The pies have it
FORT DODGE – Webster County 4-H girls gathered at the Webster County Fairgrounds in March to get a hands-on try at baking pies.
Deb Allard is in her first year as the county’s 4-H foods project leader. She said the members meet monthly at the fairgrounds to learn about food preparation.
Allard said the 4-H’ers have studied cake decorating, doughnut making and garnishing foods.
Allard has 35 years experience in 4-H as a member, club leader and fair judge. She said she enjoys helping the youths learn their way around a kitchen.
“I love to cook and love to teach people to cook,” said Allard.
4-H’ers Stella Moffitt, Deirdre Moffitt, Maddy Dutcher, Victoria Pavik and Emma Pudenz gathered for a lesson on the art of making pie crusts from scratch.
The girls teamed up in groups and helped each other make the dough.
Allard explained either lard or butter can be used to make pie crust.
“I prefer butter,” Allard said, “… it gives the crust a better favor and a flakier consistency.”
The ingredients are basic, she said, with three parts flour, two parts butter or lard and one part water.
“It’s a 3-2-1 recipe,” she said.
When preparing a crust, Allard said to combine dry ingredients and then, using a pastry blender, cut in the cold butter and drizzle cold water, one tablespoon at a time and continue to mix until there is just enough consistency to form a ball.
“Be sure to work fast to keep the butter cold,” Allard said.
If the dough is chilled, that will help with the flakiness as well, so Allard suggested chilling the dough for a half an hour before rolling it out.
She also said that pies will have to bake longer if fresh fruit is used: the 4-H’er used canned pie filling for the project.
Incorporating corn starch and flour when using fresh fruit will keep the filling from becoming too runny.
And, as Allard told the 4-H’ers, pie fillings don’t always have to be fruit; she said she’s made a cheeseburger pie.
If preparing a pie for use at a later date, that pies can be easily frozen either baked or unbaked.
Allard said a primary benefit to 4-H’ers participating in a foods project is, “they get hands-on experience with things they might not get to do at home or in school.”
Deirdre Moffitt has attended the food project before and said she liked the doughnut-making and garnishing classes.
“I like it because you get to learn different tricks and stuff,” said Moffitt.
She said she often gets to help in the kitchen at home.
“I like to make cheesy potato soup,” Moffitt said. “That is my favorite thing to make.”
As far as baking pies, Moffitt said it’s something she has helped baked before so she was confident she could do it that day.
“It’s going to be fun,” she said. “It’s not really hard because I’ve done it before.”
Moffitt plans to take her new doughnut-making skills enter them in the Webster County Fair this summer.
Allard warned the girls that baking pies is things can get messy – which didn’t discourage Stella Moffitt.
“I love being messy,” said Stella Moffitt.
Pavik said mixing the butter into the dry ingredients proved to be pretty hard.
“I learned how you chop up the butter and thought it was kind of difficult sometimes. “It was a lot of hard work,” said Pavik.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons cold butter
4-5 tablespoons cold water
Combine dry ingredients.
Using a pastry blender, cut in butter and drizzle in water one tablespoon at a time.
Allard said you may not need all of the water, just add enough to have the consistency just enough to be able to form a ball.
Chill for 30 minutes, then it’s ready to use.
Magic salad pie
Sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Large can mandarin oranges (drained)
Large can (15-20 ounces) pineapple tidbits (drained)
1 tub of whipped topping
Prepare a pie crust or use a pre-made pie crust. Bake and let cool.
Mix ingredients and fold in whipped topping.
Put into baked and cooled pie crust.
Let set overnight if possible and garnish with lemon and lime zest and mandarin oranges around the edges.
“This is called magic salad pie because it looks all soupy at first, but magically turns in to a yummy treat,” said Allard.
Prepare a basic pie crust and add a half cup of cheddar cheese into the pie crust. Mix and roll crust and place into a pie tin.
Sautee a half an onion and mix a half of a bag of Southern-style hash browns; and spread on the bottom of the crust.
Brown a pound of ground beef with onion soup mix. Drain when meat is browned.
Put ground beef on top of hash browns.
Add a can of cream of mushroom soup or beef onion soup over the ground beef and add a layer of cheese.
Add the top crust and make slits to vent the pie.
Bake at 450 degrees or until crust is done.
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