Lettuce get planting!

Lettuce, Herbs, Carrots and other cool season goodies in raised beds.

There are some nasty rumors going around about lettuce.  I hear that it is really hard to grow with lots of insect problems.  It has also been said that lettuce grown in Texas tastes bitter because of the heat.  Lies, all of them.

The misinformation comes from the fact that  the instructions on the back of seed packets and those great little farming magazines are written for folks living in the areas of the country that actually have four seasons and one growing season.  Now do not misunderstand me, I love my gardening magazines, but the time lines do not line up. Well, welcome to Texas Gardening.  There is a rhythm to gardening in Texas that is as unique as our Texas spirit.  Once you learn the rhythm you will be amazed at what you can grow.

However, for now we will focus on lettuce and its cousins.  It perturbs me to no end to have to purchase greens of any kind in the grocery store.  Homegrown greens are so easy and tasty!  Also, it is so much easier to have a bed of lettuce and just go pick you some whenever you want, than to have to go to the store when you want a salad.  If you are like me, lots of times what’s for dinner is not something planned very far in advance.  So, having items growing in the garden to have on hand is just the ticket.

One of the perks about lettuce and all the other greens, such as arugula, chard, spinach, etc. is that they can by eaten at all stages.  Baby greens make for a scrumptious salad or sandwich.  Many people, like my children, do not like mature spinach but love baby spinach.  So, while the plants are growing you can pick the outer leaves and enjoy the garden abundance for many weeks.  The greens( the term greens refers to all types of lettuce, herbs, spinach etc)  do not take a lot of space.  One 5X12  foot bed of greens will keep my family of 6 in fresh greens.

Now to dispel the lies.

First, that lettuce is hard to grow.  Not so, you just have to know when to plant it.  If you read many of the labels on lettuce sold in Texas, the labels  say to plant after all danger of frost has passed.  The problem with this is that if you wait that long in Texas you can have as little as 2 weeks until the temps are consistently in the mid- 80’s.  The proper planting times in Texas are February- April and September- December.  Lettuce is a cool season crop.  When most areas of the country are having dead of winter, we are having our cool season.   When we have had a mild winter, I harvest greens from September until June.  That is only 2 months of store-bought greens in a year.  That makes my heart happy!

The second lie is that lettuce has many insect problems. Now there are certain worms- Cabbage Loppers for example- that do like lettuce.  However, these are easily dispatched with Bt.  Bt- (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a naturally occurring bacterial disease that only attacks caterpillars.  Bt is organic and you can eat the produce with no worries that synthetic pesticides bring.  There are other insects that can be a problem at times, but I have found in my gardens that Bt is all I need to keep things in balance.  Also, there are other methods of insect control, but again the Bt is simple, easy and effective so that is what I use.  You can find it at most hardware and garden supply stores.

Lastly, lettuce grown in Texas tastes bitter- hogwash.  Again, you just need to know when to plant and what varieties to plant.  The types that are considered “slow to bolt” are the best for planting in the spring.  Bolting refers to sending up a conical shaft with blooms that will produce seeds.  Warm weather signifies to the lettuce that it is time to make seeds.  So, those lettuces that are slow to bolt will be the most tolerant of warm weather.  While you are looking in seed catalogs for heirloom selections (heirloom refers to varieties that will reproduce consistently if the seeds are saved) look for ones that were developed in Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas- of course- or Israel.  These areas have climates similar to ours and those varieties will usually do well here.

Some of my favorite varieties are:

For Fall Planting: Black Seeded Simpson, Drunken Woman, Tom Thumb, Oakleaf

For Summer Planting:  Oakleaf, Jericho- awesome, Tom Thumb

Spinach- Longstanding Bloomsdale is great year round.

Most of your annual herbs like dill, Salad Burnett, chives are best planted on the same schedule as lettuce.

I like to sow the seeds in wide beds.  I thin the seedlings and use them in salads as baby greens.  Keep the lettuce or greens watered one inch once per week and a little shade is very helpful for extending the growing season.  The seeds usually germinate and emerge in 7-10 days.

