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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pie In A Jar

Our Best Bites: Single Serving Pie in a Jar


Single Serving Pie in a Jar

These are individual-sized pies made in little glass jars that go straight from your freezer to your oven to your mouth.

Pie in Jar

This is the type of jar you'll need.


They're half-pint jars, but short and squatty instead of tall and skinny (Ya know, like me as opposed to my mother. Why oh why did I have to get the other parent's genes??!) Mine are made by Kerr (Here's the link to buy them from Amazon). They're stinking cute as is, don't you think? Something about a short squatty jar makes me giddy with the thoughts of fun things I could put inside. Ya know, like PIE.

Step 1: Pie Dough
The first thing you'll need is dough. You can use any pie dough you like. Here's a great tutorial on making a basic crust. That particular recipe will make 4 jars. You can also use the all-butter crust from this post. Or if you're really in a pinch, even a store bought crust will do.

Step 2: Make a topper and line the jar
Roll out a small handful of dough. This is just for the tops of your pies, so eyeball about that much. Grab the ring part of your jar and use that as your cookie cutter. Brilliant, right? Cut out the tops and set aside.

Use the rest of the dough to line the jars. (No, you do not need to grease them) The great part is that there's no rolling required! Just take little pieces and press them in. Make sure it's pressed all the way up to the top of the jar, or pretty close to it.

Step 3: Fill 'er up
You'll need about 1/2 C filling for each jar. You can use any filling your little pie-craving heart desires, even (gasp) canned! You can also use the same method shown in the galette post to use any fruit you happen to have around.

Here's the basic recipe (for 4 pies)
2 C prepared fruit (pitted, diced, peeled, etc.)
2 T sugar- brown or white (use more or less depending on sweetness of fruit)
2 T flour- (again, more if your fruit is super juicy like cherries, less if it's pretty dry)
1 T butter (divided between the pies)
Seasonings/flavorings- cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and almond extract, citrus zest etc)

Play around with it and come up with something yummy! I made 2 different pies in my pictures: one, a cut-down version of Kate's Apple Pie and one with fresh cherries and almond extract.

When your filling is all combined, divide it between the jars and dot a pat of butter on top (about 1/4 T)


Step 4: Top it off

Make sure your "lid" has a vent so steam can escape. You can use a knive to make a couple of slits or a tiny cookie cutter to make it decorative. I am in LOVE with these little Autumn Leaf Pie Crust Cutters that my sister gave to me last fall. Oooh, I just saw this year's set has an acorn in it! I might have to get that one too--how cute is that little acorn??! My little maple leaf is pretty darn cute, too.


When your topper is ready, slip it onto the top of the pie. It will be large enough that the outside edge goes up the side of the dough-covered jar a bit, as show in the picture below. Then use your finger, or a fork, to press the 2 pieces of dough together to seal. And nobody even think about mentioning the state of my fingernails.


Another option is to do a crumb topping. I put a basic crumb topping on my cherry pies and they were sooo yummy.


Crumb Topping (for 4-6 pies)
1/4C brown sugar
1/4 C flour
2 T oats
1/4 T cinnamon
3 T cold butter
Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter. Add oats and stir to combine.

And I couldn't help but try a mini lattice on one. Eeek! Dying of cuteness overload. (Click here for a how-to on a lattice pattern)

** Optional step here that I HIGHLY reccomend: Brush pie tops with butter and sprinkle with sugar at this point. Yumminess highly instensified!

Step 5: Freeze 'em!

Ready for this? When your pies are all done and topped, place metal lids back on and seal them tight. Then pop these little cuties in the freezer. There they will stay until you find yourself having an insatiable craving for home-baked goodness. You'll be reaching for the crumbs at the bottom of the keebler box when suddenly your eyes will light up because you remember you have THESE sitting in your freezer.


Or when you have unexpected guests in need of impressing, or a friend needing to be cheered up, or it's Thursday...I can think of a million reasons why one should have a constant supply of fresh pie in the freezer.

