Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holy Blackberry Pie Amazingness

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I'm thankful for all of the wonderful and inspiring people in my life....and blackberry pie. In preparation for a big Thanksgiving feast with my friends, I searched for the perfect blackberry pie recipe. And I think I found it. Made from fresh blackberries hand picked and delivered from Washington, this pie was my very first homemade pie accomplishment!


6 cups blackberries (thawed from frozen or fresh)
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp butter
2 pie shells  (I got mine from Trader Joe's--they come frozen, two in a box)


1. Combine 5 1/2 cups of the blackberries, salt and sugar in a skillet over medium heat. I left out 1/2 cup of the berries to put in at the very end to add some delicious texture to the filling.
2. Mash the berries with a fork or whisk and bring to a simmer.
3. Mix syrup and cornstarch in a glass as best you can. I had to add some of the liquid from the simmering blackberries to get the cornstarch to dissolve all the way.
4. Pour in the cornstarch and syrup to the blackberries and stir.
5. Sprinkle in the flour and stir all together.
6. Continue to simmer the mixture for a couple more minutes then fold in the rest of the whole berries.
7. Take the filling off the heat and let it sit while you roll out (or make) your pie crust.
8. Lay in the bottom of the pie shell in your baking dish.

9. Pour in the filling and then dot the top of the filling with pieces of butter.
10. Cover the filling with a second pie layer. I attempted a lattice but I rolled the dough too thin so it became impossible to do a lattice. I just laid the dough over the top in a faux-lattice pattern :)

Whatever you do to the top layer, make sure you have some sort of "vent" for the filling to breathe and bubble during baking.

12. Brush on a mixture of egg yoke and a tablespoon of water on the top of the pie to give it a nice browning effect when it's done baking.
11. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and then turn down the heat to 350 degrees to continue baking for 35-40 minutes.
12. Once out, let the pie sit for at least 2 hours before eating it to let the filling set and allow yourself some time to admire your masterpiece :)

I was so happy this pie was not overly sweet and had the amazing blackberry filling of the perfect consistency.

Happy baking and eating on this Thanksgiving day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Raisin Bran Muffins

This is my all time favorite muffin at the moment. This recipe comes from my good friend Dylan who got this recipe from his grandmother--so you know it's tried and true! Nothing like waking up in the morning looking forward to a hot cup of coffee and a warm bran muffin....

* This recipe makes about 12 muffins. I always double it because you can never have too many bran muffins! (They freeze really well too!)


1 cup raisins
1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cup bran
1/4 cup oil***
1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup molasses
1 egg

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

*** I use olive oil, but you can use veggie oil if you don't like the olive oil taste... I honestly can't tell the difference


1. Combine raisins and water in a large mixing bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Then, let it sit for 5 minutes.
2. Add bran, milk, and oil to the bowl and give it a quick stir. Let this mixture sit for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the egg and molasses to the bowl and mix well.
4. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. Then, dump this well-mixed mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients.
5. Stir all together. The batter should be fluffy once everything is mixed together. (I sometimes add a few chocolate chips to the batter just to make things exciting.... Dark chocolate is healthy!) :)
6. Drop into a greased muffin pan. I don't like to bother with the paper and they always come out very easily from the pan.
7. Bake at 400 F for about 15 minutes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Celebrating the Dead

In Tucson, the All Souls Procession is truly spectacular in every way. 

The amount of culture is remarkable and the way people celebrate the passing of loved ones sends powerful messages to those who come to this stunning event. I went to see the costumes and the amazing props that were carefully and thoughtfully designed by people in the community. However, in the end, I got so much more than just a great view.

At the ceremony, I was given a chance to write a note of remembrance for someone who has passed. I wrote a letter to Lucy, my sweet collie dog that passed over two years ago. Her death has truly been the most significant loss I have experienced in my life so far, and she was on my heart and mind. Even though she is "just a dog", her death was no less heartbreaking and her absence no less painful. Being able to write her a letter was a very spiritual moment for me.

All of the letters of love, sadness, longing, heartbreak, and hope go into a huge urn. At the ceremony, the urn is set ablaze and all of the words catch fire and the ashes rain down.

Death is ominous, scary, and mysterious. But in death comes beauty and that beauty was seen in this evening. This was not a day to grieve, but a day to celebrate and remember those we love.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bringing in Fall - Bean Soup Style

Today is in the 60's, last night it rained, and now a colder breeze is blowing in the windows. I hope it is safe to say that fall is here. The other night I whipped up a large pot of delicious tomato bean soup and at it with a side of freshly baked cornbread from scratch.


1 28 oz can of tomatoes
3 cups water
1 tsp chili powder
1 can each of kidney beans, black beans, & garbanzo beans
1 can of corn  (I threw in about a cup of frozen corn)
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp garlic  (I never really measure this--I just chopped up a couple cloves)
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1//2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
A few leaves of fresh basil, chopped (or cilantro)


1. In a large pot, start the onions and carrots cooking for just a few minutes with a bit of olive oil.
2. Throw in the rest of the ingredients.
3. Stir together, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium to medium low and let the soup simmer for 20-30 minutes.
4. Enjoy with your favorite cornbread!