So there you have it- the truth about lettuce.  Now what are you waiting for?  September is coming to a close and October is upon us,  I can just taste the homegrown lettuce now.

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Composting: The Best Thing For Your Garden

3 Bin composting

3 Bin composting

What are you bagging your leaves for?  Since I began composting, I am tempted to pick up those bags of leaves before the garbage collector.  Because in those bags lay the beginning of the best soil amendment and fertilizer around.

Composting can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.  The bottom line of composting is that organic material, i.e. leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps, manure, etc., breakdown into crumbly brown material that is like black gold for you soil.  This breakdown is done by microorganisms.  Temperature and moisture determine how fast these little guys get the job done.

This is where the composting can stay simple or get complicated.  A simple pile of leaves, grass clippings and kitchen scraps can turn into compost in 6 months to a year.  If you so choose, you can help it along by turning it over once a month or once a week.  This is the simple method.  If you are so inclined, you can build or purchase containers that will cause the organic materials to breakdown much faster.  All of the more advanced methods require frequent to constant turning as well as keeping the moisture consistent.

For the everyday gardener, I recommend the pile.  As you build your pile, layer dry materials such as hay or leaves and layers of green materials like grass clippings or manure.  As you add layers, wet the materials down with a hose sprayer.  You do not want the pile so wet that the water is running down the drive way, it should feel like a wet sponge that has been squeezed out.  Once that is done just leave it alone.  In several months, you will be able to shovel up the bottom layers and put that beautiful stuff on your gardens, flower beds or your lawn.

The benefits of using compost are many and vast.  The most significant being that the compost is the ideal food for the microorganisms in the soil that feed your plants.  Compost also conserves water by adding organic material to the soils that retains the water molecules in the root zones.  When compost is used as mulch it keeps the roots of your plants cool.  All of this adds up to more beautiful plants and lawns than you have ever known.  To learn more about composting, visit your local library or buy you some books that cover the subject in detail.  My favorite book on composting is Let It Rot by Stu Campbell.

Here at our farm, I have several composting schemes going.  But the manner in which I or you get our compost does not matter.  What matters is that we begin composting.  So much of what is filling the landfills could be returned to the soil by composting.  It is a win/win situation for all.

Happy Composting!

Raised beds filled with compost making yummy veggies!

Savannah’s Sweet Pie Crust

My daughter, Savannah, inherited her daddy’s sweet tooth and from me, she inherited the love for cooking and baking.  Savannah has always been in the kitchen and it didn’t take long for her to start wanting to bake the sweets that her daddy loves.  It started with sugar cookies and then went to cherry pie.  The first rattle out of the box, she made a perfect crust.  I was thoroughly impressed.  Of course, she couldn’t leave well enough alone- did I mention her sweet tooth.  The crust just wasn’t sweet enough- so she made her own recipe.  She did the same with the sugar cookie recipe, but that is for another post.  As it turns out, her dad like her version of cherry pie better!  So, the race is on- can the master stay ahead of the pupil?  It is fun to share this friendly competition with her.

This crust is great for pies or cobblers, I find it too sweet to go with a savory recipe like chicken pot pie.

For detailed directions for preparing and rolling the dough, along with step-by-step pictures- go to:     http://homesteadblogger.com/farmonthehill/269/

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter

5-6 tablespoons of cold water.

Mix dry ingredients

Cut in the butter till the bits are pea-size

Stir in water, 2 tablespoons at a time, stir with a fork until all the dough is stuck together and forms a ball.

Divide dough in half and form a ball

Pat the ball into a flat circle.

Roll each circle out until the dough is roughly 1 inch larger than the pie plate.

Follow pie recipe for the crust preparation.  If you only need a single crust, the second half of dough can be refrigerated or frozen.

Savannah the pastry chef

Memories made….

