Friday, October 28, 2011

Dad Blogs!: Grandma Good's Green Tomato Pie

My dad continues his campaign to be a regular Nothing-in-the-House contributor. He's been pestering me to post this, and I think the third time might be a charm...

Green tomato pie out on the porch

With the cool autumn days and even cooler nights in force here in northern Indiana, it became apparent that the dozens of green tomatoes left on the vine weren't going to ripen. While this might cause some folks sadness, I was thrilled because I could use them to make one of my favorite fall foods, green tomato pie.

I learned about this pie a few years ago when one of my employees came in on Monday and related that she had spent the weekend with her grandmother canning and making pies. Being a lover of all pies,  I inquired what kind of pies they made and green tomato was one that she mentioned.

When I told her that I had never even heard of a green tomato pie, she told me it was a traditional Mennonite recipe and she would bring me one the next day. I wasn't sure what to expect but I absolutely loved it!  I asked her for the recipe and now I make it regularly.

Here is her grandmother's recipe.  The woman who worked for me's last name was Good and she called her grandmother Grandma Good so I call this Grandma Good's recipe.
Grandma Good's Green Tomato Pie

2 cups chopped apples
1 1/2 cups chopped green tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon each cloves, nutmeg, allspice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup cooked raisins
1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice (I used vinegar)
1/4 cup nuts optional
1 cup sugar (1/2 brown 1/2 white) or 1/3 brown, 1/3 white, 1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup flour

Make crust and refrigerate for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients and combine (I used the 1/3 cup white and brown sugar and molasses combination). Roll out bottom crust and fit in a greased and floured pie pan. Add filling and top with a top crust. Flute edges, brush on an egg wash, and bake for 10 minutes at 425. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 35-40 minutes more until crust is golden brown.
I also made a small pie without using any apples, just substituted more green tomatoes for the apples and it was just as good.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pie and National Succcess

An article from a 1902 issue of the New York Times on the connection between pie and national success, claiming "no pie-eating people can ever be permanently vanquished." Though misguided and rather imperialistic, which is unsurprising considering the era, I do wonder if it was originally intended to be in jest? I particularly like the last paragraph on pie and seasonality-- "mince pie season" in winter "the joyous custard" of spring, "lip-painting berry pies" of summer and the "golden glory of royal the pumpkin pie" in the fall. That's a connection I can get behind.

 Thanks to Gina for posting. Read more here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vintage Deep South Peanut Pie Ad (Creepy)

I stumbled across the vintage deep south peanut pie recipe/advertisement for Karo syrup on boing boing, and it was too creepy not to post.

"Here's a dessert to make even your deepest-dyed Yankee start complimenting you with a Southern accent. It's right from Dixie... and down thataway (where peanut pie was born!)..."

Not sure if that "down thataway" is a reference to what's behind that chippendale baby's hat, but that would make it even more disturbing. I did make a North Carolina peanut pie once-- a nice sweet/savory combination. But might be scared to try the recipe in this ad, for fear of conjuring that naked "deep south" pie imp in my kitchen...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Apple A Day

Do you remember my friend Emily's awesome "pie kills cupcake" illustrations? Well here's another pie-related drawing she did as part of her adorable "North Carolina State Fair Illustrated" series for the Independent Weekly.
So cute! I'm not sure if a deep fried candy apple would really keep the doctor away, but I am willing to test it out...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Vintage Pie Birds

Vintage classic pie birds c. 1960
 Pie birds (or funnels) are small figurines, generally in the shape of a bird, but not always (see below), inserted into the middle of a double crust pie to let out steam and prevent spillage.  Some models also assist in supporting the pie crust so it does not collapse in the middle. According to this story in Country Living, pie "birds"/funnels first appeared in England at the turn of the 19th century, in various forms. They didn't take on the shape of birds, however, until the 1930s in the United States, with the nursery rhyme, "Sing A Song of Sixpence" (4 and 20 blackbirds baked into a pie) serving as inspiration.

