My Pie Crust

This recipe has been requested by some of my friends (Claire- this is for you!), generally after I’ve had them over for dinner &  dessert with pastry involved, whether it be a chicken pot pie, tourtière, or one of my famous fruit pies. (exemplified here in a tourtière)
Before we get started with the recipe, I just want to state that this pastry is not the most picture perfect, glossy, thick pastry. This is a SUPER tender and melt in your mouth pastry, that can be used for the most delicate pies- but that I love so much that I still use for my meat pies and quiches. It is very very tender and delicious, but it will not look like what you generally see on the Thanksgiving magazine covers with the super smooth, glossy top with thick edge- but I LOVE IT!, WAY more than what I think are more ‘tough’ pastries. Anyways. I hope you enjoy it- As you can tell pastry is close to my heart- and this is a recipe that has been passed down from my grandma and is somewhat of a family special tradition. I hope you enjoy it too! 
My Pie Crust
This is very simple recipe. You can make a full batch using a full block of lard which would be enough for approximately 3 pies with tops or 5 pies without tops and some little tarts- it really depends on how thick you roll it (the thinner the better). Or you can make a half-batch, which would be a good amount to make one pie with a top or two pies without tops, with some extra maybe to make some jam tarts :).
For the full batch:
1 lb of lard (tenderflake), cold and cubed
4 1/2 cups of flour (plus flour for dusting your rolling surface and rolling pin)
ice water
Using a pastry blender, cut the lard and flour until it takes on a crumb texture. Alternatively you can use a food processor – but be VERY CAREFUL to not over-mix!!
When you have a nice crumb consistency, add a little bit of ice water (without the actual pieces of ice) and mix with a big spoon bringing it together- keep adding a little bit of water here and there and only mix until it JUST comes together loosely- it will still be crumbly and NOT a smooth dough- you want it only just holds together.
 For a bottom crust, push together a ball of pastry a bit smaller than two fists – dust your work surface with flour (I like to work on wax paper), and dust your rolling pin aswell. Roll out your dough to about 1/4″ thick- it can be tricky to work with , but I promise it will be the most tender, flaky and melt in your mouth pastry. If you have any tears or holes you can patch them up by pressing little filler pieces into holes. I like to lift up the wax paper under my pastry and us it to fold the pastry into quarters and then place it in the pie shell and unfold it- to reduce tears- this pastry is delicate!
 For ease, I like to do my pie tops with little pieces that I roughly shape into leaves, or cut it into strips to do lattice. You can also use cookie cutters for any shape you want- or you can just roll a normal flat top- whatever you like. With the leaves you can always use your pastry scraps from tarts or the pie shells- then you don’t have to re-roll (which will make it tough). The one rule that I generally go by with this pastry is: the more difficult it is being and the more frustrated I get- the more tender it will probably end up- so don’t worry about it- go for the taste not the looks!
I use this pastry for pretty much all pastry needs, be it chicken pot pie or pecan pie. My general rule for pie cooking times is 15 minutes at 375 F, then 30 minutes at 350 F. I find it gives it the perfect golden brown top. 
I hope you like this pastry recipe and that it becomes as much of a favourite to you as it is to me! I used this pastry in my tourtière recipe I just posted, which you can check out here!
Have a lovely Christmas Eve Eve!
xo erin

Not so Soup & Not so Sunday: Tourtière on a Monday

Yes, it is the second installment of a failed Soup Sunday- I was thinking that at some point in the new year this feature might become Supper Sunday instead- because I will eventually run out of soups… but I suppose I can keep it, in this cheating way for a while.

And today is Tourtière!!

1 1/2 lb ground pork
1 medium onion (diced)
1 tbsp butter
3 cups mushrooms (chopped)
1 apple (peeled & diced) 
2 tsp white whine vinegar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup mashed potatoes (mashed with butter & cream/milk)
1 pie shell with top (you can learn how I make my own HERE)

Cook the pork with the onions in a frying pan. Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms in the butter, once they have reduced a bit, add the apple. 

Mix the cooked pork with the cooked mushrooms & apple. Add the vinegar and spices to the pork mixture.

 Then, mix in the mashed potatoes to the pork mixture (I like to save any leftover mashed potatoes in the freezer for this purpose- or I cook potatoes in the microwave and mash them quick with a little butter & cream) 

Put it into your rolled pie shell, and cover with pie top. I make my own pastry, and instead of rolling out a flat top, I like to cut out leaf shapes and lay them over the top.

I made a double batch- so that I could make four mini tourtieres to save in my freezer for lazy winter evenings.

Then bake in the oven at 375 F for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350 F for 30 minutes. 
REJOICE in your delicious meal!

And serve with a side salad, or whatever you like.

It might fall apart a little, but I guarantee that it is delicious!
The perfect Christmas Eve meal- nice for lunch leftovers on Christmas day as you prepare your turkey!
Hope you are all having wonderful Monday’s! So close to Christmas!

xo erin

Barbie Girl

When my mom asked me if I would like to help her make a purple Barbie outfit for a friend’s daughter, I jumped at the chance. I was OBSESSED with Barbie as a child- she was my ultimate- I had the Barbie house, the Barbie car, and a huge wardrobe of all Barbie’s clothes from ball gowns to swimwear, along with a few more questionable outfits that I made for her myself.

Now with more sewing experience, I tackled the project right- with a vintage Barbie sewing pattern:

The only thing that disturbs me slightly about this pattern cover is the fact that the proportions of the models (that are meant to be Barbies) are the same as the regular people patterns I have…

We decided on this jazzy green number, full of glamourous purple dress potential!

 I wish that I had every piece from the 1964 Tressy* Wardrobe!

We decided on a beautiful purple cotton velvet – look how cute those little pattern pieces are! Why does everything miniature look cute?

Here is the bodice and the skirt cut out, we decided to omit the strap and make it strapless- full on class. It was simple enough to sew together, just two bust darts, some front pleats, snaps up the back. But then on to the embellishments!
Does your sewing area ever end up like this during a project? Between my mom and I we both managed to find every bit of purple anything from all areas of our sewing stash and heap it all over the table- For the top of the dress, however, I decided on a very simple silver rick-rack but with two pieces entwined- and it gave a very nice look.
While I was stitching up the dress- which was pretty straight forward, Mom managed to make a tulle over-skirt, and a matching velvet jacket with marabou trim!- Quite the ensemble.
So what do you do when you want to show off a Barbie outfit? – Make a Christmas-in-Paris theme background and have a photo shoot of course!
This is the ensemble all together- along with a Christmas snow-beast who refused to leave the frame…
Once the beast was coaxed away with liver treats I was able to get a couple shots of the dress with overskirt.
The dress solo
And the coat solo, which I can really imagine being on the streets of Paris! So posh!
BUT THEN- the snow beast returned!
And refused to leave until he had his own Parisian photo-shoot! So vain! 
Such a drama king- I could have sworn I heard “paint me like one of your french girls Jack” pass his furry little lips!
Only two more sleeps until Christmas!! Merry Christmas everyone!!
xo erin

DIY: Crochet Beanie

In the cold harsh Canadian winter- there is nothing better than a cozy beanie to keep your head warm- and as an avid crocheter, I find many crochet hats very inadequate. They can be lovely and pretty with lacy stitches- but often, when it comes down to wearing them out on a cold day- they seem more full of holes – leaving your poor ears exposed.

So I set out to make a warm crochet beanie- and I did it!

This is literally the MOST simple hat you can make- it is all one stitch, and a very simple stitch at that. I also love that it is very elastic, doubles over the ears, and generally very thick and fuzzy.

I used a bulky weight acrylic/wool mix yarn, with a 6.5 size crochet hook, but you could make this hat with anything really (although I would recommend a bulky weight yarn). 


1. Crochet a Starting Chain– to determine the length of your chain- measure it against your head by holding it at the top of your head where the pom-pom would go, then over the top of your head to where you want it to sit on your forehead- folding it over as much as you want it to be folded over. (For me that was 37 chain stitches, and I wanted a big fold at the bottom). 

2. Single Crochet– for your first row single crochet in each of your chain stitches

3. Single Crochet in Back Loop- turn over (chain one), and when you go to do your next single crochet- only put your hook through the back loop, instead of both of the loops as you usually would. Do this for the entire row.

4. Repeat– repeat, repeat, repeat- until you have a rectangle of this ribbed crochet fabric, that is large enough to wrap around your head. I didn’t count how many this was, I just kept hold it up to my head a trying to squeeze it around- I also made sure it fit snug, because this stitch will give you a little stretch, so you don’t have to worry about making it super oversized.

 5. Slip Stitch & Gather– use slip stitches to join your rectangle into a tube. Then you simply gather one end of the tube using a strand or two of your yarn (depending on the strength of the yarn). 

6. POM-POM– I was still left with a bit of a hole at the top of my hat so I covered it up with a massive pom-pom (which I would have done whether there was a hole or not!) But I simply made this pom-pom by wrapping my yarn repeatedly around the closest available wine bottle (never further than 2 arm lengths from me), then sliding it off, tying the center together, and cutting the loops- fluffing it up and tying it to the top of the hat. easy-peasy 

I have hardly taken this off since I made it- and I have several requests for more hats this Christmas- which is wonderful because I can whip-up one of these gems in the time it takes to watch another Christmas movie! 
I would definitely recommend making one of these for a special someone this Christmas- as a perfect last minute gift!
Merry Christmas I hope you are all enjoying your holidays!- and I will be doing more last-minute Christmas posts very soon!
xo erin

Soup Sunday: Black Bean Soup & Hummus

Mmmmm, I have to say that of all the soups, this one is my favourite. It is so tasty, warming, and filling- and full of one of my favourite and least glamorous foods- beans. I just love beans, the taste and the texture, and they are the main ingredient in this wonderful soup.

Black Bean Soup

1 lb of stewing beef (cut small) or alternatively I used leftover roast beef cut into pieces
1 medium onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 can of tomato paste
1 heaped tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chili powder

3 or 4 cans of black beans with liquid (depending on the size of your pot or crowd)
1 cup of chicken stock

In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. If you are using raw beef, add the beef, browning it on all sides then add the onions to fry until transparent. If you are using leftover roast beef you can add both at the same time. Once the onions are transparent, add the tomato paste and spices and stir all together with the meat, heating it all and making sure it is all incorporated.

Then add the beans- the whole can, liquids and all- and the chicken stock. Trust me, although you may have never used an undrained can of beans in your life- this is really really good.

Then you just let it cook for a while on the stove and mix all the flavours together- I would say about 20 minutes is fine if you used leftover beef, and 30-45 minutes if you used raw beef to give it time to tenderize!

mmmm so hearty and delicious!

And I served this, most untraditionally, with tortillas and hummus, which is still delicious.

If you would like to know how I make Hummus

1 can of chick peas (drained)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
juice of one lemon (approx. 1/3 of a cup)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oriental sesame oil

Blend all together in a food processor- or if you have a super snazzy blender like I do *brushes off shoulders and displays my christmas present of two years ago*

Then you can mix it all on super high power!

mmmm so much delicious!

Alternatively you can fry yourself up a simple cheese quesadilla- and that goes perfectly as well!

Hope you all are having wonderfully delicious Sundays! – So close to Christmas- I will do more Christmas posts this week- I have decorations- a crochet project & more coming soon!

xo erin

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