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Fresh Cranberry Pie with Marzipan and How to Make Pie Crust

Cranberry Pie Whole
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:

Cranberry Pie Slice

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.

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In-N-Out Double Double Animal Style Burger Dip

In n Out Animal Style Dip

I may seem like a hoity toity food person (has anyone seen my baker’s twine?) but deep in my heart I really love a good cheeseburger. And the cheeseburger I really love best is a Double-Double, animal style, from In-N-Out.

If you’re not from around here, or you’ve been hiding under a rock, In-n-Out makes the best fast food burgers in the world.  And I, like many Southern Californians (and frankly non-Southern Californians) am borderline obsessed with them.

Los Angeles is a burger town, in the way that New York is a pizza (or hot dog) town, and Chicago is a hot dog (or pizza) town (and San Francisco is a ?  town?   Odd ice cream flavors?  Fresh figs? Mesclun?)   Angelenos take their burgers seriously.  As I craved cheeseburgers during my entire pregnancy with Boo (who is turning out to be a meat and potatoes man, no surprise), I’ve sampled many of the fine burgers that LA has to offer — Umami Burger, Father’s Office, Pie and Burger, Big Jo’s … but in the end, I’m a burger purist, because none really measure up to In-N-Out.  It’s the ur-burger.  It’s not that the ingredients are stellar (good quality, I would say, for fast food, but not stellar) or that the burger is everything you can imagine a burger to be – but I don’t think you can do much better, food-wise – for your $3 than to spend it on an In-N-Out Double-Double Animal Style.
Animal Style, off the In-N-Out Not-So-Secret Menu, means the burger patty has been grilled with mustard, the raw onions (never my favorite) have been replaced with the addictive little flavor bombs of fried onions, pickles have been added (!) and there’s extra “spread” – really Thousand Island Dressing (!!).  The combination of all the elements is a salty flavor explosion that makes you want to go back again, and again, and again.

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Honey Lemon Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy

I, like everyone else in the known universe, have a cold.

When one has two small children, it is inevitable. Boo has had a runny nose practically nonstop since he began daycare, and Nuni has a nagging cough that seems to be going around Kindergarten. I am the one who wipes the noses, who picks up the grubby toys, who finishes the half eaten food. I am on the receiving end of many hugs, many kisses, and many germs.

Sometimes, in my more bitter moments, I think back to the halcyon days of my childhood. When I was sick, I took to my bed with a mug of my mother’s homemade chicken soup and the admonition to get lots of sleep. Now, I drag myself to the office (because I have to save my sick days for the times when my CHILDREN are sick, natch), fix the chicken soup myself for everyone else to eat, get all the children to bed and then settle in for the night and do dishes (or, you know, write a blog post.) And sleep? I like to joke that I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep since 2006. It’s only sort of a joke.
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Garlic Butter Mushroom Sliders

Mushroom Sliders

The Super Bowl, oddly enough, seems to be one of the biggest food holidays of the year.  I don’t know why it’s more food-centric than the Fourth of July, or Easter, or Cinco de Mayo, but there you have it.  I myself am not a huge fan of professional football (LA hasn’t had an NFL team since I was in elementary school, which lessens the thrill somewhat) but I can always get behind a party.  Especially a party that involves those semi-junky foods that you always want to eat but usually don’t because they are not good for you.  Foods like buffalo wings, potato chips with onion dip, and jalapeno poppers.

Mushroom Sliders Ingredients

This year, however, I am trying to eat more vegetables, and last time I checked, buffalo wings are not vegetables.  In the past, I have scoffed at “healthy” Superbowl recipes. The whole point of Superbowl food is that it’s unhealthy.  Nobody wants to eat kale chips while watching men pummel each other in freezing cold weather.   This year, though, I saw my vegetable challenge as a Super bowl challenge too – could I come up with a healthi-ER recipe that doesn’t feel like a compromise?  Something that’s so delicious you want to eat it MORE than the meaty alternative?

I don’t mean to brag, but I think I’ve accomplished just that.   Little sliders (fun to eat!, finger food that one can eat on the couch while watching the TV), made from mushroom caps (We’ll ignore the fact that for purposes of the challenge, mushrooms aren’t exactly Vegetables.  They are like vegetables.) oozing with garlic butter and melted cheese.  Forget the Super Bowl.  I want to eat these EVERY day.  (And I could, too- they do contain butter and cheese, but it’s not excessive.)  They’re so good that nobody will notice they’re eating healthi(er) food because they’ll be too busy licking their fingers and asking for more.

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Meyer Lemon Kale Salad

Meyer Lemon Kale Salad

If you’re eating vegetables for their health benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find something betthan than kale.  Low in calories, full of fiber, and rich in vitamins, A,C and K,  it’s commonly referred to as a “nutrition powerhouse.”   Of course, I’m not the first person to discover this, so there are recipes all over creation  trying to make kale, which can be challenging, palatable.  This one actually succeeds. You may think that there are no new frontiers to be conquered with regards to kale salad, but you would be mistaken. This kale salad is epic. This kale salad is the one that people go back for seconds for on a buffet. This kale salad caused my five year old to utter the words, “Sigh. MOOOOOMMM. Why can’t you just make kale salad again?” (She is five going on fifteen). This kale salad will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

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