How to Crimp A Pie Crust

Pie crimping is kind of an obsession of mine. Actually, The One would call it a fetish. (Please. Fishnet stockings and black patent leather stilletos are a fetish. But that’s another post for another day.) My pie-crimping obsession started back in 1993 when I saw my first Food Network television program. Baker Flo Braker was making a Lucerne tart, and those sexy, satiny folds of dough beguiled me. Still do. And lo these 20 years, no matter what the pie–apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, blueberry pie, you name it—I’ve got a crimp for it. I’ve decorated the perimeter of my pies with lattice work, leaves, braids, rope crimps, checkerboards, “white knuckle” crimps, and perfectly shaped pearls of pâte brisée that would make any proper Upper East Side matron clutch hers. You get the idea. Read more »

Homemade Ketchup

The journey that culminated in my realization of the wonder that is homemade ketchup was long and circuitous, and, as sometimes happens, littered with the body of a friend.

One autumn night in 2000, our friend Geoffrey slunk back in through our kitchen door, a waft of cigarette smoke trailing behind him, as he hoped to avoid his wife, Sarah, who was helping The One clear the dishes from the dining table so we could play cards. Geoffrey leaned against the counter while I washed dishes.

“The lasagna was great,” he said.

“Thanks.”

It wasn’t, actually. It was an anemic imposter, devoid of the beef, veal, pork, and cheese that define the true Italian diva.  Instead, it contained zucchini, peppers, and broccoli rabe layered between spinach noodles. Geoffrey was in his green-food phase. Read more »

Homemade Butter

As is abundantly obvious to anyone with the slightest acquaintance with my medical records, I’ve never met a butter I didn’t like. Salted or unsalted; cow, goat, or sheep; French, English, Italian, American; compound or, er, singular.

However, the idea that I could make my own butter, that I could play Dr. Frankenstein to a bunch of butterfat globules, was completely lost on me during my formative years. It wasn’t until one lazy afternoon in Pittsburgh, during my sophomore year at Carnegie Mellon University, that I became aware of the possibility that is homemade butter.
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