Thursday, October 25, 2007

I paused to prepare a pie.

I'm trying really hard to stick to a budget. Food is my (our) downfall, as we always seem to think it's okay to blow the grocery budget, because food, after all, is what makes life worth living. My current method is to do one big shopping trip at payday and then try to coast from there on for 2 weeks with only Kwik Trip milk, bananas and eggs filling in between. It's not going terribly well, but I'm fine tuning it. Anyway, an important part of the plan is using what we buy, not wasting anything. I bought 3 pounds of lovely seedless grapes in 3 colors last payday and then we forgot
about them. Barry found them again this morning, not totally wrecked, but certainly shrivelly and not very appetizing. And I just made them into a pie! It's in the oven right now, smelling wonderful. I got the recipe from one of my 3 favorite cookbooks, Susan G. Purdy's As Easy As Pie. Basically, here's what you do:

1. Wash and stem the grapes and dump them into a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup cider or orange juice (I used cider). Cook them for a few minutes, smashing about half of them so they release more juice. Strain the fruit, reserving the juice. Put the fruit back into the saucepan. Measure out just 1 cup of the juice and add it back to the saucepan.

2. Dissolve 2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch in a mixture of 3 tablespoons cold water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, then add it to the fruit. Then add 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 2 teaspoons lemon zest (I did not have a lemon so I skipped this). Simmer everything together over medium heat until thickened. This did not take long. Set it aside to cool for a few minuts.

3. Prepare a double-crust pie shell. If you're feeling ambitious, make the top crust a lattice crust; if you're in a rush, like I was, just make it a double crust pie. Put the grape filling in the crust, top it with the top crust, flute-seal the edges and brush the whole thing with an egg beaten with a little water, then sprinkle granulated sugar over everything.

4. Bake at 425 for 12 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 for another 25, or however long it takes for your crust to get nice and browned.

It's a very pretty pie, if I may say so myself: Lots of the grapes keep their shape, so if you use 3 different varieties, like I did, you get this pretty mosaic of colors. And the flavor is wonderful.

P.S. If you'd like to know what my other two favorite cookbooks are, they are
Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook and Nikki and David Goldbeck's All American Wholefoods Cuisine. Other top-ranking faves are Helen Witty's Fancy Pantry and New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant.

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