Step 6: Bake 'em

Now first let me say that one of the biggest concerns from everyone is about the jars breaking in the oven. All I can say it that I've baked hundreds of these and never once has a jar broken. These are canning jars- they are designed to be boiled, pressure cooked, etc. So it's different than putting any ol' piece of glass in the oven. They bake just fine! But if you're freaking out then my advice would be this: remove lids from jars and place jars on a baking sheet. Place baking sheet in a COLD oven. Then turn the oven to 375. That will give the jars a chance to warm up slowly as the oven preheats. If you're really worried you can always let them sit at room temp for a bit first before putting them in a cold oven. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the middles are bubbly. If you're baking them fresh and not frozen they take about 45 minutes.


Depending on your filling you can pop them right out of the jar and onto a plate like so:



Or just eat them right out of the jar. There's something way more fun about eating it right out of the jar...


And if you have oozing cherry filling, that might be the only option!



Kate had a brilliant idea too- no need to stick to sweetie pies, try going savory with
Chicken Pot Pie in a Jar!!


Okay now...FREEBIES FOR ALL!
Remember a few paragraphs ago when I was praising the almighty Lolly? Lolly is the brain behind Lollychops. Some of you may remember last year when she designed these cute cute Christmas tags for us to put on our goodies. So of course, I instantly thought of her when I realized that I could not sleep at night knowing these mini-pies could be better dressed. They needed just a touch of Lolly. And she delivered like always with these adorable tags!




 All of the directions are right on the tag and you can write a little To/From on it. Plus in true Lolly fashion there's like, a million different versions to go with any flavor you could possibly imagine! How cute are these?! Have I mentioned how much I love Lolly? I love you, my dear Lolly.


(I can't believe she's giving this pie to some guy named Ron when I just told her I loved her.)

These little pies are perrrrrrfect for giving. So once you have these cuties made up, download Lolly's tag set, and get your cute on. People will think you are amazing because not only did you come up with the brilliant idea to make a mini pie in a jar, you also made an adorable personalized tag. Talk about moving up a notch on the popularity ladder.

--> CLICK HERE <-- to head over to the Lollychops blog and get all of the instructions and details on downloading and using the tag sets. And here is a direct link to the tags.


Edit: Lolly has just added this adorable TURKEY pie tag!! Click HERE to get it!


A big thanks to my girl Lolly for playing along with pie this week!
All of the rest of you- get baking and have a great week!
Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter. Add oats and stir to combine.

And I couldn't help but try a mini lattice on one. Eeek! Dying of cuteness overload. (Click here for a how-to on a lattice pattern)

** Optional step here that I HIGHLY reccomend: Brush pie tops with butter and sprinkle with sugar at this point. Yumminess highly instensified!

Step 5: Freeze 'em!

Ready for this? When your pies are all done and topped, place metal lids back on and seal them tight. Then pop these little cuties in the freezer. There they will stay until you find yourself having an insatiable craving for home-baked goodness. You'll be reaching for the crumbs at the bottom of the keebler box when suddenly your eyes will light up because you remember you have THESE sitting in your freezer.


Or when you have unexpected guests in need of impressing, or a friend needing to be cheered up, or it's Thursday...I can think of a million reasons why one should have a constant supply of fresh pie in the freezer.

Step 6: Bake 'em

Now first let me say that one of the biggest concerns from everyone is about the jars breaking in the oven. All I can say it that I've baked hundreds of these and never once has a jar broken. These are canning jars- they are designed to be boiled, pressure cooked, etc. So it's different than putting any ol' piece of glass in the oven. They bake just fine! But if you're freaking out then my advice would be this: remove lids from jars and place jars on a baking sheet. Place baking sheet in a COLD oven. Then turn the oven to 375. That will give the jars a chance to warm up slowly as the oven preheats. If you're really worried you can always let them sit at room temp for a bit first before putting them in a cold oven. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the middles are bubbly. If you're baking them fresh and not frozen they take about 45 minutes.


Depending on your filling you can pop them right out of the jar and onto a plate like so:



Or just eat them right out of the jar. There's something way more fun about eating it right out of the jar...




Thursday, September 2, 2010

The FDA approved crushed insects for use as a food coloring and allows companies to hide that fact

Boycott Watch - Groups Move to Ban FDA Approved Bugs in food.

