Archive for September, 2010

I appreciate happy hours just as much as the next person, but with busy schedules, significant others, little people running around, and some of us who just like to go straight home after work, the weekday happy hour is hard to make happen sometimes.

Since the weather has been so nice these last few weeks of summer, I thought an outdoor, kid-friendly Saturday happy hour might be a good way to get people together. I tend to relax in the front yard anyway (much to my neighbors entertainment I am certain) so it seemed like the perfect spot.

Thus Front Yard Happy Hour was born.

The picnic blankets were open from 3-7PM. Everyone brought a snack or drink to share and I made the famous Farris Apricot Slush. There was sidewalk chalk, bubbles and laughter until dark.

It was a good time and I foresee many Saturday Happy Hours in our future.

The Farris Apricot Slush is a drink my mom makes and it’s the only alcohol she likes.

It’s quite tasty and one batch makes a ton, so you can keep it in your freeze all summer long.

Slush is also orange, so for any of you with Halloween parties in your future, I would consider it a more than acceptable spooky beverage.

Farris Apricot Slush


1 can of frozen lemonade

1 can of frozen orange juice

1 46oz container of apricot nectar juice

1 46 oz container of pineapple juice

1 cup of vodka

1 cup of apricot brandy

1 liter of Z-Up or Sprite (we are a Z-Up family, I am just saying)

*Mix all the juices and alcohol together.

*Freeze it for at least 24 hours.

*When ready to serve, scoop it into a cup and pour Z-Up or Sprite over it.


Give the Saturday Happy Hour a try- it really was laid back, easy and fun!


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When I met Jan one of the first things she told me was about her dad and his garden. She grew up on fresh fruit and vegetables, eating homegrown produce until she moved away. She loves to eat veggies simple and raw and has passed that love down to her kids. The bottom line for her is that vegetables just don’t taste the same unless her dad grew them.

Her dad’s produce doesn’t just taste good, it tastes like home and love.

I was going to ask Jan which vegetable reminded her most of her dad, but decided not to. When the camera stopped, she just volunteered it on her own: a tomato.

As the garden gods would have it, my food gift for her was two tomatoes freshly picked from my very own plants.

* Here’s Jan’s Dad’s Salsa recipe and the note she sent with it:

“It is a really basic/simple salsa recipe that me and my family (parents, siblings) all make.  When I got into town my dad had made several batches so we could enjoy it while visiting and then he sent a batch home with me (that I’ve been enjoying each evening since).” I know why…it’s really tasty.

Dad’s Salsa

3 cups chopped fresh tomato (roma tomatoes work best since they are less juicy)

3 tablespoons chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno

1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Remove the skin from the tomatoes (put the tomato in boiling water for 1 minute and the skin will easily come off) and then combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours for the flavors to blend.

Did you grow up with a family garden? Does your family have one now?

Tell me about it! Write a comment or e-mail me at thepiesthatbind@gmail.com

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This girl can make a pies from scratch and that’ s no lie.

But bread — now, that is a pot of a different color.

I’ve been struggling with bread baking for about a year. It takes me two cookbooks to try and bake a loaf of bread.

So when the opportunity to spend 6 months focused on food came my way, I told myself, “Steph, this is it. You’ve got to get this bread baking thing figured out.”

My plan — take almost every bread baking class the Culinary of Kansas City offers and bake, and bake, and bake until  this mystery is solved.

So Sunday, Sept 12 my official quest began with The Fundamentals of Baking, taught by Chef T.J. Stack. The recipes: Italian loaf, Hard Rolls, and Cinnamon Rolls.

Sitting at my table, as luck would have it, were two sisters. It did not take long before they were telling me about Aunt Dot’s recipe for cinnamon rolls and their mother’s missing bread machine.

Cooking classes are filled with people on a mission. One sister wanted to learn the hard rolls for dinner parties, the other to replace her the Christmas cookies she gives away with cinnamon rolls. Another woman wanted to learn the secret of how to make the cinnamon rolls flaky so she could bake them just the way her teenage son likes them.  All 20 of us swapped food stories, drank wine (this was a no knives class) and watched Chef T.J. do things with dough we had never even pondered. He had some great tales about the best restaurants in K.C. He told us all about  a soul food kitchen that he still pines for, the family friends who introduced it to him, and the wonderful owner who used newspaper to absorb grease from her fried chicken.

What did I learn that night– that my passion for dough is just as deep as my passion for words and that being around other hopeful cooks was just the inspiration and support I needed.

