Tag Archives: holiday

Perfect Pie Crust

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Kwana – Hannu – Christmas Corridor is here! Time to spread love and cheer! And glut ourselves on fatty carbs! Ahhh, thank the baby Jesus in the manger for elastic waistbands.

Pie is one of the many tools of the devil for me. I love pie. I LOVE PIE. Actually, I like well-executed pie. And I can be a pretty critical taster. As a pie critic, I feel it’s my duty to provide you readers a tool to add to your arsenal. Pie crust is a skill one evolves, but this basic recipe will help you in your plight for pie perfection.

Warning: I am going to use Crisco. Don’t throw your computer out the window or block my site. Give it a try. I shall be waiting here to gloat when you’re ready to concede how good it is.

This recipe is for a double-crust pie or 2 blind bakes.

Here’s what you need!

Pie Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (I like a little more than that personally but that’s just me…) salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes, frozen
  • 1/2 cup (half a log) butter flavor Crisco, cut into pieces, frozen
  • 1/3 cup cold water with two ice cubes in it

This is a deceptively easy list of ingredients, isn’t it?

Sift dry ingredients into the bowl of your food processor. Add the butter and Crisco. Pulse judiciously, about 8 seconds worth of pulsing. (See video for visual in the Holiday Apple Pie post.)

Pour water in a slight stream through the feed tube while pulsing. Add just enough – if it’s humid you might need only a quarter cup. If it’s dry you might need almost half a cup.  This is where judgement comes into the mix. It should not be dry, but shouldn’t be wet or tacky, and you must not process it more than 30 seconds. You can test this by squeezing a little ball together and seeing if it sticks.

Form two equal size balls. Avoid touching it too much or kneading/overworking it. Flatten into disks. Wrap with plastic or put into Ziploc bags.

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See the flecks of frozen butter still intact? That’s your goal.

Put your wrapped disks into the fridge for at least an hour! These also freeze really well for future use.

See Holiday Pie entry for further inspiration.

That’s it for now.

xo,

The Gentleman Caller

PERFECT PIE CRUST

Make them say OOOOH with a Punchbowl Ice Wreath

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Knock, knock, knock.

Gentleman Caller.

This is an oldie but a goodie, friends. The classic ice wreath.

Now if you’re like me, you have sweet memories of cut glass punchbowls and ladies stirring concoctions of sherbet, 7-Up, pineapple juice and other sweet delights into it and watching the foam rise. Family parties, showers, holidays… A punch bowl was a staple. Granted you get a thimbleful of liquid in the dainty cups, but when it’s loaded with the calories of a traditional Southern style punch, perhaps that isn’t a negative.

Earlier I told you about a crisp Autumn cocktail with cranberries and cinnamon syrup. I made this beverage in a large quantity (just make all the ounces into cups…) in my vintage cut glass punch bowl and it was a hit.

Now if you know anything about me by now, you know half-assed is not an option. So I crowned the punch with a shining ice wreath. And it really did look like a crown.

Here’s what to do. This wreath is ideally for Vaccinium Autumn Vaccination.

  • Put a bundt pan in the freezer for a couple of hours. Make sure it’s flat/level.
  • Add about a cup of cranberries to the bottom. Add about a half cup of lemon Perrier mixed with 2 tablespoons of cinnamon syrup (see Vaccinium recipe). This shouldn’t cover the berries. Cranberries float; that’s how they are harvested. You only want to glue the berries down with the liquid mixture as it freezes.
  • Once that layer is frozen solid, add grapefruit juice to cover the berries and then some.
  • Allow that to freeze solid.
  • Slice and de-seed a lemon (thin slices). Leaving the mold in the freezer, adhere the slices into the broad side sections of the pan. The slices will freeze on contact like a tongue to flagpole.
  • Allow that to all freeze solid.
  • Mix about a cup of grapefruit juice, a cup of cranberry juice, a little cinnamon syrup and some lemon seltzer so you have enough liquid to almost cover the lemons. It should all be cold. Pour it into the mold.
  • Peek at it occasionally. When it starts to get good and slushy, poke a cinnamon stick into the narrower divots at the edge so that they will be visible.
  • Allow to freeze solid.

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When you’re ready to serve the punch, run the bundt pan carefully under hot water. Don’t allow the water to come into contact with the ice ring. It should slide out quite easily. Add your crowning touch to the punch. You may put either side up; the one side will have red glistening cranberries, the other a crown of cinnamon sticks. You can’t go wrong.

I hope you wow your guests with this relatively simple show stopper.

All for now.

The Gentleman Caller

Sparkling Ice Ring Crown in a vintage cut glass punch bowl
Sparkling Ice Ring Crown in a vintage cut glass punch bowl

 

Walkin’ in a Winter Onesie-land – Simple Sewing of a Snuggly Onesie

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Knock, knock, knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Here we are, our first sewing challenge! Who’s pumped?

This one is a lot of bang for your buck. A soft, cuddly onesie that is easily gift-able, or you can reap the benefits of your work for yourself.

The video is very helpful, even though it moves fast. Please overlook that you can see the band of my undies almost the whole time. The camera was mounted on the ceiling and I wasn’t going to ruin my shot worrying about my knickers.

This is a quick and easy sewing project; don’t be intimidated.

  • First you need about 2.5 to 3 yards of fabric for an adult onesie. I’ll do another post for a child’s onesie. I chose this funny Chicago Cubs polar fleece since the Cubs just had the big victory and all.

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I always go to the same fabric store in New York’s famed garment District. This is Jorge who helps me out. There are several stores all on 38th and 39th Streets between 7 and 8th Avenues.

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This is my friend who helped me select a zipper.

  • You need to choose a coordinating zipper, probably 22 inches long. Get something substantial, not a dress zipper. (Remember all these measurements are approximate. Please do math.)
  • Choose a coordinating thread.
  • Find a pair of sweats and draw a chalk line (see video).
  • Chalk outline with the sweats as a guide on the fabric. Allow a half inch for seam allowances.
  • Assemble and sew. Sew the shoulder seam first, then the side body seam, and the inseam seam. Follow on the other half. Put the two inseam seams together; stitch them together and continue the seam up the back. Go over the inseam seam one more time and sew up toward the belly button area to where the zipper should end.

Sewing in the zipper is a little bit of a trick. I line the top of the zipper up with the neck line on both sides and pin. If I hear for you all that I need to post a zipper “how-to” I sure will.

  • Sew the shoulder area but don’t close up the armpit area. Wait to sew the sleeve seam till you have sewn in the shoulder. Guiding off of where the armpit seam is on the body of the suit, figure out where the arm seam should be. Sew the arm seam. Then meet the arm seam to the body/armpit seam and sew them.
  • Add the hood or finish the neck hem if you aren’t adding a hood.
  • Hem the legs and arms.

VOILA!

Readers, if this isn’t clear enough let me know. I will post some diagrams and more video. I want you to know what you are doing! Sewing is your friend, and breaking in your skills on a simple sew like this will allow you to start doing money saving things like altering your own clothes.

Thanks for joining me today!

That’s all for now.

xo,

The Gentleman Caller

UPDATE! Kelly got a onesie too! With fur cuffs.

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Vaccinium Autumn Vaccination – The Gentleman’s Fall Special

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Manicured hand courtesy of Chris Crowthers.

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock, knock, knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Yeah, I know. You’re thinking, “What in the hell has he titled this beverage?” Vaccinium is the term for a species of low bushes that yield the delicious, tart cranberry. And you know what a vaccination is. Consider this cocktail a vaccination from your loud mouth brother-in-law or cousin that’s coming to Thanksgiving dinner and going to talk politics and conspiracy theories all day. Just simply look at your spouse or significant other, or perhaps a worldly child relative, and say, “Babes, I need another VAV.” See, an acronym there.

In all seriousness, though, this bad boy is not too sweet and really tasty. I auditioned it before a room of sophisticates and got the thumbs up.

Here’s what you need:

  • Cranberry syrup – in a small saucepan, combine 1 cup cranberries with 1 cup orange juice. Bring to a boil and simmer till all the berries pop. Take a potato masher and smash ’em good. Run the mixture through a wire strainer, dispensing with the leftover solids. Tah dah, cranberry syrup.
  • Cinnamon syrup – in a small saucepan ( I know, you want to hit me with a small saucepan because this is already too much work), combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Add 5 cinnamon sticks that you’ve broken up a bit with a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin. Bring to a boil. Simmer ten minutes and then let steep and cool. Strain the cinnamon sticks out. Tah dah, cinnamon syrup.
  • Lillet (pronounced li-lay, a French aperitif wine, relatively easy to find)
  • Vodka
  • Perrier lemon flavor
  • Fresh cranberries for garnish

In a shaker or jar or whatever, combine 1 oz cranberry syrup, 1 oz cinnamon syrup, 1 oz Lillet, and 2 oz of Vodka. Swirl it around. Pour into a rocks glass over ice. It better be square ice. You know I don’t like misshapen ice cubes. Top with Lemon Perrier. Toss in 3 cranberries. Voila!

This is the PERFECT beverage to serve at your cocktail parties or family gatherings this time of year. I mean, one sip and your leaves might change color. I don’t know what exactly that means; use your imagination.

I’m out for now, fellow fans of fall.

The Gentleman Caller

VACCINIUM AUTUMN VACCINATION – THE GENTLEMAN’S FALL SPECIAL

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