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Archive for the ‘locavore’ Category

Last summer, a friend asked for my recipe for blueberry pie. Technically, it’s my mother’s recipe. Here’s how I make it:

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups of flour
1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
4 oz of neufchâtel/cream cheese
1/4 cup cold water

1 quart of wild blueberries (or more, depending on pie dish depth)
4 tablespoons of Minute tapioca
1 1/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 ounces of milk

DIRECTIONS:

Combine berries with 1 cup of sugar and tapioca in a bowl at least half an hour before baking, preferably 2 hours or so. Set aside.

Preheat over to 425 degree F.

Sift flour into large mixing bowl. Cut butter and neufchâtel into flour in small pieces. Pinch pieces of shortening between fingers until no globs remain. Add cold water, mix until dough comes together but no longer. Split into 2 balls, chill in fridge for 4 hours. (Possible to use immediately if needed but try to plan ahead!)

Dust counter top or big cutting board and a rolling pin with flour. (If you have access to a ceramic rolling pin, chill it prior to baking.) Roll out first ball of dough until it’s 1 inch wider than pie plate diameter on all sides. Fold into half and then once again to transfer into plate, then unfold after moving it over. Press closed any cracks.

Add filling. Roll out the other ball of dough, this time making an oval (for lattice) or circle for closed pie. Slice into 1/2″ strips. Weave into lattice over the pie filling. (If pie top is one piece, make sure to cut 8 1″ slit into it to allow steam to escape.) Press the top and bottom crust together with two fingers to form a wave.

Brush the top of the piece with milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Put pie into over in the middle rack, preferably with a cookie sheet below it to catch any overflow. (If you have a crust protector, put it over the edges.)

Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes. Check to see if blueberries are bubbling. If not, check back periodically every 10 minutes. If crust is browning too fast, reduce heat further to 325.

Let cool for at least a few minutes — filling will be boiling hot and will gel as it cools.

Goes exceptionally well with cold milk, tea or a la mode.

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We brewed beer from the White House’s Honey Porter recipe last October.

The home brewer who kindly offered his home and equipment adapted the recipe slightly but we hewed to its spirit.

The homebrewer I'm working with today adapted the White House thusly.

There was no way to get White House honey so we substituted the product of my friend’s father’s apiary in Maryland and a few ounces of local Virginia honey.

Not @WhiteHouse but it *is* from bees in an apiary from a home owner in Bowie, Maryland. Honey Porter, here we come.

Below, we’re about to remove the grains from the kettle.

Brewing White House beer today. About to remove the grains from the kettle.

Adding malted barley extract to the wort.

Adding malted barley extract to the wort.

Cooling the wort using a clever cold water system, transferring the heat energy through a copper coil and hoses.

Cooling the wort using a clever cold water system, transferring the heat energy through a copper coil and hoses.

Transferring the wort.

Transferring the wort

Hoppy discovery: The beer we brewed using the White House Honey Porter recipe was not only drinkable – it was actually quite good. I pulled my first taste December 8th and I was proud to share it with guests the next day.

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I’ve been appreciating good food since I was born. Before that, even, as my mother’s diet while I was in utero reflects many of the tastes, ingredients and styles that I gravitate towards in dining our or cooking at home.

Alex with rainbow trout

Rainbow trout, fresh as can be

Research into the impact of the food choices of pregnant women has demonstrated the impact of eating fast food, diets lacking in essential amino acids or other nutrients. I know I’m lucky, in that respect. Mom was living on a farm, growing her own vegetables, harvesting fruit from trees and brambles, baking and butchering deer, chicken, geese or blocks of tofu. I’ve benefitted from those choices ever since.

I’m starting this blog because of my experience on that farm and in the years since then. Dreaming up creative combinations of ingredients for meals, often based upon the season, has been a deeply rewarding part of my life. That interest has been aided in no small part aided by the interest and skill of hunters, fishermen, gardeners and talented chefs within my family.  I find myself gathering wild foodstuffs and cooking for friends and family more and more these days.

Reading Michael Pollan‘s The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ and’Animal, Vegetable, Miracle left me quite interested in becoming a more effective locavore and sharing my experiences. The work of  Alice Waters and Eric Schlosser and Pollan in extending the slow food movement has also impacted my culinary worldview. Given that I’d only been posting recipes, reviews and reflections to a personal blog, it seemed only natural to extend my writing efforts here.

I’ll aim for a post a week, more or less, and hope to integrate video into reviews or tutorials. I’m not a professional videographer or developer, so I hope you’ll bear with me as I work out the details of adapting the WordPress platform to foodblogging. I welcome your feedback on the food or writing, suggestions for improvements on either and general comments, both here and on Twitter. You can find me there @epicureanist.

I look forward to this new venture and hope you’ll enjoy a good read — and perhaps a good meal, if my review or recipe helps you arrive at either.

Cheers!

-Alex

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