Thursday, September 29, 2011

Super Easy Peach Pie with Olive Oil Crust

late in the season for baby gold peaches
Let me set the picture for you here: I've got a 2 month old screaming in her swing, a 1 1/2 year old making me do the shuffle to the Party Rock Anthem (everyday day I'm shuffling) for the 100th time, one dog repeatedly hitting his water bowl with his foot letting me know he's thirsty while the other is trying to bite me because he hates it when I dance (maybe he's trying to tell me something) and a house that is completely trashed like only a 1 1/2 year old tornado knows how. It took probably 5 hours for me to actually make this pie with the chaos that is my current state of life. It's legitimate to say this pie was made with love.

This pie is not a good looking pie. Down right ugly in fact. I wasn't even going to post the recipe but I thought it might bring some satisfaction to others who attempt to make it; the type of satisfaction like you get when you receive a friend request from the popular girl that went to your high school only to find out she gained a bunch of weight. If my pie is setting the standard, the bar is pretty low.

Schweddy Balls? Nope.
I'm not really into baking, I'm more into eating baked goods. But since no one was around to make me a fresh peach pie I thought I would give it a whirl. I took my dads recipe for pie crust, it uses olive oil instead of lard or butter and is the easiest and most versatile crust I've ever made.
Olive Oil Pie Crust:

2 cups Unbleached Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Cold Water

Mix the salt and flour together and then add the olive oil, mixing well. Add the water and use your hands to press the dough into a ball. Divide the ball in two and refrigerate until ready to use.
Roll out the crust on a lightly floured surface with the top covered in wax paper so the rolling pin does not stick. Make sure to fork some air holes in the top of your pie crust.
The peaches I used were baby golds and not the greatest. I bought them to can but apparently they had been stored in a cooler too long and were airy, browning and not very sweet. With the right amount of sugar added they were perfect for pie, but I'm definitely bummed I wasn't able to can peaches this year.

Peach Pie Filling:

8-10 peaches – peeled and cut the best you can
1 cup pure cane sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flour

Just mix it all together.

Set your oven to 350
Sprinkle the top of the pie with a heavy amount of cinnamon and and sugar.
Bake the pie for 40 minutes or until golden brown and you can see the filling bubbling. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.

peach pie filling
one ugly pie
ugly never tasted so good, turned out amazing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pallet Coop

The Best Chicken Coop Ever comes with a cost. A pretty high one. Still waiting on one of these hens to lay that golden egg to recoup some of the cost associated with the penthouse suite they're living in. So when it came time to build a second coop to house the Dorkings we bought and plan to send to freezer camp late in fall, we wanted to shoot more for something like 'the cheapest coop ever.' I searched through posts on (best chicken site ever) and found some people making use of pallets for coops; a great way to reuse materials and make a sturdy coop at a low cost. I saw some people actually stripped the pallets down and reused the materials to make the coop; time is often worth more than money and this seems like way too much work for me. I hopped onto Google Sketchup and began experimenting with the idea. The goal was to use as many materials as we could that were already in the shed, or given to us to make the coop cost nearly nothing. My dad just happened to be coming into town the weekend we planned to start building and may have ended up working for his supper (supper being the Bishop Don Juan, so I'd say he was paid handsomely).

I talked about the pallet coop idea in the carpool so much (yeh, I'm really fun at parties too) that I had everyone on the lookout for good pallets in the trash that I could grab up. I also had a donation of old lumber going as well. We collected 10 nice pallets, a few pieces of free plywood, several landscaping blocks, some nailed together 2x4's that needed to be pried apart and in the shed we had some leftover hardware cloth, a gallon of outdoor paint, metal roofing screws and some other odds and ends. We had almost all the supplies we needed; my dad and husband ran to Menards to pick up some nice metal roofing sheets, a latch for the door and a few 2 x 4's for the roof. Total bill was around $100.

They started by laying down some landscaping block to have a level and perfectly squared structure slightly raised off the ground to save from rot and water damage. Four pallets were laid on top of the block and then plywood on top of those. Four pallets were then placed vertical for the walls. We joined this coop with our existing coop to save on having to make another wall and the hardware cloth in place gives them light and airflow during the summer. In the winter we will fabricate a temporary wall to close this in so the coop isn't drafty.
Building a pallet coop

We (and by 'we' I mean 'they' while I watched and took pictures) then took one of the pallets and turned it the opposite way so it would stand taller and we could later cut it at an angle to support the roof. 
Really useful nail gun in action

Floor in place and 2 out of 3 walls ready in the Pallet Coop
To be honest I really don't know the full details of how the coop was built other than it was my idea and after some sort of magic it all came together and looks great. It has 3 walls and the fourth wall is the hardware cloth from the existing coop. 9 pallets were used total leaving space for a small door. There is a long overhang in the front for some protection from the elements and because it didn't seem like a good idea to try to cut the roofing sheets. Hardware cloth was used to enclose the front of the coop under the roof where it was left open for ventilation and also around the coop my husband dug down about 6" and lined the openings of the pallets with hardware cloth to keep any critters from making a life out of living under it. The coop structure was built in a day and the details were finished up about a week later taking a few hours. The coop was actually finished and the chicks were moved into their home as I was counting between contractions waiting to go to the hospital the day my daughter was born. The coop was complete and chicks moved by 6:00 pm and my daughter was born at the hospital an hour away at 10:00 pm. Cutting it pretty close I'd say. So this coop was actually built about 2 months ago, I've just been to busy too get it up online. 

We had plans of making a small run in the front with some old fencing from a dog kennel, but haven't completed that project yet, they seem to be doing just fine free ranging for now. Here are some more pics as it was being built and the finished project:

Cheapest coop ever. All this for under $100

Almost finished. Added a 6" board along the hardware cloth so we could add in pine shavings

Love the metal roof. Looks good, lasts forever. Worth the money.

Finished the hardware cloth, painting and doors right before we
headed to the hospital for the birth of our second daughter