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Let’s Talk Food, Baby
It’s our After Hours episode and today we’re really taking the whole Thanksgiving thing to heart. Not only by talking about what we’re thankful for but by talking all food all the time. It is pretty much one of our very favorite things on earth, so we get into more about our tea snobbery, honey, apple pie and farm raised meat.
Pies Are Good People
Lately I’ve been experimenting with pie, in part because I love cooking (and eating) and in part because as we discussed a few months ago on this podcast, we’ve been aiming to eat healthier. That means less eating out, less processed food. No sugar (ok, how about a lot lot lot less sugar?) and better home cooked food.
But since we can’t live without pie, especially this time of year when fall weather makes us think of… well, pie… I’ve been working on making healthier versions of apple pie that still taste awesome.
My usual recipe is pretty simple. Apples, brown sugar, white sugar, a bunch of spices and lots of butter.
Recently, I found an amazing recipe for pie crust that makes the store bought version taste like soggy, sugared cardboard and even on a slow day only takes me an extra ten minutes to make.
But the pie itself also has a ton of sugar, so what to do?
Well, I started out by halving my usual amount of sugar – from a whole cup to half. And it was still sufficiently sweet.
So I halved it again, down to a quarter cup of sugar.
Still, sufficiently sweet!
You’d be amazed by how little sugar you actually need to sweeten something, especially compared to what the recipes say.
But then I wanted to try something new and use honey instead of sugar. After all, honey is sweet but it’s actually better for you than processed sugar.
So just this past weekend I made an apple pie with a quarter cup of honey and no sugar.
The result was surprising. Delicious, but actually too sweet. So next time I’m going to use an eighth of a cup of honey and see how that works out. I’ll keep you posted!
The trick is also to find a great apple. I’ve found that Honey Crisp are amazing. They’re naturally sweet and cook up really nicely without oozing juice all over the oven.
I know a lot of people like Granny Smith but I’m not a fan of tart. If you are, you may want to try a little more sugar to balance it out at first.
I also like Gala apples if you can’t find Honey Crisp.
Of course, the crust is decadent with little more than flour and about six gallons of shortening, but if you’re going to splurge then this is the crust to do it on. By the way, I didn’t get to mention it on the podcast but I did cut down the shortening in the recipe by a quarter cup and it still made an amazing crust that was ever so slightly drier to work with but tasted just as good. I think next time I’ll experiment with different flour!
The verdict from Ralph is that it was delicious, but he prefers a different type of honey (live and learn).
He also countered my initial statement that “pie is evil” by insisting that pies are good people.
And now you know.
A Gratitude Intermission
We reached out to our listeners last week to ask what they’re thankful for. We got some great answers! Here’s one we loved.
Angie Fisher of Coaching Success Systems says, “What I’m grateful for – my amazing and powerful team. They have kept my business running while I take a little time off to enjoy my new little one. The second would be the freedom to spend time off with my newborn while still growing a business and delivering priceless support to our clients.”
We love that because it perfectly illustrates how we feel about work-life balance and being able to enjoy and appreciate both.
Teas Are Recipes, Too
Just last week we got a box delivered to our door from, as Ralph put it, “the faraway land of London.” It was a gift from Ian Anderson Gray who sent us three teas from the Rare Tea Company. We were tremendously grateful for about six seconds then immediately ran for the teapot.
Wow, that’s some good tea!
But since Ralph is a full-fledged tea snob, drinking a cup of tea is not enough for him anymore. He likes to blend his teas so he mixes and matches flavors like a master chef.
His current favorite is a Rare Tea English Breakfast with a Tea & Sympathy Seville Orange. In fact, he thinks this perfect union will bring about world peace.
I guess if we’re all enjoying a good cup of tea we’d be too busy to hate on anything, right?
Ralph put my tea snobbery to the test with a Jasmine vs. Jasmine experiment. He made me one cup of Jasmine from loose tea we bought at Tea & Sympathy in New York, and one cup he made from bagged tea from Stash Tea.