Groups Move to Ban FDA Approved Bugs in food.

Summary: Do you like eating ground bugs? The FDA says it is ok.

Would you eat a food if you knew it was specifically made with insects as an ingredient? Most people would not, yet the FDA has approved crushed insects for use as a food coloring and allows companies to hide that fact. As this is becoming more known, various groups are sending out emails to get people to write the FDA demanding a full disclosure label requirement indicating the hidden use of insects in your food. Boycott Watch has confirmed the facts in this consumer action.

Carmine and cochineal extracts are used to create vibrant red food coloring and are actually the dried and crushed bodies of the female cochineal insect. Sound tasty? Not to us, yet this food coloring only has to be listed as k-carmine on labels, and most people have no clue as to what they are eating.

There are other red food colorings available that are not made from crushed bugs, such as red dye #40 which is a coal extract, yet carmine is preferred by some manufacturers because the vibrant level of red it produces can not be found inexpensively anywhere else.

The movement to get the FDA to require companies using carmine to state that carmine is in fact insects in gaining traction, but has garnered some resistance from food manufacturers. While the FDA is more concerned with allergic reactions, other concerns by anti-carmine activists include vegetarian and kosher concerns. Boycott Watch wants consumers to know what they may potentially be eating so you, the consumer, can make up your own mind.

If you would like to voice your opinion or want more information about the FDA and pending carmine regulations, visit http://www.fda.gov and search on the word 'carmine.'


The Best Argument Ever For Canning, Dehydrating & Freezing Your Own Food

How Many Insect Parts and Rodent Hairs are Allowed in Your Food?

How Many Insect Parts and Rodent Hairs are Allowed in Your Food?
More Than You Think ... and Maybe Than You Want to Know!
by www.SixWise.com


How about a little rat hair with your peanut butter? A fly head with your macaroni and cheese? Though it may sound disgusting, these things and other gross filth the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calls "natural contaminants" are indeed allowed and present in your food.

Mouse Bread

Gross but true: A certain number of rodent hairs are allowed in the food you eat. (A whole mouse, however, is not.)

In fact, so common are these contaminants that the FDA has published a booklet detailing the so-called "Food Defect Action Levels," which were needed, according to the FDA, " ... because it is economically impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects."

Surely, anyone who's ever collected lettuce from a home garden, picked apples right from the tree or strawberries right from the vine has gotten the unpleasant surprise of finding a spider, worm or other "natural contaminant" in their harvest. But in these cases, we're more accepting, or at least, more expecting, of finding an unwanted guest, and we're free to inspect each item for ourselves.

But what about when it comes to processed foods? Is there really any way to know how many insect parts have been ground right up with the rest of the ingredients? Probably not.

Think insect parts and rodent hairs are more of a rarity? Think again. An Ohio University fact sheet estimates that we eat from one to two pounds of insects each year, and without knowing it.

This is Gross, but is it Dangerous?

Quite the contrary. "They're actually pretty healthy," says Dr. Philip Nixon, an entomologist at the University of Illinois, in regard to insects, "If we were more willing to accept certain defect levels such as insects and insect parts, growers could reduce pesticide usage. Some of the spraying that goes on is directly related to the aesthetics of our food."

The FDA agrees that it's reasonable to accept more natural defects in our food in lieu of increasing the amount of pesticides sprayed on them:

"The alternative to establishing natural defect levels in some foods would be to insist on increased utilization of chemical substances to control insects, rodents and other natural contaminants. The alternative is not satisfactory because of the very real danger of exposing consumers to potential hazards from residues of these chemicals, as opposed to the aesthetically unpleasant but harmless natural and unavoidable defects."

However, there may be one health area that's been overlooked. According to Judy Tidwell, an economic service specialist at a state social services office in the Southeast United States who has struggled with allergies, trace amounts of insect parts that have been ground into food items ranging from strawberry jam to spaghetti sauce can affect people with allergies and asthma.

"We throw away the products that we see are infested. Just think how many we consume because we didn't notice they were infested. Ingesting insect material may cause stomach disorders, as well as allergic reactions," she says.

How Many Rodent Hairs and Insect Parts Are In ...

