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5 No-Fail Secrets to Perfect Pie Crust

5 No-Fail Secrets to Perfect Pie Crust

A summer fruit pie is always impressive, especially when you know how to make your own perfect pie crust. As a bonus, they can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer for nearly on-demand fresh pie whenever the mood strikes or you’ve had a successful trip to the farmers market.

If you’re on a quest to eat more real food, you should cast a skeptical eye towards “convenience” foods. Supermarket shelves are full of items that can be made at home easily, and where only you choose the ingredients. For example, a typical store-bought pie crust can contain as many as a dozen ingredients, including preservatives and artificial colors. Gross. Don’t buy it, make it!

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The simplest and best homemade pie crusts contain flour, a little sugar and salt, fat of some kind, and a liquid to hold it all together. Many recipes are out there that use these ingredients in different proportions: some use butter for the fat, which I prefer, while others use lard or shortening. Sometimes water is used as the liquid and sometimes it’s milk or buttermilk. The best success I’ve had comes from using a recipe from Deb Perelman, and it uses the following ingredients to make enough for one double-crusted pie.

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 oz (or two sticks) unsalted butter

Use any recipe you like as long as you incorporate these secrets of success.

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1.  Keep everything cold.

First, cut the butter up into small cubes, place them on a plate, and stick them in your freezer while you prepare the other ingredients. Then, fill a measuring cup with about a cup of water and a few ice cubes, and put it in the fridge.

2.  Use only real butter.

Not only will butter give you the right flakiness, it imparts a wonderful flavor that’s far superior to shortening.

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3.  Use a large, wide bowl for easier mixing.

Measure and combine the dry ingredients, whisking them together.

4.  Don’t overdo the mixing.

Add the very cold butter cubes to your dry ingredients and begin to work them in using either a pastry blender or your hands. I use my hands because I don’t own a pastry blender and don’t care to buy one. Just squeeze the cubes between your fingers while incorporating the ingredients and stop as soon as you have a coarse mixture with visible pieces of butter that are about the size of peas.

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5.  Use liquid sparingly.

Begin to drizzle in the cold water while stirring with a rubber spatula. You’ll probably need somewhere between 3/4 cup and a full cup to successfully hold the flour and butter together. This is another opportunity to get your hands in there and incorporate any stray globs of flour and butter. Again, don’t over-mix—just work the dough just until it holds together and you can pick it up out of the bowl.

Now, form the dough into a ball, cut it in half, and form a disk from each half. Wrap in plastic and put them in the refrigerator for at least an hour before use. If you’d like to store the dough in the freezer instead, wrap the dough disks tightly with a double layer of plastic which will protect them from freezer burn and prevent any lingering odors from getting into your dough.

Remember that making more of something takes no more effort than making less. Consider making at least a double batch of pie crust dough so your freezer is always stocked: you can pull them out and defrost them in the refrigerator overnight for a delicious pie the next day.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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