Tag Archives: grandma’s recipes

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Until I was in my 20's I did not know that most pie crusts were made out of shortening or butter.  There was only one recipe for pie crust in my mother's recipe box and it was for this recipe right here that I'm going to share with you today.  The recipe is my Great-Grandmother Pat's recipe and she did not use shortening or butter in her pie crust; she used vegetable oil.  I have no idea why.  Maybe it was a Great Depression thing.  Maybe it was a Polish thing. Maybe it was a preference thing.  I just don't know.  What I do know is that every time I make this crust I can hear my grandma's voice, see her knobby fingers and smell her house.

I have introduced you to my Great-Grandma Pat before:

She's the lovely bride and that handsome gentleman sitting next to her is my Great-Grandpa Pat.  Her full name was Antonia Cecilia Smith (Smigkelski) but she went by Annette because she hated being called "Antonia."  I think it was too "ethnic" to her.  I love it.  She was always "Grandma Pat" to me and I loved visiting her house in Gridley, CA where she always had 2 things waiting for me to nibble on: egg custards in the fridge and spice cookies on the counter.  I'm still trying to figure out the spice cookie recipe, I think my Grandma Shirley is holding out on me.

One recipe I do have tucked safely away in my stash is the recipe for her pie crust.  So let's get to it:

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The ingredient list is simple (makes one 9in. crust):

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup milk (I've always used whole milk)

The directions couldn't be any easier either:

  • Dump everything in a bowl
  • Mix until forms into a solid ball of dough
  • Starting from the middle working out, roll out into at least 9" pie crust, place in pie plate and using a fork poke holes all over the inside to keep it from puffing up while baking.
  • Bake at 450 degrees, 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown

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Now, let me give you a couple of tips:

  • My Grandma Shirley (Annette's daughter) informed me this weekend that she never uses this recipe because it always crumbles on her.  True, it is not as silky or soft as a traditional pie crust.  The vegetable oil does a good job of providing the fat to make it flaky but it does not make this crust "smooth".  It may crack or crumble while you are working with it and that's ok.  Take a deep breath, everything is going to work out, I promise.  This weekend I made 2 crusts and it seemed to me that the first one came together with the least amount of breakage so it may be that working quickly will help you get the pie into the pan all in one piece.
  • This crust may stick a little to the counter or cutting board, as most crusts do.  The best way to transfer it to the pan, I found, is to use a spatula or bench scraper to peel it up and gently fold it into 4ths like the picture above.  Plop it in your pie plate and carefully unfold it.  Voila!  Of course, I could have sprinkled a little flour before I started rolling out the dough, but I forgot.  And it all worked out anyway.  See?  Cooking isn't scary.  It all works out somehow.
  • Even if it cracks (and it probably will crack at least a bit), this dough is very forgiving and meant to be very rustic.  Just take a chunk of excess dough &  "repair" the crack.  Squish and press it back into the shape you need it to be, most of it is going to be covered with filling anyway.
  • Although very similar to a traditional shortening pie crust, this pie has a tiny bit more heft to it so I try to roll it out as thin as possible, just keeping the edges a smidge thicker.  If you roll the crust out "thick" it will taste "thick".  And that may be what you prefer, just be forewarned.

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I have to stop here and point out the brilliance of my new cutting board from.... wait for it... Walmart!

It's from the Paula Deen line, no less, but I saw it months ago and debated whether or not to get it.  When I went back to pick up some extra pie plates this weekend I decided it must come home with me.  I gotta tell you, I love this new cutting board!  It's a darker, acacia wood which I appreciate much more than the lighter colored boards.  But the selling point was that engraved onto one side of the board are measurements for 6,8,9 & 10 in. rounds as well as a 14 in. straight edge. It took out all the guesswork when I rolled out my pie dough.  I knew I had rolled far enough when I got the 9 in. border line.  Infomercial complete.

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My pie crusts were beautiful and tasty and easy and... well, awesome.  Don't judge my crimping skills, I never was able to master the "pie crimp" and this dough doesn't lend easily to it anyway. People know it's a homemade pie when they see edges that ugly and somehow they love you a little more for it.