What you find below is written by my daughter, Cheyenne.  I love this essay, mainly because it gave me a glimpse into a part of her childhood that did not include me.  I did not go hunting with them, not because it offends me in some way, but because I was home with babies.  I really didn’t mind at the time, and after reading her story I am so glad I was willing to stay home and let her hang out with her daddy.  I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.

Gone Huntin’

“Hey, Daddy what time are we getting up in the mornin’?” I asked excitedly

“I’ll wake you up at four,” he said comfortingly, “Did you pack the ammo box, and your bag?”

“Yes, can I sleep in the truck?”

“Yes, you can angel, now go to sleep.”

This was how almost all of my hunting trips with my dad started, and it never failed, I wouldn’t ever sleep the night before the trip. There is many a thing I have learned from hunting with my dad, from how to live off the land to being patient. All of these things have turned me into the person I am today and helped my find my passion and what I wanted to be when I’m done with school. Now I am going to tell you about my first major buck…

That morning my dad woke me up at four like he said he would.

“ Mornin’, Angel,” my dad said quietly as he turned my closet light on, “its time to get up, your mom made pigs in the blanket for you.”

“Mornin’, Daddy.” I answered groggily as I rolled out of bed.

Now I had a very effective system for making a quick get away to the lease, this system merely consisted of me sleeping in what I was going to wear the next day. This system always had me in the truck and back asleep in a total of five minutes.

It took two hours to get to the lease. Most of which I was passed out in the front seat. When we arrived at the lease, I got out of the truck and slipped on my extremely massive coveralls, and got my gun out.

“Cheyenne is your safety on?”

“Yes, Daddy and I put some ammo in my pocket. Do you know where the pink marking tape is?” I asked as I remembered how my dad would always tell me how important it was that you mark your trail, so that you never got lost, this is something I have used and will forever use in my life, both spiritually and physically.

As I finished zipping up my coveralls, I started digging through the truck to find the tape, and like everything it wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Finally I found it, and off we went!

As we started walking Dad told me to look for tracks, and it wasn’t long before we found some.

“What kinda tracks are these, Cheyenne?”

As I studied them very thoroughly, I noticed that they looked like deer tracks.

“They look like deer tracks,” I answered confidently, “but they aren’t, they’re pig tracks.”

“Are you sure? ‘Cause you know pig and deer feet are shaped the same.”

“Yes, I’m sure cause the split down the middle is to long to be a deer.”

“Very good,” he replied proudly.

My dad was always real good about letting me know when I had done something right, or telling me when I was wrong and showing me how to correct it.

A couple of yards later we found something that would grab anyone’s attention- rubs. Rubs are very exciting to find, because they mean BUCKS! After all, that is the point of almost any hunt. You can generally tell the age of the buck by the size of the rub. A small rub will almost always mean a young buck, and a large rub means an older buck. The rub that I found was an average size rub and this rub was exciting because it was fresh! This was about the time when I started getting jittery, just waiting for that buck to pop out while we were walking the trail.

It seemed like we had been walking for hours and hours, but we finally made it to the spot we had picked the week before. We picked this spot because of the fact that it was a pond, which meant the deer and the pigs would be coming there for food and water.

When we had decided where we going to sit, we started making our blind. Now we didn’t use the man made stuff you can buy in the store, we made ours out of the natural décor. I found a couple of big limbs that covered me and provided a resting spot for my gun. When I had them placed where I wanted them, I then found some leaves and little branches and filled in the empty spaces around the bottom of the blind. Finally, I had my little hand-made hunting blind made to perfection. Dad used to tell me to look at how the rest of the area looks and try to make it look as natural as you possibly can. This comes true to life, there are times when you need to blend in with the rest of the world, and look like you belong there.

Hunting is a waiting game; it requires a lot of sitting very quietly and being patience. Now, for some people that may seem fairly simple, but to and eleven year old with a little ADHD that was incredibly hard for me to do.  In case you have never been hunting, when you get still the rest of the woods are perfectly quiet, so any little noise that you might not hear other wise, seems very loud. I would hear every little noise and pray for it to be my buck, but most of the time it was just a cricket, but you never knew what it could be.

