Earth Day and Easter almost coincide this year: next Sunday’s Easter and Earth Day is just two days later, April 22. I thought I’d avoid adding more plastic to my local landfill and try to use what I had at home to make my Easter basket.
I had white eggs, so I cooked those and, while they were gently bobbing in boiling water, I doodled and came up with a few animals I could make from Sharpies, colored pages from magazines or catalogs, and glue.
I cut out two ears and a tongue; antennas and wings; a beak and a comb. For anything that’s going to be seen from both sides, you need to look out for broad swaths of color so you can cut two or find a convenient, coordinating color on the other side of the page. A drop of glue and some gentle pressure and you’ve got the beginnings of cute animals. Use a fine Sharpie for the thin lines and a big-tip marker for eyes and they’re ready for the basket.
I used this pretty bowl decorated with tulips. For the grass, I cut strips of kelly green computer paper (from my Christmas stash) and folded them accordion style. You just need one generous layer (about three pages of paper), if you put balled-up tissue paper underneath.
Recycling was never this much fun!
Iowa is pie heaven. New Englanders may take offense (but, really, Boston cream pie is more like a cake). Southerners will be mad enough to spit. But Iowa gets the prize, never more so than now that Beth M. Howard is touring the country for her new book, Ms. American Pie.
An Iowa native, a longtime judge at the Iowa State Fair, and a beloved teacher of the craft of making pie, Beth lives in the American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa, the one made famous by Grant Wood. Her Pitchfork Pie Stand is a destination for pie lovers all summer long.
What makes this pie book different from so many is Beth’s belief that we’ve over-complicated things. As she writes in her introduction, “My Pie Principles,” “The pilgrims made pie. The pioneers made pie. Did the pilgrims and pioneers fuss the way chefs are suggesting we should? Did they fret and agonize and berate themselves about their pies not being perfect? Did they refrigerate their bowls and utensils? Did they use food processors? No! They didn’t have refrigerators, let alone electricity. They were living out of covered wagons and cabins with no power. They were baking their pies over open fires.”
Hear more of her deliciously tart opinions in our exclusive interview at TheGoodCook.com.
I had always refrigerated the dough and then cursed and tugged and tore and re-rolled the stuff until it resembled the ancient surrounds of meat or fish which were actually called “coffins” because they were inedible. What a epiphany to just mix the dough and roll it!
Here’s Beth’s fool-proof method:
And Brownie Pie is just one of the delicious confections you can make from her beautiful book. Read on for the recipe. You’ll never be flummoxed by pie crust again!
Even if you’re going to have a festive holiday meal this Sunday, you’ll need a good start. There are eggs to hide and seek, chocolates to consume, and Peeps to peel off the furniture.
Joanne Chang’s Boston bakery, Flour, does a wicked breakfast business, so you can trust that she knows French toast. Assembled the night before with day-old bread, fried quickly in a skillet, and finished in the oven, it’s the perfect thing to serve alongside a fresh fruit salad on Easter morning. Enjoy!
Fabulous French Toast
“The most important thing about making great French toast is starting with great bread. It doesn’t have to be fresh (in fact–the older, the better, because the bread will soak up more custard when it’s dried out and stale), but it should be a hearty country-style loaf. The bread spends the night in the fridge in a simple custard bath…. By the time you cook it it’s so filled with custard that it almost seems to soufflé. You start it in a skillet to give it a lovely caramelized crust on the outside and then you finish it in the oven. It’s so deliciously airy and eggy that I usually eat it as is, sans butter and syrup, but for a special breakfast treat do it up right with all of the trimmings.”–Joanne Chang
Makes 6 slices
6 large eggs
⅔ cup vanilla sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
2 cups half-and-half
6 slices country-style sourdough bread, 1 in thick, preferably a day old
3 to 4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for serving
2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar for garnish
Maple syrup for serving
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: large, flat nonstick skillet, rimmed baking sheet, sieve or sifter
Copyright © 2013 by Joanne Chang from Flour, Too