Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from A Book of Cookrye!

We started this year attempting to eat pudding out of a mayonnaise jar, and found the pudding all leaked out before we could eat it. It was a metaphor for what the year would bring.
As the first hours of Christmas arrive (in our time zone, anyway),  we at A Book of Cookrye extend wishes for a nice Christmas to everyone. Note: we didn't say wonderful or the loveliest or anything like that, just nice. All those other ones are too much pressure.
We would like to remind everyone of something else: You have the same right to be tired today as you do at any other time of year. So many people are grimly determined to put on Christmas cheer that they try to stomp out any sadness, frustration, or blatantly open displays of fatigue in their vicinity. Others think that being jolly on Christmas is a capital-D Duty. If you're happy today, then be happy. But if you're not, no one says you have to be. Well, all right, a lot of people say you should force yourself to be happy anyway, but you can ignore then and leave them to frantically wear themselves out in the name of the holiday spirit. If you're a bit tired of hearing Jingle Bell Rock on the radio for the fifth time this morning*, you have the same right that you've always had to change the station or turn it off. Don't make yourself miserable trying to force yourself to enjoy this day as much as possible.
And, as a special note to anyone who will have guests over (related or not), don't fret about obsessively removing every bit of dirt and each smudge from every corner of the house. If the people coming over would mutter in disapproval that there was -O the horror!- fingerprints on the windows, they will snoop and find some spot you missed in your cleaning efforts no matter how thoroughly you scrub. And anyway, why worry what such picky, persnickety people think? You already know they won't be satisfied even if you hand-stenciled the platters. Such people never approve of anything, so you may as well let them be their disapproving selves while you relax instead of hunting down every last speck of dust in your entire house.
On a more materialistic note, Marcus noticed my "subtle" hints and got me an Otamatone!

And so, we at A Book of Cookrye are spending the earliest hours of Christmas morning attempting to play songs on a Japanese squeaky toy. Merry Christmas everyone!

I'm leaving this here because Connee Boswell is awesome and I love her voice.

*As an aside, at least one radio station in my city switched to 24-7 Christmas music in early November and have been playing the same 50 recordings ever since. Even if someone likes Christmas music, surely they would get tired of hearing so many people perform vocal gymnastics to the tune of Oh Holy Night before December began.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Second-Stab Saturday: Cinnamon Pie, or Finding new ways to fail

Remember when we attempted this?
The [Los Angeles] Times Cook Book, no. 2, ca.1905

You may recall that the last time we tried this recipe we just mixed everything, dumped it in a pie pan, and baked it. The result was scrambled eggs floating in this brown stuff that was burnt on top.
 However, this recipe seemed like it would be good if it actually worked. Also, this is a community cookbook. Theoretically, all the recipes are ones that the contributors were particularly proud of and therefore are guaranteed to work. Furthermore, not only did they publish the names of each recipe submitter, but they also put her address. If a recipe failed, you would know who to blame and where to find her.

CINNAMON PIE. Mrs. C.C. Norton, 1407 Girard street, Los Angeles, Cal.--(Original.) Sift together seven tablespoons of sugar, two level tablespoons of flour, four teaspoons of ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Stir into this four cupfuls of sweet milk, butter size of egg* and two eggs beaten well. (Filling for two pies.)

 *Since I had to crack an egg open anyway, I measured its contents before mixing them in. "Butter the size of an egg" is about a quarter cup, give or take.

It seemed we made a very simple, easily-corrected error in our first cinnamon pie attempt. This pie theoretically could easily fixed with a double boiler.
Looks as gloriously cinnamon-brown as it did the first time.

Indeed, this recipe yielded a really nice custard. However, as much as the kitchen smelled delightfully of cinnamon by the time it was done, the contents of the pot tasted curiously bland. It seems that over the course of the extended boiling, all the cinnamon oil evaporated right out of the pie-to-be. Fortunately, this was easily fixed. And in future makings of this recipe (which surely would prove so good as to be made again and again), it would be very easy to just add the cinnamon after taking it off the stove.
There's no such thing as too much cinnamon when your recipe is called Cinnamon Pie.

All signs pointed to this being a successful recipe. Our Mom of Cookrye had tried some of what remained in the double boiler and said it was delicious. The pie itself looked amazing, even if it didn't fill the pie pan as much as one might wish.
Feel free to ignore the random splots of who-knows-what on the counter and focus on how delightful, delicious, and de-lovely the pie looks.

We brought this to Thanksgiving with great excitement. However, as is often the case when bringing experimental recipes out in public without first making sure they'll work, this pie never actually set. It was basically a slightly runny pudding that happened to be in a pie crust. You could put it in little Dixie cups (for bonus points, with a blob of whipped cream on top) and been the hit of any potluck. However, this recipe was sold as a pie. And so, no one really ate it. It spent the day in my aunt's oven, steadfastly failing to set.