While I was sitting there learning how to be patient, I studied the plants that were surrounding me. With my dad sitting there right there I started quietly and slowly whispering the names to him.

“This is a dandelion, and this one is an oak leaf, right, Daddy?”

“Yes, baby, now sshh,” he said holding his finger to his lips, “and pay attention.”

My dad always had a way to make me be quiet, and that was always a look in his eyes, his eyes would be calm and assuring and full of love. I don’t know why but they always calmed me down, and in turn I would be quiet.

After sitting there for what seemed like hours, but was really only about one, I heard something that was more than a little cricket.

“Did ya hear that?!” I whispered excitedly, as I pointed over my right shoulder.

“Yes I did.”

With my dad saying this it meant my mind wasn’t playing games with me anymore, and there was actually something out there. As I turned very slowly, as to not spook what ever creature was behind me, I saw two does running through the field next to us. Since they were behind me and running, I didn’t get to shoot them. My heart fell as they disappeared into the thicket.

Once again, I was just sitting there waiting for the perfect moment. It didn’t take long before the crickets started making me jump again, and the wind moving limbs and leaves was my dream buck walking into view. Around ten minutes later we had a visitor.

“Daddy look! Its so cute!” I said as I giggled.

All my dad could was laugh and smile as I watched the cutest armadillo walk across the bank as if he where on stage. As the armadillo finished his show, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Finally, a deer in the right spot for me to shoot.

“See how the doe is looking over her shoulder, and walking at a fast pace? Let’s wait and see if there is a buck behind her somewhere, ok.”

Those words were both disappointing and exciting at the same time. We waited and sure enough after watching the doe disappear and then come back into view a few times, there he was, the thing I had been waiting for all day!

“Daddy, Daddy look! Can I shoot him? PLEASE!” I asked as quietly as I could.

“You can get ready if you want, but he is still to far away to shoot.”

As I got my gun loaded and in position, the doe walked off again, but this time the buck stayed. He turned to where we could see his rack, seven points! As he walked down the bank he turned a little to the side, giving me the perfect shot. I put my gun to my shoulder, lined him up in the cross hairs, took a deep breath, and slowly squeezed the trigger. Just as I finished pulling the trigger, he moved! I still hit him but I had to take another shot, this finished the job. When we got to him, we pulled him up the bank and took a good look at him; this was my first buck that was larger than a spike!

That day, that buck taught me so many things: patience pays off, there will be many disappointments and distractions along the way, and you don’t have to shoot the first target that comes into view, because there may be something much better in the near future. This hunt along with many others made me realize how much I wanted to work with the wildlife, for which I have chosen to make my career, as a game warden.

Daddy with his girls

Breakfast Pot Pie

This is a great brunch recipe or a dish when you need a hearty start to you day. To make the morning easier, this simple dish can be prepared the night before, just roll out the dough and fill the pie the morning you are going to serve it.  It is great served with eggs and fresh, sliced tomatoes!

Double Pie Crust Recipe- see Recipe Catagory- bottom rolled out and placed in a baking dish or cast iron skillet.  Top pie with the other half of crust.

1/2 lb of sausage, browned

2 tbl spoon of butter

3 tbl spoon of flour

4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

4 cups water

2 tsp cumin

1tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large saucepan.  Stir in flour to melted butter and lightly brown.  Add water, potatoes, & seasoning and boil on medium heat until tender.  The water should be creamy like gravy at this point.  Stir in sausage.  Place the sausage and potato mixture in the pie crust, top with the other half of the crust.  Bake at 400′ until golden brown- about 30 minutes.  Let cool for 15 minutes.  Slice and serve.  Serves 8-10

Lecompte, Pie Capital of Louisiana

Sweet Cherry Pie

Maybe you don’t know this, but Lecompte is the pie capital of Louisiana.  I don’t know how these towns get these designations, but the little restaurant, Lea’s, did have great pie.  It was, as far as we could find, the only pie shop in town, but apparently that is enough.

