This evening began in a fun way with a short trip out to Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary. We were greeted enthusiastically by the dogs and then had welcome after welcome crowed to us by the roosters. It’s a great feeling to hear someone crowing for you! We discussed some plans for a future project with Christine, a member of the staff at Harvest Home. After spending a little quality time with some chickens and a few goats, we headed home.
We’ll be back at Harvest Home before the end of the month. I’ll tell you more about it then. It’s a great little animal sanctuary and we’re honored to be a part of what they do for the animals who call it home.
After last night’s pot pies, I decided it was time to make some goody pies in my mini pie maker. The pie maker has an instruction booklet, but… I didn’t look at it. I probably ought to have done that. I’m sure my pies tasted at least as amazing as the recipe that must be in there, but I had a little blueberry lava issue. Let me tell you about that later, though.
For the crust, I used my mother’s favorite pie crust recipe. It’s the same recipe she used for pie crusts while I was growing up as well as when she was growing up. Even the copies of the recipe she typed up for my brother and me note that the pie crust recipe is “From the back of Whirl Cooking Oil in 1963 in Ohio.”
I remember sitting at the counter and watching her roll out the dough and carefully place the crust into a pie plate, crimping the edges with her fingers. Extra dough was pinched off and eaten uncooked, a real treat and a teaser for the pies that would come out of the oven later. It may not be the healthiest pie crust recipe out there, but for me, it’s the happiest. Give it a whirl and see if you don’t agree!
Diane’s Whirl Pie Crust Recipe
For a single crust:
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp water
For a double crust:
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup water
I used the double crust recipe tonight.
Sift the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the oil and the water. Once the dough begins forming, use your hands to finish mixing the dough. If using for a traditional pie, shape the dough into two balls for double crust or one ball for single. Place one of the balls on a sheet of lightly floured wax paper. Cover with a second sheet of was paper and roll out.
If using a mini pie maker, use the provided dough cutters to cut the dough into the required size for mini pies.
For the blueberry pie, I thought I’d use a simple mixture. Blueberry pie recipes are generally pretty similar, and I think most people adjust them to their own tastes. The following is what I did tonight. I’ll build suspense by giving it an intriguing name.
Blueberry Lava Monster Pies
- 15 oz. frozen wild blueberries, slightly thawed
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Juice from ½ small lemon
- 1 tsp. (appx.) lemon peel, freshly grated on a microplane grater
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp allspice
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp flour
Whisk the sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, cinnamon, allspice, cornstarch, and flour together in a medium mixing bowl. Place this mixture and the blueberries into a 2-quart pot. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently. The mixture should thicken quickly after it reaches boiling. Remove from heat when thickened.
Place the bottom dough pieces in the mini pie maker and fill with the blueberry mixture. Top with another piece of dough. If making as a standard pie, follow the same directions. After covering the blueberries with the top piece of dough, crimp the edges of the crust with your fingers before putting in the oven.
Feeling cocky from all of my pot pie success, I didn’t worry too much about the little spills on the pie maker as I put the filling into the crusts. I didn’t fret when the top crust and bottom crust didn’t seem to meet exactly.
In the mini pie maker, these once again took only about 7 minutes. Now, however, came the drama. The first pie popped out just like a good little pie should. The other three pies looked suspiciously gooey. When I tried to remove them, the tops pulled off and I was left with blueberry lava pools in cute little bottom crusts.
Here’s the thing, when the top comes off a pie in the mini pie maker, take a deep breath. Oh, sure, it seems like a minor aesthetic issue. In reality, you have likely just created a clean up nightmare. I soon discovered that blueberries are far more punishing than pot pies. Not only do they dribble blue lava everywhere, and not only does that blue lava stain, but also that blue lava – at least when it’s mixed with sugar – sticks like you were cooking up pies full of glue. Of course, I’ve now checked the pie maker’s manual, and the instructions clearly state that the unit can’t be immersed in water or scrubbed with anything abrasive. Ironically, it also says “Cleaning is a snap.” There are no prohibitions against head banging or swearing. The upside is that you will probably burn off all the calories you consumed cleaning the pie maker.
I’m going to write my own Helpful Tips for this pie maker at some point. They will include things like:
- When making a pie involving sugary ingredients, use extra crust around the edges of the pie to ensure adequate crimping.
- If pie filling drips on the maker, carefully wipe it clean immediately using a damp soft towel.
- Before using the pie maker, tell another party that you will make the pies if they will clean up.
Fortunately, the pies were scrumptious. I served them with a little vegan ice cream and a vegan non-dairy topping I invented. I’m going to hold off on posting the non-dairy topping recipe because it didn’t have time to chill before we used it. I did drizzle it on the pies. When I had the two guys who were home taste test it alone, however, one gave it a mas-o-menos and the other gave it a thumbs up and a charming smile. I’m not sure, but it seems possible there was some kind of politics involved in this taste test. I am feeling more warm and fuzzy toward the one who smiled… In any case, I put it in the fridge to chill and I’ll make something else we can try it on later. I’ll be sure to share the recipe if it gets rave reviews after that test.
Lest you come to the wrong conclusion, let me remind you that I began this project aiming to find my thrill on Blueberry Hill with these pies. In terms of taste, I absolutely did. Sweet with just a hint of lemon, they were warm, oozy pockets of Heaven. I will make them again, but next time with a bit more caution in the cooking phase so that the eating phase is filled with wild blueberry abandon!