July 21, 2011

Pie Crust, Face Wash and Corn

First of all, it is raining! It is absolutely pouring and after a heat wave that has had a heat index of up to 128 degrees here in Iowa, it is so wonderful to see rain fall from the sky. I sat on the back porch for a while and I watched the birds flying through the rain. It is such a wonderful sight.

Today I am going to share three recipes for pie crust. The first is my mom’s no fail recipe.

Never Fail Pie Crust

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
5 ½ tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until it resembles coarse crumbs. Mix together egg, water and vinegar. Pour into flour all at once and blend with a fork until dough forms a ball. Do not over mix. Wrap with plastic and chill in refrigerator. Use as directed in recipe.

Pie Crust Recipe 2

3 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
About ½ cup ice water

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in shortening until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add water. (When adding water to any recipe I don’t just dump it in. I pour it in slowly while I am stirring the dough with the fork. Sometimes you don’t need as much as you think.) Stir til mixed and form a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill in refrigerator.  Use as directed in recipe.  The key to a good pie crust is not to work the dough too much as this will toughen the crust.  

If you have never made a pie crust, you need to try it.  It may take a few attempts, but once you have mastered this, you will be able to turn out all kinds of pies.  Pie making is becoming a lost art these days.

No Roll Pie Crust

1 cup flour
½ cup margarine, softened
1 tablespoon sugar

Cut ingredients together. Pat into a 9 inch pie plate. Fill with filling and bake.

Now on to my face wash or soft soap recipe. As I get older I have taken on a more basic regimen as to my skin. Over the past few months I have become more and more disappointed with face washes. My skin never felt good. So I thought it was time to make my own.

I decided to use what grandma used and that was “Kirk’s Original CoCo Castile Soap.” It is a pure coconut oil soap and it doesn’t leave residue on the skin. Coconut oil is very moisturizing too. I am able to purchase it at a local grocery store for 99 cents a bar.  Dove bar soap is a great option also.

So I made a soft soap out of the bar and I had so much of it that I had to put the bulk of it in an old spaghetti sauce jar and the other is on a small dish detergent bottle.

Here is the “recipe” and my modifications.

Grate some soap bars and add 3 cups soap flakes to a bowl. Set it aside. Boil a pot of water and pour 3 cups over the soap flakes. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flakes are dissolved in the water. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and continue to mix all of the ingredients with a wooden spoon. Pour into containers and soap is ready to use after it has cooled.

I modified the recipe by using a stick blender to the melted concoction (after the olive oil has been added) and I emulsified it as the soap flakes didn’t totally melt and mix with the water. It turned out very, very creamy but still a little too thick for my personal preference so I added a little more boiling hot water until it was the perfect consistency.

I made this at the end of June and I can’t remember how many soap flakes I got from the one bar of soap. I think it was 1 ½ cups of flakes came from 1 bar of soap so I simply halved the recipe.

I use this for my face wash and I love it. I hate using a bar of soap to wash my hands or face as the bar gets a little messy over time. This recipe, especially when emulsified, makes a lot of “face wash” or “soft soap” and it will last a much longer time than simply using a bar of soap.

Using this also as a hand soap keeps your hands soft than a harsher store bought soft soap.

Now as to corn.

Corn is in a lot of food products and most of this is in the ingredient high fructose corn syrup. However, other corn products that we use quite a bit are cornmeal, grits, frozen corn and canned corn and, especially here in Iowa, gasoline with an ethanol blend. Here’s the problem, due to the floods and droughts, the corn crops have not been very good. This means higher prices for corn products for us and feed products for animals. Higher feed prices once again means higher prices for meat.

Perhaps to offset this is that many farmers have been selling off their animals early due to the severe heat. So, it may be that meat prices may or may not go up. It’s hard to say. But for now, let’s look at corn.

Cornmeal is something that I love to have as part of my pantry. Aside from cornbread it is good for breakfast as fried cornmeal mush and I also use it in some multi grain bread recipes. Cornmeal is a good food. I’m not sure how much we will be paying for cornmeal in the future, but I am not willing to take that gamble.

I purchased cornmeal on sale at Wal-mart recently and I froze it for 24 hours and then I have it in a container with bay leaves to keep any bugs away.

I was able to purchase about 18 cans of corn a couple of weeks ago for only 29 cents each. I like having canned or frozen corn on hand for casseroles and soups and I know that 29 cents is an incredibly low price that I may never see again.

Keeping my pantry stocked with basic foods that I can use in numerous ways is a priority for me. Storing them properly is equally important so no matter what, only buy what you can use in a reasonable amount of time. I have plenty of flour on hand – probably around 100 lbs. Yes, I know that is a lot of flour, but I do a lot of baking and I give a lot of my baked goods away. 50 lbs. of that flour was found on clearance at Wal-mart when they were having a clearance sale on their huge containers of food. I was able to buy 25 lb. bags of flour for only $5.00.

For some individuals having and maintaining a large stockpile of food is overwhelming. I understand that. If that is true for you I highly recommend at least maintaining a good quantity of basic baking items such as flour, sugars, cornmeal, oatmeal and other grains. You will save money and you will only concentrate on this area of your pantry.

Tomorrow we will look at some more tips from the Tightwad Gazette III.


HDNelson said...

This is a great post! Two questions, though...

1. Do you think I could use a food processor or other electric appliance to mix the crust? Would it work as well?

2. Where do you find the castile soap in town?


Martha said...

1. I think if you are careful and just pulse it, you should be okay. Be careful as there is a danger of over mixing. I prefer to use a pastry blender.

2. I found my soap at Hy-Vee back in March.

Debs said...

Thanks for the recipes, I shall have fun trying them out. Any favourite fillings? Sweet or savoury...

Debs said...

Still haven't got around to making pie, but I'm hoping tomorrow... but i remembered a question I had for you... what quantity of crust will these recipes make? If I wanted top and bottom crust would I need to make double quantity?

Martha said...

@Debs: The first two recipes makes at least 2 crusts and perhaps 3. It depends on the size of your pie plate. So you can definitely count on 2 crusts and some of those great pastry cinnamon rolls.

As to the 3rd recipe - I really can't remember. I want to say at least one and a couple of tarts. We used the recipe for pumpkin pie on several occasions and we never made more than just 1 pie.

Debs said...

Thanks Martha, I really appreciate your help. I'll let you know how my pie turns out!

Debs said...

I'm finally making apple and blackberry pie today! I'll let you know how it turns out :)

Debs said...

Pie went really well. I've got a couple of savoury 'recipes' to try out soon. I say recipes because it's more a bit of this and a bit of that!

Paula said...

When I was a young bride the thing that finally made the difference for me on successfully making pie crust was using a pastry cloth, and a stockinette rolling pin cover, both floured, to roll out the crust.