The place has been open for decades and was like walking back in time to the 1950’s.  This little town is one that we pass through going to the growers where we buy our nursery stock.  We had wanted to eat there for awhile, but never seemed to be passing through when they were open.  However, this last trip we made it.

There are no menus, what is served on any given day is written on the chalkboard.  Tony had fried chicken with peas and rice with gravy.  It was really good, home cookin’ kind of food.  I had the roast beef sandwich with peas.  I never pass up the chance to eat good southern peas.  In order to be called good and southern, the peas must be made with bacon fat, period.  These peas were really good.

As for the pie, Tony had cherry- his favorite.  He said it was good, I will have to take his word for it, as I do not like cherry pie.  But the ice cream served on top was excellent. When asked how the pie was, he did say that this pie was good, but  not as good as mine, I have better crust.  I know he is biased, but I do make good crust!  If I had not been so full, I would have gotten a piece of the chocolate pie, it had a 6 inch meringue on top!

So, if you ever find yourself traveling down Hwy 49 in Southern Louisiana, stop in at Lea’s- you will be glad you did- just do so before 5pm, that is closing time.   If you want to try your hand at your own great pie crust, check out the link below or click on the “Recipes” catagory to the right.

http://homesteadblogger.com/farmonthehill/269/

Like stepping back in time....

Tony loves fried chicken

Teenagers….

All through my teen years and all through these years of raising my children, there has been so much derogatory talk about teenagers.  The word “teenager” is often used in similar connotations as the word “cancer” is used or “terrorist”.  I believe this to be shameful and misleading.  Having teenagers is not a bad thing.  It may not be easy, but it is not a bad thing.

So, I would like this opportunity to put in a good word for teenagers, particularly the two that live in my home.  I love having teens. When children are born, it is as if you have been given a gift, but you have to wait to see what is in it.  As they emerge into the teen years, the gift really starts to unfold.  What fun to get to see what God has created and put inside them.

Take this past weekend for instance.  We have a retail nursery and we sell plants at First Monday, Canton Texas and at Third Monday Trades Days, McKinney, Texas.  The whole family is involved.  To start things off, we have to load a few hundred plants- mostly in 3 gallon containers, load the booth set-up equipment, signs, etc.  This is no easy task.  That was done on Thursday and Friday morning we were up and on the road by 6:30 am.  Before we could go, all the animals were fed and watered- which is done by Cheyenne, Savannah, Sierra and Jonathan.  Once we arrived, the teens (Cheyenne & Savannah) and Tony unloaded the lumber and built a 10X10 shed with tin walls and 4X4 beams while the younger two and I began unloading plants.  Then the rest of the plants and shade supports must be unloaded and built.  We wrapped up and headed home by 4:30.  They did all this without fighting or complaining- and no they didn’t do it for money.

Saturday began at the same time with Cheyenne heading to McKinney with us and the rest of the kids staying home.  She worked all weekend moving the plants, working with customers, and running errands for us.  It was a delight to have her company.  She is intelligent with a good head on her shoulders and carries on a very pleasant conversation.  Most of the time, she has a good sense of humor and always likes to get the work done.  Overall, she makes me look good in public!!!  It was also nice to be able to walk around the flea market with Tony for a little while and not have to worry about the business- it was in good hands.

Back at home, Savannah at 16, was in charge.  I know many parents who would not be able to trust their kids at home overnight, but I did not think twice about it.  I knew she could do it, but I must say I was impressed with how much she got done.  Tony and I came home to a clean house.  Savannah had done the laundry and cleaned the kitchen- or saw to it that whose ever turn it was got it done.  One thing- she learned the hard way was why you don’t use Dawn in the dishwasher…. Anyway, the kitchen floor was clean.

