Pie Crust Therapy

Reader Contribution by Angela Pomponio
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Fresh eggs daily, two dozen in all, thanks to our new to us hens.  Orcharding, poultry, gardening, root cellaring books and back issues of Mother Earth News.  Dated lists of seed starting and homestead projects. Budgeting for fence and water pipe.  Pantry clean out meals and those bottom of the freezer bags from the end of last season.  Spring has sprung in North Central Idaho, and with it a mix of indoor project completion and manic outdoor planning.  

The sunshine has given way to earnest planning and budgeting.   Trying to coordinate sprouting seeds indoors, last frost, rental tiller availability and cash flow to put up our garden fence is a skill set I am working on mastering.  No point in planting until the fence is in, but first we need the money for the fence.  I know none of our projects is truly life threatening, we live an hour away from an amazing co op grocery and Costco.  I want to do it all and now.  I fantasize about pruning the orchard amongst a huge flock of layers, broilers and heritage breed turkeys (coop is almost finished!)  I resent my dryer and gaze out the window fantasizing about a clothesline, yes a clothesline.  We agreed that the huge garden, fruit trees and berries, bees, chickens, turkeys, clothesline, woodshed and possible root cellar would be more than enough this year.  

I cannot lie, I secretly harbor dairy goat and pig fantasies.  How much would Dom lose his mind if I asked for a couple of lean to’s off of the poultry house for a pig and milking goat?  I don’t plan on much travel at all this year, I am living in my dream destination-imagined goats and all.  Why not just jump on in?!  I have been known to grossly underestimate a  project, and am famous at least in my own family for thinking I can paint almost any room in a couple of hours.  However, I am good at sticking it out and seeing most all underestimated projects through.  So if I research and acquire a porcine project or star thistle eating cheese machine…

The point of all this was just to share the mania of homestead life, in the establishing phase.  We have a thousand projects to go, many will be repeated annually.  The infrastructure of our home and land is being established.  Our nest being built.  To do things right, enjoy the process and ultimately work towards our goals while learning all the while is what this trip is about.  My point wasn’t to list our work ahead or grandiose desires for home dairying (can you use grandiose and dairy in the same context?)  It was to say that in the chaos, frustration, successes, and forward momentum some ‘homestead’ pleasures buoy you.  The exhaustion of moving, gardening, closing on home sales and purchases and annual canning glut last summer gave way to the hasty putting by of end of season produce.  When I could not would not can one more peach after 56 quarts put by and we all were literally pooping purple from the onslaught of wild blackberries, my little homesteaders heart still beat ‘waste not want not.’  So I have a few large Tupperware tubs of hastily peeled and sliced peaches and wild blackberries.  I did not prep these other than to peel and slice the peaches and rinse the berries.

Homemade Pie Crust for Spring Inspiration

Thankfully amid the madness and busy of spring I made quadruple batches of pie crust and froze grapefruit- sized lumps in the freezer.  So this weekend I thawed a lump while cleaning and finishing winter interior painting.  I folded a tub of semi thawed fruit with about a cup of each sugar and flour, a cap full of organic almond extract and a healthy shake of cinnamon.  I protected the crust and baked  at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes, then without crust protection for another 30 minutes.  Heaven! 

Every time I feel pulled in ten different directions, hopeless about finishing a project not to mention the 6 projects we need to knock out this week, 15 this month, etc. I just take a moment and a forkful of pie.  The taste is sunshine. The feeling is yes this is exactly where you need to be, you will get it all done, and next year this time you will taste the fruits of your labor.  Baked in a flaky crust as all labored for fruits should be cloaked.  This pie is my touchstone, of this land and these hands, all that I know as important and right is right here in this bite.  Healthful delicious food, environmental and social responsibility, self reliance, love for my family, home and planet.  One Flaky sweet bite at a time, reassurance and hope.  This is the place and life for me, and it’s perfect that pie is my reminder of that.  I might have a lattice crust around my heart.

Angie’s Pie Crust Recipe

4.5 cups flour (I use unbleached organic white)
2 cups butter, room temp. (or your preferred shortening-cool room temp & not mushy)
1 Tbsp. organic sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Combine above and cut in shortening until crumbly texture, use pastry blender or two forks. Mix 1 egg, 1/4 cup lemon juice (or white vinegar), 1/2 cup cold water. Mix wet into dry.  Can add up to 1/2 cup more cold water tablespoon by tablespoon if it’s too dry.  Mix minimally to combine until a rollable dough is formed.  I wrap grapefruit sized chunks in plastic wrap, label and freeze.  Divide into 3-4 hunks depending on your crust intentions and enjoy! Yield 3 lattice crust pies or 4 single crust pies or quiches.

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