With one sip I knew which was my favorite. After a whole cup it was clear there was a winner. And it wasn’t the loose tea. I far preferred my good old bagged Stash.
Guess I’m not winning the tea snob war. But that’s ok because I’m too far into world peace from Ralph’s amazing recipe that I don’t need to participate in a war.
However, I proudly covet my title of Honey Snob. My parents buy us all our honey because they live near an awesome roadside boutique where they harvest honey from bees that pollenate different types of flowers – pumpkin, blueberry, wildflower, you name it. It’s amazing honey and each tastes very different.
Our favorite is New Jersey Pine Barren honey. And my personal fave is Chestnut honey which is amazingly rich and I could eat it out of the jar. If you love honey, try it!
Your Seriously Social Moment: Imposter Syndrome
Today our Chief Executive Research Dude and tea gifter extraordinaire Ian Anderson Gray talks about how being “comfortable” is holding you back and killing your creativity. He says that to reach your potential you have to step outside your comfort zone.
But if you’re like pretty much everyone, at some point you feel like you’re just an imposter – you’re not really as good as everyone else, you don’t really know what you’re doing… so why bother?
The thing is, everyone feels that way, even the biggest, most influential names you know.
Ian says if you’re feeling like this, you’re on the right path. Embrace the feeling and think of it as a green light to move forward. Some people may know more than you or do things better than you but nobody can BE you.
A Gratitude Intermission, Take 2
Naomi Bergner says, “I’m grateful that I get to end most of my days snuggled up with my honey and my cat in bed, watching something fun on Netflix.”
We love that but we also find it a little creepy because that’s exactly how we end our evenings. Fred, are you surveilling us?
Farm Raised Meat For The Win
I developed a bit of an obsession with buying meat from real, actual farms a number of years ago after reading a book called The Omnivore’s Dilemma. It’s about factory farming vs. real farming the way nature intended.
The purpose of a factory farm is to increase output and decrease cost. Unfortunately that comes at the expense of all things natural. Animals are packed into filthy, disgusting warehouses, raised without access to the outdoors or sunlight, fed diets that nature never intended and pumped full of hormones (to fatten them faster) and antibiotics (to combat the disease that follows from these horrifying conditions and unnatural diets.)
Reading that book affected me so much that I immediately stopped buying factory raised meat and found myself a farm to order meat from. These days my go-to farm is located in the Midwest and I periodically order a bunch of meat and have it delivered.
Eating meat from cows, pigs and chickens raised on pasture (ie: a farm), that live natural lives outdoors, get sun, get a natural diet and are treated well throughout their lives is a completely different experience.
It’s far healthier: since the animals eat their natural diets, they are full of the vitamins and minerals we as humans need. And they’re not pumped full of hormones or antibiotics so you don’t have to worry about all of that ending up in your body.
It’s far more delicious: meat tastes like meat. It’s rich and delicious and doesn’t need to be cooked to death to kill off bacteria.
It’s far more ethical: animals are treated humanely from birth to slaughter, not crammed into boxes in a warehouse and abused so we can have marbled steaks.
Ok, if you couldn’t tell I feel pretty passionately about this. So much so that if we’re out of meat, we just won’t eat it. There have been times when I’ve subsidized a waning meat supply with supermarket meat. Over the summer I grabbed a bunch of ground beef from the supermarket because it was cheap and I needed a bunch of it (and I didn’t have any).
And I regretted every second of it. It tasted disgusting. Even at 93% lean it was slimy and horrible to cook with. And I felt like I was just participating in a horrible process.
Ralph wants to know: if I’m feeling so ethical, why not stop eating meat entirely?
Good question, and the answer is different for everyone. Some people choose not to eat meat for ethical reasons. For me, I don’t have a problem eating meat that is humanely raised and sourced. I look at it as part of nature. We’re evolved to be omnivores, so if we respect the animal then I’m ok eating it.
