Monday, July 27, 2015

Multitude Monday, Take 352

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
—G. K. Chesterton 

Thanking God this week for...

7436. a morning of rich conversation with a friend, much-needed fellowship
7437. being awake to beauty on the drive across rural Kentucky

7438. s'mores snack mix
7439. Elijah's missing watch finally found
7440. the way talking with Steve sharpens my thinking

7441. a gift card from friends = free dinner out
7442. Pad Thai at Pei Wei, shared with Steve, eaten with chopsticks
7443. a big box from The Peach Truck

7444. a friend's courage to be honest about her PPD struggles and ask for help
7445. leisurely mornings of reading and snuggling with the boys

7446. early morning prayer with a friend
7447. her asking me hard questions
7448. her encouragement, affirming how God has gifted me
7449. a friend here to borrow cloth diapers and chat about parenting
7450. much-needed new light fixtures in the dining room and kitchen

7451. a friend's humility and sensitivity
7452. a hopeless stain coming out of my white cardigan
7453. fresh sliced peaches in oatmeal, on pancakes, in leftover pie crust, eaten deliciously plain

7454. prayer with women from church
7455. Sara Hagerty's memoir resonating deeply and prompting me to rethink how I view God and life
7456. her lovely, praise-filled Instagram feed
7457. breaking through my massive unexplained funk
7458. a playlist of worship music to reorient my heart

7459. grace to desire to serve my family and bless them with food they love
7460. first tomato pie of the year
7461. Steve's tenacious love when I am unlovable
7462. free Dairy Queen treats from the library's summer reading program

7463. a friend's baby's crazy mohawk
7464. snuggles with a sweet two-year-old girl in the nursery
7465. promising to hold the wicked accountable for their plunder, bloodshed, injustice
7466. promising to flood the earth with the knowledge of His glory
7467. the terrible beauty of Selma

7468. weeping with His people
7469. fallen crepe myrtle blooms

7470. a giant pile of packages on the porch
7471. patiently condescending to hear His servants' complaints

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Tomato Pie: The Holy Grail of Summer Recipes

Every summer I rekindle my obsession with this crazy thing called tomato pie. Tomato WHAT? you might be saying. I had never heard of it until a few years ago either, and it took me two years after printing the recipe to finally give it a whirl. But Oh. My. YUM. You are about to make the most glorious culinary discovery. I am so excited for you.

It is with great anticipation that I wait for tomatoes to show up at the farmers' market, that I wait for them to get good and ripe. Part of me dreads the work it will take and the mess it will make, because I'm not gonna lie, this pie is a bit of a diva. It's not for the beginner cook or the faint of heart. If you make your crust from scratch, you will be in the kitchen for hours. HOURS, at the end of which it may look something like this:

But then you will sit down to this:

 ...and you will know what summer tastes like, and you will not regret a single dirty bowl.

First things first: Don't even think about attempting this with underripe tomatoes. And don't even mention this pie in the same breath as grocery store "tomatoes." You need them good and ripe. Add in some bacon (because duh, BACON), sweet Vidalia onions, and cheese--lots of cheese. You're drooling already, aren't you? Here we go:

Double Crust Tomato Pie
(adapted from Home-Ec 101)

1 recipe double pie crust (come on, if I can do it, anyone can--see below)
3 lbs very ripe tomatoes
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I use half cheddar, half mozzarella or Monterey Jack)
3-6 slices bacon (more or less depending on how thick it is)
3 TBSP mayonnaise (supposedly you can also use cream cheese, but don't use light mayo)
dried basil


1. Cook bacon. FYI, if you didn't already know this, you want to do that bacon in the oven, not on the stovetop where you have to flip it and get spattered with hot grease. And you want to cook it on this pan. Best bacon you have tasted in your life, forever and ever, amen. 400 degrees, 20-25 minutes. (If you want to cook all the bacon, and snack on the extra while you cook, I won't tell anyone you only needed three slices for the pie.) Turn the oven to 425* to preheat for the pie.

2. Get those onions started. You don't *have* to pre-cook them; you could just slice them super, super thin (the original recipe makes me laugh: "No, thinner. No, thinner still, we want the Calista Flockhart onions.") --but sometimes they still turn out slightly crunchy. I like to cook them, because why not, the whole recipe is a pain and makes a ton of dishes anyway, what's one more--and because caramelized onions. These take quite a while, and you have to keep an eye on them--you don't want them to burn. (It would make sense to start them first, but if you wait until the bacon is done, you can caramelize them in bacon grease instead of plain old butter. Just saying.)

