Strawberries and Cream Pie

It has been the summer of pies here at The Smith Homestead. I absolutely can't roll enough, fill enough or eat enough of their goodness.
The last of the strawberries seem to have come and gone through the Bluegrass State but not before I made a couple of these. I imagine something similar could be done with peaches or blueberries...or even blackberries. Oh my. That sounds like a pie to be had in our near future.
The recipe couldn't be simpler. A basic pie crust recipe. A basic custard recipe. Some sliced strawberries on top and voila. Yummy eating all around.

Strawberries and Cream Pie
You can find a video recipe for my favorite pie crust recipe here.

1. Blind bake a basic pie crust. Cool completely~ Sometimes I do this part the night before.
2. While the pie shell bakes, go ahead and make the custard. Again..the night before is great. Then it is just a matter of assembly when everything is cool/chilled.

When both the custard is chilled and the crust is cooled, spread the custard in the bottom of the shell. Top with loads and loads of sliced strawberries. If desired, use a pastry brush to brush the top of the pie with some strawberry glaze or strawberry preserves. Either eat right away or tuck away in the fridge a while longer. The pie is gonna be messy. Its like the best version of strawberries and cream imaginable. In fact, I'd suggest just handing out the forks and digging right into the whole pie. Believe won't last long so save yourself the hassle of washing plates.
Basic Pie Custard
And this is a nice custard recipe I like: I found it here.
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook until thickened, still stirring constantly. Spoon out about 1/4 cup of your hot mixture and gradually drizzle it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly. This will temper the egg so that when you add it back into the hot mixture, it won’t cook. Add the egg into the hot mixture, continuing to stir constantly. Bring this just to boiling.
Set the saucepan in the ice water bath and stir it periodically as it cools. Once cool enough, chill the mixture in the refrigerator. During this time, whip the cream and vanilla together to stiff peaks. Take the chilled mixture from the fridge and beat it to break it up. Stir in about 1/3 of the cream to lighten it, and then gently fold in the rest of the cream until well combined. Chill until ready to use.

A Dream House~

I live in my dream house. Most may not consider a 50's brick bungalow on a suburban street a dream house (especially given my personality and tastes), but to me, its a dream house. When we bought it ~ hunter green sand textured walls, faux finishes on every surface and walls closing in every room ~ it wasn't my dream house. But we bought it because it was within our budget. It became our transition home of sorts. It was deemed "the house BEFORE the dream house".
But 4 years, hundreds of hours of remodeling work and thousands of hours of memories later, it is indeed our dream home.
Don't get me wrong. 1400 square feet of space is getting smaller by the day with 3 boys running around. I dream of luxuries like mudrooms, game rooms and pantry space. But long ago I learned to either figure out a solution for all of those missing elements or find contentment without them. 
Today we traveled 20 minutes out of town to go look at a house. We aren't even in the market for a house right now (for those who may or may not hubby has been laid off for 16 months now). But something about it called our names. It felt like a good day to dream big again.
We aren't sure when we will move from this little home we have grown to love. Maybe soon...maybe later. Contentment is key~ and we do have that. Everything else will come to fruition in time.

Studio Progress & A Boys Birthday

The writing studio is in its final days of completion. The walls are painted, the floor has its first coat of primer, the furniture is being prepped and painted for move in day and the light fixtures are hung. I honestly am so proud of the result. Mike is a genius jack-of-all-trades and is the sweetest ever to put up with my occasional nudges towards seeing progress (Nagging? Of course not.)

Ezra Miles turned 6 last week. That was a big deal~ some major countdown to birthday stuff happening. We bowled, we ran through fountains, we ate ice cream and cake and pizza. He is the most content, easy going and jolly child I think I have known. Oh how I love this little guy so.

Gluten Free Red Velvet Brownies~ Utter Perfection

I posted a while back about making brownies with black can see that here. In fact, most all recipes, crafts and blog posts are archived and can be found within those nifty links up top~ just a little FYI tip.
So...those black bean brownies. Pretty amazing. Very chocolaty and full of flavor. Gluten free and (white) sugar free to boot!

I haven't been on the hunt for any other bean brownie recipes but then I went and stumbled on this one and had to give it a try. Mainly because...I have a love affair with roasted beets. So really any recipe that includes beets nowadays is going to make an appearance in my kitchen.
I've adapted the recipe from one I found here. I used what I had on hand (oats instead of flax, no almond extract (yuck..not my favorite)
Give it a try. You don't even have to be gluten free to enjoy these bad boys. Fudgy, rich, decadent...they have it going on.

Fudgy, Gluten Free, Red Velvet Brownies

1 cup red kidney beans
½ cup cooked beets
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp apple sauce
1/8 tsp salt
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup ground oats (I pulsed oats in a spice grinder)
¼ cup chocolate chips (optional; I used a leftover Hershey's bar chopped up)

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray an 8 by 8 inch square pan or a loaf pan and place parchment paper in the bottom.
In a food processor, puree kidney beans and beets. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add remaining ingredients and mix by hand until smooth and fully combined.
Fold batter into the greased pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness. You want a bit of batter to stick to a butter knife or toothpick. Do not over bake.
Let cool completely. Refrigerate for one hour.