Peanut Butter

The FDA's action level for peanut butter is 30 or more insect fragments or one or more rodent hairs per 100 grams.

Here is a very brief sampling of the FDA's Food Defect Action Level list. They begin investigation when foods reach the action level they've set. According to the FDA, typical foods contain about 10 percent of the action level, but others say they contain more like 40 percent.

CHOCOLATE AND CHOCOLATE LIQUOR

  • Insect filth: Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams when 6 100-gram subsamples are examined OR any 1 subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments

  • Rodent filth: Average is 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams in 6 100-gram subsamples examined OR any 1 subsample contains 3 or more rodent hairs

CITRUS FRUIT JUICES, CANNED

  • Insects and insect eggs: 5 or more Drosophila and other fly eggs per 250 ml or 1 or more maggots per 250 ml

RED FISH AND OCEAN PERCH

  • Parasites: 3% of the fillets examined contain 1 or more parasites accompanied by pus pockets

MACARONI AND NOODLE PRODUCTS

  • Insect filth: Average of 225 insect fragments or more per 225 grams in 6 or more subsamples

  • Rodent filth: Average of 4.5 rodent hairs or more per 225 grams in 6 or more subsamples

PEANUT BUTTER

  • Insect filth: Average of 30 or more insect fragments per 100 grams

  • Rodent filth: Average of 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams

POPCORN

  • Rodent filth: 1 or more rodent excreta pellets are found in 1 or more subsamples, and 1 or more rodent hairs are found in 2 or more other subsamples OR 2 or more rodent hairs per pound and rodent hair is found in 50% or more of the subsamples OR 20 or more gnawed grains per pound and rodent hair is found in 50% or more of the subsamples

WHEAT FLOUR

  • Insect filth: Average of 75 or more insect fragments per 50 grams

  • Rodent filth: Average of 1 or more rodent hairs per 50 grams

Can these things be avoided? To avoid all unsavory food components, it seems, would be to stop eating all together. And perhaps we're just being too squeamish. After all, as Dr. Manfred Kroger, a professor of food science at Pennsylvania State University, says, "Let's face it, much of our food comes from nature, and nature is not perfect."



15 Homemade Organic Gardening Sprays and Concoctions That Actually Work

15 Homemade Organic Gardening Sprays and Concoctions That Actually Work - Planet Green


Safe, organic garden remedies that are easy on your wallet and the Earth.

By Colleen Vanderlinden

garden remedies

Pest Control


1. Tomato Leaf Spray is effective in killing aphids and mites. It works because the alkaloids in the tomato leaves (and the leaves of all nightshades, actually) are fatal to many insects.

2. Garlic Oil Spray is a great, safe insect repellent. Simply put three to four cloves of minced garlic into two teaspoons of mineral oil. Let the mixture sit overnight, and then strain the garlic out of the oil. Add the oil to one pint of water, and add a teaspoon of biodegradable dish soap. Store in a bottle or jar, and dilute the mixture when you use it by adding two tablespoons of your garlic oil mixture to one pint of water.

This mixture works because the compounds in garlic (namely, diallyl disulfide and diallyl trisulfide) are irritating or deadly to many insects. The oil and soap help the mixture stick to plant leaves. What insects does garlic oil repel? Whiteflies, aphids, and most beetles will avoid plants sprayed with garlic oil. A word of caution: don't apply this spray on a sunny day, because the oils can cause foliage to burn.

3. Hot Pepper Spray is a great solution if you have problems with mites. Simply mix two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce, a few drops of biodegradable dish soap, and one quart of water and let it sit overnight. Use a spray bottle to apply the spray to infested plants.

Hot pepper spray works because the compound capsaicin, which causes the "heat" in hot peppers, is just as irritating to insects as it is to us (have you ever sliced a hot pepper and gotten any of it in an open cut? Ouch!) This mixture also helps repel whiteflies, but it may have to be reapplied if you start to see the mites or whiteflies returning.

4. Simple Soap Spray is useful in taking out a wide variety of garden pests, including aphids, scale, mites, and thrips. Just add one tablespoon of dishwashing soap to a gallon of water and spray the mixture on the pests.

