Tag Archives: Pie

Cooking for the hay crew

Came across this column in the Tacoma News Tribune about shortcake suppers.  She talks about her grandmother cooking for the farm crew and it struck a cord in me because I grew up helping my mother put on the big spread for farm workers and cooking for the hay crew happens at our house too!  When I was growing up my dad had 3-4 good farm friends he swapped labor with for things like haying and chopping silage.  Each farmer had a couple pieces of machinery (tractors, mowers, wagons, forage harvesters) and they would share machinery and help each other at crucial times of the year.  The really cool thing is that each farmer did slightly different things – one was a dairy farmer – another raised beef cattle – so their busy times were not at the SAME time!

As my Dad and the other farmers traveled from place to place doing the big, shared work projects like haying and silage, the wives would always put on the big spread for lunch.  In the 70s there wasn’t many arenas where women competed – except in the kitchen.  Title IX was a few years away and most women were relegated to pink collar jobs.  But, in the domestic domain it was full-contact homemaking!  Just like the Amish women at barn-raising events, the tables would be groaning under the weight of baked goods and breads, mashed potatoes, gravy, roast beef…and dessert!  Cobblers, cakes, and PIES!

Now, my Dad was a bit of a joker and he liked to egg people on.  So, when they were having lunch at Charlie’s and Marion was feeding them he would say things like, “Well, you know, at Hank’s last week we had apple and lemon meringue pie!”  Sure enough, the next day Marion would produce, apple, lemon meringue AND cherry (with ice cream!)  It is a wonder they ever got any work done given the amount they ate, but they were also doing hard physical labor and could justify the big meals.

At our house we typically feed the helpers who work with us on hay deliveries.  Sometimes we have 3-4 of them on busy days so dinner is a big, sit down affair.  On Saturday we do a big farm breakfast for everyone who shows up by 8:30 in the morning.  Last week we had eggs, sausage gravy, fried potatoes, toast and jam.  I do this as a carry-over from the tradition when I was growing up.  And the crew is always grateful which provides a reward for the work of cooking for them.  While I don’t have other farm wives to contend with in a contest of pie-baking skills I need to be careful because occasionally a mom will ask “So, what did you feed them this week?” in a my-kid-seems-to-like-your-cooking-a-bit-too-much tone of voice.  But the fact remains, I like to cook for an appreciative audience.  The other night we had one of our former helpers who was home to visit family for the 4th call and say that he was coming over to help us for a couple hours for old time’s sake and the last thing he told my husband was  “….and I will stay for supper!”  Game on!

I Love Summer!

Dinner tonight was amazing – not just because it was ALL from here – but because the flavors were so bright and the food was so fresh!  It was nothing special or fancy – hamburgers, new potatoes with butter, green salad, cucumbers in a bit of white vinegar and grilled zucchini.  It is always challenging to decide what vegetable with dinner during the winter – but during the summer the challenge is deciding which veggie to leave out!   I suppose that is what I love MOST about summer.

The raspberry harvest is winding down.  Tonight I am making a raspberry – yogurt tart from a recipe I found in the “Baking with Julia (Child)” cookbook that I picked up at the St. Vincent de Paul a couple of weeks ago.  Don’t worry – I am not launching into a Julie and Julia thing – but the woman (Julia that is!) was a marvel and we should all be very grateful that she found her muse in food!  The biggest problem with the success of the movie is that now I will NEVER be able to find her classic book at the thrift stores! 

This recipe would be good with any type of berry – and Julia offers that it could also be baked without the berries and served with the berries sprinkled on top.  I am beginning to think that would be a better choice because there is so much moisture in the berries that the pie took forever to bake and the center was rather damp and gooey. 

Raspberry Yogurt Tart

  • 1 – 9′ pie crust
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups plain yogurt (I used greek style that I made the other day)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sifted flour
  • 1 1/2 cup raspberries (blackberries, cherries, strawberrries…you get the idea!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake pie crust until slightly browned.

Meanwhile – beat eggs and sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Add yoghurt and vanilla and stir until blended.  Fold in flour, pour into pie shell, top with berries and turn oven down to 325 degrees.  Bake about 1 hour or until the center of the pie is set. 

Cool before serving

I haven’t been doing much baking this summer but was inspired by my friend Margo and her “52 Weeks of Pies” project.  If she can make pies EVERY week the least that I can do is make ONE pie.  One thing that makes pies quick and easy for me is that I make up a large batch of pie crust mix and put it in a ziplock and toss it in the freezer.  When I need to put out a pie I just dump a couple cups in a bowl, add ice water until it comes together, roll it out and put the filling in.  My pie crust mix is my mom’s recipe and is really simple, but rather old-fashioned. 

Trudy’s Pie Crust

  • 1 box SoftasSilk Cake Flour
  • 1 # lard 
  • 1 Tbsp salt

Blend lard into flour and salt until it resembles corn meal and the fat is the size of small peas.  Will keep for several months in the freezer.  To make a 9″ pie crust use 2 cups of mix and add ice water 2-3 Tbsp at a time until it comes together.  I mix it with a fork until it forms a ball.  Roll out on a floured board.  Do not overwork the dough!  For me this is a never-fail recipe for flakey, tender crust.  I have tried butter crusts with limited success.  But I usually don’t tell people it is made with lard – when you confess to folks that the reason your pie crust is so flakey is because you use lard they look at you like you are also making your own shoes!