I've been doing a lot of baking. It keeps my house warm, and I am making food, AND baking/cooking for me is a really good creative outlet to give me a boost. Also, I like having food ready for people when they come over. Or making food for people to come over.... It's just all around good.
This past weekend, I made little curried vegetable hand pies.
I've been working especially hard on perfecting my pie crust. It seems like a good place to start in perfecting any sort of baking. I've read a lot about what makes a truly good pie crust, and the grand sum of it is temperature. It just has to be cold. In Baking by James Peterson, he says that a dough can even be over worked and still turn out alright just as long as the fat (butter, shortening etc...) stays cold. This has become especially easy for me as the temperature has dropped dramatically, and I don't keep my heater on when the sun is out. So when I break the butter into the flour with my hands, my body temperature doesn't melt the butter. Also, I keep a dispenser of water in my refrigerator, so the water stays icy cold. I actually just put the bowl under the spout and have gotten to a point where I know what 3 tablespoons looks like.
Peterson also goes on to talk about most types of pie crust looking like a "shaggy mess", and only require enough liquid to be able to roll out your dough. He states that all brands of flour absorb differently so it's just something that you just get a feel for.
I could go on and on about what he said. The man is a genius and an expert, and the book is an incredible tool, as well as a good read.
Beyond getting the dough to where it is supposed to be to roll it out, I started experimenting with foliating the dough. I think a little closer to Christmas I am going to make an actual laminated dough for croissants, but for my purposes now, I just wanted to add more layers to my pie crust to make it flaky without having to use a fat that does that naturally (lard). It's really easy enough, just make sure your dough is cold when you are rolling it out, and then fold it over itself a couple of times then roll it out completely. More layers. Maybe I will do a post demonstrating this...
anyway. These have been my breakfast and lunch for the past couple of days, and I've been serving them/ eating them with Greek yogurt. It goes so well with the spices I used with the vegetables. They are filling and warm, and just the right thing for weather like this. And terrificly enough, they freeze really well!
Thinking about it, these would be really simple to make vegan, but I've found that vegan butter substitutes melt pretty quickly even in low temps, so I'd just be extra cautious about that...