A Weekend In Pictures

Hope your weekend was as amazing as ours. Cause its been pretty spectacular. And a Happy Fathers Day to one incredible dad of these three boys running wild around The Smith Homestead~

Studio Progress Vol. 3

I was going to hold off sharing studio photos until Monday, but the progress is happening so quickly that it will be finished before we know it! (I've always been an incredibly optimistic person, by the way.)

The black boards have now been painted~ it isn't my dream the previous post, #2 was my favorite. But when on a budget, spending half of it on a five gallon bucket of the perfect paint color just isn't realistic. We felt super lucky to have found a five gallon bucket of a tolerable green color for $25 at the Restore this week. I do love how the big maple tree gives it varying hues of green depending on the time of day.

Windows are in, electrical is done, insulation just went in about 10 minutes ago and the bead board walls are now being nailed up. Progress, progress, progress! The boys and I washed the studio porch this morning and gave it a crisp coat of white paint.

Its coming together...and I am giddy with delight.
Happy weekend!

Shaker Lemon Pie

I am by no means a food historian but I think it very well might be a good career option down the road. I absolutely love reading about the history of certain foods; how they came to be and how they've evolved over time. Do you?
I am a lucky girl because often my freelance writing gigs allow me the opportunity to research food history...and get paid for it. Very lucky girl, indeed.

This month, in a cherished Lexington local publication called the Chevy Chaser, I wrote about Shaker Lemon Pie.
Not too far down the road from our little Smith Homestead is Shaker Village~ a dreamy, dreamy place founded by a Shaker community and preserved meticulously. You can eat at the restaurant and for dessert get a slice of this delicious pie.
For the full article, head over to the Chevy Chaser site.
And below...the recipe~

Shaker Lemon Pie
• 3 lemons
• 2 cups water
• 1 3/4 cups sugar
• 1/8 tsp. salt
• 3 eggs
• 1 T. cornstarch
• 2 unbaked pie dough shells (homemade or store bought)
1. Freeze the lemons for 30 minutes until firm. Using a serrated knife, slice lemons very thinly, tossing the ends.
2. Place a strainer over a bowl and begin removing the seeds from the lemon slices over the strainer. Squeeze the juice out of each lemon slice and place them in a saucepan. Repeat with all remaining lemon slices. Reserve the lemon juice collected in the bowl.
3. Add 2 cups of water to the saucepan with the lemon slices and boil for 5 minutes until the lemons are soft. Remove, strain and press the lemon juice through a strainer into a bowl. Toss the liquid (this is the bitter liquid from the rind).
4. Put the strained lemons, sugar, salt and 4 tablespoons of the reserved lemon juice into a mixing bowl. Stir.
5. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch with the remaining lemon juice. Whisk. Add in the eggs and whisk until smooth. Add the sugar-lemon mixture and pour into a chilled, unbaked pie shell.
6. Brush the rim of the bottom crust with cream (this will act as a glue between both crusts) and gently place the top crust over the pie. Pinch the top and bottom crusts together and fold under. Flute the edges.
7. Brush cream over the entire top of the pie crust and cut 4 slits in the top.
8. Bake the pie on the lower part of the oven for 20 minutes at 425 degrees. After 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake an additional 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
9. Remove and cool for at least one hour.

Hello 34

Its June 12th. My birthday. And I'm almost half way through my third fourth (thank you Robbie for the correction) decade. Wowzers. That's just crazy. Cut that age in half and thats how old I feel. I still love to dance around a store embarassing whomever I'm with, my favorite days are those at the state fair and my favorite food is still pizza.
Here's to atleast another 6 decades of dancing, fair food and pizza~
Mike and I just laughed when we saw this photo. I promise, it was not a shot to showcase my muscles. I guess when you stand like this for photographs it just screams "welcome to the gun show". Finally all those years of hauling around kids really has paid off!
Really my favorite past time is not lifting weights but rather munching down on some pretty spectacular food. For instance, this country ham biscuit was pretty darn tasty for a 34th birthday breakfast.

Studio Progress

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we are building a writing studio out back...on a $300 budget. Progress is being made. My Tall Drink of Water is working tirelessly (and sometimes tiredly) on it every chance he gets.
We are still within budget...and finally almost done with the outside walls~ moving our thoughts and work inside to put the insulation, walls, and electrical in place. Of course, my thoughts are drifting to the decor. I continue find inspiration on Pinterest and you can follow me on that train of thought here.
The studio is being built with reclaimed oak horse farm boards. Great in theory...but much more labor intensive to straighten and nail such old, weathered wood.

Paint chips...what color should the exterior be?
The old door~ purchased for $10. I love it so.

Styling, Photographing and Hosting an Ice Cream Social

The week has been nothing but ice cream. Not a bad week, eh? This summer marks a new adventure for this blog and for me as a writer. The Art of Homemaking is now a column in a beautiful publication, Kentucky Monthly.

In the most current issue, not only is the inaugural AoH piece featured but I was also honored to have the chance to write about the first sheep cheese farm in Kentucky; Good Shepherd Cheese.

I got a little off topic cream. cream. An ice cream social, in fact. I styled/photographed a social here at the house for an upcoming Kentucky Monthly issue and needless to say, it was a sugary delight.
Here are a few pictures to wet the appetite. Be sure to pick up the August issue to see what fun was had...

Otto thoroughly enjoying a cone between sets.