It’s pie season!

As the weather is finally starting to become seasonal, my desire to turn on the oven and bake has returned. While on occasion I love a fruit pie, my absolute favourite is a root vegetable pie, with or without a smothering amount of cheese. I made the first one of the season for my birthday last month and saved some for lunch the following week.

Root Vegetable Pie

How do I make it? I cut up my vegetables and toss them with olive oil, salt, and a bit of pepper. Then I put them in a roasting pan, place it in the oven, and turn it on (to 375°F) while I prep the dry ingredients for the crust. Once the oven is preheated I take the vegetables out and finish preparing the pie crust. When it’s ready, I dump in the vegetables and add in some liquid. Lately I’ve been adding a quarter cup of apple cider. Then I roll out the top and depending on how nicely I rolled things, crimp a neat edge after plopping it on. Bake until golden brown, probably about 45 minutes.

A few more tips on the crust as I’ve been making it somewhat regularly for the past year:

  • It comes together so quickly do not bother with a power tool and I don’t even think a spoon or fork is necessary. Use your fingers. The oil is good for your hands!
  • Use very cold icy water. Sometimes I pop the dough (or the bit I’ve decided will be the top) into the fridge for a few minutes to keep cool if the kitchen is hot.
  • I find it easier to just keep mixing new batches instead of doubling.
  • I’m pleased to report that if you wish to use olive oil instead of canola, it seems to have no apparent impact on taste and worked quite well in my opinion for this savory pie. Of course your mileage may vary based on your olive oil. I used Fairway Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which we’ve been buying in a larger size container because I go through it quick.
  • Do you need to crimp a neat and tidy edge? No. While I have the odd superpower and have always been able to crimp beautifully if I want to, the goal for this sort of pie is to make a decent enough seal so it doesn’t blow out and boil over. But that’s why I always bake on an extra tray. I’d rather clean another dish than my oven! This is where I also stick all those odd bits of crust that I’ve cut off for some reason or another. Those are the best parts when baked!

I’ll save you clicking to older posts, here’s the recipe again:
Root Vegetable PieOil Pie Crust
yield: one crust
2c flour
1/2c oil
1.5tsp salt
1/3c icy cold water

Mix. Roll out. Enjoy.

note: salt is based on table salt (common when this recipe came to me in the late ’80s). I dropped it to heaping 1/2tsp kosher salt and it still tastes fine.

easy oven fries

While I cook almost every meal we eat, I don’t often have a large amount of time available for prep work. We’ve been moving away from processed food shortcuts and the latest food on my quest has been fries. I’ve finally found a method that tastes better than what I made when I pulled a bag from the freezer, and doesn’t take considerably more time. Even better, they taste better!

I use whatever potatoes I have on hand.

My aha moment the other day was to use my apple slicer. I slice the “core” piece in half lengthwise. This is so much faster!


Boil in salted water until soft & drain well.
Toss gently in olive oil. Spread on lightly oiled pan and sprinkle with (garlic) salt or other seasonings.

Baking instructions are because I always pair fries with veggie burgers; they’re next on my hit list!

Place in cold oven. Turn oven to desired temperature, I like 425°F. After oven has preheated set a timer for 10-12 minutes.
Add burgers and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes.

Enjoy your golden fries.


practicing toward delicious

A few weeks ago, before we had a spell of hot & humid summer, I made pizza for dinner. I always have a bit of extra dough but don’t always want to make another small pie so I’ve been fine tuning my garlic knots. They’re quite simple to make but the magic is finding the correct ratio to turn them from boring baked dough to delicious. The early ones weren’t bad, though they lacked much flavor. Over the past few months of my quest, I learned for successful garlic knots I need to use considerable more olive oil than I thought was necessary. They need to be drenched before heading into the oven.

yum!This is for about 16-18 garlic knots.

  • 1/4 to 1/3c olive oil (you could use melted butter)
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp each parsley and oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Make your knots and place on baking sheet. With a pastry brush or a spoon, generously cover (drench!) each knot. Bake at 425° about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Please watch your knots! In my oven with a full sheet of pizza I need about 10 minutes of baking time.

simple spiced mocha

Many years ago I saw an episode of Giada De Laurentiis making Spicy Mocha. I was fascinated even if it was too compliacted for early morning coffee.

One of my favourite things to do when staying in a hotel is make hot chocolate coffee.

About a year ago I realized I could make my own spiced mocha … even early in the morning!

One of the things I’ve been trying to change is how much sugar I use in my coffee. I began to change my habits by just store-bought hot chocolate mix. Yes, it likely contains more sugar per serving than I was using, but the first habit was to measure what I added. Now I keep emergency hot chocolate mix but I’ve found using less-than-i-expect cocoa mix and sugar doesn’t even require me to add milk!

I’m still using my aeropress, but that’s about as fancy as I get with my coffee. I buy store-brand pre-ground espresso!

One little trick I learned a while back was to brew with the aeropress inverted.

Yup, like this:


Why? Well, I had some filter leakage issues and this method is much better early in the morning when my eyes are barely open.

To make a single serving of my early morning spicy mocha:
into the mug

  • 1 serving of hot chocolate mix


  • ½ TBS cocoa
  • ½ TBS sugar

into the aeropress

  • 1 aeropress scoop worth of coffee.
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 dried chile. I’m still experimenting to find what kind I like best.


Pour boiling water into the aeropress like normal (I rarely bother to preheat the brewer) and mix (I use an orphan chopstick). Also pour a splash into the mug and mix into a loose slurry. Now you need to fish out the cinnamon stick, I have heatproof fingertips so i use the chopstick to get it up high enough i can grab it without putting my fingers into the coffee (though that would really wake me up!). Then I screw on the filter/cap and flip it onto my mug and press. I then dilute with water and if it’s still too hot a bit of milk.



granolaI did not devour handfuls of granola growing up. I didn’t like it. Why? Perhaps from experiences in scouts eating trail mix of dubious origin and thinking that was all about granola. Or perhaps it was after I encountered an ingredient combination I just don’t find tasteful. In any case, I knew it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I don’t like raisins or peanuts very much, despite loving chocolate I don’t need to find it in everything, and those yogurt covered things? Revolting.

At some point during my high school years, I discovered I could tolerate two granola-ish products: chewy bars with chocolate chips and those bars that resemble hardtack but with a fleeting hint of apple cinnamon. When I finish revising my thoughts on Salt Sugar Fat, I plan to share more on that subject, for now I’ll just say granola wasn’t part of my food vocabulary.

Each morning, E creates his own cereal mix and has struggled to find something slightly sweet to add that isn’t overpowering or full of stuff (sugar, salt, and fat) that he doesn’t want. I’m not one for breakfast first thing, I look for food later in the morning (around 9:30 or 10a), add in my requirement of gluten-free and that I think milk in cold cereal is just gross and so I’ve mostly left him to struggle on his own.

We have read just about every ingredient and nutrition panel in the cereal aisle. We would often look at bags of granola then set the bag carefully back on the shelf because it either contained the dreaded 3 in high amounts or was priced higher than our weekly food budget.

I knew granola was relatively straightforward to make and shouldn’t be expensive, but it took until a few weeks ago for me to finally take the plunge.

We can thank Pinterest for all the beautiful pins that finally won me over to just try it once. I bought a bag of gluten-free oatmeal, found a bag of (sweetened, oops) shredded coconut in the pantry, some nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds and cashews) and in less than an hour I began to wonder what took me so long to try this. I’ve made several batches since that first time, with only one cup of oatmeal diverted for a hot breakfast. I need to restock all the ingredients so I can continue to make more.

What recipe did I use? I’ve merged two found in my copy of 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes lessening the sweet (honey) a bit and using a nut to oat ratio that just seems right. First I mix together the dry ingredients (oatmeal, coconut, seeds/nuts, a pinch of salt and a dash of cinnamon), then I prepare the wet ingredients, stirring the honey into some very hot water, adding some vanilla and a drizzle of oil. Then I pour the wet over dry and mix well. I don’t think it really matters much exactly what recipe you use, find one that you like. My internet searches seem to show lots more sweet than I use, so look around. I have found that spreading the mixture out in as thin layer as possible and regular stirring is essential for even browning. I love having the power to make it slightly more toasted than anything I’ve ever seen available commercially.

Looking for more detailed instruction?

granola-detailPlain Penny’s Granola
based on 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes
Yield: 4 cups

Dry ingredients:
3c oatmeal
1c shredded coconut (not packed tight)
1/2c sunflower seeds (unsalted)
1/4c cashew pieces (unsalted)
1tsp Ground cinnamon

Wet ingredients:
1/4c honey
1/4c hot water
1/4c oil (I don’t fill it all the way to the line)
1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper of lightly coat with cooking spray.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Into a small bowl, first measure out the oil. Reuse the cup for the honey (tip: the oil helps the honey slide out!) add vanilla and the very very hot water. Stir until the honey is fully dissolved.

Pour the wet into the dry and mix until thoroughly combined. It will be a wet-ish mixture.

Spread as a thin layer onto the prepared baking sheet and cook at 300°F for 30 minutes stirring after every 15 minutes. Continue the bake and stir sequence in 10 minute increments until toasted to desired amount. Cool pan on wire rack.

If you are adding dry fruit, do so after it has cooled. Store in sealed container in refrigerator for 2 weeks (if it lasts that long).

Notes: Good luck waiting for it to cool, I took tasting samples straight from one of my stirring sessions (not recommended). No wire rack? I don’t always pull mine out (it’s a useful gadget around my kitchen) so I just try to time the making of oatmeal when I’m not planning on using the stove top, and I just leave it on the grates to cool. (If you have a ceramic glass top, obviously this wouldn’t work).

My recipes call for this to be baked on the middle rack. The bottom rack of my oven is special, it slides. To reduce the mess potential found in my taking a tray of tiny loose things into and out of my oven, I just bake on the bottom rack, slide it out to stir, then slide it back.

I’m looking forward to experimenting with new combinations such as including squash seeds or using maple syrup to sweeten. The possibilities are endless.

What do you like in your granola and how do you eat it?

I’m liking mine how I like my cereal. Straight up from a bowl (no milk). Since sticky fingers aren’t welcome on my laptop or in my knitting I am being a grown up and using a spoon. Sometimes I also add a handful of dried cranberries to my bowl.