Bake


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Not gonna lie, of all the pies I make, apple pies are by far the the most time consuming with all the peeling, coring, chopping and mixing, it probably takes twice as long as a berry pie (even with a peeling machine, which I can’t recommend enough!). But all that work? So worth it!

My baking assistant certainly though the ribbons of peel were fun,and the cinnamon and sugar-covered apple-slices were A-OK by her. And truthfully, after eight years of annual apple pie-making, I’ve got my process down. And so we’ve already eaten one pie, and have the second in the freezer for later this winter.

Want a video of me walking through the pie-making process? Check! Or the recipe? Check!

Book Illustration:  Time for A Hug by Phillis Gershator, Mim Green, with Illustrations by David Walker, a new favorite in our house.

Interested in Children’s books? Me too! As the daughter of a former elementary-school librarian, who currently reads at least 5 new picture books a week (thanks local library!), I’ve started compiling a list our our household favorites with detailed reviews over on my Pinterest Page.

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Picking Raspberries

Down the Path

Picking Raspberries

Picking Raspberries

Picking Raspberries

Snell Family Farm

Picking Raspberries

Checking for More

Tasting the Bounty

Picking Raspberries

Raspberry Pie

Raspberry Pie

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Raspberry Pie and Ice Cream

Eating Pie

What can I say? I love pick your own (PYO) farm adventures!

Last week at the farmer’s market we discovered that Snell Family Farm did PYO raspberries (they do apples too). So on a sunny Saturday morning Mr. Cleaver, LMC and I loaded up the wagon (no pets allowed, unfortunately) and took the short drive out to Buxton/Bar Mills.

We had a fabulous picking experience. The raspberry fields are orderly and the picking rows are wide, so you don’t have to worry about backing into thorns/stepping on fruit. There were plenty of ripe berries on the bushes, mostly down low, which meant that LMC could pick berries on her own (though she doesn’t quite get the concept of ripe/not ripe yet).

I highly recommend bringing a picking assistant- twice the picking, half the fruit! I’m pretty sure LMC ate at least 1/2 pint of raspberries while we were picking, but as the kind cashier said, “I didn’t weight her when she came in, I’m not weighing her on the way out.” (We gave them some extra cash anyhow).  We were also able to pick up some carrots and green beans from the farm stand and they have huge greenhouses full of flowers. So if you’re in the mood for picking fruit, I’d highly recommend our Snell experience.

Also, can I say that Mr. Cleaver did an awesome job as field-trip photographer? With the exception of the pie close-ups, he took all of these. And he says he doesn’t know how to use my camera- ha!

We ended up with two full quarts of berries, half of which we’re in the process of eating fresh and the other half made their way into a raspberry pie. While LMC has assisted in the baking portion before, this was her first slice of pie, of which she left no crumb uneaten, so I think I’m safe to say she liked it.

LMC-Approved Raspberry Pie

Preheat oven to 375 °F

Crust

  • 2 cups flour, plus more for rolling surface/rolling pin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup very cold water
  • Small amount of milk
  • Small amount of sugar

Mix together flour and salt then “cut in” shortening with a pastry cutter or knives.

Add up to 1/4 cup of very cold water a few Tablespoons at a time, until dough holds together.  Form into two equal-sized balls of dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator (at least while you make the filling, preferably at least an hour). Flour working surface and roll out crusts, using half the dough for each. Makes one top and one bottom crust for a 9″ pie tin.

Filling

  • 4 cups fresh (or thawed frozen) raspberries
  • 3 Tbl cornstarch
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup of sugar (to taste, based on the sweetness of your fruit)

Mix filling ingredients together, trying not to smush the berries too much.

Place lower crust into a 9-inch pie pan and pour in filling. Use a small amount of milk or water around the edge of the lower crust to help seal.  Cut vents in top crust and place over filling, cut off overhanging crust (save them for cinnaminninies!) and crimp the edges to the lower crust to seal.  Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle with a light dusting of cane sugar.

Place in center of oven and bake for approximately 55 minutes, or until filling bubbles and crust is golden brown. If needed, cover the edges of the crust with tinfoil during the final stages of baking to prevent scorching.

Cool on the windowsill of your choice (nothing burns like hot fruit!) and enjoy with ice cream.

 

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Little Miss Cleaver turned one this weekend, and it’s hard to believe it’s been a year already. The days can be long (3:30 wake up calls, anyone?) but the weeks and months, and now year (!), just speed by.  It seems not so long ago she was just this tiny squishy thing and now she’s walking and babling, and has opinions and is just a tiny little person.

To celebrate her first birthday we made a weekend of it. First on Friday, Mr. Cleaver and LMC met me at work and we went out to lunch at the Olive Cafe, picked out some birthday presents at the local toy store, and LMC tasted her first ice cream – Gelato Fiasco of course!

