Pecan dough for pie crusts

I thought I’d post a Thanksgiving recipe favorite in case folks haven’t done all their shopping yet. (Last year’s recipe was Brandied Cranberries–you should check that out too. :-))

This is a pie crust that works fantastically for sweet potato or pumpkin pies–the pecans add a wonderful hint of flavor. You can actually work it with your hands a fair amount without ruining it, too, unlike a lot of other pie crusts.

Pecan Dough

1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. pecans, crushed into crumbs
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/4 c. cold water (plus a few more drops if needed)

Mix the flour with the salt, then add in the pecans and mix further. Work the shortening in with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles tiny lumps. Pour in the cold water and knead the dough till it’s solid. Mash it into a six-inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for an hour.

If I don’t post before then, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Oreo Truffles

The kiddos and I made candy today. The recipe was easy for them and came out pretty tasty.

1 8-oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1 pkg Oreos
2 pkg semisweet baking chocolate

Take out nine Oreos and crush the rest into very fine crumbs (for which I recommend a Ziploc bag and a rolling pin). Mix them into the cream cheese. (A good pastry blender is very handy for this step.) Melt the baking chocolate, roll the mixture into balls, and cover them in the chocolate. Crush the remaining Oreos and sprinkle them on top. Put the candies on a baking sheet and refrigerate them until the chocolate is set.

Easy, yes? Kids love to make treats, too. :-)

September and mangoes

I love Florida more than anywhere we’ve lived so far, but September is my least-favorite month here, just because it’s the worst for hurricanes.

I never cared much about weather before I lived here; but if you’re even the slightest bit a fretful type, you start watching the storms when they’re way, way out, because we’re on an island and we have to evacuate when the hurricanes come.

So you look at storms like TD6 and say, “Oh, my. That looks like it’ll point right at us.” (We’re that tiny bump on the east coast of Florida, about midway down.) But anything can happen–the storm could die, or turn, or get worse–and you might not know if it’s a threat to you for weeks.

It’s kind of a sucky way to spend a month, really.

But there are still fresh mangoes, at least. Oh, the mangoes…I’ve discovered a place with more than thirty varieties of them, from tiny lime-sized ones to huge football-sized ones. The owners picked some right off a tree for me, and they’re juice-dripping-down-your-chin incredible. Nothing at all like what you get in a store.

It’s almost the end of mango season, but I’ll enjoy them while I can. :-)

Fresh Fruit

Apparently it’s carambola season here on the island, because the kids and I were lured by a hand-painted STARFRUIT sign to a cardboard box (honor system) alongside someone’s driveway: three star fruit for a buck. I’ve never had tree-ripe star fruit before, and it’s (unsurprisingly) much sweeter than what I’ve had from the store. Really yummy :-)

I’ve bought fresh avocados and mangoes here that way, too. Last year a neighbor gave us a coconut off one of his trees, and this year another neighbor has promised us one of his pineapples (which are a gorgeous red variety and are almost ripe–I can’t wait).

It won’t be citrus season till winter, but citrus sadly goes to waste by the truckload here–people have way too many oranges and tangerines and such to eat, and fruit rots underneath the trees.

I hope the next place we live has some wonderful fruit to replace what we can get here. (Oh, and the seafood…man, would I miss that. How many of you have ever eaten pompano? It’s become by far my favorite fish, and I’ve never seen it anywhere but here.)

Do you have some type of local fresh food where you live that you’d hate doing without? I’d love to hear about it so I’ll have hope for wherever we live this time next year. :-)

Easy cooking when you’re busy

Sorry, I know you guys like copyediting stuff, but I’m too busy copyediting to come up with interesting copyediting stuff at the moment.

I’m too busy to cook much for my poor kiddos, either; thus I have this…recipe, kind of. :-) (My daughter insists that it’s a recipe and that everyone in the world would want it because she loves it so much, so here we go. :-))

If you happen to cook bacon in the microwave, with paper towels above and below, save the paper towels. Later, for lunch or dinner, wash some potatoes (do not poke holes in potatoes you’re going to microwave–it makes them cook up all gummy), wrap them in the bacon-grease-covered paper towels, put them on a plate, and microwave them till they’re soft.

The bacon grease soaks all the way through the potatoes, and they really are very yummy this way.

Fourth of July Coleslaw

This is the only dish I make almost every Fourth. I’ve had it so many years that Independence Day doesn’t seem quite right without it. There’s nothing fancy to the recipe at all; but it’s nicely tangy, feeds loads of people, and is always a big hit at parties.

Cole Slaw

Chop the following in the amounts you’d like (this does take a while if you don’t have a Vita-Mix or a food processor):

green cabbage
red cabbage
celery
onions
carrots
bell pepper

Make the dressing:

3 Tbsp sugar
9 Tbsp mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip!)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp water
salt and pepper

Mix. Taste it and see if your veggie combination seems right.

It’s very good. You can add sliced boiled eggs if you’d like, but the leftovers won’t keep as long.

I recommend you serve it in a glass bowl, if you have one, because it comes out just gorgeous.

My kids think I’m a goddess…

Blaine had a friend sleep over last night, so I made the kids a special treat for breakfast. I whipped some eggs together with turbinado sugar (for crunch), cinnamon, half-and-half, and vanilla, then took same stale French bread, sliced on a long diagonal, and soaked the pieces in the mixture until they were soft. Fried them nicely brown, then sprinkled them with powdered sugar and drizzled grade A dark amber maple syrup all over them.

Yeah, baby, that is French toast.

Best Frosting Recipe Evar

Since I’ve been eating frosting with a spoon for the last several minutes (Blaine iced her own cake, and there was some left over, and it’s so tempting, sitting there in the bowl), I thought I’d share my favorite frosting recipe.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
5 cups powdered sugar
5 to 6 Tbsp. cream
1 cup cocoa

Beat the cream cheese and butter together, then add the vanilla and beat some more. Alternate beating in the dry ingredients a bit at a time with the cream until you’ve used all the cocoa and gotten the consistency you desire. (I actually never measure the powdered sugar and doubt I use 5 cups, as I like the icing a bit fluffy.)

If you pair this with a Black Magic Cake (which is amazingly moist due to the coffee), the result will cause most chocolate lovers to have to fight closing their eyes in bliss while consuming.