Archive for November, 2010

Ben and Sparky

It seems like Boston has the oldest everything and that’s so unusual when you’re from the Midwest. Being there in the autumn and seeing the city in its fall glory only added to the atmosphere.

Trying to pick where to eat in Boston wasn’t easy, but we decided to go the classic route and dine at the oldest continuously open restaurant in the country, The Union Oyster House.

When we first walked in we spotted the Oyster Bar and Julia’s spoon, all signs of a good time ahead.

The Union Oyster House serves local seafood straight off the coast and some of the recipes have been the same since they opened in 1826. Dripping with history, locals and tourists, our dinner at this classic Boston restaurant was a food connecting experience we will talk about for years to come.

No, I did not eat any raw oysters, but I wish I would have.

Guess we’ll have to back. Dang.

Here are some moments from our dinner:

Dad and his clam chowder.

Dad loves his pepper.

My dinner: Broiled Fresh Boston Scrod – A New England Tradition, so the menu says.

Yes those are Boston Baked Beans.



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At the end of October  mom, dad, John and I all took a trip to Boston. I hadn’t been on a vacation with my parents since I was a kid and thought it would be fun to take in the tastes with them.

Starting the trip off right with donuts in the airport.

I also decided to bring a family Halloween decoration with us on the trip just for fun. Sparky the spider haunts my home  every October just like he did in our house growing up. Dad and I got quite the kick out of Sparky’s big trip and took lots of pictures of him. I think Sparky enjoyed getting out of the house for once…

Originally I was going to Massachusetts for a Pudding Festival, but alas, it was canceled until next year. Then I decided to go to a Vegetarian Festival, and well, you’ll see what happened to that later.

But one of my big plans was to take the whole family to Salem for the day and eat a New England treat simply called fried dough (yes, you read that right, fried-freaking-wonderful-dough). A few years ago I visited Salem and sampled this delicacy. Let’s just say, I’ve talked about it ever since and was really excited to share it with my family. Salem’s population is around 38,000, but on Halloween 100,000 people show up just to trick-or-treat. We choose not join the chaos and went to Salem a few days before the holiday. We still saw lots of people in costume and got to partake in a Halloween vibe you can’t anywhere else. Here is a small sampling of our Salem adventure, fried dough and all.

On the ferry to Salem.

Like mother like daughter, we had to have our snacks! Our purses were filled with granola bars, almonds, and animal crackers AND, yes, we did eat breakfast that morning. A well-feed Farris is a happy Farris.

The leaves were swirling around the gravestones. I can’t even begin to explain how beautiful autumn was in that moment. None of the pictures or video can do it justice.

The first of 4 fried dough stands.

Fried dough please….

Trying fried dough…





We had to visit Ye Olde Pepper Companie. Oprah orders truffles from them!

Mom and I enjoyed our candy immediately…

Sparky got us back on the ferry!

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Not only do these roommates share a kitchen, they also share a love of food and the way it brings people together. Lauren and Laura welcomed me into their home to talk about so many of my favorite things: food gatherings, pie, ice cream, cup cakes, grandma’s, garden’s and the joy of making food.

They both host and participate in a friend dinner and a girl’s dinner that rotates houses each month. For both dinner’s the host cooks the main dish and while everyone else brings the sides. These dinners are a fun way to stay in touch, and get to know their friends through the food they create.

For Lauren’s birthday, her friends designed cute recipes cards for her. These thoughtful gifts celebrate her love of cooking and their connection to each other through food and friendship.

Although the roommates don’t get to cook together very often, they do share their food with each other and relish in the happiness of cooking for others.

Laura also talked to about her Grandmother’s recipe book.

I was blown away by how organized this homemade recipe book was! The plastic sleeves were a revelation.

Laura’s grandmother’s lemon squeezer was adorable.

Lauren and Laura reminded me how food can make us family and I was so happy to be a part of theirs for a fall afternoon.

Lauren and Laura’s recipe:

Grown-up Banana Pudding Ice Cream

(makes about 1 qt)

3/4 c. sugar

2 T. cornstarch

1/8 tsp. salt

2 c. milk

1 c. heavy whipping cream

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (we substituted vanilla extract)

3 medium-size ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1/3 c. firmly packed light brown sugar

1 T. butter

2 T. banana liqueur, divided (optional)

1 c. coarsely crumbled vanilla wafers

1.  Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a large heavy saucepan.  Gradually whisk in milk and cream.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly.  Remove from heat.

2.  Whisk egg yolk until slightly thickened.  Gradually whisk about 1 cup hot cream mixture into yolk.  Add yolk mixture to remaining cream mixture, whisking constantly.  Whisk in vanilla bean paste.  Cool 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

3.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400*.  Combine bananas, brown sugar, butter, and, if desired, 1 T. banana liqueur in a 2-qt. baking dish. Bake 20 minutes or until browned and softened, stirring after 10 minutes.  Let cool 30 minutes.

4.  Coarsely mash banana mixture; stir into cooled cream mixture.  Place plastic wrap directly on cream mixture, and chill 8 to 24 hours.

5.  Pour mixture into freezer container of a 1 1/2-qt. electric ice-cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.  (Instructions and time may vary.)  Before transferring ice cream to an airtight container for further freezing, stir in vanilla wafers and, if desired, remaining 1 T. banana liqueur.

