Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mother, Daughter, Sister, Dahlias, Roses

That tiny dahlia is called "Little Scotty".

A few days after the pie social, I flew out to Spokane to see my daughter Gabe and her garden.  And we made big plans to go to Swan Island Dahlias' Open House (in Canby Oregon) as well as a tour of Heirloom Roses (23 miles west in St. Paul OR).  I have ordered from both of these family run businesses for years and I was excited to see the farms up close and personal.  After I arrived in Spokane, Gabe and I immediately set off for Portland OR that very day by car, a six hour journey.  We stayed the night near downtown Portland and spent the next day playing in that fair city until evening.  Then we drove to my sister Dede's, aka Pig Nose's house, where we enjoyed dinner out at a Thai restaurant with her and Brad and then play time with their new Labradoodle puppy, Bourges.
 Salt and Straw Ice Cream - deliriously good!
 Gabe's cute living room.  She knitted that giraffe on the gray chair there.
 We were told we would stand in a long line for a long time but we arrived and there were only three people in the doughnut shop.  Overrated doughnuts - crazy names and flavors (topped with kid's cereal?) but very ordinary tasting - sorry VooDoo!
 Colorful Portland neighborhood
 Now the doughnuts at this shop (Blue Star) across the street from Salt and Straw Ice Cream were phenomenal!  Stuffed with pastry cream - decadent chocolate, tender crumb!
 Salt and Straw.  The Pear Lavender flavor was amazing!

 Portland Rose and Japanese Gardens
 Yep, you can order your dahlia tubers from that website right there.  Every dahlia in my own garden started at Swan Island (oh, except for a few my neighbor down the road gave me - we all have the dark red one of his in our yards in this village it seems).

 Pig Nose, Brad and Bourges
 I painted that flower in blue vase for Dede's birthday last year.  It was nice to see it hanging in her reading corner.
 40 acres of dahlias in full bloom!

 Large rooms were packed with huge bouquets of every dahlia they grow.

 Our passenger buckled in for the ride back to Spokane.
 Lovely farm land near Canby Oregon.  We passed a mint farm and the smell was incredible!!!
 Heirloom Rose farm above and below.

 Gabe teaches a Sunday School class to primary aged children - they were 10-11 year olds I believe.  I sat in too.  She is reading scriptures on her phone - you can't see me or all the kids across from her - it was so fun.
 I slept in that cozy red room in there.
 Sunday dinner - ground turkey burgers topped with mozz, pesto and Gabe's tomatoes.  The burgers cook along with the sweet potatoes we cut up - one sheet pan cooking - so delicious!
 Sunday after church chillin'.
 Gorgeous gardens just a couple blocks from Gabe's house - Manito Park
 I caught Gabe out in her cutting garden early one morning ...

 Pig Nose and Bourges at Swan Island Open House.
 Gabe and Mark threw a Pie Social of their own September 10th - she sent out fancy invites with a wax seal!
 Another view of Gabe's little cutting garden.
Good bye cute cottage in Spokane wherein dwells Gabe, Mark and vases full of zinnias, roses,  and dahlias!  Speaking of dahlias - look at the contrast between the two dahlias below - that's why I love those flowers so much - all shapes, sizes and colors and they keep your garden full of life and color from  early August to frost.
 My Dan Man

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pig Nose And The 2016 Pie Social!

Ten years ago I held my first Pie Social.  I had to skip 2013 because we were moving in to this house and a lot of remodeling was going on.  This year my sister Diedre, or Dede, or more usually called Pig Nose by me (by the way, she calls me Weasel Nose - taunts that used to hurt when we were young but now they are used affectionately), came to experience it and help me have all this fun.   After all, she attended Pie Camp with me a few years ago and she needed to put her pie skills to work.  Since I make around 45 pies from scratch, homemade ice cream, four batches each of homemade brownies and cookies for the event, I am often asked how it all comes together.  Back in the early years when I was working a lot of hours, I made all my crusts on Friday night after work and then I baked my brains out from dawn until after midnight on Saturday.  I don't and can't do that anymore since the number of pies I make has doubled and I need to respect the crust more than I used to.  So, I'll explain the schedule and then a bunch of photos from the wonderfully successful event.