For her actual birthday on Saturday we kept it fairly low key. She wore a new mom-made birthday dress. There was breakfast and cards. Then we went to LMC’s very first swim class, the first half of which involved a wet baby clinging to me like a barnacle, until we got to the picking up and splashing into the pool part and especially the singing part. During the singing she clapped her little hands with joy and looked at me as if to say, you didn’t tell me there’d be singing mom, I’d have been more open to this whole thing if I knew there would be singing! The swim class totally wiped her out and resulted in a nearly two-hour mom lap nap.

In the afternoon Memere joined us for a few balloons, a few presents, and a cake. In honor of her birth on Maine Maple weekend, I made a applesauce cake with maple buttercream frosting. I modified the original recipe to use 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour, less sugar in the cake, and no nuts/raisins. I’d probably cut back on the whole wheat flour next time, as it got a bit dense. I also added a bit of water to the frosting to get it to a spreadable consistency, but it was otherwise delicious.  The frosting tasted almost exaclt like maple sugar candy. The cake decorations I made myself out of some scrapbook paper. The birthday crown was a free pattern on Ravelry that took about an hour to make.

Later in the day our neighbors, who watch LMC two days a week and are like second family to her came over for a while.  Then we ate some pizza, gave LMC a bath, and everyone went to bed about a half an hour early and slept in late.

Today was Maine Maple Sunday itself, and we made our usual jaunt up to Sebago for a pancake breakfast and sugar shack visit. All in all it was a sweet time with a sweet little girl and a very good first birthday/first year of parenting celebration.

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Last week was National Pie Day, so this past Sunday my knitting group gathered for our annual Pie Day celebration, but far more importantly, we invited a few more folks over and held a baby shower for Ms. Maggie.

Maggie’s expecting twins in the early spring, so we took the opportunity to shower her with pie, love, and handmade baby things!

As is now my typical baby gift, I made two sets of envelope tees from Growing Up Sew Liberated,  tag blankies from Simple Sewing for Baby and Made by Rae’s Basic Newborn Pants. All versions of things that we used/use often with Little Miss Cleaver and all of which, I seem to have forgotten to photograph, except for that glimpse of green corduroy above.

We ate pie, played match the baby photo to the party guest (harder than you’d think), opened gifts, ate more pie, and stenciled bibs and onesies.

Can I talk a minute about stenciling clothes? Why have I never done this before?! So fun.

I found a perfect Handmade Charlotte Woodland stencil collection and we used Tulip Soft Fabric Paint at Michaels. I’ll have to get a report back on how they hold up to washing, but having the stencils took the pressure off of a) coming up with ideas and b) having the skills to pull it off, that free-hand drawing would require. I kinda want to stencil everything now.

As per usual, the food was delicious and the versatility of pie continues to impress. There was veggie quiche, apple/cheddar/leek tart, mixed berry pie, cranberry custard, chocolate caramel, chocolate pecan caramel, as well as an array of other lovely snacks and  hors d’oeuvres.

Pie Day may be one of my favorite days of the year (especially in the midst of a cold January), but it’s even more fun when you get to celebrate a dear friend. Now to wait a few months for the little guys’ arrival!

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Yes, I just made a spreadsheet for my holiday baking

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Back when I first started blogging, I made a promise to myself that I’d never apologize for my blogging, particularly for not blogging for a while. Because as we all know, life happens and sometimes that gets in the way of the best intentions of a twice-weekly posting schedule.

That said, every since this summer there seems to have been a lot of LIFE happening and this past month has been no exception.

Since Thanksgiving, the Cleaver household has experienced a total of the following:

  • 1 holiday dinner hosted;
  • 2 full days of holiday baking and a pair of second-degree burns;
  • 2 1/2 hours in a semi-frozen field shooting photos for an upcoming design collaboration;
  • 3 knitted items finished being finished at 11:30pm the evening prior to said photo shoot;
  • 3 weeks of contractors installing, among other things, insulation in our attic and a new ceiling in our living room;
  • 4 colds (2 for me and 2 for the mister, and maybe even one for the dog!);
  • Watched Skyfall, The Hobbit, Les Mis, and a handful of Harry Potter films; and
  • 17 boxes of stuff from my mother’s house in California arrived and were sorted and stored.

Mr. Cleaver and I had both agreed that we would just get through all of this and enjoy our Christmas to the fullest extent possible. We had a great time with Mr. Cleaver’s family on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Now that we’ve had a few days to breathe (and a grateful snow day home from work for me) – we at the Cleaver camp are turning our attentions to that next most important of projects: preparing for the Wee Baby Cleaver!

My 207 cooking segment airs tonight (Friday) on WCSH6 at 7:00pm. I’ll post the video for everyone tomorrow.

In the meantime, you can check out my experience filming, the recipe, or tips on making cup-pies.

 

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