Sunday, July 17, 2016

Church Festival Eve

Someday I will share photos of my church festival. Unfortunately every year I am so busy that I never get a chance to take any pictures!  This year was no exception. So I will again be sharing photos of Church Festival Eve. 

I was baking pies. Lots and Lots of pies. 

One of the features of our church festival is the BBQ Chicken dinner. We switched to a new bbq'er this year, young guys with a different method and recipe. It was a difficult decision with lots of thought and prayer and we will have to wait for our evaluation meeting to find out if we made the right choice. We have an "all-day" kitchen crew that makes roasters of green beans with bacon and onions and mashed potatoes and gravy to serve with the chicken (or ham in roasters if you don't like chicken). Other sides include roll and butter and a slice of HOMEMADE pie, as well as coffee, water or lemonade if you "eat-in". We do a pretty big carry out business, too. 

To start my pies, I gather the ingredients: a pound of flour, a can of shortening, a teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of vinegar and 3 cups of milk. I always pick up an extra roaster pan on sale after the holidays just to mix pie dough. 
Mix the 5 pound bag of flour with the teaspoon of salt. 

Next, cut in the WHOLE 3 pound can of shortening. As you can see, I use two pastry cutters, one in each hand, for this job (and it is a job to get it crumbly.)
Once it looks like this, you can mix your 3-31/2 cups of milk and 3 tablespoons of vinegar in a 4 cup measuring cup. Make a well in the middle of your dough and pour it in. I have no photo for this step because it is a horrible mess. The only way to mix it is with your hands. Just dig in and mix. It will be terribly sticky and all over your hands. You will know when it is mixed enough because it will come off your hands! Really, it will. 
The recipe says it makes 15 crusts. I always get way more. Just cover the counter with flour (you will need at least 2 more cups of flour than what came in your 5 pound bag) and pinch off two handfuls. After you roll a few, you will be able to judge how much dough you will need per crust. 
Because I was baking all my pies in the same day, I rolled each one, put it in an aluminum pie pan and layered them with waxed paper. It was in the 90's with 100% humidity the day I was baking (of course) so even with the air conditioner humming, my 425 degree oven kept things pretty warm. I kept the waiting crusts in the refrigerator, grabbing one out to fill, flipping the next one on top, cutting the slits and putting them on my PREHEATED metal cookie sheets to bake two at a time. I do have a confection oven, but they just seem to bake better on the regular setting. 
This year's pie count: 11  This year's cake count (for the cake walk): 6
The final count was 2 pumpkin, 1 peach, 4 blueberry and 4 cherry. 

We almost ran out of pie! We barely had enough for the 1700 Chicken halves, some of which are sold as quarters so I am not sure how many dinners that made. 

The little toothpick flags on top are designating flavor. I like to make it easier for the ladies in the pie room. 

If you are not a person who is going to bake 11 pies in one day, the crusts can be frozen unbaked, too. I suppose you could freeze them in the pie tins, but I just roll them between 2 layers of waxed paper and fold it in quarters and put them in a freezer bag. They keep several months and can work for chicken pot pies, too! 

I did speak to several women who asked about my shingles. When I told the first one (a former hospice nurse) I was on Lyrica, she asked me about my "Lyrica Brain" - the forgetfulness and general fogginess. I felt very vindicated. When working in the kitchen with my husband and sons in the after-dinner-clean-up-crew, two of the women had used Lyrica for nerve damage and were commiserating about the weight gain, feeling of drunkenness and general complaints. I feel fortunate that I have been able to reduce how much I am using it for the nerve pain. For the past two days I have not taken any during the day and am able to control the tingling with ibuprofen. I am still using it at night, but using less. I am hoping that maybe in a week or two I will be done with it! I have too much to do to deal with this brain fade! 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

I am so excited to finally be able to go outdoors and do - well, do anything! I have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday and I want to discuss reducing the pain medication I am on for the nerve pain in my hip and leg to see if I can get a little more clear headed. I still have a healing rash, but it much better than a painful, blistering shingles rash! 
My small town hosts an epic Fourth of July parade that is several hours long. If you are from a small town, you will know the kind of parade I mean. The first 20 minutes or so includes the Flag Bearers, The Veterans and every sheriff, police, fire department, fire volunteer and military vehicles in the county.  We all stand, and the guys remove their hats, and the children salute. I get teary eyed every year. 
Every youth group marches with a float or a decorated pick up truck or rides their bikes in matching t-shirts. Every politician or political hopeful has their own marching group of friends, relatives, bikes and strollers and carry baskets of handouts. All the vacation bible schools have floats, too. Some hand out frozen icees and another church hands out bottles of water. 
All the local communities have summer festivals complete with Queens and Princesses and the county fairs even have a few Kings. We wave and smile back to all the royalty because we used to royal parents ourselves! 
It will be the first time out for many of the middle school and high school bands, who have lost their "veterans" to graduation and have been busy practicing with the new guys. 
Several of the local businesses participate in the parade, too.  Last year featured a giant sneaker with a live band from a local bar, as well as pizza places, a local beer distributor (no, they don't throw free beers, just coasters and coozies), really any and every business you can think of. 
My personal favorite would be a tie between the Little Leaguers and the fifth grade DARE graduates. Both groups are between 8-12 years old and are on bicycles. The brave souls who gather them, line them up and travel the parade route with them deserve a special prize!
The end of the parade features local business again, this time with vehicles, semi trucks, work trucks and even a septic tank company's vehicle, complete with sound effects! 
I used to invite everyone back to my house after the parade for lunch. Last year my son and his wife bought a house with a great backyard with a view of the evenings firework celebration, so we all went there.  This year he has to work so we are going to my daughter and son-in-law's new house which features a pool. Of course I can't go swimming with shingles and I am just getting back on my feet anyway. It will probably be an early day for my husband and me.  

Happy Fourth of July!

Miss Merry