Cooking with Shortening...Pie Crusts for the Freezer.

I want to share my go-to pie crust when I don't have time to make our favorite crust recipe from Farm Journal.  I have used this recipe since the early 80’s to simplify pie-making.  When I was working full-time, I still liked to bake, but found I wanted to speed up the process.  We just didn’t like the results or expense of refrigerated crusts, and this recipe has been a life-saver. 
I especially like to make a batch before the holiday rush, so I don’t have any excuses not to make a pie, whether it’s a dessert pie, a quiche or pot pie.  I also use this recipe for individual pie crusts and turnovers; sometimes putting up part of the dough in 3-3 ½ ounce patties.  A scale is very handy for making this recipe. 
There are recipes like this that use a whole can of shortening and a 5 pound bag of flour; I think they are too greasy.  If you make this in the larger size recipe, use a dishpan and your hands.  Try the smaller size recipe to see how good they are.                    
Pie Crusts for the Freezer
5 Regular or 4 Large Crusts 
20 Regular or 16 Large Crusts
     3/4         pound  shortening
  3             pounds  shortening
  1 1/2         pounds  flour, all-purpose
  6             pounds  flour, all-purpose
  1                cup  ice water
  4               cups  ice water
  1 1/2      teaspoons  salt
  2        tablespoons  salt

Mix in a very large bowl or pan. Mix flour, salt and shortening together with large rubber scraper and pastry fork or pastry blender until the size of peas. Add ice water a quarter at a time and toss together with a fork or your hands until blended, do not overmix.  Wrap individually in freezer paper, plastic wrap or waxed paper and freeze in a large zip-type freezer bag. (Be sure to mark you packages with the size and date).

Make into 3 oz. patties for use in 5" pie plates or for turnovers.
Make into 9 oz. patties for 9" top crusts or regular 9" bottom crusts
Make into 11 ounce patties for Deep Dish or 10" bottom crusts

When you want to make a pie crust, defrost number of desired crust 'patties' on the counter 30 min or so, or in the fridge overnight. Roll out between 2 sheets of waxed paper or on a lightly floured surface and proceed with your recipe.

These will keep for at least a year in the freezer, although mine never last that long!. There is something about freezing this dough that makes it so easy to roll out. I use this for dessert pies as well as quiches and savory pies. It turns out perfectly every time.

French Raspberry Pie

 Since everyone seems to be fans of Raspberries I made this recipe from the cookbook Perfect Pies by Polly Clingerman. Polly Clingerman's cookbooks are among my favorites and I recommend them if you are wanting another cookbook or so. I made some changes in it to make it more user friendly and to adapt it to our tastes.
 I will give you the recipe as I made it. It started life as a tart but I thought most casual cooks do not have 9 inch removable bottom tart pans. So made a regular 9 inch pie shell. This must be baked and cooled before filling. Since I always make 2 crusts at a time I have another to fill already baked. Sour Cream Lemon from the same cookbook sounds good. 
 This is really an excellent pie, the filling however is the star of this pie. I use it whenever I want a very good filling as for Cream Puffs, other fruit pies and over a slice of cake or in a trifle.
French Raspberry Pie
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 egg yolks (save your egg whites to add to a custard or scrambled eggs)
1 cup half and half cream
1 teaspoon butter (not margarine)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint fresh raspberries
6 ounces Raspberry Jam (a good brand, I used an all fruit type)
In a small bowl place the sugar, flour, cornstarch and egg yolks. Beat until light and lemon colored. Heat cream in a double boiler just to under boiling. Too hot will cook your eggs. If you get it too hot, just let it cool for a few minutes. Slowly pour about a third of the cream into the sugar egg mixture stirring constantly. Pour this mixture back into the cream. Cook over hot water until very thick. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming. Cool.
Pour into baked pie shell and place raspberries on top in circles. Starting on the outside edge. Heat the 6 ounces of jam till melted. (I added a spoonful of Cream Sherry) and spoon over the raspberries, Chill pie. You could garnish with whipped cream, but we thought it was perfect just the way it was.

Cooking with Shortening...Homemade Pan Release

Small amount of pan release
 I recently saw the directions for making a flour and shortening mix for greasing baking pans. Then when I bought some older Pillsbury paperback  cookbooks at a used book sale there it was again. Must be that I was meant to make it, I thought. 
 Well, I had a bundt cake I was wanting to try and I know any of you who have tried to grease a bundt pan and then flour it know what a pain that is. I really don’t like sprays as they are hard to wash out of the pan afterwards and I think they leave an aftertaste.
Greased Bundt Pan
 This could not be simpler to make or use. Just be sure you use shelf stable shortening like Crisco. I made just a small amount to test it and now will make a larger amount to have on hand with all of the holiday and winter baking coming up. 
 Take two parts of shortening to one part of flour, such as one cup of shortening to one half cup of flour. With a fork mix well and store in an air tight container either on a shelf in a cool and dark cupboard or in your refrigerator. If storing in refrigerator it might be easier to work with if you take it out a little early to warm some.
 Using a pastry brush, napkin or paper towel spread in your pan. Ergo, greased and floured all at once!