Yes, I feed people to get them love me.  There was a lot of love going around this weekend.

PS: Stay tuned for Friday when I share the recipe for the yummy filling!

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Cherry Almond Cookies by accordingtocarey.com

I have a confession:  I don't usually like chunks of dried fruit.  I suppose it's the texture more than anything that bothers me but for whatever reason I won't usually eat something if it has... say raisins in it.   The same goes for dried blueberries, apricots, peaches, apples, persimmons, etc., etc.... you get the point.

And then last week at work I received this little gift:

Weird gift, right?  Except... at my day job we build and sell tree shakers.  Big machines that shake ripe fruit and nuts from their trees.  The cherries in this container were shaken from their tree by one of our shakers.  It's kinda fun to see the end product of everyone's labor, from the welders that molded the machine together to the farmers who grew the fruit.  And here it sits on my desk, farm to table.  Very cool.

What were we talking about?  Oh yeah, cookies!

Even though I normally have a bad attitude about dried fruit, I was determined to incorporate these ruby gems into a recipe.  I grew up on a cherry far for goodness sake, I can think of something!  And that's when Cherry Almond Cookies were born.

I figured if I chopped the cherries up super fine, the texture would no longer be an issue and I would still get all that great cherry flavor.  Problem solved!

I started with a base recipe from my Grandma Shirley that includes a healthy dose of natural almond flavor.  Why almond?  (Hold on to your seats because this is where the geek in me comes out.)  Did you know that almonds and cherries are related?  Yep, they are both from the Prunus genus of fruiting trees.  If you have ever cracked open the pit of a cherry, peach or nectarine you may have noticed the resemblance to an almond.  Their kissing cousins! Without hesitation I knew this flavor combo would work.  Plus the tartness of the cherries would play well against the richness of the butter. One whole cup of butter to be exact.  I never said these were health-food cookies!

My Grandma's original recipe (Chinese Almond Cookies) is so ridiculously simple, the only ingredient you might not already have in your cupboard is pure almond extract.  If you don't have it, go get some!  You can use it in a ton of recipes from baked goods to coffee to cocktails.  And if you happen to accidentally splash a little on you while cooking, it will make you smell irresistible.  To squirrels, that is.

cherry almond cookies raw cookie dough

Here is how simple the recipe is:

  • Sift together your dry ingredients.  And by "sift" I mean dump them all in the mixing bowl and use a whisk to quickly combine them all together.
  • Add the fat of your choice, butter or Crisco.  I usually choose salted butter.  Cut the butter in til the whole mixture resembles wet sand.  You can do it by hand or with a mixer.
  • Add the eggs, almond extract and in this case, finely chopped dried cherries until it all comes together in one big ball of dough.

And now you're ready for baking!  That whole process comes together in less than 5 minutes and with only 18 minutes of baking time you can have buttery, delicious cookies in under 30 minutes and you will love me because they are awesome!  I will post the whole recipe below.

Have a terrific summer weekend, bake some cookies, enjoy this crazy life!

Cherry Almond Cookies by accordingtocarey.com

2 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter or shortening, softened

1 slightly beaten egg

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

1/2 cup finely chopped dried cherries

1/4 cup slivered or halved almonds

Preheat oven to 325.  Combine first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl, using a whisk to gently stir till all combined and no lumps are visible.  With an electric mixer or by hand cut in butter or shortening until mixture resembles cornmeal or wet sand.  With an electric mixer or large wooden spoon add egg, extract and dried cherries, mixing gently until one large, soft ball of dough forms.  Using a small spoon, scoop out a small portion of dough and roll into a 1" ball, about the size of a walnut.  Place balls on an ungreased baking sheet with about 1 inch in between each cookie.  Take an almond half or a couple slivers of almond and lightly press them onto the top of the dough ball, pressing down slightly so the middle has a slight indentation.  Bake cookies for 15-18 minutes, until the edges are just barely beginning to turn golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes before eating.  Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.