Not only did Savannah keep the house in order, she had to feed herself and her two younger siblings.  One night she made Creamy Tuna Pasta, which is kind of like tuna helper, only the creamy white sauce is a homemade Bechamel sauce that she makes herself.  The next day she made grilled shrimp.  To do this, she had to thaw the shrimp, peel & devine the shrimp, and fire up the grill.  No food from a box around here!  Maybe I am partial, but that is impressive!  If that wasn’t enough, she was also responsible for all the animals being tended to.  Sierra and Jonathan have their chores and do them without being told, but never the less, the responsibility was her’s and she shouldered it well.

So, for all those critics who are of the mind that teenagers are unreliable, have bad attitudes and are only motivated by money or other personal gain- I beg to differ. I believe that teenagers will rise to the standard set before them.  I believe that we sell our children short when we accept the world’s standards for what they are capable of.  I believe that when given the chance, teens will rise to the occasion and pitch in to help.

Here is what I don’t like about having teens.  Not only can they see through your smoke screen- all children can- but they are old enough to articulate back to you how you are not living up to your own standards.  I don’t like knowing that in just a matter of months the landscape of my family will change forever as they leave the nest and fly. I don’t like it when they roll their eyes at me or walk away with their shoulders slumped at what I have asked them to do- you guessed it, they aren’t perfect.

Another thing I don’t like- the friction that comes with having, basically, three grown, strong-willed, opinionated women living in the same house.  Of course, I have myself to thank for the strong-willed, opinionated part- but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I set out to work myself out of a job as a mother.  I wanted them to be able to live on their own in a capable, successful way. I don’t want boomerang kids- the kind that leave home and come back.  I wanted them to launch and have the skill set  to be successful. I am so pleased when they are tested in small ways, like this weekend, and they come through with flying colors.

So for all you parents out there with young children heading full speed for teenagers- take heart, it is not a bad thing.  Enjoy this stage, its the last one you have before they leave home.

I love my teens!

Rain, Rain, Rain

Pink Turks Cap

Thank God for such a good rain!  To say that things around here were desperate would be an understatement!  It was almost physically painful to look at the garden area and see the raised beds so dried up and crusty.  This rain will go along way, but we still need more.  It does amaze me how months of city water will hardly keep things alive, but one good soaking from heaven and things have perked right up.

One thing the drought has shown me is what plants are the hardiest.  The old fashioned lantana- the kind with pink and yellow in the blooms- never missed a beat.  It has bloomed all summer and I haven’t even watered it.  Pink Turks cap has bloomed all summer and doubled in size.  My roses that were established have done well.  Of course most of them are either earthkind or roses that will be in the running to earn that designation.  Surprisingly, sweet potatoe vine has done wonderful with a little water.  Basil and Sage have done great, even the beds that I stopped watering two months ago stayed alive and now are standing up straight.  Victoria Salvia and Autumn Sage are doing fine and with this rain will probably bloom again by Wednesday.  It is no surprise that the things doing fine are Texas natives mostly.  So, when you go to re-plant your beds, take a good look at the Texas Natives- you won’t regret it.

Another thing the drought has shown is what plants do not tolerate the drought and brutal temperatures.  The Mondo grass turned up its heals quickly, however, I do think it will put back out.  The same with the hostas, they said goodnight several weeks ago, but I believe the roots will put back out- time will tell.  Any shrub I planted in the spring did not make it.  Thus, illustrating the point that fall is the best time to plant trees, shrubs, and roses in Texas.  Our summers are much worse than our winters.  With cold temps stimulating root growth coupled with the fact that our ground does not freeze, our plants stand a much better chance of withstanding the Texas summer if they were planted in fall.

More rain is predicted for today, Come on- Rain, baby, Rain!

Simple and Easy Pie Crust

Pie crusts have become an item in the kitchen that so many people are afraid to make for themselves.  There has been a lot of talk of how hard a pie crust is to make.  All this talk of difficulty has most people eating those nasty things that come pre-made and labeled as pie crust.  That is such a shame because pie crust are not that hard if you have a few tips with which to start.

