Life has been galloping and careening at a more frantic pace than usual and while I have started a number of posts, by the time I get back to them they are already so far out of my focus it always seems more expedient to simply jettison them and start over.
But obviously that isn't working for me so well, so I guess the best thing to do is just to jump in and start babbling about whatever comes to mind.
(Long pause continued...)
(Long pause continued ad infinitum...)
(Tapping foot like a maniac...)
Okay, I got nothin'.
(I wonder what the problem could be?)
Let's see--I do have a project pinned out on blocking mats, stretched across my kitchen table. I can show you that!
This is a fooling-around piece I fished out of my project box and decided to finish, finally. It had kazillions of stray ends to weave in, which was why I was avoiding it. (Avoidance is definitely the theme of this post.)
You could call it a "stash buster" because it's one of those things that's ideal to make with all your bits of leftover yarn. In my case, I used up skein after skein of wool tapestry and crewel-embroidery yarn that I used to grab at thrift shops whenever I found them, something I don't do anymore because I discovered I never seemed to use them. It was also a pretty mindless project, the kind of thing to putter around with while watching television in the evenings. There's no pattern to it, I just started crocheting.
If you don't know how to do the crochet loop stitch, it's amazingly easy and a lot of fun. There are lots of tutorials on youtube; here's one to check out, but if this one doesn't suit you, there are several others you can access. I chose this one because it demonstrates both right and left-handed techniques.
Every now and then I get on a loop stitch kick and then my friends and relatives had better watch out. I sent a loopy hat to a dear friend who is going through chemo right now, and her husband said it looked like she was wearing a shag carpet. Well, at least it was a shag carpet with paillettes (big shiny sequins)! I enjoy threading those onto the ball of yarn before starting and working them into the loops.
I made one for my youngest granddaughter a week or so ago, just "winging it" for size. It turned out to be too small so it's for sale now in my Etsy shop. Besides, little Addy also apparently thought it looked like a shag carpet, because she hurled it unhesitatingly from her head when I attempted to put it on her pretty little noggin.
Ah, well, there's no accounting for those perplexing people who actually have good taste!
Okay, what else can I chatter about?
Let's see... It occurs to me it's Thanksgiving in just a few days. Need a good pie crust recipe? My personal choice is the "Never Fail Pie Crust" recipe which has been around a while. This version is from a cookbook my middle son won at the county fair one year, Cup o' Wheat Magic compiled and awarded by the Washington Association of Wheat Growers.
I was sure glad when I found it because it's much easier to work with and more forgiving than standard pie pastry, because it never comes out too dry and it can't be overworked. (The more you handle traditional pie pastry, the more likely it is to become tough.) You can't go far wrong with this recipe and the beauty of it is that it makes a big batch so you can mix it up and freeze the extra dough to pull out and use later on. In my case, that means I maybe make this twice in the course of a year, which does nicely because I don't make pies that often--mostly Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, except for lovely meat-and-vegetable pot pies which I make more frequently.
Anyway, here's the recipe:
Never Fail Pie Crust
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pound lard (Yes, LARD!)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon vinegar
In a large mixing bowl, blend flour, baking powder, salt, sugar. Add lard and blend (I use an old-fashioned pastry blender) until you have a crumbly mixture. Now put your beaten egg and vinegar into a 1-cup measuring cup and fill with water (you're making one full cup of liquid). Add to the flour mixture and blend well.
This makes 7-8 single crusts. What you don't use right away can be refrigerated for a few days or--my preference--frozen for future use. Divide the dough into portions and wrap individually with plastic wrap and then store them in a freezer bag. Thaw them and roll out.
To make a baked crust for cream pies, etc., my recipe says vaguely "bake at 350-400 degrees for 8-12 minutes or until light brown." Somehow I've never gotten around to making a more precise notation so you're on your own there. (Any good cookbook is scrawled up with penciled-in notes, in my opinion.)
Anyway, this is a delicious, crumbly pie crust and, unless you're adamantly opposed to lard for religious or health reasons, I'm sure you'll be hooked once you try it. Lard is the true secret to glorious pie pastry, I am convinced.
As to its ease of handling, I share with you a few photos of my five-year-old granddaughter rolling out and making her very first pie this past week. (I let her cheat and use canned filling!) The little pie was a rip-roaring success and I was suitably proud of how quickly and easily she took to fluting the crust around the edges. Poke and pinch, poke and pinch! (On the back of the mat you can see the blobs of dough I laid aside to wrap and freeze.)
P.S. With Thanksgiving in view, if you're up to plowing through old posts, feel free to check out the gravy-making tutorial which you'll find, in two parts, here, plus general Thanksgiving horror stories in the third post: