Thursday, April 29, 2010

Friday is Pieday !

Is it Friday already? You bet it is, so lets bake a pie! This weeks pie is one that I hope will take care of your chocolate cravings. We are going to make a homemade..not from a box..chocolate cream pie. For todays pie you will need to make up a batch of my pie dough (see left sidebar) or you can save some time and purchase a good quality frozen pie crust. This will be a single crust pie.

 The shopping list is as follows:
1. 1 cup granulated sugar
2. 1/2 cup flour
3. 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4. 3 cups milk
5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
6. 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
7. 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
8. 1 tablespoon butter
one baked pie shell 
Roll 1/2 of your pie dough into your pie pan. Tuck edges under and crimp. Using a fork, prick your crust to prevent it from getting puffy while baking. Crumple some foil and place in your crust as shown. this will help your crust to keep it's shape. If you have pie weights..thats even better.
Bake your crust in a 350 degree oven until light golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
Blend flour, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Add milk gradually, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. 

Remove from heat..add the chocolate and stir until blended.
To temper your eggs, add a few tablespoons of the chocolate mixture to the lightly beaten yolks. Mix as you add. If you just added the yolks to the hot chocolate, your eggs would cook rather than mix in smoothly. Now add your tempered yolks to the rest of the chocolate mixture. 

Return to the heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla...mix well. Cover with waxed paper and let cool down. 
Pour cooled filling into pie shell and refrigerate until set.
Top your chocolate pie with some fresh whipped cream or cool whip and wait for the compliments to roll in. I know boxed pudding is so quick and handy for you busy moms, but you should try a homemade pudding pie at least once in your life. It is such a nice treat for your family. So that's it..I hope you enjoyed my little pie tutorial. Be sure to come back next Friday for more pie.
Until next time...be kind and stay creative.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Amish Weekend

  
This has become the stereotypical representation of a group of people commonly known as the Amish. It is probably recognized all around the world. So famous yet so very private...we are fascinated by this lifestyle. Last weekend I visited a high school friend who lives just outside Amish country. My friend Roberta and I spent all day Friday and Saturday exploring obscure side roads and popular locals. The weather was fabulous and the company even better (I adore you Roberta!) I took a lot of photos, so be prepared to hang for a while or save this post for when you have time to meander with me.
 
The famous Amish horse and buggy...they were everywhere. The Amish go by a book of recorded rules called the Ordnung. Ordnungs differ from group to group, which is why you may see some Amish groups adhering strictly to the 'no technology' rule and some riding in cars. I must admit..whenever we saw a buggy, it made us smile. Don't be fooled, they travel pretty quickly in those things. I think I might enjoy that mode of travel.
Farming is the main occupation of the Amish. They a very self sustained people. Every vista had rolling hills of some of the most beautiful and clean farms you could ever hope to see. You could definitely see that it was planting season as all the fields were being tilled up. 
I have never seen such neat and tidy farms in all my life. Each one was more manicured and well kept than the one before...flowers planted all around. Such pride in what they own...amazing!
I have never seen so many silos in my life...on one hilltop view I counted 18! I loved this pretty line of willow trees.
Horses are a huge part of the Amish way of life...they are the living engine that pulls the farm equipment. Just look at these powerful animals. It was so exciting to see them at work. The Amish treat their horses with great respect and love.
These handsome guys look very content and healthy.
You can click on any of my pic's to enlarge them. The farmer on the left is plowing and the one on the right is hay-bailing.

Animals are plentiful here in Pennsylvania Amish country. Lot's of them!
These little guys were very curious about Roberta and me.
We noticed lots of babies ...that time of year you know ;-) 
This little guy scooted under the fence and was trying desperately to return to his mom.
Success!
Roberta purchased a dozen of some of the largest free range eggs I've ever seen for just $1.50!!  Good job ladies! The best part was that it was on the honor system...just leave your money in the cooler and take your eggs...I love when trusting in people works.
Yes...we even saw an Ostrich. I really loved the cow in the background...zoom in and look at his face...like a Pandow..part panda..part cow!
This beauty was my most favorite. Isn't he gorgeous..I called him Fabio, for his resemblance to this guy..
Too funny.....;-)
On our second day, Roberta decided to try some roads she had never been down before. We were outside the normal Amish country boundaries, but it was very pretty country. All of a sudden we were both squealing like little school girls at a Justin Bieber concert. Who is he anyway???? This covered bridge had the date 1878 posted inside..so cool. 
There were so many lovely stone houses and I'm a sucker for a stone house or a red barn. I was in heaven!
This is one of my favorite photos...a quaint Amish home with geraniums in the window, the wheelbarrow ready for gardening and the Amish quilt hanging on the line...a wonderful slice of Americana. I did politely ask the farmer for permission to photograph his home and he was very gracious. Thank you Mr. Amish Farmer.
Just when Roberta and I thought we had seen the best, it happened.....we saw this family in a buggy along with others. Where do you suppose they were going? Oh be still my beating heart........are you ready for this???  We had stumbled upon an authentic Amish farm auction!!!!! OMG....ok, now we are squealing like we are two adult women front row at a Michael Buble concert!
Is this not one of the quaintest images? I have to tell you guys how rare it is to get this close and to be mingling amongst these wonderful people. We felt so honored to be allowed in this private circle. We respectfully took discrete photos. Never asking anyone to pose and never of close faces. Roberta told me that an Amish farmer had explained to her that the objection they have to photos is for posed pictures. That violates their modesty vows. They will quietly turn their heads if they see a camera. 
This group of young girls were gathered while the parents attended the auction. Isn't that little guy the cutest with his hat and suspenders. Men and boys are not allowed to wear belts and girls never cut their hair.
Boys played a game of catch while parents were busy..love all the traditional blue shirts.
We also found ourselves Witness  (I could not resist) to recess at the local Amish one room school. The Amish only get schooling until the 8th grade,witness but the learning continues in the home. Boys learn to be farmers and girls learn to be domestic goddesses  good Amish wives and mothers. No government funding as these schools are completely family funded.
One of our fun stops was this fabulous Amish owned nursery. I have never seen such healthy and beautiful flowers in all my days. I did not see one dried or dead leaf or flower. They have such pride in all they do.


You know I had to bring some of these beauties home to Virginia!
Well I must stop..I have more photos, but this post is getting quite long. I'll end by saying a big THANK YOU to my lovely friend Roberta for her hospitality and love. The whole Amish experience was wonderful...even though I did get shocked twice by electric fences..what's up with that? I thought the Amish were against electricity!!!! We nearly got asked to leave Good & Plenty restaurant for having way too much fun...hey we gals like to laugh!  I can't wait to go back and do it all again..;-) So if you are ever in Lancaster, Pa area..do make a point to visit the Amish...tell them Janet sent you. That should get you kicked out real quick..he..he.
If you would like to know about the Amish, look here.
Until next time..be kind and stay creative.