 First, the big shop at BJ's to buy lots of butter, sugar, fruit, chocolate and flour!  And other necessary life things to have on hand.
 Chubbies!  A couple weeks before the pie social, I make the dough "chubbies".  I needed 42 single crusts so I made 21 two crust recipes or 21 chubbies.  The chubby is a slightly flattened disk of dough that I wrap tightly and freeze.  I made the 21 chubbies over two evenings.  The third evening, I made all the graham cracker crusts (freshly pulverized crumbs, sugar and melted butter) and then put them in to single pie serving baggies and in to the freezer.
Graham cracker crusts
Homemade vanilla ice cream - I made 4 gallons of it three weeks before the social. 
 Five days before the event, I put all the frozen chubbies in this cooler that I needed for bottom crusts and I let them soften just enough to roll out.  My hands hurt for a couple days after that marathon rolling of very cold dough.
I came upstairs where Dan was doing his physical therapy exercises to tell him that I wouldn't see him for a few hours because I had 31 crusts to roll out, stack, wrap and freeze.  And I needed a bandana to keep my hair out of my work space.

On Wednesday before the Sunday event, I rolled out the crusts, separated them with wax paper and then stacked them by sixes.  I froze them again.  When it came time to make the fruit and pecan pies on Friday, I pulled out a frozen crust as I was making the filling and then piled in the filling, added the top crust if called for and baked the pie.  The crust would still be nice and cold as it should be so it's flaky when done.  
 Thursday night, Dan, PigNose and I cut up all the fruit.  I mixed the apple and peach fillings up and chilled them.
 Friday, Dede and I prepared and baked all the fruit and pecan pies.  We also baked all the graham cracker crusts and cream pie dough crusts and left them out at room temperature so they would be ready to fill the next day.
 Pig Nose!

 Baked crusts for the cream pies.

 On Saturday morning, my son Heath and his wife Emma came over and with them, we prepared all the cream pies and fresh fruit and cream tarts.  This took just until early afternoon with all of us working together. Then Dan, PigNose and I went to see a movie to decompress.

The next day, Sunday, we went to church as usual and when we came home, we ate a light lunch, and then PigNose went out in to the garden to pick flowers for the tables and I brought all the pies upstairs in to the kitchen and dining room - they had all been down in the cellar in the refrigerators to stay cold.

 This was a fresh blueberry glaze topped cheese cake type filling on a thick walnut graham crust - it was a new recipe to the pie social repertoire.

An hour before the pie social begins, 12 quarts of heavy cream are whipped to frost all of the cream pies and some is set aside in bowls for pie topping on the tables.  While the cream is whipping, sons Dane and Heath, and Emma and Dan are setting up and putting cloths and flowers on the tables outside.  PigNose is heaping platters with flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and brownies.  At five twenty five, the ice cream and ice water goes outside to the tables.  We are ready to eat and socialize!  And it's sunny, low humidity and around 82 degrees.

 The line is forming with early arrivers!  The grass is dry and dead looking from the drought!

An hour and a half later, there is no pie left, not one cookie or brownie, no ice cream, no whipped cream - nothing left - hooray!  Over 200 people leave with bellies full of pie - happiness.
 A couple other tidbits - Dane came home from college for a couple weeks this summer - he was home for the pie social.  Here he is with Heath as they get ready to head to Boston to attend the Temple and then pick Pig Nose up from the airport.
I was thrilled to see Dane's clothes in his drawers he had unpacked from his suitcases - he is still folding his clothes the "joyful" way I taught him back when he started college and after I read the book about joyful tidying - I can't remember the correct title.   After all the hard work of the Pie Social, the following day, PigNose and I and Dan went up to the Lake Winnipesaukee area.  We drove on routes 16 to 153 so she could see several adorable villages like Wakefield and the Effinghams.

 Dan waiting for us while we browse antique shops.

 Thanks for coming and helping sis!