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.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Jeep Rolls Over 200,000 Miles

Our Jeep was bought new the summer of 1993. It's been a great car. It's still going strong. Here my hubby risked life, limb and license to film it rolling over to a whole new row of 000s.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trash Day is Here Again

It's Fall Clean-Up Day, and we have had rain off and on for some time now so everything put out at the curbs got preetty soaked, BUT I still found some goodies:

Some old Lapidary Journal magazines that got damp but may still be useful to somebody, or if not can be recycled; a darling 1950s doll carriage that cleaned up really nice; and this:

A glass oil lamp that I took because it was in good shape. I didn't really need another oil lamp, I just thought I'd clean it up and give it to The Way Station. But the more I looked at it, the more I felt that little "ya got something here" niggle in the back of my brain, and sure enough, it IS "something," a pressed glass oil lamp in a pattern usually called Dewdrop and Petal. They were made starting in the 1880s or so, but mine is a little later, at least 1910, because it has the kind of brass burner that screws on inside the glass rim, not over top. The glass is very heavy, with neat bubbles and a couple of straw marks. It's probably not worth a ton; they're expensive to ship, and that keeps eBay prices fairly low. But I could probably get between $40 and $100 for it with the right marketing. I am going to keep it for awhile, though; it's very pretty, and the heavy glass is hard to tip over.

I may have also found something else this week. Not ready to say anything more yet, but if anything comes of it, of course I'll post.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

New Albin Library Quilt Show 2007

Rushford, Minnesota, was one of the towns hardest hit by the flash flooding that struck our area in late summer. One of their losses was the town's library, which lost most of its collection to flood waters.

New Albin's city library held a benefit quilt show to raise money for Rushford's library, raising over $500 in one weekend. Excellent work.

To take a closer look at any of the quilts, click here to go to the Photobucket album.