So, slice up the onion and throw it in a pan with a tablespoon or two of fat on medium heat. Stir occasionally, turning the heat down and/or adding more fat if they start to turn more dark brown/black instead of golden brown. Saute for about 45 minutes or until they look something like the bottom right picture (keep in mind I am no food photographer):


3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Core tomatoes and cut an X in the bottom of each one. Boil tomatoes for one minute or until skin loosens and begins to peel away. Remove tomatoes and place in cold water. 

4. Slice tomatoes, scooping away some of the seeds so they aren't quite so wet, and place them in a colander over a large bowl. Sprinkle them with salt (and pepper, if you like pepper--I don't) and allow them to sit and drain while you prepare the other ingredients. 

5. In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese, mayo, and crumbled bacon. 

6. Lay the bottom pie crust in a 9" pie plate. Cover the bottom with a layer of tomatoes, then spread half the caramelized onions over the pie (you'll have to use your fingers to separate them and spread them out). Sprinkle with dried basil (the original calls for 1/2 tsp; I don't measure and probably use more).

7. Create another layer with the remaining tomatoes, the rest of the onion, and more basil.

8. Spread cheese mixture over the top.

9. Lay the second pie crust over the top. Seal the edges and cut slits in the top. (You'll probably want to put something underneath the pie pan in the oven, in case it bubbles over.)

10. Go ahead and make a foil shield now, since you'll probably need one and it's much easier to do when the pan isn't too hot to touch. Bake for 45 minutes at 425 degrees. Check the pie after 30 minutes--if the crust is browning, cover the edges with the shield.


11. Let the pie set for at least 15 minutes before slicing so it won't be quite so runny.


Pie Crust
I don't claim to be an expert on this, and I don't even care much for pie crust, if we're being honest. But this recipe has worked better for me than the one or two others that I've tried, and I think it makes a pretty tasty crust, even if I still do give the end to my kids. The recipe comes from my friend Mandy--she and her husband were the first to invite us over for dinner when we were new at church, and she served us a fudge pie that was absolutely delicious--so much so that I asked for this crust recipe, since I enjoyed her crust more than any other I had tasted. 

I also have found that it works quite well with white whole wheat flour, if you're trying to be a little healthier and avoid white flour. 

Without further ado...

2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp salt
2 T sugar
1/2 c. shortening, chilled (I use Spectrum's non-hydrogenated shortening)
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into 1/4" pieces
6-10 T ice water

Pie crust requires planning ahead--you have to chill the shortening and then chill the crust. So start early in the day (or even a day or two before).

Combine flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. (You can absolutely do this by hand with a pastry blender, but a food processor makes it SO much easier.) Add shortening and process until the mixture is the texture of coarse sand (about 10 seconds). Scatter the pieces of butter over the flour mixture and cut the butter into the flour until the texture is coarse crumbs, with butter pieces no larger than small peas (Mandy suggests doing this in 10 or so one-second pulses). 

Turn the mixture into a large bowl and sprinkle 6 T ice water over it. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dough until it sticks together. Add up to 4 T more water if it will not stick. You can use your hands, too, but try not to get the dough warm. 

Divide the dough into two balls and flatten each into a 4-6" disk. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour (I stick them in the freezer for a while to make them really cold). 

I can't offer any tips on rolling the dough out or pinching the crust; I am terrible at that part. For tips and tricks, I'll refer you to Smitten Kitchen's pie crust tutorial.

Tomato pie. Now you know. Your family will love you forever. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Multitude Monday, Take 351

"Gratitude is the proper response to an abundance of gifts. Gratitude is the posture of the soul that most readily increases receptivity. Gratitude demands humility, since only those who acknowledge their dependence, their need, and their delight in the goodness and kindness of another can be grateful. Give thanks always and for everything. And be specific."  
--Joe Rigney, The Things of Earth

Thanking God this week for...

7407. encouragement that the Spirit is at work in me in the midst of ongoing struggles
7408. Hallmark recordable storybooks--my dad's voice reading The Little Engine That Could to Jude
7409. The Valley of Vision prayer book
7410. friends inviting us to swim at the Y as guests under their membership
7411. time to relax in the water and chat while our kids splashed

7412. my boys' healthy teeth
7413. Google Earth enabling me to see my friend's new home
7414. Steve's incredible example of being gracious and assigning positive intent with impossibly ridiculous colleagues
7415. a sweet note from a beloved former professor
7416. unwanted items sold locally on VarageSale

7417. He hears and answers "at the beginning of [our] pleas for mercy" (Daniel 9:23)
7418. I can plead not because of my righteousness but because of His great mercy
7419. purple hydrangeas on my phone wallpaper, courtesy of BHG's Instagram feed
7420. a prompt check from our travel agent to cover the cost of her mistake
7421. a phone conversation to catch up with my college roommate

7422. Elijah coming to the dinner table: "Roasted broccoli! YEAH!!"
7423. boys splashing in a kiddie wading pool
7424. His promises to redeem us from our spiritual adultery
7425. His steadfast love and relentless mercy
7426. free fast food from the summer reading program at the library

7427. the sweet and obviously skilled tailor who is fitting Steve's suit for his brother's wedding
7428. family pizza and movie night
7429. His tender compassion toward His wayward children
7430. Steve and the boys washing our cars

7431. a shared pint of Sea Salt Caramel Truffle ice cream for National Ice Cream Day
7432. evening yoga to work and stretch sore muscles
7433. loads of fresh produce from the farmers' market
7434. generous, unexpected thank-you gift from church friends Steve helped
7435. amazing homemade pizza

Monday, July 13, 2015

Multitude Monday, Take 350

"So if you are awash in a sea of God's gifts, dive in and savor them. Relish all there is to relish in them as a means of expanding your mind and heart to know God more deeply. Receive God's gifts gladly, give thanks for them, and then be as generous with others as God has been with you."
--Joe Rigney, The Things of Earth

Thanking God the last few weeks for gifts like...

7355. long daylight hours
7356. air conditioning
7357. the perspective that fasting brings
7358. exposure of my heart and its disordered appetites
7359. Steve's endless patience and gentleness

7360. the boys' first experience of the symphony: Pixar in Concert

7361. the way music can evoke emotion so powerfully
7362. access to it and the means to expose our boys to it
7363. Saturday morning prayer, coffee and conversation with a dear friend
7364. our church's culture of celebrating life, throwing showers for fifth babies
7365. having to help the boys choose gratitude over whining --> good for my own attitude

7366. a family hike at Radnor Lake

7367. heavy but really good conversations with Steve
7368. blackberry picking

7369. Elijah's voracious reading
7370. gorgeous clouds at sundown

7371. a zoo visit with friends
7372. the adventure of getting caught in a downpour

7373. rain was better than sweltering heat!
7374. a friend's powerful example of loving her neighbor sacrificially
7375. clouded leopard cubs

7376. a decade of marriage to the man of my dreams
7377. a big fancy dinner at home with the boys for our anniversary
7378. first sweet corn of the summer
7379. Jude's face when he saw I'd bought some

7380. Airbnb
7381. first tomatoes of the summer
7382. a family bike ride on the greenway to see fireworks + avoid the traffic

7383. glow sticks from the dollar store
7384. Elijah's excitement about Sunday school, loving his teacher
7385. Jude singing the doxology terribly off-key

7386. an afternoon spent with a family from church
7387. crepe myrtles beginning to bloom
7388. the capacity to learn a new language
7389. His promises to tenderly shepherd us
7390. the wise and loving earthly shepherds He has provided to us at our church

7391. a friend's support and encouragement in efforts to get healthier
7392. a new blue skirt
7393. a friend's husband getting baptized
7394. zinnias from the farmers' market
7395. 18 years of walking with Him

7396. the fact that my biggest problem last week was ruined vacation plans
7397. grace to remain calm and not get angry with our travel agent
7398. evidence of the Spirit growing me: I felt more empathy than judgment for her mistake
7399. we didn't lose any money in the whole debacle
7400. grace to process my emotions in light of Truth and His steadfast love

7401. our pastors, who reflect the Good Shepherd as they care for our souls
7402. finding out I had $20 in credit from consignment sales at the bookstore
7403. blueberry cake
7404. boys eager to be Mama's helpers

7405. lunch and time to catch up with friends
7406. a High Priest who can sympathize with my weakness and extends mercy & grace