and Raisin Pie oh my! Happy Birthday to Clara Skinner!

Posted: January 19, 2014 in *Celebration*, a story, Let's eat!!

by punkpink

I know, I know I was suppose to send out a weekly report from up here in the woods of Vermont but just haven’t had the time or the inclination to write anything after my last piece that I sent. Yes Furbird I promised even if it was an update about living out in the woods and doing what woods folks do but most of the time living gets in the way and the first winter out in the sticks gets to be quite demanding. But today here I am as I wanted to share with you all a delicious recipe that we made this morning to take down the path to Clara’s house to celebrate her 70th birthday. You remember Clara I am sure. Clara rents us the cabin farm that we live on is a great olde dyke we knew back when we were young. Back in the good old days when we had fun fun fun. Not that we aren’t still having fun, fun, fun but now its a different kind of fun. Fun, Fun, Fun on the Lower East Side of New York back in the day was fun, fun, fun, sorry to anyone who missed out on it.

Clara left the city in 1974 and came up here. At that time she told me she had made a very big mistake by marrying Jake, but at least as she said when she divorced the bastard she took him for a ride and got all the land, the houses and 1/2 the bank account. “I’ve worked hard with what I got off him as a start up and made it on my own since then. Of course the time I was with Missy was beautiful but now she is gone died 6 years ago and I still miss her to this day. At least we had a chance to have a civil union so I could make decisions on her behalf. Now who is going to help me, I don’t know, one of my young friends I guess. ”

Mary Jane who lives over in St. Albans decided that we should all get together and celebrate so about 10 people piled into Clara’s house for an afternoon lunch and little party. We all pulled out papers from a hat two weeks ago with either main course, dessert, salad or side dish. One of the pulls from the hat that our household got was dessert. We wanted to make something different from what we had around in the pantry and Jill came up with raisin pie. We had plenty of raisins, flour, brown sugar and other ingredients so raisin pie it was.

How to make an Old Fashion Raisin Pie

We had a wonderful bag of Jumbo Raisin Medley that contained, Golden Light Raisins, Flame Raisins and Jumbo Raisins which we used in the pie and also altered the cooking time just a bit. Instead of cows butter we used Earth Balance Vegan Butter. We also added some Allspice which gave the pie a wonderful flavor. If you have ever eaten Mince Meat Pie and liked it this pie is much better in our opinion. We doubled the recipe as we brought 2 pies to the party.

Old Fashion Raisin Pie

2 cups of raisins                                                1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 cups of water                                                  2 tablespoon of tapioca starch

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon                     1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar     1/2 teaspoon of allspice

Pastry for double crust pie

Directions:

1. Combine raisins and water in small saucepan. Boil 5 minutes. Blend brown sugar, salt, tapioca starch, cinnamon and allspice together. Add to hot raisins. Cook and stir until syrup loses its cloudiness and begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar and butter. Cool slightly.

2. Turn filling into a pastry lined pie plate. Cover with top crust. Seal edges and cut slits in the top crust.

3. Bake at 425 F (220 degrees C) for 30 to 35 mins.

We checked on the pie after about 20 mins. and reduced the heat down to 350. This was as the crust was beginning to brown. Generally a pie begins at a high heat and then the heat is reduced. We did so and the pie came out just right.

Clara told us that there are two variations on this pie. One is a cranberry raisin pie and the other is using sour cream. We thought the sour cream was a bit too fattening, (hating the taste of light sour cream we wouldn’t use it) and we wanted a pie that all of our friends could enjoy. So what to give as a birthday gift to Clara, a women who gives so much to everyone else? We decided that a gift basket filled with our homemade goodies would be just the thing so into a  pine needle basket that Jill had made in craft class, we placed, 2 jars of strawberry jam, a jar of our famous blend tea, some oatmeal walnut cookies, a jar of honey, a packet each of Lemon Grass and Chamomile Seeds and Jill included 4 of her embroidered handkerchiefs. Up here we really don’t run out to the mall and get someone another sweater to add to all the other sweaters that are stacked up in their drawer all winter waiting to be worn, when most of us wear our favorite sweater most of the winter. Living like we do something from the heart, from our home given from us to you is the way we go. Jill just told me that it would be okay to share our famous blend tea that is just delicious served cold for your enjoyment.

Our famous blend tea

2 cups of Lemon Grass       3/4 cups of spearmint

3/4 cups of peppermint     1/4 cup of Lemon Peel (more to taste if you wish)

1/4 cup Rose Hips  (more to taste if you wish)

Mix all ingredients together. Steep about 2 tsp. per cup for a very tasty tea. Just a touch of honey if needed but we prefer it without. We order all our herbs that we don’t grow from Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon. Their herbs are very fresh, they are an environmentally socially conscious company and none of their prices are high for bulk. We purchase our organic medicinal seed from them and all of our herbal products.

Now on to other business. You know I must hate myself as I wish it would snow and then snow some more. I love the snow now don’t get me wrong we have snow on the ground covering all the woods and fields with white and a light snow falling this morning. But I mean a nice good storm. One that says, “Stay in the house today.” This week is going to be really cold  in the single digits with a few flurries off and on. 6 below, 5 below, 1 below and that they say will be in the day.  Now the cold isn’t too welcoming as we go through a lot more wood in the stove. We can always turn on the big electric heater but who wants to give out our hard earned cash to the power company but when and if it gets down like that we will.

So Happy Birthday to Clara Skinner! We hope you have many many more. When we get our pictures in order we will send them along. I gotta go out and get to work.

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