Based in Los Angeles, Savour Fare is the home of Kate, a working mom who is low on time but high on life. I hope this site helps you find ways to make your life richer, easier, more beautiful and more delicious. You can read more about me and the site here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!
Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Some of us dismiss it as a cheesy Hallmark holiday. Some of us revel in the traditional chocolate and champagne. Some are happy to celebrate their loved ones, some are unbearably lonely, and some are just plain angry. Love does that to us.
I’m no expert, but as I get closer to middle age than youth, I can tell you this about love: love is surprising. Sometimes the beginning of love is surprising – it can come when you don’t expect it to. And sometimes the end of love is (sadly) surprising. But there are a lot of surprises in the middle, too.
The surprises can be good – a grand romantic gesture you never expected from your significant other – or great – the way your heart fills to bursting when a child enters your family, and then fills even more when another child comes along. They can be bad – discovering that your spouse has been behaving in a way that you never would expect, that shocks and hurts you – or just sad – realizing your relationship isn’t where you thought it would be.
Don’t mean to go all Richard Curtis on you all – I can get a bit maudlin this time of year – but I hope you can celebrate Valentine’s Day with people you love – your spouse, your girlfriends, your children, your family, or your dog (because is there any purer love? I don’t think so.) And treat them to something a little surprising.
I love the holiday season – I really do. I keep a nested to do list on my phone to keep track of Christmas presents. I drive out of my way to find houses with the best light displays. And I bake a lot of cookies. But there’s a point in the season (and this year, it’s right about … now) when the merrymaking starts to feel a little forced. I consult my calendar, and it reads something like “Holiday Performance (school): 10 am. Holiday Performance (after school program): 2 pm. Coworker’s Party: 4 pm. Family Movie Night: 7 pm. ” It should be followed by “Mom falls asleep on the couch: 7:30 pm. Kids get into Christmas candy dish and smear chocolate on said couch: 7:34 pm.” I’m a little burnt out, and when every single event on that calendar asks that you bring “a homemade dessert to share!” I start to consider putting my head under a pillow until January.
Fortunately, there are Christmas cookies that come to the rescue. These are not the decorated, iced, hand painted, seven layered sugar swirled confections that usually constitute Christmas cookies. These are a little more … austere, when austerity provides a welcome counterpoint to the mad festivity. (And don’t suggest just forgoing cookies altogether, BLASPHEMER. It is Christmas and there will be cookies.) These are easy to make – the dough comes together seamlessly, the ingredients aren’t too difficult to track down, and the log sits happily in your refrigerator (or freezer), ready to be sliced and baked whenever the calendar demands it. Continue reading Slice and Bake Buckwheat Chocolate Shortbread
You guys! I made this pie because I was looking for a double crust pie so I could revisit my pie crust tutorial (a few things have changed in my go-to technique since the last one I posted), and most of my fruit pie fruits are not in season, but now I’m kind of obsessed. Fresh cranberries! In pie! Why is this not a thing? Cranberries might be the perfect pie fruit — they’re tart and juicy, but have a pretty high pectin content, so your pie filling doesn’t run all over the place. The flavor is a lot like fresh sour cherry pie, but fresh sour cherries are only available one week of the year, in very small parts of the US, and cranberries can be gotten EVERYWHERE for at least two months when most pie fruits are out of commission. And just LOOK at the color:
It’s great, is all I’m saying.
Now on to pie crust. I like to walk my readers through making pie crust, because I feel like so many people are like “Pie crust? Who has the time for that! It’s too hard!” and I want to pat your head and say, “No, it’s OK – you can do it.” You don’t have to own a walk in freezer or live in the arctic to make your pie dough (though it is a bit tougher on a warm day.) You don’t have to source special kinds of lard or NOT TOUCH IT OR IT WILL BE OVERWORKED. Pie crust is pretty forgiving. If it cracks? Patch it. If you can’t roll it out in a perfect circle? Nobody cares. At the end of the day you will have pie, and people will love you. This is the way I’ve been making my pie crusts, and it works pretty darn well.
When I talk family traditions and family recipes on Savour Fare, I’m usually talking about my family – the family I was born into, or the family I’ve made with Ken and Nuni and Boo. My family is close (now that my cousin has moved back to LA from NYC, the farthest away anyone lives is about 2 hours), and we are all food people, so it’s natural to write about our places and recipes and stories. Ken’s family is harder — for one thing, they’re geographically scattered all over the midwest, the east and west coasts, and for another, most of their traditions center around things other than food (like golf. They play a lot of golf.) My mother-in-law is a born and bred southerner, from the hotbed of American regional cuisine, but she’s also a wanderer, and would be perfectly happy to live on seaweed and lentils.
There has only been one major food figure in Ken’s family since I’ve known him (which is why he eats what I cook so happily), and that is Quincey. Quincey was a substitute grandfather to Ken, whose own grandfathers both died rather young. He was a true Southerner, who lived his whole life along the Virginia North Carolina border – he was also a musician, and a storyteller, a former tobacco farmer, a general handyman, and a damn good cook. He taught Ken to play the mandolin, spent hours fixing up my mother-in-law’s house, and, the few times I met him, taught me a thing or two about cooking. Collards with fatback, corn pudding, sweet potato pie, and the best fried apple pies I’ve ever tasted. Quincey’s recipes were inexact — he measured with his fingers, adding a pinch of salt, a joint of butter. I always meant to get them down on paper, in a form that could be reproduced, but Quincey died last year, and I never did.
Summer time is pie time. After years of resistance, I have come to love a good fruit pie, with juices running every which way. But as seasonal as it is, fruit pie is not often convenient for summer activities. It doesn’t go on road trips, or to the beach. It doesn’t slip into sack lunches for camp, or feed the crowd at the Friday night neighborhood barbecue.
Enter slab pie. It may sound unprepossessing, but slab pie is a pinch hitter for summer fun. Sure, a higher crust to fruit ratio makes it neater to take along with you, but it’s also just a little sassier – big enough to feed a crowd, with a slick of icing and generous proportions, it’s the Fat Amy to regular fruit pie’s Becca. (Bonus points if you get my reference.)