A pie crust has just a few ingredients and the instructions are simple.  I do believe that most people have trouble because they are trying to measure exactly.  The thing is when you are doing pastry, it has as much to do with the “feel” of the dough as the measurements.  The flour, salt, and crisco (or butter) are exact measurements, but the water added is where the “feel” comes in to play.  It may seem funny, but the weather plays a huge role in pastry making.  Things like humidity in the air will affect how much water you add to the flour mixture.  So, if the recipe says “add 2 tablespoons” know that on any given day that might mean a little more or a little less.  You add water until the dough comes together and forms a ball- that simple.  Add a little at first and then add more as you need to, you can always add more water, but you can’t take it back.

Recipe:

2 cups flour

1/2  tsp salt

3/4 cup  unsalted butter

7  tablespoons water- added 2 tblsp at a time- more or less

Mix flour and salt together in mixing bowl

Now add the butter and “cut it in”. This means you use a pastry blender, fork, or two knives and keep mashing and cutting the butter until it is little pieces, about the size of a pea, and the mixture is crumbly.

see the larger chunks, this is the butter in little pieces. Once you get to this, stop cutting in

Now, you add the water.  Start with 2 tablespoons and stir with a fork.  Then add 2 more tablespoons of water.  You will see the dough start to form large chunks.  Add more water until the dough sticks together and makes a “ball”.  This ball will not be perfectly round.

See how all the dough is stuck together? this is the ball

 

Once you are at this stage, reach into the bowl, take the ball and shape it just a bit and then divide it in half.  Then take each half and round out the balls. Since the dough will be a little tacky to the touch, get a little flour on your hands.

this is half the dough shaped in a ball

 

Now, flatten out the ball and start to make the crust.

pat and flatten the ball into a flat circle

 

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Once the dough is larger by about and inch than the pie plate you are cooking in, the crust is big enough.

Get a little flour on the rolling pin so the dough won't stick

This pie is for a dinner potpie and I like to use a cast iron skillet for those.

Getting the dough off the rolling surface can be a little tricky- if you slide one hand under and then flip it over your top hand, then slide the bottom hand under farther and keeping working it that way, the dough comes up easy without ripping.

slide the hand under and flip it over the top hand

repeat the step

We have lift off! Once you do that step about 4 times the crust is off the work surface.

Now place the crust into you pie plate or deep dish.  The bottom is done.  What kind of pie you are doing determines if you will need a top crust.  If you do, once the pie shell is filled, repeat the rolling out steps with the second ball of dough and lay it on top.  Trim what hangs over and press the sides together.

There you have it!  Pie crust made at home are SO much better.  Don’t be discouraged if you have to make a few to really get it down, nothing worth doing is easy the first time.

 

Vengeance is mine sayeth the Grandmother!

Me with my sweet niece!

As I was hanging out clothes on the line today, I noticed a little pink tank top.  This perplexed me as I do not have any children that small.   Then I realized that this was the tank top that my niece, Katie, had left at our house.  I had put this top in my kids bag to give back to Windy, my niece’s mother and my sister, on Saturday.

You know what this means?  Those little stinkers, my children, simply dumped the bag of clothes into the dirty clothes hamper without even looking to see what was dirty.  Of course then I get  to thinking, “Just how much of this laundry that I do is actually dirty?!”  Not that this is the first time this sort of thing has happened.  Sometimes as a mom you feel like you beat your head against a brick wall!  Repeating yourself over and over is a way of life.  You find yourself saying things like, “Do you think I talk just to hear my head rattle?” Then you look over your shoulder to see if your mother is standing there because if you heard that phrase once as a child- you heard it a million times.

That is alright, because I will have my day.  That day will be when some precious little thing  is running around calling me Grandma.  Then my children will lament to me about how they repeat themselves constantly and no one seems to listen.  They will go on about how they clean a room and 5 minutes later it is trashed again.  The list will be lengthy and then they will talk about how they find perfectly clean clothes in the dirty clothes hamper.  I will smile and nod sympathetically- and then I will slip the sweet little perpetrator a crisp Ben Franklin as a token of my appreciation!