Friday, February 5, 2010

My husband's birthday pie... and the story that goes with it

Many years ago, my aunt and uncle lived here locally.  She was a regular subscriber to a LOT of magazines and would pass them on to me when she was finished with them.  I used to love looking through them.  Most of them were cooking magazines such as Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit... I loved trying new recipes out, and back then we had no kids, so I had a lot more time to experiment.

During those times, 10 years ago, I stumbled upon an interesting pie recipe in Bon Appetit (from the January 2000 issue).  I was intrigued by the ingredients, and decided to tear it out.  One Saturday, I set out to make that pie.  Little did I know, there was a lot of involvement and time required to make it.  So I slaved all day to make that pie.

When my husband asked me what kind of pie I had made, I told him it was a Pear and Blueberry Pie with a Walnut Streusel Topping.  He said it didn't sound very good.  I told him that it took me all day, and it was fine if he didn't like it, because I would never have to make it again!

After dinner, we ate the pie with vanilla ice cream.  He proceeds to tell me that it's the best pie he has ever had.  I also LOVED it.  So I told him that he can have it once a year for his birthday, and that's it.  Over the years, it has become famous among our friends.  Word quickly got around.  Some years I have friends over for his birthday and to share in the pie experience, and some years we just share the leftovers.  But I have gotten the creation of the pie down to a science, and for at least the last 7 or 8 years have made 2 pies at the same time.  It is still over a half day to make, but well worth the time for us.

Many people over the years ask for the recipe.  My response is always "are you sure?" and sometimes people decide not to get the recipe after I explain the process.  It's really not bad if you love spending time in the kitchen for something that is great!  For those of you who would like to make it, below is the link for the pie and the topping- not sure why it's called a sauce on the linked page, it is not at all a sauce on top.

Pear and Blueberry Pie 

Walnut Streusel Topping

Happy baking!

If you plan to make, keep reading:
My notes for making crust:
The crust on the bottom layer has shrinkage issues.  Try to make it large enough to go at least to the edge of the pie dish, then get a fork and poke fork holes all around the sides and bottom.  This will help you tremendously.  I have tried weighing it down with beans and not doing anything at all.  The forking method has worked best for this crust.  It is very flavorful and my husband has refused to allow me to use a different bottom crust. ;)

Also, please note that any of the 3 layers can be made in advance and refrigerated, covered.  Layer the 3 layers only when you're ready to bake the pie(s) in the oven.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fresh Blueberry Cinnamon Oatmeal

This morning I stayed home with the girls.  School is not opening up until 10:00 am due to the icy road conditions.  I made some oatmeal for us girls to enjoy for breakfast.  Here's what I did:

Blueberry Cinnamon Oatmeal

Oats of your choice, enough for 3 servings according to the package/can
1 1/2 cups frozen unsweetened blueberries
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon (less if you don't like strong cinnamon flavor)

Cook the 3 full servings of oats according to instructions.  Once cooked completely, add the remaining ingredients, stirring to mix completely.  The frozen blueberries need a couple of minutes to warm, and it usually cools the oatmeal just enough to be ready to eat!  This was enough to serve 4 in our house.

Have a wonderful week!