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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pecan Pie from Scratch

My family loves pecan pie especially the way I make it.
Pecan pie made from scratch
 So I don't loose the recipe I'm doing this blog post on it.   

 Here's the recipe:

Pie Crust   (this is an old family recipe that I don't know where it came from all I know its how we made them and no-one ever complained about it) :
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons white sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 Oil (I use extra light Olive Oil, or  vegetable oil)
2 Tablespoons milk (I use 2%)

Pecan Pie filling (This recipe is the combination of a couple of recipes I've seen through the years from cookbooks, the Karo syrup bottle and the newspaper- The cookbook had more surgar and was too sweet for me so I cut it back on the sugar.  The newspaper used 3 eggs instead of two and the Karo syrup used less butter but had vanilla. )

1 cup corn syrup (Karo - light)
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 lg eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1/3 cup melted butter (got to be butter and not margarine)
1-2 cups Pecans ( I usually do 2 cups and use the pieces)

Bake @ 350 degrees for about 1 1/4 hrs with a aluminum foil cover over it.

Now how to put this all together:
First thing I do is turn on the oven to  350 degrees and let it preheat while I mix things together.

Then I get the 5 & 1/3 teaspoons of  butter and start melting it.
I get my pie tin - usually I use a Pyrex one but any 9" or  10"pie plate will do.
 I then put the 1 1/2 cup of flour, the pinch of salt and the 2 Tablespoons of sugar into to the pie plate.
Then I mix it together with a fork.
 Next I measure 1/2 cup olive oil.
 I add the 2 Tablespoons of milk to it.
 Then I emulsify it - till it looks creamy.  (this is really the secret to this pie crust - to make sure the two are well blended together)
 I then pour it into the pie plate with the dry ingredients.
 I mix the two together with a fork.
 When it is well mixed together it should look something like this.
 Now for the fun part.  This is what I used to love to do as a child - you get to play with the dough. There is no rolling pins just your fingers.  As you are playing with it you gradually press it against the walls of the pie tin, leaving some for the bottom.
 Then you press out the bottom.  Then if you want to you can flute the edges.

The  pie crust is fini!!.  You can use this pie crust to make other pie treats too - like a lemon meringue  or chocolate pie etc.

 By this point your butter should be melted and needs to be taken from the heat.

Now for  the Pie Filling:
1 cup Karo syrup.
 2/3 cups brown sugar.
 Mix the two together till smooth.
 Add 3 large eggs.
 Then add the salt (optional)
 Add the teaspoon of Vanilla
 So it should look something like this.
 Mix it all together.
 Then add the melted butter.  The first recipe I had - had me add the butter to the eggs and that was a disaster - the hot butter started to cook the eggs and there were egg pieces throughout the pie.  The next time I made it I added the butter last and it made all the difference.  So it ended up being more like a caramel filling than anything else.
I added it to the other ingredients and mixed it all together.
Now for the main ingredient - the Pecans!! These were fancy halves but most of the time I just use bits and pieces because its a lot cheaper that way.

  Next I add 1- 2 cups of pecans. I prefer 2 cups.
 Mix it all together.
 Pour into the 9" unbaked pie crust  and cover with aluminum foil.  Put on a cookie sheet.
 Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and a fourth or there about.  At  1 1/4 peak under the foil - if the pie crust is golden & not burnt check and see if the center is firm or still liquid.  If liquid cook a couple of minutes longer but not too long you don't want to burn the crust.

Take out and try to let it cool down before the family sees it.
  This below pie didn't make it that long as you can see.
NB: the pie crust can be used for other types of pies too.  You can cook it without anything in it - 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  And then fill it with stuff.  Also if you want too you can double the recipe and make a top for it that way.  The top you would have to roll out. If you use it for a non sweet purpose like a quiche or a chicken pot pie don't add the sugar.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mission Espada, San Antonio TX

The last mission we saw on the trail of missions was Mission Espada.
Mission Espada, San Antonio TX

Of the mission we saw I think I liked this entrance the best. 
As with the other missions they had a diagram of the place so you could get a sense of how it was when it was a working compound and safe haven place during the 1700's.
Like Mission San Juan this one was not in as good of shape as Mission San Jose. But it was still interesting to see.
With the walls partially down this one gave you a better feel for how small the rooms were and how they were spaced out.
I liked this Romanesque arch.  It was distinctive and different from the other places.
The mission is in the National Park system and as such they have Park rangers on duty there and this was the building where they were located.
Remnants of buildings that once were there.
The one thing I noticed about this place was that in places the wall was just the protective wall and it did not have buildings connected to it in which the natives would live.
Here is the church.  I was disappointed that there was a parking lot there near the building and that a truck was parked there.  It was hard getting a shot without the truck in it.  There was just something about seeing a truck there that made it feel like it was so out of place. 
These were more remnants of the wall.  I took this one because you could tell that the walls used to have plaster on them and at one point they were painted green.
You could see this trail that lead down to the San Antonio River.  It looked like it was still being used today to get to the river.  The river at this point is pretty shallow and is not a very big river. 
As I was looking at the trail I noticed these busy, busy ants all marching in file going back and forth down to the river. 
Finally I was able to get closer to the church area and I did get this one and was pleased with it.
Mission Espada, San Antonio TX
And also this one.  As we were walking around we found out that the red tile roof area was an actual convent where people were still living there.  Then that made sense to me why there was a truck where there was in the parking lot.
The side view of it.
This is what it looked like from the back.

And how it looked inside.  I was pleased that they let you go in and could see it.

This is the area where people still live.  I didn't realize it until you got to the one sign. Then I felt a little guilty for intruding upon their living area.  Because of that we didn't stay long.
Here's the parting view of the compound.

This was the last one we saw.