Now my bread on the other hand, well, it  just proved that more lessons are in order.

Chef T.J.’s amazing dough! I am still in awe. It’s alive!

The classes pre-baked dinner rolls.

The Culinary Center — the sisters are on the far away right!

Have you ever taking a cooking class? Who did you take it with? Tell me your story!

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When I started telling people about this project, one of first questions I was asked was, “So are you going to the Lenexa Spinach Festival?”

It was on my radar, but after being asked 10 times, it became a must food event.

Lenexa celebrates their history of being the World’s Spinach Capital by hosting a day full of fun with vitamins.

What I loved most about the festival was how they truly celebrated this nutritious green and made it fun for everyone.

From spinach trivia trails, to tacos topped with spinach, “I like spinach” t-shirts, spinach cook-offs, Popeye, and of course, the giant spinach salad, I am certain that many a kidd-o had their first taste of this veggie at the fest.

I salute my fork to you Lenexa for putting on an veg enthusiasts gathering that everyone can enjoy.

* The fest started with a pancake breakfast. We all know how I feel about pancakes. Surprisingly enough, there was also Tang.

* Next we had a run-in with some celebrities…

* We had to take a trip to the Garden Cafe. Local enthusiasts prepared spinach dishes like spinach wraps, spinach balls, spinach dip (you name it)  for fest goers to sample.


* As you can imagine, Popeye had to get in on this…

* The Sweet Pea Baby crawl was the cutest food/cartoon character inspired event I have ever seen.

* The Kettle Korn was even green!

* But the ice cream was not!

Have you ever been to the Spinach Festival? Who did you go with? What food festivals do you love?

I’m on the tasty trail…so comment or e-mail your stories to thepiesthatbind@gmail.com

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If you are in a book club odds are you already know this – book clubbers love to eat.

Our book club has been around for years and we’ve eaten more tasty things than we’ve read. Everyone brings a snack or drink to share. Sometimes our food is themed, sometimes not—but unlike the “reads”, the “eats” are something everyone participates in.

Last month we had a big turn out (the book was, “Let the Great World Spin”). 

I was a “non-reader” and choose to watch a movie that was sort of related to the book. Let’s just say we are a very flexible and forgiving book club.

Here is our spread (before and after) as well as pre-discussion snacking.

Does your book club like to eat? How does food shape your book club experience?

Tell me about it! Write a comment or e-mail me!

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When I was a teenager my family began to partake in dinner and a movie night. These evolved into Epic Nights during my college years (it meant that the movie had to be two video tapes long and the food themed to the film). My husband and I have also picked up this food tradition and will do a dinner and a movie when the mood hits us.

Lately we’ve been recreating a dinner experience we love from Disney World. At the Disney Hollywood Studios you can go back to the 1950’s and eat under the “stars” at an indoor drive in theater. Not only do you get to sit in a car you and your fellow car diners also get to watch previews for authentic B movie classics like “The Cat Women of the Moon” and “The Giant Gila Monster.” A wonderful world of kitsch.We highly recommend it.

Last Friday we watched, “The Blob” and made veggie burgers, homemade French fries and peanut butter chocolate shakes.We did not drive the car into the house, but we did set-up the TV trays and turned on the Christmas lights.

Check out the real thing and our “recreation”

Do you do dinner and a movie night? Tell me about it! Write a comment or send me an e-mail!

Also – “The Blob” trailer just for fun…the movie, hmmm, not so fun despite exciting young people.

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Time: 6:30

Table: Mom and Dad’s dining room table in their new apartment

Who Gathered:




Timmy (Lynley’s roommate)



The Menu:


Farris Family Slush with Z-up

Crackers and cream cheese dip

Mixed Nuts

Drunken pineapple chunks


Grilled Salmon and Chicken with little green onions

Oven roasted potatoes

Cole slaw

Fruit Salad

Corn on the Cob

Dad’s Cucumber, Vinegar and Onions

Veggie Griller (for JY)

White wine




Quick mixed berry cobbler with vanilla ice cream

Chocolate Cupcakes with pink frosting

What was not eaten:

A French silk pie that involved raw eggs…hmmmm

Various Dining Topics:

* A recap of the Santa-Cali-Gon Days festival

* Allergy misery

* To go or not to go to the Beatles tribute concert

*  Stories from the old neighborhood: The UFO sighting, the spare wooden leg sighting, the elephant sighting, the dusty cognac bottle sighting, etc, etc, etc.

* Discussion of how to run a book club a.k.a. Dad’s retirement plans

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