6.  You’re done!  Let it freeze and then get out some spoons!

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Baking new blogs….

The pies that bind will return the week of Thanksgiving!

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My Aunt Linda went on a float trip with our cousin’s this summer. My aunt is basically a professional camper and she was in awe of the amount of cooking these Farris’s did out in the woods.

The hazy smoke isn’t from a campfire, but from all the cooking!

They haul all their own grills and roast much more than just hotdogs on a stick. Fried potatoes, pork chops, cupcakes and more, their camp feasts really make the point that good cooking isn’t tied to the kitchen. Creating a meal while roughing it isn’t easy, but this side of the family loves to cook from scratch no matter where they are and I love that it’s such a group effort. It seems like everyone pitches in.

FYI: I am only allowed to post these pictures if I mention that the girls won the family baseball game, much to the chagrin of the men (which was played with a homemade whittled baseball bat by the way).

Do you camp and cook? Tell me your outdoors cooking tales. E-mail me at thepiesthatbind@gmail.com

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Our October book club is always a mildly spooky event. Despite the fact there are some chickens in the group (I am one of them) we try to read something “seasonal.” Something Wicked This Way Comes was our book this year  and in my opinion an excellent scary read (yes, I did have to sleep with the hall light on one night, but it was so worth it).


I love the October book club because it means I bring my graveyard pudding.

I think the ghosts were moving in this picture….scary.

This is not a Farris family tradition believe it or not. I just spotted a photo of one in the grocery store 10 years ago and have been making them ever since (in fact I’ve started adapting them to other holidays as well). My graveyard is a mixture of vanilla pudding, peanut butter chips, mini chocolate chips, candy corn pumpkins, Pepperidge Farm cookies, Cool Whip, and of course, smashed Halloween Oreo’s.

The only problem with the pudding graveyard is that it doesn’t travel well, so I have to build a cocoon around it. This really just adds to the fun.

Some of the other themed treats at book club: scary berries, soul cakes, pumpkin bread and other  yummies!

During October I also went to the Renaissance Festival…

My sister and I go every couple of years to see the joust and get our ren fest fix. We are not turkey leg eaters, however this year I decided to count all the people I saw eating them.


Needless to say that after an hour and 30 mins I had to cut it off at over 50 because I just couldn’t keep up.

Huzzah to October Eating!

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I like mushrooms; Lynley on the other hand, not so much. Recently she’s been trying to change her mind about fungi and taking a trip to the Mushroom Fest seemed like a good way to influence her taste buds. 

The Asheville Mushroom Club is a devoted bunch. I admire their enthusiasm and dedication to a veg that favors dark places and might or might not poison you. I haven’t heard of too many specific food clubs and I think that might be a serious gap in our society. The mushroom clubbers have a good time and like to share that with others.

When I spoke to them, they just got more and more excited—how wonderful is that?

Did I buy a t-shirt? Yes.

Did I buy mushrooms? Yes.

Do I think I need to start a donut or pie club? Yes.

And here is what I did with my very fresh and very fragrant shiitakes.

Jamie Oliver’s Chow Mein

(note: I used tofu instead of chicken!)

• a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
• 2 cloves of garlic
• ½–1 fresh red chili, to your taste
• 1 large skinless chicken breast, preferably
free-range or organic or half a block of tofu (freeze first then thaw before use)
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 spring onions
• a small bunch of fresh coriander
• 1 bok choi
optional: 4 shiitake mushrooms – not optional for me!
• 100g (2 bundles) medium chow mein noodles
• groundnut oil
• 1 heaped teaspoon cornstarch
• 1 small can of sliced water chestnuts
• 2–3 tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 small lime

To prepare your stir-fry
• Put a large pan of water on to boil
• Peel and finely slice the ginger and garlic
• Finely slice the chili
• Slice the chicken or tofu into finger-sized strips and lightly season with salt and pepper
• Cut the ends off your spring onions and finely slice
• Pick the coriander leaves and put to one side, and finely chop the coriander stalks
• Halve the bok choi lengthways
• If using the mushrooms, either tear into pieces or leave whole

To cook your stir-fry
• Preheat a wok or large frying pan on a high heat and once it’s very, very hot add a good lug of groundnut oil and swirl it around
• Stir in the chicken strips or tofu and cook for a couple of minutes, until it browns slightly
• Add the ginger, garlic, chili, coriander stalks, mushrooms (if using) and half the spring onions
• Stir-fry for 30 seconds, keeping everything moving round the wok quickly
• Add your noodles and bok choi to the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, no longer
• Meanwhile, add the cornstarch, water chestnuts and their water to the wok and give it another good shake to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom
• Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
• Halve the lime, squeeze the juice of one half into the pan and mix well
• Drain the noodles and bok choi in a colander over a bowl, reserving a little of the cooking water
• Stir in the noodles and bok choi, with a little of the cooking water to loosen if necessary, and mix well
• Have a taste and season with more soy sauce if needed

To serve your stir-fry
• Use tongs to divide everything between two bowls or plates, or to lift on to one large serving platter
• Spoon any juices over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the spring onions and the coriander leaves
• Serve with lime wedges or a bumper sticker

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