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A Pie Is Only As Good As It's Crust {Pie Crust Recipe}

Now that the holidays are upon us, I have been in a creative cooking/baking mood. 

One thing that I have never had a good handle on in the kitchen has been a good pie crust. 

After scanning Pinterest for an easy pie crust that didn't require refrigeration before baking (I'm an impulsive baker and don't want to have to wait) I came across one that seemed do-able. I had to modify it slightly because I don't keep shortening in my pantry. 

Hands down, the best crust I have ever made! It held together well. It was pretty. It tasted awesome! The texture was so good. 

Enough talking! Let's get cooking!

Here's the recipe:

The Crust

1 1/2 c All Purpose Flour
1/2 t Salt
1/2 c REAL butter, cubed (1 stick)
4-5 tbsp ice cold water

*Tip- The colder your crust ingredients are, the better your crust's texture will be. So, the first thing I did was get my butter out of the fridge, cube it, put it into a bowl, then set it in the freezer and left it while I gathered the rest of my ingredients, bowls and utensils, and preheated the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit since I was going to par bake.

In a bowl stir together flour and salt. 
Cut in your butter until the pieces are the size of small peas. 

Add in ice cold water 1 tablespoon at a time, gently working it into your mixture with your fingers. Be careful not to overwork your mixture or your texture won't be as tender. Just add the water and mix until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl. Form into ball. 

Flatten your ball into a disc and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. 

Place your floured rolling pin in the center of your dough and roll outward, then return your pin back to the center. Continue to roll outward in all directions to maintain a round shape. Once you have rolled your dough out into a 1/8 inch thickness, you are ready to put it into your buttered pie dish. The best way to do this is to roll your dough around your rolling pin like a paper towel on a paper towel tube, and then unroll it over the dish.You might want to lightly flour the surface of your dough to prevent sticking.

 Once you have situated your crust into the dish, trim off of the excess dough around the top of your dish. *Don't throw it away! I cut mine into strips, twisted them and placed them on a cookie sheet. I baked them at 400 degrees until golden brown (about 10 minutes), and then drizzled them with honey. It's a great snack. Or you could just use the excess to decorate the top of your pie by cutting it into shapes. To make a simple, decorative crust, press the tines of a fork into the dough around the perimeter of the crust. I just pinched sections together. 

Once you have your crust edge in the decorative shape you want, take a fork and prick holes all around the crust. This prevents it from bubbling up in the oven. If your pie recipe calls for a raw dough crust, then you are ready to add your filling and bake according to your recipe. If you have a recipe that calls for a "par baked" crust, then pop your crust into the center of your oven and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8 minutes. You don't really want it to be brown. You just want a dry, set appearance. 

Once you have par baked your crust, pour in your filling and proceed with your recipe instructions.

I hope you enjoy this crust as much as my family and I did!


My Favorite Online Gardening Resources

The Wheetshire Garden- 2013
Yesterday, I shared with you some of my tips on getting started with gardening.

Today, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite online gardening resources. These are blogs and vlogs that I have gone back to over and over for information.


MIGardener: Luke is a young college student in Michigan with a love for organic gardening, cooking, and food preservation. He is very interactive with his audience and is pretty quick to respond to comments and answer questions. He also does "from garden to plate" segments that I really enjoy. He is very informative on the "how to's" of gardening and seems like an all around "nice guy". You can watch his YouTube channel and follow him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

timjturner: Tim and his family live in an urban part of North Texas. They have turned their 1/3 acre lot into a self-sufficient homestead. From grapes and peanuts to chickens and rabbits, Tim's homestead videos are both inspiring and educational. I have asked him a few questions regarding gardening and his orchard. I've received responses within 24 hours of asking. He's a southern gentlemen with a passion for what he does. I'm sure you will learn from and enjoy his videos.

Misty Prepper: Somewhere in Tennessee, Misty and her family are living the true self-sufficient lifestyle. They live in a community of like minded families. She covers all things homesteading; from gardening and canning to butchering farm animals and shooting her favorite guns. A small caveat: she does garden on a larger scale because they have a community garden where they all share the work and responsibility, but the advice that she offers can be applied to gardens of any size. I. Love. This. Channel. She cooks on a cast iron stove, people! She's very informative and interactive with her viewers. She is also on another channel called Modern Homesteaders. You can follow her on Facebook.

A Blog or Two
Click Here To Visit
Reformation Acres: This is most definitely my favorite homesteading blog. Quinn and her family just moved to Amish Country, Ohio. It's nice to get to see them establish their homestead afresh. I have gleaned so much from her blog and use it as a constant resource. She has an excellent way of explaining things, posts beautiful pictures, and takes a biblical approach in everything. She is really great about responding to questions and comments. I think you will love her as much as I do. You can also follow her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Homestead Revival Button 2, New Vertical ButtonHomestead Revival: Amy and her family live on a beautiful homestead in California. They are actually selling it to downsize now that they are "emptying" their nest. I look forward to seeing them re-establish somewhere else. Sometimes it's nice to see how people start from the beginning with all the knowledge they have accumulated through the years. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Your county extension office: Be sure to contact your county extension office for first frost dates, information on soil testing, workshops etc. I called mine late in the spring, and they sent me a free calendar full of local gardening information and pictures from county master gardeners. It was like getting a Christmas present in the mail!

Seed {catalog} company websites: Usually, if you want to know how deep to plant a seed, how far apart your plants need to be, when to plant, etc.; you can check these websites for that kind of information if you don't have a seed packet with the info or if you want a little more information than what is already on the packet.

You can follow me on Pinterest where I am pinning gardening resources and ideas almost daily. Also, stay tuned with The Simple Life of a Caver's Wife by subscribing by email and liking my Facebook page for upcoming gardening posts. I hope this helps! If you have any questions, you can post them in the comment section.


Gardening: Basic Tips For Getting Started

Even though we are in the beginning of autumn, now is a good time to plan your spring garden. With only 2 successful gardens under my belt, I know that I'm not as experienced as others, but I have already learned so much and wanted to share with you some tips that helped me get started.

Start small. Once I decided that I wanted to garden, I imagined tilling up about an acre of land and growing rows and rows of all of my family's favorite fruits and vegetables. But let's get real-- how would I know that it would work for me? What if I killed all of it? What if it was too much work with my lack of knowledge and availability? What if *gasp* I didn't like doing it? The answer was to start on a small scale. So, my Caveman used a talent that we didn't know he had, and he built me a raised bed. We filled the bed with dirt from my father-in-law's cow field, and with some mushroom compost that we purchased from a local nursery; then we planted! Believe it or not, we grew a lot of food in this 4x8 bed. That brings me to my next tip...

Grow what you and your family like to eat. There are heirloom varieties that I would like to try to grow in the 2014 gardening season that I've never eaten before, but last season was our first "learning" year and we didn't want to waste any of our bed space on foods that we weren't familiar with, so we planted foods that we loved: bell peppers, yellow summer crookneck squash, okra, onions, jalapenos, and 4 different kinds of tomatoes. From 2 squash plants, we had more than enough squash for my family of 4 to eat. I learned how to can so I could preserve the abundance of tomatoes that came from the 4 plants that we had. We still have a gallon sized freezer bag full of jalapenos from that garden in our freezer! Don't feel like by starting small, you won't grow enough to enjoy. I promise, that is not the case.

Onion sprout
Seek the advice of experienced gardeners in your area.  I've read a lot of blogs, articles, and books regarding gardening basics, but the most helpful advice that I have gotten have come from people that I know personally. These people have experience gardening in my type of soil, battling the same pests, and growing the same veggies. It seemed that a lot of by-the-book type gardening writers wanted me to test this, buy that, fertilize with this, and till with that. I just wanted to grow veggies, for crying in the mud. After talking to my friends and family, I realized that some of these resources were just overwhelming me and making me feel like it might not be worth the hassle-- I'm glad they let me know that wasn't the case. I enjoy gardening, and have come to rely on it as a major food source for my family and I.

Journal what you learn. Be sure to record what works and what doesn't work for you. Keep up with what kinds of fruits and veggies you have grown. Do you want to grow more or less of them next year? Do you want to try an entirely different variety? What pests did you see and how did you take care of them? Here are some things that I journaled: For ants, they don't really hurt anything, but sprinkle cornmeal around the bed. For squash bugs and eggs, squish them with your fingers--wear gloves. For ladybugs, leave them be; they eat the aphids. For aphids, spray them off with a water hose and spray the plants down in an oil/water/dish liquid solution. Don't plant jalapenos and bell peppers close together. I also made note of when I started to see sprouts and produce so I would know when to expect them for the next season. Okra really sneaks up on ya! One day it's just a nub, two days later it's huge and too tough to eat. Trust me, that's a gold nugget of info...

Squash bug eggs- 2012
Enjoy yourself and take it one learning experience at a time. I realized quickly that there is a lot to learn about gardening, but you don't have to know it all at once. You know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. My first year, I just wanted to see if I could grow it. I could and I did! This year, I wanted to grow on a larger scale, expand my variety of produce, and concentrate on organic pest control. I did! Right now, I'm learning about companion planting, composting, and the ins and outs of encouraging a good soil environment; I also plan to add more heirloom varieties to the garden. My hope is that with each new gardening season, I can grow more as a gardener, not just what's in the garden. Know what I mean?

As I was preparing to have my first garden, I was nervous about doing it just right. I was asking anyone I knew that had gardened every question that came to mind. Finally, a friend of ours made this statement that helped me more than anything. He said, "Tangi, if it was anymore complicated than just sticking the seed in the dirt and letting it do it's thing, I don't think I could do it." Now, Mr. Lance Moore is a talented man and is no simpleton, but that statement was an eyeopener and a nerve-calmer for me. I hope that in my chatty way, I have conveyed the same to you. Just give it a try. You might surprise yourself.

Here are a few more pictures of my first garden.
Raised Bed- 2012
Squash- 2012


Our first squash!
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below, and I will do my best to answer or find out for you-- and please feel free to share your own tips!

Knowing Where Your Food Comes From? Priceless.

Is gardening worth it? Can you put a price on knowing where your food comes from? 

I did a little math and shared my thoughts over at Southern Gals Cook. Please join us!

Come on over! Click here!

Be Blessed, 

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