I tend to feel that I don't need a pie some cases you want to keep the steam inside the pie, to help cook your fruit (with an apple pie, for instance).  But they are an interesting piece of material culture as well as a collector's item. Apparently they were more necessary in the past, as older ovens did not bake as uniformly as modern versions.

Here are a few of my favorite vintage and modern pie birds, sourced from that Country Living Article and Ebay (where there are many to be found). See a classic modern pie bird (and nothing-in-the-house mascot) at right. 

Stuart Bass pie goat with pie (very meta and makes me wonder why his pie doesn't have a pie bird?!)

British pie funnel c. 1909, its divider allows you to bake two different flavors in one pie

 Pie fruits, made in Taiwan c. 1960

By Camark Pottery Company (missing 3 from a 10 piece set) c. 1940s--to match your Fiestaware

Would love to see some of our readers' pie birds, if anyone has a collection...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dad Blogs Again!: Betty's Pies

I think my dad is secretly aspiring to become a regular nothing-in-the-house contributor. I suppose that wouldn't be the worst thing... Here's his post from his visit to Betty's Pies after a canoe trip in the Minnesota Boundary Waters.

We exited the Boundary Waters Canoe Area at 4:00pm after a long hard day of paddling and portaging in the cold and rain. After loading our gear and canoes we took a welcome hot shower (our first in 7 days) and headed south in the van toward Duluth and then home to Indiana. About 2 hours south of Grand Marais, in the town of Two Harbors, Minnesota, we spotted a lighted sign calling out to us like a lighthouse to a ship lost at sea.

 It was Betty's Pies, an institution in Two Harbors for over 50 years. I'd passed by Betty's every one of the 20 or so times I'd gone to the Boundary Waters, but this time I was compelled to stop. The thought of homemade pie after our difficult canoe trip was just too enticing.

The staff was very friendly as they showed me the list of pies of the day. The person behind the counter also told me that they had several other  pies not listed that had just come out of the oven and were too warm to cut but I could purchase a whole pie if I wanted.

Kwitchurbeliakin! I believe that's a German word?

I decided upon the Bumbleberry Pie, the name they gave to their combination of blueberry, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry.

The pie was delicious! I think Betty's will now be a requisite stop after my next Boundary Waters trip.

I must say, I am curious about two things...1) Betty's pasties, and 2) Betty's crust, but I guess we'll have to wait for another dad post for that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Montgomery Place Orchards

I spent this past weekend at one of my favorite places in the world for my friends Marina and Louis' wedding at Rokeby in the Hudson River Valley (HRV) of New York. Whenever I'm there, we almost always stop at the Montgomery Place Orchard farm stand for some of Doug and Talea's fresh apples, pears, berries, veggies and more, and more often then not, I bake a pie (or six) from what I find there.

The stand holds an annual pie contest, this year on October 15-- next weekend! My visit has never coincided with the contest, but someday I hope to enter.

One of the best things about Montgomery Place Orchards is that they grow and sell my favorite baking apple-- the Northern Spy. When I was growing up we used to get them at Eberly's Orchard in North Liberty, IN, though they only had one tree left, as Spies are difficult to grow and aren't cosmetically perfect. They seemed to have made a comeback, though, among heirloom growers, and pie bakers are thankful for it.

I also like to pick up a jar of Doug and Talea's delicious farm-pressed "Annandale Atomic Hard Cider". It's the perfect thing to sip as you roll out dough, slice apples, and flute crusts.

This visit I made 6 pies/tarts for the wedding...2 apple-ginger double crust pies, 3 apple tarts with homemade apple butter, and one pear tarte tatin. Stay tuned for wedding pie pics...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Savory Apple Tart with Caramelized Onions, Gruyere, and Sage

With all the sweet treats on the Tarts by Tarts at Crafty Bastards menu, we thought it might be wise to offer something savory as well. We had a surplus of apples from an apple-picking excursion the weekend prior, so I opted for a sheet/galette-style savory apple tart with caramelized onions, gruyere, and sage. Here's the recipe I used, adapted from Heart of Light.