This pie's failure to actually turn into an actual pie is really galling given how good it tasted. How could you, Mrs. C C Norton of 1407 Girard Street in Los Angeles? Is there some crucial step we missed since you barely put any directions? Is there some ingredient you forgot to list? Why do you tease us so?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Apple pie! Apple pie! Apple pie!

Happy weekend after Thanksgiving! Today, we at A Book of Cookrye are really pleased to present... apple pie! And this is such an easy apple pie recipe, the only tedious part is cutting up the apples. The only other things you have to do are: melt things in a pot, stir spices and apples into the pot, put it all in a pie crust, and sprinkle crumbs on top.

Apple Pie
1 unbaked pie crust
3-6 apples*
¼ c butter
¾ c brown sugar
Pinch salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice (leave it out if you don't have any- it's not exactly crucial)
Any other spices you would like (nutmeg, ginger, mace, etc)
3-4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp white sugar
Flour to make it crumbly

First, figure out how many apples you will be using by putting as many apples into the pie pan as you can fit in a single layer.
Put the butter and brown sugar in a big pot and melt them together. Stir in the salt and spices.
Heat oven to 350°.
Cut up the apples. You need not peel them. Also, don't worry about bruises or soft spots on the apples- no one will ever know once the pie is baked. Stir the apples into the pot of brown sugar, then pour it all into the pie crust. Pour any extra butterscotch sauce left in the pot over the apples.
To make the topping, mix the butter and sugar. add flour until it crumbles, then sprinkle it on top of the pie. If you made your own pie crust or if you bought a frozen crust that you put in the pan yourself, you can take the scraps, work in about 2 spoons of sugar and enough flour to make it all crumbly with your hands, and use that instead.
Bake until the apples are tender when you poke the pie with a toothpick, knife or skewer-- about 1 hour. This pie will be fine if the oven is opened multiple times as it bakes, so feel free to push it to the side of the oven and cook other things alongside it.

 Note: If you're either trying to do a lot of things ahead or if (like me) you got a big bag of apples from the clearance bin in the produce section and they're already looking squishy in some places, you can make the filling, freeze it, and then later thaw it and put it in a pie crust.

*I used Gala. Use any apple you think is good enough to eat- the best way is to taste one of the apples and see if it's good enough that you want to eat the rest of it. Avoid bland varieties like Red Delicious. Also, I've found that as much as I like Honeycrisp apples, they seem to turn into a really bland mush when baked. So just eat those as they are and use another variety for baking.

You just know whatever you're making will be good when it starts out looking like this.

This is the hardest part of making any recipe that involves butterscotch-like things: trying not to eat everything in the pot.

However, this time it looked kind of runny. We like it to be this really thick butterscotch stuff, especially since the apples will let out a lot of juice. Fortunately, there was an easy fix:

You may be thinking "It looks just the same as it did before!" And to that I say, "You're right." But it is definitely a lot thicker, which you would be able to see if you weren't just looking at a picture.

And now, we add spices! I usually just add cinnamon, but found a long-forgotten shaker of allspice in the back of the cabinet. It turned out to be perfect for this. But there's no need to grab your money and go to the spice aisle if you don't have allspice- the pie will be delicious with or without. Besides, if you didn't already have allspice, you would probably use it so rarely that you'd have yet another shaker taking up cabinet space for a long, long time.

Lookit the pretty spice swirls!

If you can actually mix the apple slices in without eating at least one, you have no soul.

And now, we just dump the whole thing into the pie pan! Which today is a cake pan lined with foil. It works great when you realize you forgot to get enough disposable pie pans- you can just lift the whole pie out when you get to wherever you were taking it and drop the empty pan in your vehicle. That way, there will be no fuss over whether you got your pans back. Besides, you won't have to wash it.
This looks so good...

For those who also find pie crusts a lot of bother, we at A Book of Cookrye have good news: You can just take the excess scraps from the crust you already made, mix in some sugar with your hands, and just sprinkle it on. There. You've made a crumb topping- which I think is better than a crust on top of apple pie because the juices will boil up and soak into the crumbs- so good. Also, you don't need to bother trying to do a top crust which is so much harder to patch than the crust in the pan.

Although, if you decide the extra dough didn't make enough topping, you can make some more in a pinch. Just kind of mash the ingredients together with your hands until they're mixed.

And here it is, ready to bake! If you couldn't be bothered to get the flour off the countertop from rolling out the pie crust, you should at least wipe the bottom of the pan. Otherwise, the flour will land on the bottom of the oven and make your kitchen smell like burnt.

Tada! Apple pie!

But don't take my word for how good it is. This is how much was left at Thanksgiving: