't make the roots too unhappy!!
The spinach is doing really well already! Only 2 seeds didn't want to take off.

The dill is looking a little spindly but it was getting too tall for the starter container.
The catnip was the first to pop up and is still doing pretty decent (but nothing compared to the spinach)
I only took apart one basil plug, I'm going to give the other a little more time in the tray.
So now we're just waiting for that last basil plug and the thyme to get bigger... parsley is still a no show

 So now you've seen the greenhouse and where my plants are sitting at now... on to the baking!

I made two things this lazy Sunday: pie and cookies. The pie(s) were cherry and cherry raspberry, the cookies: peanut butter and peanut butter with peanut butter cups. A little redundancy never hurt anyone, right?

I'd really like to share the recipe for the peanut butter cookies that I made (adapted from chefsavvy.com) because I (and my parents) was really impressed with the way they turned out. They look like little dense nuggets of peanut butter but they're actually really light and soft. Win!

Peanut Butter Cup Peanut Butter Cookies
(makes approx. 50 cookies. go big or go home.)
  • 3/4 cup room temperature margarine (or unsalted butter)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3 whole egg
  • 3 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup mini Reese's peanut butter cups
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add butter, peanut butter and brown sugar to a  bowl (or your stand mixer, I prefer a handheld electric egg beater for cookies, less cleanup!) and beat until well combined (about a minute).
  3. Mix in eggs and vanilla (another thirty seconds-ish).
  4. Combine baking soda and flour in a separate bowl.
  5. With a spatula, hand mix the dry ingredients to the wet until just combined.
  6. Fold in the peanut butter cups (at this point I divided the dough into two and reserved half the batch for peanut butter cup free cookies, but you could just mix it all in if you prefer).
  7. Either use two spoons, wet hands or (my favourite) a 1½ tablespoon cookie scoop to form cookies.
  8. Place cookies on a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
  9. Bake for approximately 13 minutes.
  10. Good luck letting these cool completely before eating them, they make the house smell divine.
And just for fun I'll finish off with a picture of the pies but I won't share the recipe (yet... pie crust recipe is for another day).

Time to bundle up, brave the -30C weather and water some horses!
yes, I was multitasking...