Holiday foods: There’s sharing, and then there’s sharing

If you know me well, you probably know that holidays are food rituals for me. Thanksgiving is turkey and stuffing and pie; Easter is bunny bread (bunny refers to the shape, not the ingredients); St. Patrick’s Day is corned beef; New Year’s Day is lentil soup. Then there’s the mother of all food rituals: Christmas. Continue reading

Pecan pie – and a lesson in making pie crust

pecan-pieThis post is for my friend Al, who asked me months ago for my pecan pie recipe and has waited ever so patiently even though it’s now less than a week before Thanksgiving. Not only have you earned the pie recipe; you’ve also earned the pie crust recipe and secret. In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, this also is for all my friends who think pie crust is hard to make and are amazed that I make mine from scratch.

Continue reading

Happy Pi Day!

Celebrating All-American Pie and the Election of the First Pope from the Americas

Tarta Pascualina

Argentinian Tarta Pascualina

Remember when I said a couple of weeks ago that my family had a Japanese exchange student coming to stay with us? Well, Sumika is here, and her visit happens to have coincided with some special occasions that have been a lot of fun. Her first Monday in Chicago was Casimir Pulaski Day, an Illinois state holiday celebrating a Polish-born Revolutionary War hero. You really can’t get much more Chicago than that. But maybe you can. Because the day before she leaves will be the day of Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, when the city dyes the Chicago River green – so we’re hoping to take her to see that.

But that’s all in the past and in the future. In the present, we have an international celebration, Pi Day, when we honor the mathematical concept Pi – which in my home (because everyone in it really is a geek at heart) is celebrated with the baking and eating of pie. And since pie seems to me a very American food, I’m thrilled to be celebrating Pi Day with Sumika as well. Continue reading

Cranberry Nut Muffins

I have no idea what happened to my cranberry muffin recipe. Certainly, I have made cranberry muffins, and my personal cookbook (you know; the one where you collate hand-written recipes that you have collected over time?) contains two of them, including one that is clearly labeled “Mom’s Cranberry Nut Bread.” But neither of them looks right to me.

So when I opened the cookbook this weekend after buying cranberries, I found myself at a loss for what to do. Continue reading

Challenge Yourself!

Thanksgiving makes me think of pie. Actually, it makes me bake pie. I’m the baker in my family, and Thanksgiving is when I’m really called for duty. This is because I have all of my mother’s pie recipes, plus one that I made up myself with inspiration from my mother’s “Mystery Jelly” recipe (yep, that’s what she called it). Also, I have my mother’s pie crust recipe. I’ll tell you the secret later. In any case, I have become the pie baker. (Right now, the first of at least four Thanksgiving pies is in the oven: pecan. Pumpkin and fruit pies yet to come).

pumpkin pie

The pie I didn't enter (a little too brown on the top)

So I’m thinking about pie. And believe it or not, that is making me think about bravery. Here’s why: Continue reading