Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dinner at the Denneys

This week I posted a poll on Facebook: How often do you cook and do you plan ahead?

It got a lot of hits and a large variety of responses. I haven't conscientiously thought about this in a long while, but it's worth a studied re-visit.

When Tom and I married - 21 years ago - I did not cook ANYTHING. I had a few easy things up my sleeve, but not much. My mother-in-law however was the domestic queen complete with a home economics degree from Auburn. (She jokingly called it her M.R.S. degree) Most of Tom's life he sat down to a meat, two vegetables, salad, bread and a dessert = usually all from scratch. She was not only a natural, but also very precise about how she prepared the food and the atmosphere.

Not only did she love the art of preparing a good meal, but she also savored the ritual of a family meal. She shared with us why she felt this way when Trey was born. She told us that it creates "family." She felt that family was a way of life, not a group of people.

Seems like we've always sat down to dinner for most of our 21 years. I'm not saying we do it every single night - it's just not possible. We all four have very busy schedules. But when we don't - we ALL miss it. Especially our little renegade - He thrives at the dinner table. Everyone gets their moment to shine and we genuinely enjoy each others company. After all, everyone except me does not know any differently. It's just the way it is.

Like Mrs. Denney told us - you learn so much about your children by sitting down and eating with them. Since Tom and I are faced with raising Tom and Jeff Clones! - it's a wonderful thing.

We love you Grandmama - and miss you every day.


I'll have to make cooking, planning ahead and getting everyone to the table into another blog. It should be fun - especially since I have so many friends with lots of tips to share~ Cheri in Washington State shares my love of power cooking. Harrow, my baby sistah down the street, is a master of bulk purchases. AND. . .I've discovered a new menu item that I can make SIX meals out of for $4! That's 67 cents per meal or 16 cents per plate! and EVERYBODY loves it. STAY TUNED.

Blueberry Pie

I've made several of these this year to take to the lake. The recipe is worth sharing. People rave and can't figure out what that special touch is - I think its the combo of ingredients and not just one.


Basic Pie Crust for 9-inch two-crust Pie/Pillsbury does fine if out of time

4 cups fresh blueberries

3 Tablespoons all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Juice and zest of one lemon

1 tablespoon good quality dark rum

1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the pie pan with half the pastry dough. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and spices in large bowl. Add blueberries, lemon juice, zest and rum and gently toss well. Pile the mixture into the lined pie pan and dot with butter. Roll out the top crust and drape it over the pie. Crimp or flute the edges and cut several vents in the top. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temp to 350 degrees and bake for 30-40 mins or until top is browned.

My tips~

I love using my Pampered Chef Deep Dish Pie Plate to bake this pie but I use a regular sized 9 inch pie crust. As you can tell from the photographs, it fits nicely and deep into the dish, the stoneware keeps the bottom crust crisp, and it helps with boil overs.

I use my small star cutter to make a festive Americana pie for the month of July. Otherwise, regular vents are beautiful, too.

This is a sweet pie. I cut 1/4 cup sugar and it's still sweet. If you like a more tart pie - you may want to cut back on the sugar. I haven't done that yet.

I have eliminated the butter - BAD IDEA. It is essential to bind the flour and blueberry juices for thickness. It was a runny mess.