Savory Apple Tart with Caramelized Onions, Gruyere, and Sage

Nothing-in-the-house pie crust recipe (for a double-crust pie)
3-4 baking apples, cored, partially peeled, and very thinly sliced
2-3 onions, sliced thinly
1-2 Tblsp. olive oil
pinch of sea salt
pinch of pepper
1 tsp. fresh sage, finely chopped
1/2 c. gruyere, shredded
1 egg, beaten

Make crust and refrigerate for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Caramelize onions (
I used Mark Bittman's technique) adding pinch of salt, pepper, and the 1tsp. of fresh chopped sage. While the onions are cooking, core, peel and slice apples. Toss slices with the caramelized onions and set aside.

Roll out dough onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dough can be thick (about 1/8 in.). Spread the apples and onions on crust and sprinkle with shredded gruyere. Fold edges of pie crust over filling to form a rim. Crimp decoratively and brush with an egg wash.

Bake tart for approximately 45 minutes or until pastry is golden and cheese is melted.

We cut ours into approximately 9 slices which we sold and sampled! Though at Crafty Bastards we had to serve the slices cold, this would be best eaten warm with a cold, dark beer on a crisp October night.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Weird Pies & Strange Pasties

Weird pies, strange pasties, rock cakes and love buns?! I think Bill Carter may be a man after my own heart! I did a little Google sleuthing about the photo; apparently it was taken in Katharine, in the Northern Territory of Australia by Margaret Kirk in 1936. I found this other view of the shed, but still searching for more about Carter--let me know if you know or find anything.  Photo sent to me by my friend Valeda.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Tarts by Tarts Starts!

This past Satuday, after baking all day Friday, 2 hours of sleep, and getting up at 4am to fry doughnuts, my friend Kari and I took to D.C.'s Crafty Bastards Food Market for the debut of Tarts by Tarts! We set up our stand with ticking and tablecloth, a pennant flag, homemade stamped business cards, baskets, wooden library boxes and Kari's genius "doughnut suitcase"; despite the dreary day, I must say that it looked pretty cute.

We opened for business at 10am and had a steady stream of customers, many of them after our hot mulled cider with a doughnut hole-on-a-stir-stick (it was cold) and our other breakfast-y treats. By 11am business had really picked up, and we were slammed for 2 hours straight, with a constant line of friendly folks who had lots of nice things to say about our goods.

Here's what we offered:  

Tarts by Tarts at Crafty Bastards  
Hot mulled cider with a doughnut hole 
Dulce de leche filled yeast doughnuts 
Apple cider donuts 
Glazed buttermilk cake donuts (vanilla and chocolate) 
Pumpkin whoopie pies with maple cream cheese filling 
Molasses gingerbread (slices) 
Double chocolate rads (cookies) 
Vegan iced oatmeal cookies 
Savory apple tart with carmelized onions, gruyere and sage (recipe to be posted soon!) 
Plum hazelnut tartlets 
Apple tartlets with homemade apple butter 
Honey walnut tartlets


By 2pm we had completely sold out (though in the last fifteen minutes we had a "name your price" deal to clear our few remaining cookies and pumpkin whoopie pies. Though it would have been nice to stick around and talk to more people, we were thankful to get out a little early, as we were freezing, rain-drenched, and exhausted. All-in-all our first outing as Tarts by Tarts was quite the success! We sold out and even made a little bit of money, which exceeded our goals and was encouraging as we had no idea what to expect from Crafty Bastard's first Crafty Food Market.


Kari and I would like to extend a special thanks to all those friends who helped make this possible--everyone who lent a table or a tent, a thermos, or the use of a van, stopped by to say hi and buy, helped us set-up, tear down, as well as those who kept us going while baking by offering jokes,  late-night grocery-run accompaniment, and encouragement. I'd also like to thank Kari for being an awesome baking partner and sharing all her baked goods sale expertise! Looking forward to doing it again soon. Stay updated on future Tarts by Tarts adventures on our blog here: