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Archive for the ‘“Slice of Life” column’ Category

Slice of Life: Peach-Bourbon-Ginger Hand Pies

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012


Peaches in the summertime! I picked up some of summer’s favorite stone fruit at the market last week and got to baking them this past weekend. I found this recipe from the ever-inspiring Smitten Kitchen, and was, well, smitten. Peaches + personal pockets + pies . . . oh yeah, and bourbon = some of my favorite things.

Peach-Bourbon-Ginger Hand Pies

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 14 to 24 (depending on cutter size)

For the crust: 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c. sour cream
4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. ice water

For the filling: 2 pounds of peaches (approximately 4)
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. bourbon
1 tsp. fresh ginger, zested
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
One egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water (for egg wash)
Turbinado sugar, for dusting


To make the pastry:

1. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the sliced butter in another bowl and put both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a food processor or pastry cutter, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients and add half of this mixture to the well. Stir in the liquid with a wooden spoon until large lumps form. Once dough can be formed, form it into a ball, but do not overwork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Divide the refrigerated dough in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough to 1/8-inch thick. Using a 4 1/2-inch-round biscuit cutter, cut circles out of the rolled dough. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. Repeat with the other half of dough.

To make the filling:

1. Peel and dice the peaches into small pieces. Mix them with the flour, sugar, salt, bourbon, vanilla, and ginger.

2. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just pliable. Spoon about 1-2 Tblsp. filling onto one half of each circle of dough. Brush some cold water around the edges of the dough and fold it in half so the other side comes down over the filling, creating a crescent moon shape. Seal the hand pie by pressing the edges of the dough together with the back of a fork. Repeat with remaining dough. Place the hand pies back on the parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.

3. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the pies from the refrigerator, cut a small slit in each and lightly brush with egg yolk, sprinkling Turbinado sugar on top. Place pies in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until pies are golden brown. Remove the pies from the oven and let cool. Enjoy!

Overall I was pretty pleased with this recipe, though I found the crust-to-filling ratio a little too high—meaning I need to figure out a way to get more filling in there and still be able to seal it shut. They also get a little soggy fast, so eat them right away! Shouldn’t be too hard.

I shared mine with my weekend house guests and coworkers on Monday. Everyone was happy.

p.s. There are not really hands in hand pies.



Emily Hilliard is a folklorist, writer, fiddler, and baker currently residing in Washington, D.C. She earned an MA in Folklore from the University of North Carolina, where she studied the revivalism of American vernacular music, women’s domestic creativity and foodways. She writes the pie blog Nothing-in-the-House.

Slice of Life – A New Column About Pie. Recipe: Sour Cherry Pie

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Today, we’re thrilled to introduce a new column here on the HOMEGROWN blog called “Slice Of Life” written by Emily Hilliard. Emily Hilliard is a folklorist, writer, fiddler, and baker currently residing in Washington, D.C. She earned an MA in Folklore from the University of North Carolina, where she studied the revivalism of American vernacular music, women’s domestic creativity and foodways. She writes the pie blog Nothing-in-the-House.

Emily introduces herself:

There are so many reasons why I like pie. First of all, pie is seasonal. It ties us to time and place, whether that’s peaches in the summertime, apples in the fall, or muscadines in North Carolina, gooseberries in Indiana. Pie also ties us to people. When you make a pie, you are calling upon all that past knowledge from so many women and men of past generations, and maybe that is your mother or father, grandmother or grandfather, or someone you never knew. Then when you share the pie you’ve made, you’re inviting others to also experience that expression of time and place, tradition and love with you, and eat it, making it a part of you. I think that’s so wild.

Seven years ago, my friend Margaret and I started Nothing-in-the-House, a pie blog, to keep in touch through the pies we baked and explore some of these themes. Though we don’t hear much from Margaret anymore, I continue this exploration of pie through a lens of baking, history, folklore, and popular culture. I’m excited to be sharing some of my posts old and new with HOMEGROWN, and you can always find more on my blog Nothing-in-the-House.

And now, on to pie!


It’s getting to be that gloriously overwhelming time of year when just about everything is ripe. Just last week at the Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market there were strawberries, raspberries, nectarines, apples, and sweet and sour cherries. So much fruit, so much pie-making potential. I wandered back and forth amongst the stalls a few times, caught, as I often am, in indecision. I bought some raspberries (I’ll show you what I made with them soon), and then remembered that I had some dear Michigan friends coming to play a show at my house on Monday. Of course! Cherries. I had to get tart cherries.

It is a little-known (at least seems to be when I tell people) that Michigan, Traverse City, specifically is the cherry capital of the world. The mitten state grows about 75% of the nation’s tart cherries. Thus growing up not too far from the capital, I was spoiled with an extended season of the fruit and all their products–jams and pies, salsas and syrups. This year, though, the Michigan cherry crop is sadly depleted, due to extreme spring weather, and down here in the mid-atlantic, tart cherries are harder to come by and the season is rather fleeting. All the more reason, then, to buy a few pints at the Farmers’ Market, bring them home, put them in a pie to share it with true cherry natives. Just easing another bout of that Michigan summer nostalgia I’ve been feeling lately.

I perused a few different recipes and borrowed a little bit from each for my own sour cherry pie rendition. I highly recommend getting your hands on a cherry pitter–before I had one I’d pit them by hand, which was hand-staining and time-consuming, especially when you consider that there about 250 cherries in each cherry pie. A lattice top is traditional, but you could get creative, or opt for a standard double crust if you’re pressed for time and not up for all that weaving.

Sour Cherry Pie

An amalgamation of several recipes including Lottie + Doof & Martha Stewart


Nothing-in-the-House pie crust recipe

1 c. sugar

3 Tblsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped and reserved (vanilla bean is expensive, so if you’re being frugal, substitute 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)

1 tsp. lemon zest

6 c. fresh sour cherries, pitted (cherry pitter highly recommended!)

2 Tblsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 Tblsp. milk

Turbinado sugar (for dusting–can use granulated sugar, if necessary)


1. Prepare pie crust as per the directions here. Refrigerate dough for approximately 1 hour. Once chilled, roll out 1/2 of pie crust and fit into a 9-inch greased and floured pie pan. Return crust to the fridge while you prepare the lattice & filling.

2. Roll out remaining dough into a long rectangle. Using a ruler as a guide, use a knife or pastry wheel to cut 10-16 (depending on the size) strips of equal width for the lattice top. Place strips on a piece or parchment and refrigerate until cold, about 10 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Meanwhile, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, vanilla bean seeds, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Add cherries and toss with the dry mixture. Remove crust from the fridge and pour in the cherry filling. Dot the top of the filling with butter.

4. To make the lattice, lay 5-8 strips parallel across the pie and fold back every other strip. Weave the same number of strips perpendicular to the first strips, alternating over and under. Trim strips so that they leave a 1-inch overhang. Fold bottom crust over the lattice and tuck the excess under. Seal and flute edges decoratively. Brush lattice with the 1 Tblsp. milk and dust with Turbinado sugar.

5. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, approximately 60-75 minutes. Once done, remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

On Monday night, after going back and forth whether to have the show in the backyard under storm-threatening skies, we settled into the Dollhouse living room for two sets of traditional music–ragtime jazz and string band numbers from Baltimore’s Bumper Jacksons, and ballads, old-time tunes and such sweet harmonies from Michigander’s Red Tail Ring. Though Michael and I have been friends for about eight years now and I’ve seen him play in so many bands–ska and loud bluegrass and quiet singer-songwriter, I think he’s found his place here in this extremely tight and talented and duo.

After the show, I warmed the pie, and we dished it up with vanilla bean ice cream for the bands and remaining friends. The flavor was tart and just-sweet and complex, and just perfect. So good, that after Michael devoured the last sliver of a slice the next morning, I caught him unabashedly running his fingers through the leftover juice. The pie and pals and ping-pong (a rousing around-the-world session the next day) was the perfect antidote to my summer Michigan longing. Now I think it’s just been postponed until fall.

Sensory Overload: Songs About Pie

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Pie means comfort. Pie means hospitality. Tradition. Handmade. Homemade. All things good.

Emily Hilliard is a folklorist, writer, fiddler, and baker who lives in Washington, D.C., and her blog, Nothing-in-the-House, is dedicated entirely to the making and enjoyment of pie. We’re thrilled to announce that, starting Monday, Emily will be a regular columnist here on Her pie column is called “Slice of Life.” Stay tuned.

In the mean time, Sensory Overload covers two music and food (pie)-related items:

Our Favorite Pie Songs (Songs About Pie)

Including “Custard Pie Blues” by Sonny Terry


Levon Helm’s “Lemon Icebox Pie” Recipe

So sweet. So good.

Stay tuned for more from Emily and “Slice of Life!”