Why does this work? The soap dissolves the outer coating or shell of the insects, eventually killing them.

5. Beer for the Slugs: sink a tuna can or pie plate into the ground, and add a couple of inches of beer, to about an inch below the top of the container. The slugs will go in for a drink and drown.

Beer works because the slugs are attracted to the yeast. It's really important to sink the container into the soil and keep the beer about an inch lower than the soil. This way, the slugs have to go down after the beer, and they drown. If the beer is near the soil, the slugs can just have a drink and then go and munch some hostas when they're done with happy hour.

6. Citrus Rinds as Slug Traps. This works. If you don't have beer in the house, but you do have oranges, grapefruits, or lemons, give this a try.

7. Newspaper Earwig Traps work well for reducing the population of these sometimes-pesky insects.

8. Soda Bottle Yellowjacket Traps work by attracting the yellowjackets away from seating or picnic areas, and then ensuring that they can't escape the trap.

9. Red Pepper Spray works well for making your plants less tasty to mammal and bird pests. If bunnies, deer, mice, squirrels, and birds are regularly messing with your garden, make the following mixture and spray target plants weekly. Mix four tablespoons of Tabasco sauce, one quart of water, and one teaspoon of dish soap. The capsaicin in the pepper spray will irritate the animal pests, and they'll look for less spicy fare elsewhere.

Fungal Disease Solutions


10. Milk for Powdery Mildew. The milk works just as well as toxic fungicides at preventing the growth of powdery mildew. This mixture will need to be reapplied regularly, but it works wonderfully.

11. Baking Soda Spray for Powdery Mildew is a tried-and-true method for preventing powdery mildew. It needs to be applied weekly, but if you have a problem with mildew in your garden, it will be well worth the time. Simply combine one tablespoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of vegetable oil, one tablespoon of dish soap and one gallon of water and spray it on the foliage of susceptible plants.

Baking soda spray works because the baking soda disrupts fungal spores, preventing them from germinating. The oil and soap help the mixture stick to plant leaves.

Weeds


12. Vinegar works very well for weeds in your lawn and garden. The main issue with vinegar is that it can harm other plants. I recommend using a foam paintbrush to brush the vinegar directly onto the leaves of weeds you're trying to kill. This prevents the vinegar from getting onto other plants and ensures that the entire leaf surface is coated with the vinegar.

13. Boiling Water for Sidewalk Weeds: Boil some water, and pour it over weeds in the cracks of your sidewalks or driveways. Most weeds can't stand up to this treatment, and your problem is solved. Just be careful when pouring!

14. Vinegar and Salt for Sidewalk Weeds: I personally prefer pouring boiling water on sidewalk weeds, or pulling them. But if you have some really stubborn weeds, you can try diluting a few teaspoons of water into some white vinegar and pouring that onto your sidewalk weeds. Please note that this concoction will kill just about any plant it comes in contact with, so keep it away from your other plants, as well as your lawn.

And the Best Homemade Garden Concoction of All


15. Compost! Seriously, whether you're an apartment dweller with a fire escape farm or a rural farmer, you need to be making and using the stuff. It adds nutrients, improves soil structure, increases moisture retention, and increases the number of beneficial microbes in your soil. And that's all besides preventing organic matter from making its way to the landfill.

I hope these ideas for safe, homemade organic garden concoctions are helpful. By having just a handful of inexpensive items on hand, you can take care of most common gardening dilemmas in your own, green way.

More About Organic Gardening:
Permaculture Principles: Recycling Nutrients
35 Ways to Succeed at Organic Gardening
How to Go Green: Gardening
Win Against Weeds, Naturally



About Me

My photo

~Nature is my Religion~  Eccentric, Atheist, Freethinker, Paganistic (minus the god/s)  Free Spirited Old Hippie-type, A Mediocre Artist & Jewelry Maker, Writer of Bad Poetry,  Lover of Whimsy, Thunderstorms, Books, cheap Red Wine & the unconventional. I  Seek a quiet life close to Nature and grow veggies and herbs, compost, day dream. 
'Veni, Vidi, Vixi'.  -translated-  'I came, I saw, I Lived'.  (Contemplations,  by Victor Hugo).