ANNNND, now it’s almost Christmas. How the heck did that happen!? I know the theme of my last few posts have been “WHOA, whoa, whoa! Where did the time go!?!” But that’s really how I feel! It’s been a good year and I’m trying to relax and enjoy my holiday travels but I can’t help but feel a little flustered.
I just arrived to my hometown of Jacksonville, North Carolina after visiting friends in Philadelphia and Raleigh. It’s been a great trip so far and I feel grateful to be able to spend this time with friends and family. At this point I realize I’m not going to get much done for the rest of month, so I’m trying to plan for next year. In the new year, I’m hoping to manage my time more carefully, so I can accomplish more and not feel like time is my enemy. I’m even going to try this new thing, where I wake up early.
Anyways, I know I’m not the only one who finds the end of the year stressful. For those of you who need some serious comfort food, try this chicken pot pie recipe. It’s warm, flavorful, and really hits the spot on a chilly night.
I hope everyone who is traveling has a safe and lovely trip. To all my fellow end-of-year stress puppies, hang in there and have some pie.
We are officially in the throes of the holiday season and I simply can’t believe it. Illustrated Bites is almost one year old and 2011 is nearly over. As someone who is trying to get an illustration career off the ground while juggling two part time job and trying to maintain a healthy work/life balance, this blazing passage of time is giving me a bit of a panic attack. I just wish I didn’t need to sleep! Not to worry though, things seem to slowly be coming together, and I’m learning patience and celebrating small steps forward.
This last month of 2011 will be an exciting one. I’m looking forward to some big changes in 2012. One exciting change is that my lovely and talented sister, Christina, just moved here for a new job at Chronicle Books. We’re from North Carolina and for the past two and a half years, I’ve been living in the Bay Area while the rest of my family was still in NC. Now that my sister is here, San Francisco is going to feel a lot more like home.
If you’ve happened to notice that I haven’t posted in a few weeks, it’s because I’ve been busy spending the evenings catching up with my little sister. Oh yeah, Thanksgiving happened too. Just because there hasn’t been a new post in awhile doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. Just the opposite really; I’ve been cooking so much I haven’t had time to illustrate and write about it! Christina is quite the cook herself and we’ve whipped up many tasty dinners and desserts over the past 2 weeks.
One of my favorite things we made so far is apple pie. It’s a simple and seasonal dessert that was quick to make once we spread the work between the two of us. I made the crust and Christina handled the filling. Get a pint of vanilla ice cream and you’re in for a serious treat.
As much as I hate to admit it, autumn is here. I realize that for most of the country, this summer was a particularly hot one and the cool weather is a relief. But here in the Bay Area, we hardly got a taste of summer. It’s not that I dislike fall, but I really miss the warm weather of the south. The weather here was foggy and cool June through September and the promised indian summer never came. Now, the rains have returned, which ends any hope of warm weather.
Since there’s no use fighting it, I decided to embrace the autumn weather by making my favorite seasonal dessert, pumpkin pie. If anything is going to get me exited about the fall, it’s pumpkin dishes. There’s something about the earthy sweetness of pumpkin that is just so comforting.
Before I get to the pie recipe, I wanted to share a few other things I’ve been working on and some ideas for the blog. I’ve been quite busy lately with sign painting, screen printing, and illustrating. I recently finished up my end an exciting project with Justin “Scrappers” Morrison for the Maui Time. I’ll share more when the project is finished and in print but for now, here’s a little peek:
Also, as some of you may know, I work as a sign painter in San Francisco at New Bohemia Signs. I’ve wanted to incorporate more sign painting into Illustrated Bites for a long time. My new and exciting plan for doing that is to create food-related signs and do occasional give-aways here on the blog. In conjunction with that I’ll also be selling some signs online. This new project was inspired by a sign I recently painted for my lovely friend, Emily.
So, yeah…I made a pumpkin pie AND it was awesome. I will admit that this pie was pretty labor intensive because I made it completely from scratch but it’s TOTALLY worth it. The good news is that this recipe made enough filling for a second pie, so it’s sort of a two for one deal. My sweetie’s folks were in town and his mom helped me though the process, which made a world of difference in the workload (Thanks Nancy!) I highly recommend getting someone to lend a hand when you make this.
Step one: Pick up a pumpkin. I used a sweet pie pumpkin I bought at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market. Slice the pumpkin into wedges and scrape out the guts. Use a paring knife to cut the flesh away from the rind. Don’t worry if you leave some flesh on the rind, it’s pretty hard to get it all.
Step two: Steam the pumpkin. Put all the pumpkin flesh in a pot with about a half a cup of water. Turn the heat to medium and cover.
Step three: While the pumpkin is steaming, make the pie crust. It’s easiest if you have a food processor.
Step four: While the dough is in the freezer, puree the the steamed pumpkin. The pumpkin should be steamed until it’s soft, and easily punctured with a fork. Puree throughly, until there are no lumps. It will be easiest to do this in small batches.
Step five: Take the dough out of the freezer and sprinkle the countertop with flour. Unwrap the dough and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough with light pressure from the center out. Add flour as needed.
Step six: When the dough is about 10 inches in diameter transfer it to your pie plate. Press into the plate and tuck the excess edges into itself and pinch for the crust. Return to the freezer while the oven preheats.
Step seven: Preheat to 425 Degrees F. Find something to weigh down the crust while it bakes. I used a cast iron skillet but you could use tinfoil and a pile of dried beans or rice. Anything that will lie flat. Just make sure to butter the side that will be in contact with the pie crust.
Step eight: Puncture the bottom of the crust with the fork and put the weight on the crust. Bake for 12 minutes. Then take it out of the oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees F then carefully remove the weight and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Step nine: Beat the eggs with the sugar, then add the spices and salt. Mix in the pumpkin and the milk. Warm this mixture in a sauce pan over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Get it hot but not boiling.
Step ten: Pour the mixture into the the crust and bake for 30-40 minutes until mixture shakes but is still moist. Cool on a rack and serve at room temperature.
Extra credit: Homemade Whipped Cream
I told you this was an intense recipe!
Whip the cream with a whisk until peaks form. Again, this is much easier with a partner to take turns with. When the cream is stiff, fold in the vanilla and powdered sugar. Viola! Whipped cream.
Phew, that’s a monster. Anyways, you’ll feel great once it’s done and it’s so delicious you’ll forget it took like, three hours. If you’re like me, as it cools down and the winter rains start, you’ll look for any excuse to spend an afternoon in a warm kitchen. I hope you enjoy. Please let me know if you tackle this beast, I want to hear all about it!
I’ve been on a pie-baking kick lately and I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with different fillings for savory pies. This recipe is my most recent (and successful) incarnation of a savory vegetable and cheese pie. It turned out so well, I had to share it with you. Savory pies make a great main course or a killer side dish. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days and I enjoy the leftovers with a fried egg for breakfast. You’ll probably find it doesn’t stick around that long though; this is one of my boyfriend’s favorites and he usually makes short work of it. (I have to specifically ask him to save me some!)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Assembling the Pie:
Bake for 50 minutes to one hour.