July 19, 2011
Tightwad Gazette III - Day Six July 19th
Here is today's reading from the Tightwad Gazette III. After typing this post, I was hungry for homemade pie. But with the temps in the upper 90's and the heat index at 120 degrees, I am not heating up my oven today.
PAGE 55 – THE PIE CHART
Amy advises that anyone can learn to make a great pie with a little practice. I totally agree with this. Pie crust takes practice but even if the top crust turns out less than “perfect looking”, it will still taste great. Even if you get the bottom shell in the dish and fill it, you can roll out the top crust, cut pieces out of it and lay them on the top of the filling. It works great and looks rustic. Polish it off with a little egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar and in the oven it goes. Give it a try. This rustic way is especially good with a meat casserole filling.
There are two rules to pie crust making: don’t overwork the dough and add ice cold water to the flour mixture. It should be just moist enough to hold it together.
I make several pie crust dough balls at a time. I roll them into a ball and flatten them, wrap in plastic wrap, place in a Ziploc bag and put in the freezer. Then I just have to thaw the crust when I am ready to bake a pie.
Amy keeps a bag in her freezer to deposit the scraps of crust after making a pie. When she accumulates enough dough, she uses it for a quiche.
For my family, I take the scraps and roll them out, spread with butter and cinnamon and sugar and then roll up like a cinnamon roll. Slice the dough and bake for 10 minutes along with the pie.
Amy grows her own pumpkins and butternut squashes and then makes her own pumpkin and squash puree. She freezes this for pies. When she has room in her freezer, she will then set aside a day to bake pumpkin pies. A friend collected aluminum pie tins for her. She bakes the pies, allows them to cool and then she puts them in the freezer, unwrapped until they are frozen. She wraps them in plastic wrap and stacks them on top of each other. Then they just have to be thawed out and warmed in the oven. Fruit pies can be frozen unbaked.
If you can master making pie crust you will then be able to make your family all sorts of pies from items that perhaps some people give you. In our area we have mulberries growing all of the countryside. They taste like a blackberry. These berries make delicious pies (and jams). If anyone asks if I want some, I always take them.
Also, you can take leftover meats with some gravy and some vegetables and pour into a pie crust. Top with a lattice crust and you have a grand leftover supper pie. I use pie crust to make meat tarts out of browned hamburger seasoned with onions and some chopped carrots for a perfect meal for a winter evening.
Remember, when learning any new skill you will have some failures. Take those failures and make them into those little pastry cinnamon rolls for your family and they won’t even think it was a failure. They will love them.
Page 58 – WHAT TO DO WITH . . . .
1. Old baby gates. Use as a drying rack for sweaters that need to dry flat. Simply place the rack over the bathtub.
2. Mustard squeeze containers. Use for cake decorating. The tips can be cut with a sharp knife to make different designs. I have used this idea when I was “filling” cupcakes with a frosting/filling. It worked great.
3. Old T-shirts. Cut into a long strip 2 inches wide. (Start at the bottom and cut around and around into one long piece.) Stretch this so that it curls to make a cord. Crochet into hot mats, doormats and even baskets. Use colored shirts to create designs.
Here is a link with step by step instructions. I am definitely going to try this one. I think it would be a great idea to make a rug to put in front of my kitchen sink. I would have to put a rubber pad underneath to keep it from moving though. This would make a great gift and it is another way to recycle old t-shirts.
4. Holey rubber gloves. Cut into sections. These make great rubber bands which can be custom cut for specific uses. Fingers make small ones, cuffs make large ones.
5. Potato Peelings. Scrub your potatoes well and peel with a knife, trying to get large pieces. Place peels in a bowl and add salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Grease a cookie sheet and place the skins on it. Bake in a hot oven at about 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until done. Remove from oven, sprinkle with grated cheese, then return to the oven just until cheese melts. These sound good without the cheese too.
These were some great "use it up" tips. We need to remind ourselves that we can sometimes be wasteful without thinking. The next time I peel potatoes, I will dig into the potato to get a little more potato on the peel and I will make potato skins for a snack. Of course that will have to wait until we are done with this incredible heat wave. I'm starting to think I live in the Iowa "Sahara" Desert.