My #1 Tip for Cooking Anything: Include the Kitchen Sink


I have one thing I do in the kitchen that helps me stay on task and keeps me organized: I ALWAYS start with a sink full of hot, soapy water. I learned this trick from the days when I followed FlyLady. It is what keeps me sane no matter what I have going on. It could be as simple as preparing tonight’s dinner or as complicated as catering for a party for 75 people.

Any cooking, for me, begins with Continue reading

Thanksgiving in July!


Why am I writing about Thanksgiving in the month of July? It is almost 6 months from now. I write because – if it was possible – my entire year would revolve around Thanksgiving. It is hands down my favorite holiday of the year. It is a time to give thanks rather than gifts. A time to celebrate our relationships with family and friends. And of course there is food involved. This is the one time of year when I go a tad [ahem] overboard on the cooking front. That is, if you consider 14 pies, turkey 3 ways (roasted, smoked and fried), a ton of sides, and an entire menu of vegan options thrown in for good measure to be overboard. It’s all Love to me!

Cherries. This is what brings me to Continue reading

Pie Day – our own family holiday!


As the Thanksgiving holiday quickly approaches my thoughts turn to pie. Pie has been a huge tradition in my husband’s family for Thanksgiving…and by huge I mean LOTS of pie. I was amazed at the quantity the first time I ate with his family for the Turkey Day festivities: TWELVE pies. Yes, twelve; 12; Ten plus two; Six plus six…you get the picture. His mom prepared a feast for not only their immediate family, but for aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. There were a lot of eaters – and a lot of pie. Once my husband and I married we spent practically every Thanksgiving with his family. And when our boys were born they eagerly looked forward to the pie tradition every year. So you can imagine the angst incurred when we finally realized we had to give up traveling for the Thanksgiving holidays. The first time the subject was brought up my husband asked, “But what about the pies? The boys will really miss all that pie” Translated: “But what about the pies? I will really miss all that pie”.  So I agreed to make several pies. I knew 12 pies were absolutely out of the question, but I agreed to make 6…

Fast forward many years…Each year I have made more and more pies. I finally broke my record last year, making not only 11 pies, but the equivalent of 2 other pies in the form of mini-pies. Yes, some were duplicates. There were 2 Bourbon Pecan, 2 Cherry, 2 Apple (one had brandied raisins) and 2 pumpkin. Then I made 1 Chocolate, 1 Banana Cream, and 1 Coconut Cream. The final two ‘pies’ were Lemon Meringue and Cranberry Meringue, made into bite-sized portions to ensure meringue on each serving (don’t you hate when you have a slice of lemon meringue and get no meringue?!?).

I can hear all of you trying to wrap your brain around this concept of (essentially) 13 pies…”But why?” you ask, and “Do you EAT all that pie yourself?” and, the most common question, “ARE YOU CRAZY???” (to that one I of course say ‘yes’). I make all those pies because I love to bake, and I love a cooking challenge. And I especially love to continue a long-standing family tradition, one that my boys will remember and hopefully pass along to their kids someday (my apologies to their future wives). As to whether or not we eat all of that pie, well, we do solicit a bit of help. See, we do not have the good fortune to have our family near during the holidays. Usually it is only the 4 of us and my nephew (and my parents one year)…a lot of pie for five people. So we have ‘Pie Day’. This is usually the day after Thanksgiving – and on this wonderful day we invite our friends to join us in the eating of the pies. Often, they bring over their own leftover desserts from their Big Day…There are a lot of desserts! Everyone comes hungry and leaves full!!

So now here I am, fully in the process of readying for Pie Day. I have pie crust in the freezer and am looking for one or two new flavors/recipes to add to the mix this year. Many of my ingredients have been purchased and stored…the fresh ones will be bought a day or so ahead. And on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I will spend the entire day in my kitchen, happily paring, dicing, slicing, rolling out crust, assembling and baking all those glorious pies…That night I will fall into bed tired (read: exhausted) but happy, and will drift off to sleep dreaming of eating lots and lots of pie!

Final Thanksgiving Thoughts

Pie Night was another success. For me this night has evolved into almost another holiday all on its own. It began innocently enough several years ago after we had a ‘pie surplus’ and decided to invite a couple of friends over to help resolve the ‘situation’. It stayed smaller until last year, and then it just seemed to blossom!!! The best parts about Pie Night are the gathering of fabulous friends and family, the laughter, the stories, and of course, the pie. It is a wonderful way to wrap up Thanksgiving and really sums up what this holiday is all about. Thank you to all of our friends…we are truly fortunate to have you in our lives!

Thanksgiving Re-cap

What a fabulous day! I do believe I am done cooking for the rest of the weekend…I ended up with 11 pies: 2 each of cherry, pecan and pumpkin; 1 apple; 1 apple w/ brandied raisins; 1 chocolate; 1 banana cream; 1 coconut cream. I also have several mini meringue tarts, some with lemon curd, some with cranberry curd…I have not tried those yet. Dinner was phenomenal. I was up late last night with pie activities so I did not get as much meal prep done as I had planned. As a result I spent the entire day cooking, setting the table, making the centerpieces for the table, etc. But I loved every second of it, and it all turned out beautifully. The feast included both roast turkey and smoked turkey – the roast one was an organic ‘Heidi’s Hen’ from Whole Foods, bread ‘stuffing’ (I didn’t stuff the turkey, so technically it is dressing), mashed potatoes, bourbon sweet potatoes topped with pecans, green beans with almonds, brussels sprouts roasted with chestnuts and proscuitto, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potato rolls with dried cherries, and butterflake herb rolls. We served dinner with both a Cava and a Pinot Noir, and there was sparkling cider for the younger folks. We were so full from dinner that we didn’t even have any pie until almost midnight…how crazy is that to have 11 pies and not dip into even one of them all day??? But dip into them we eventually did. My scale is relegated to the deepest corner of my closet for at least a week or so…no need to see the damage staring up at me!!! Well, I am exhausted…finally time for me to retire for the night, perhaps even the weekend. My body is full of the wonderful aches that come from spending all day and night in the kitchen. I am one lucky woman – and so very thankful for the family and friends in my life!