How to be a Pie-oneer…

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I know it’s been a while since the last post, but things have been a little busy here lately. Most of my last couple weeks have involved puttying windows (of which I still have 2 panes to do), staining window trim & ceiling beams, painting ceilings, oiling windowsills…the list goes on. But the bonus is that the homestead is so close to being up and functional!!! I seriously can’t wait to run programs out if it, like yesterdays Wildcard Saturday.

Have you ever looked at that desert and just wished it didn’t have any calories so you didn’t feel so guilty eating it? Me neither. BUUT, for those that do, I think we have come up with a solution, that has actually been a solution before someone ever thought there was a problem to need a solution for! And you don’t actually need any domestic skills what-so-ever!

*cue angels singing*

Cherries are in full swing here right now, and the town is in feasting mode on all the fresh and delicious produce coming out of the ground. Tree fruits, fresh organic veggies, the list is almost endless. I was just out in my garden last night pulling carrots and parsnips. And you pretty much can’t even talk to me in the morning until I’ve had my smoothie made with fresh beet tops from the garden.

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We try to keep it local as much as possible here at the Museum, so when Rylan and I were searching for an activity for yesterday, it dawned on us. Why not jump in on some of this amazing fruit??? We already make ice cream with fresh local cream from Kootenay Alpine Cheese (here is another link to another site too), so why not take it one step further?

We had always planned to make butter for something or other, be it to put on a johnny cake the participants made or even fresh bread from the local bakery (back to that insurance company / wood building / wood stove / fire thing :/ ) but summer is just a time for pies. We love pies. I love pies. So, we would make pies from absolute scratch!

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Pies are pretty pioneery…so we thought lets give it a shot. Except here, we will almost always take the adventurous way. If we are doing pioneery pies, we are really gonna do them.

***WE MADE THE BUTTER TO MAKE THE CRUST TO MAKE THE PIES.***

I have only 3 words.

How. Stinkin. Fun.

Yes…There is just something about getting back to basics…

 

I already consider myself a bit of a foodie and a food snob, and cooking is totally my thing. But baking…well…lets just say I might be a bit too much of a free spirit to follow a recipe most of the time. Which works out amazingly when I’m cooking, but rarely turns out well when I’m baking. BUT. I can do pie crust. What makes this pie so easy is the principle of a pie crust….All it is is a flour to fat ratio! [going by eye & texture is generally how I cook anyways]… so we could easily scale down the batch size without needing a precise recipe, therefore pint size hands could get in on the action -even after they got bored of shaking the jars and handed it off to their parents- and see the whole thing come together. And unlike some other crust recipes you may have seen, you don’t need to deal with delicate balances of ice water. Your moisture is built in by leaving some un-separated buttermilk in your finished butter.

So. Lets get down to brass tacks.

If you have never made butter before, it is quite the experience. Actually it is almost like the stages of grieving really…with just one extra step at the end.

First comes the denial & isolation:

Pffffft…it can’t be that hard! No! Just a little shaking of a jarthat can’t be too bad! I’m GOING to make butter and it’s going to be so fun and t a s t y!! No no, i’m doing ok, I don’t need you to spell me off, I can do it…

 

Then the anger…

WHY! IS! THIS! NOT! WORKING! I’M! SHAKING! IT! LIKE! CRAZY! YOU! RIDICULOUS! CREAM!

 

And bargaining…

I know I said I didn’t need a spell off, but my arms are about to fall off, and I promise I will take it back quickly, I just need a little break, I will share, I really will, and I won’t complain now, if this butter would only butter…

 

Then depression…

 *sigh* I guess I’m just not skilled enough to make butter…I’m such a failure. Look at me, wasting this good cream…I so would of died if I actually had to do this to survive…I should just give up…I don’t even like pie anyway…

 

Acceptance…

 Well…I did get a few clumps on the side…I guess that’s all I’m gonna get…better than nothing I suppose…

 

But then…then you feel the change in the jar… you feel that ‘flump’, instead of the ‘glub’…just as you are positive your arms are going to spontaneously combust… and your hands are no longer capable of gripping anything… and your shoulders are about to drop out of their sockets like when you try to move grandmas super duper moist christmas turkey out of the roaster onto the cutting board…

And you look, and what do you know!!!! There, right before your very eyes, it’s happened.

THE FAT PARTICLES HAVE FINALLY JOINED IN AN ALLEGIANCE CALLED BUTTER!!

 

thus bringing on the final stage…. success.

*cue 5 year old’s make believe transformation brain*

pioneer I’m a pioneer.

 

 

And then you realize you still have to drain the buttermilk and rinse it and the process starts all over again.

