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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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