Pie Time Revisited

Oooooooooh Pie Eaters I have missed you!!!!!! I thought when summer was over that pie days were over too. Not true! I have made two new pies since summer. (And I have made, like, 12 salty honey pies. No exaggeration.) I wanted to make some season appropriate pies when fall started and the first one I want to tell you about is Cranberry-Sage Pie.

I made it for a dinner party. It was tart, for real, but it was topped with some maple-parsnip ice cream that Naomi made! The sweet ice cream balanced out the tartness of the pie perfectly. You could also make some fresh whipped cream with some maple syrup added to cut the tartness. Doooooo it!

Ok Pie Eaters, time for a botany moment. Let’s do a little guided visualization. Close your eyes and picture the plant that cranberries grow on…did you do it? Were you thinking evergreen dwarf shrubs? Oh, wait…you were? Oh, I was picturing a long, thin, slimy stem rising up from the bottom of a bog with one lone cranberry at the top (not joking). You win again Pie Eaters!

Cranberries are pretty special little guys. According to Wikipedia:

“By measure of the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity with an ORAC score of 9.584 units per 100 g, cranberry ranks near the top of 277 commonly consumed foods in the United States.”

Basically this means that cranberries are high in antioxidants. Because “antioxidant” is a term that is thrown around a lot about food that is good for us, I want to give you a quick and dirty idea of what that means. In chemistry, the process of oxidation produces a free radical (actually more like this). This means an electron that has a high level of attraction, a force that can act on other molecules to change their structure. Anti-oxidants essentially put a cap on those free radicals, making them neutral and potentially protecting us from harmful molecular destruction. Hey, thanks cranberries! (But guys, it’s way more complicated than this, so don’t quote me!)

Next time I’ll tell you about (corn syrup-free) pecan pie! Less stressful to the planet and more yummy in your tummy! (Yes, I did just say that.)

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Magic Sorbet

Well, folks…the time has come.

The leaves are changing, people are finally making the dreaded switch from iced coffee back to the hot stuff, and style mavens everywhere are heralding the arrival of fashion’s favorite season (who doesn’t love a sweater?). Yup, fall is finally here – and with it comes flu season.

Over the course of my nine years of friendship with Ora, co-Ceci, I’ve had my share of colds, coughs, and flus. And if I ever come over to Ora’s house when I’m sick, I know she’ll make me the best concoction a sick person could ask for – Magic Drink.

Magic Drink is simple and natural: it’s hot water (though I sometimes make it with ginger tea) steeped with tons of fresh ginger, honey, lemon, and cayenne. All of the ingredients either aid the immune system, soothe the throat, or some combination: ginger, along with its many other magical properties, is an anti-microbial; honey eases a sore throat; lemon is packed with vitamin C; and cayenne is nature’s potent Kleenex. And on top of all that, it’s delicious – both warming and nasal-passage-clearing.

So – given my love for Magic Drink, you can imagine my excitement when, paging through my new copy of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home one day in September, I came across a recipe for “Influenza Rx Sorbet.” It sounded suspiciously close to Magic Drink, so I looked through the ingredients. Sure enough, this was it – Magic Drink in sorbet form!

I didn’t have to wait long for an opportunity to try it out. A couple of weeks later, just before Rosh Hashanah, Ora and her sister / my honey Shalva both came down with nasty colds. I tossed together the very easy recipe in about half an hour and froze it overnight. And as “luck” would have it, by the time I brought it over to Ora’s house the next day for Rosh Hashanah dinner, I wasn’t feeling too hot myself.

After services, we came home and flopped onto the couch: three achey, cough-y, runny-nosed people (plus one healthy friend), sorely in need of some Magic Something. When we popped open the sorbet, the verdict was unanimous – “Whoa, this is totally Magic Sorbet!”

And it was exactly what we’d hoped for – the sweet cold felt good on our throats, the citrus was refreshing, and the cayenne definitely cleared our passages, to say the least. As it turns out, Magic Sorbet is a rare treat – a dessert that not only tastes good when you’re sick, but feels good, too.

P.S. Apparently sick bloggers are not good at remembering to take photos, so this post is sadly photo-free. But – if you make this recipe, send us a picture! We’ll post it on The Big Ceci and fawn over your loveliness.

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Magic Sorbet (adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home)

A note on cayenne – I stupidly assumed that, given the wide audience Jeni was writing this recipe for, she probably hadn’t included enough cayenne to satisfy my heat-loving palate. So I upped the cayenne, from a level 1/8 teaspoon to a heaping 1/8 teaspoon. And though the sorbet was delicious, I think Ora’s declaration of “Mmm…my lips are kind of burning” is probably an indication that Jeni’s original 1/8 teaspoon probably would have been just right.

Ingredients

2 cups fresh orange juice (from 5 to 6 oranges – make sure they’re not over-ripe, unless you like your sorbet very sweet)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger (I might try to replace this with fresh ginger next time)
One 3-ounce packet liquid fruit pectin (use the natural stuff – or make your own!)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 to 4 tablespoons bourbon (optional – I left it out this time, but I will definitely be trying it in the future!)

Instructions

1. Combine orange and lemon juices, sugar, honey, and ginger in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

2. Add the pectin, cayenne, and bourbon, if using. Pour into a bowl, let cool, and then cover and refrigerate until cold.

3. Freeze in an ice cream machine until it is the consistency of very softly whipped cream. Then pack into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface (this is Jeni’s very good suggestion to keep your sorbet from forming ice crystals!), and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.