 

BUUUUUT lucky for you, this recipe doesn’t need that stage 😉 It actually requires your butter to resemble mayonaise.

Your butter will need to have a little of the buttermilk drained from it, but for the most part, it should be about twice as thick as mayo

The reason we are leaving it like this is because we are using whole wheat flour {since, you know, white flour was such a treat, we’re going for authenticity. oh. and FLAVOUR!}

Leaving the milk in it will help to keep the crust from getting overly dense and blah,

SO! Here we go.

To start, you will need…

*Fresh fruit of your choosing (we did local cherry)

*Honey, Agave Nectar, Maple Syrup or Sugar

*A decent sized, clean mason jar

*1 1/2 to 2 cups of very heavy cream

*Whole wheat flour

*Gelatin (optional)

*Pie Plate (very lightly greased)

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We use the purple one for this, it is 36% milk fat. If you are in another area, look for a local producer who supplies high MF (milk fat) creams. The taste is much cleaner than large name generic creams. But if generic is all you have, go for it. It’s the effort that counts.

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Sorry Ina Garten. I saw a chance and jumped.    I actually love your recipes.

 

There is no special prep needed, simply put the cold cream in the clean mason jar, make sure the lid is tight, and get shakin!!! It could be wise to crank up some music with a killer beat so loud your neighbors begin to question your sanity. Or maybe question further…I don’t know what they think of you…that’s your business, not mine.

If you decide to do a larger batch, and save some for later or make a bigger crust, maybe split it in half and get two people shaking. The more cream you have in your jar, the more difficult it will be & longer it will take.

or go to the local gym and tell people it is a new arm toning workout. or you can hog the killer toning exercise to yourself. your choice. I don’t judge.

But STICK WITH IT!

DO NOT GIVE UP!

IT WILL HAPPEN!

DON’T GET LAZY, AND KEEP SHAKING VIGOROUSLY!!

The more agitation, the better/faster the fat will clump.

Once your cream has turned into a substance resembling really thick mayo and does not leave smears on the side of the jar when you tip it, it moves like ‘the blob’, set it in the fridge for about 15 or so minutes to allow it to settle and firm up a little. I know this part isn’t pioneer, but it will make the butter easier to handle, and your upcoming job much easier. You can pre-heat your oven to 350*F at this time.

After your 15 minutes there should be some liquid around your butter. There are two ways to do this now…

a) You can pour your butter mix into cheese cloth over a bowl and *GENTLY* squeeze out some of the buttermilk

b) You can pour it into a bowl and gently move the butter back from the side of the bowl allowing some space for the buttermilk to fill and pour it off (careful not to spill it)

Remember, like I said earlier, you don’t want to take too much out, the milk in the butter is what is going to keep the crust from getting too hard and blah.

Now comes the experimental mad scientist part. For about a cup of butter, use a normal table spoon (the big spoon in your utensil drawer, not the little one) and scoop about 3- 4 decent scoops into your butter. Mix it in, until it starts to form a recognizable dough. If you need more, add just a little bit at a time. It will turn into chunks, and you should be able to use your hands to meld the clumps together easily without it sticking to you hand. I don’t recommend using a food processor like some say to mix. We are using soft butter, not hard so we don’t need to break it into clumps. That being said, try to keep the handling to a minimum, it will keep your shell from turning gummy when it’s baked. There is no need to chill this dough after mixing either.

From here, you can either choose to cut off clumps and hand flatten it into rustic tart shells, or, you can flour a flat smooth surface and roll it out into a normal pie shell. The full cup and a half should yeild you just enough for a top as well if you like. Mine was a shallow, slightly thicker bottom and a partial top, but the great thing about this crust is it is really flexible, you get to do what you like with it!

From here, it is pie as normal! Mix your washed, cut fruit with the sweetener/spice of your choice to taste (my choice was the brown sugar with a dark variety of cherry, but this would be astounding with maple & cinnamon apple, agave cardamom peach, apricot & honey…) If you prefer to add some gelatin to prevent a super watery filling, follow the directions on the package. If you don’t want to, no worries. This pie will be eaten so fast it won’t have time to get soggy!

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For a super golden crust, brush it with a whipped egg or milk before putting it in the oven, then bake until golden and firm. The time will vary with how thick your crust is and whether you do tarts or a full pie.

So now, there you have it. All that guilt for indulging in a scrumptious chunk of home made pie can dissolve considering everything you burned off in order to make the crust to make the pie! PROBLEM SOLVED!

And lastly, but certainly not least, let us know how yours turned out! Send us pictures on our facebook page with the hashtag #ImAPieoneer (don’t worry, it just links the pie pictures together).

 

Bon Appetite!!