Plum Jam

This is our very favorite jam, just like my mom made years ago. The recipe is from the 1972 Ball Blue Book, modified to current guidelines. In 1972, I didn’t water-bath this jam; I used paraffin to seal the jars. Water-bath processing is a much surer way to save this delicious jam. Check this link for the basics.  
I do have to buy plums in season; I haven’t found a good source of tart plums like we had when I was a kid. Red Santa Rosa plums are a good choice.  This recipe doesn't call for pectin, so it is a little cheaper to make.  
I often sit on our patio while I pit and cut up the plums.  I try to make 3 or 4 batches of this jam every summer - it goes fast.

Plum Jam
4 pounds Plums -- red tart ones
6 cups Sugar -- 2# 12 ounces
1 1/2 cups Water
1/4 cup Bottled Lemon Juice
Pit and slice plums into 6ths or 8ths, then cut in half. Measure 2 quarts full.  Place multiple shallow sauce dishes in freezer to use to check jellying.  Sterilize your jars in the water you're heating in your canner (about 8 half pints).
Combine all ingredients in open kettle; bring slowly to boiling, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly almost to jellying point, about 25 - 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking - about 215-216 °.   If  jelly wrinkles when you push it with your finger in your cold dish it is ready.
Pour, boiling hot, into hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe rims and adjust prepared lids.  Process 7-10 minutes in boiling water bath. Set on clean towels to cool.
Equipment: Open kettle, boiling water bath canner with rack, 2 quart measure, large metal spoon for skimming foam, instant read thermometer, large silicone scraper or spoon, jar lifter, lid wand, tongs for jars, funnel, ladle, ruler, pan with paper towels for filling jars, clean towels.
Cost August 2019: $4.99 or 63¢ per 8 ounce jar. (plums at 88¢ per pound and sugar at $3.99 per 10 pounds) - an 18 oz jar of the cheapest plum jam was $2.49 at Fareway, 18 ounces of this recipe equals $1.40. Commercial jam contains high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. I usually buy cane sugar.
Do not double batches. Use the large open kettle to cook down rapidly and keep splashing to a minimum.  Read directions with your lids to prepare them.
Yield: "8 Half Pints"

Sunday in Iowa...

Gorgeous old blooming hydrangeas  say "Iowa" in August  
These beautiful shrubs are in front of a porch on our street - we admire them every year.  Most of these big bushes are in the yards of older homes and have been there for years - you can see them all over our area, both in town and in farmyards.

Cooking with Shortening...Baked Hush Puppies

This recipe for baked hush puppies from the Quick and Easy cookbook by Southern Living was an instant hit at our house.
  Like the title of the book says, it was quick and easy. Everyone thought they really were more like mini corn muffins than hush puppies, but so good and so much better for you. My daughter thinks they should be white cornmeal instead of yellow but yellow is what I had on hand. To our Southern readers, does it make a difference? Taste, or just the appearance?
  I used my 24 cup mini muffin pan and greased them well with Crisco. They took about ten minutes to put together and 15 minutes in the oven and no greasy mess from frying them. I used my 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to put them in the pan and that went quite fast. I didn’t quite get 24 so put water in the three empty cups so my pan would not warp. If you have some left they freeze very well.
  Folks, if you like hush puppies this is a really good way to go. My grandson, who is my biggest hush puppy fan, gave them 2 thumbs up, so will make them often.
Baked Hush Puppies
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon sugar
1 ½ baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
⅓ cup milk
1 egg beaten
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons melted shortening 
  Combine dry ingredients; add remaining ingredients and stir only until blended. Place about 1 tablespoon batter into well greased 1 ½ inch mini muffin pans. Bake at 425° for 15 to 20 minutes.
YIELD: about 24      

Golden Caramel Syrup

I looked at this recipe in the Sophie Leavitt PennyPincher’s Cookbook and thought it looked interesting…that’s all.  Until I opened my brown sugar canister and found the brown sugar was completely dry and hard.  Then I got out my book and decided it was worth trying to see if I could save that sugar.   She recommended putting it in a squeeze bottle to put the syrup on the pancakes, French toast or waffles, not on the plate.  
She only cooked hers 10 minutes, but my husband likes a thicker syrup, and 30-45 minutes is better for us.  It’s darker than purchased Golden Syrup, because of the brown sugar.  I just let it cook while I was doing other things around the kitchen.
You don’t need to wait until you have hard brown sugar to make this!  My husband loved it and I liked it too.   I gave some to Myrna and she used it to bake an apple and raved about it!  
Whole Wheat French Toast with Golden Caramel Syrup  
                              Golden Caramel Syrup
About 1 cup of syrup: 
6             ounces  brown sugar (1 cup) packed
  1           cups  water
Combine sugar and water in small saucepan.
Turn heat to medium low or low and cook about 30-45 minutes to form liquid syrup.  It should be at a slow simmer.  Stir occasionally.  It will thicken in the refrigerator.  After cooking store in fridge.
Makes about 3/4 to 1 cup.

To use 1 pound of brown sugar:                               
  16         ounces  brown sugar
  2 2/3    cups  water
Follow directions above.