Ralph also wants to know if I’d kill my own dinner.
Honestly, it’s not something I’d love to do. But if it was either necessary or presented as a reasonable option, I’d do it. What I would not do is go to the forest with my bow and arrow, shoot a deer and then watch it suffer and bleed out for the next hour. That is no more humane. But if I knew how, then sure, I’d respectfully be responsible for my own dinner.
I Need Eggs!
It’s not just meat that is pastured – eggs are, too. If you’ve never eaten a pastured egg, it may surprise you. The yolk is orange and not the pale yellow you may be used to seeing because pastured chickens eat the diets they’re supposed to, so the eggs have the actual nutrients they’re supposed to.
I used to buy them but the farm where I got them no longer ships and somehow, in the great state of New Jersey I can’t find any local farms where I can pick them up.
I’ve been on a search for them ever since so if you know anywhere I can order them, please let me know!
A Gratitude Intermission, Take 3
Sheng Slogar says, “I’m thankful for people like you guys and the Triberr team for not discounting the value kids can give (me!). Too many people only see kids’ usefulness past babysitting and raking lawns once they hit 18, 19, and 20. After all, people instantly develop every valuable skill possible on their 18th birthday, right? Well I’m sure glad there are the few that don’t think so!”
Sheng is 17 and the funny thing is that I didn’t realize he was that young for a long time. Of course, knowing didn’t change anything. We think he’s great, smart, fun and we thank him for not treating us like grown ups.
What We’re Grateful For (The Sappy Moment)
We call out a mere few people who have made our lives better this year and though we’d love to name them all, we’d be here all day. And still miss someone!
So here is a short and very incomplete list of people we love.
Ian Anderson Gray, for his endless support and friendship
Melanie Kissell for her poetry and unwavering friendship
Tammie Rampley for her friendship and for making sure I always have an awesome bag (and for her handwritten notes that made Ralph cry)
Alisa Meredith for her friendship (even if she hates chickens… a non sequitur we’ll leave you to wonder about)
Mike Brooks for being there for us 24/7 via text, Skype, phone and smoke signal
Jeff Sieh because he has the manliest beard and that always cheers us up
Of course our families who have been there to support and help us in ways we could never express
And you, Fred! Your comments, your questions, your friendship and input, even your hate mail.
If there’s anything we can help you with, let us know.
Carol Lynn’s Super Simple Almost Sort Of Healthy Apple Pie
Make the crust! Use the recipe referenced below.
6-7 big apples – peel and slice and stuff them in there! My faves are Honey Crisp and Gala.
The original recipe had ½ cup white sugar and ½ cup packed brown sugar. I’ve managed to get it down to ¼ cup brown sugar and it still tastes awesome. Or give honey a try.
The original recipe also calls for butter layered into the apples, 2-4 tablespoons depending on your mood. I don’t use any these days.
Spices! My preferred spices are a teaspoon of cinnamon and another of Garam Masala. Among other things, it has cloves, nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon. For me it’s a nice way to get a great blend of spices. You can also try a bit of ginger, nutmeg or cloves. They’re pretty strong so go light. Mix them as evenly as possible into the apples. If you sweeten with honey you can blend everything in a bowl and it will coat the apples nicely.
Poke some holes in the top crust to let the steam escape.
Bake at 375 for about 50 minutes until the crust is lightly golden and the apples are soft when you poke a knife in.
Links & Resources
- Make the most amazing pie crust thanks to The Pioneer Woman (by the way, I divide mine into thirds… you’ll know what I’m talking about when you get there)
- Read Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma if you need a reason never to buy meat from the supermarket again. It quite literally changed our lives.
- Visit my current favorite farm, Good Earth Farms, and get a taste of pastured meat
- Check out my new favorite book The Science of Good Cooking
- Considering becoming a tea snob? Pick your favorite!
- Find Ian Anderson Gray online and say “Jolly good day!”
Where To Listen
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