Stop me before I cook again

By Mir
December 2, 2008

My fridge runneth over. Well, that’s not entirely true; it runneth over less than it did a few days ago. We’re doing a pretty good job of working through the leftovers, and I’ve already made several things OUT of the leftovers, and this week’s grocery shopping consisted mostly of milk and orange juice and bread. Because there’s tons of food here.

You would think that, after having cooked for a dozen people last week, I would want to STOP COOKING NOW. But if you thought that, you would be wrong, because I am mentally ill. Thanksgiving trips the MUST! COOK! center of my brain, and I won’t be able to stop until after Christmas. I don’t know why.

I mean, it starts with wanting to use up the leftovers. But from there it just goes completely off the rails.

Like today, for example!

Today I am making a quiche. Why am I making a quiche? I have no idea.

And quiche isn’t particularly hard, or anything. Particularly if you use a pre-made crust. Which I’m not, because I’m baking a quiche from scratch, because there is something wrong with me. It has something to do with a school event at a fast food place, and how I want to make sure Chickadee has something good and meat-free to eat before we go to it, and I had mushrooms in the fridge for turkey tetrazzini but have since decided to skip that and make the remaining turkey into turkey salad and so now I need to use the mushrooms and Hey! QUICHE! Why not?

And I am terrible with pastry. I mean, I’m a decent cook, and recently I’ve even come into my own with baking bread, but pastry crust? I have a veritable catalog of disasters. And they all end with a crust that looks and tastes like cardboard. But I can follow directions, and I’ve grown as a baker (oh, how I have grown as a baker… right into the next size of pants), so maybe I could do it.

I sliced my butter into teeny tiny cubes and put them in the freezer. I gently pulsed the flour and salt in my food processor. I added the butter and pulsed no more than the 7 times the recipe suggested. I started adding my ice water one tablespoon at a time. I was totally paranoid I’d add too much water, so when it began to look like it could be pinched together, I dumped it out and attempted to form a disc.

It kept falling apart.

But I was SURE that I could make it work. Hey, I’ll just wrap it in plastic wrap and pull it together that way! That seemed to work, and I got it into disc form and went to put it in the fridge.

While I opened the door, the disc spontaneously combusted. Seriously. It just broke all apart into its constituent crumbly little balls in such a way that the plastic wrap flew open and most of the crust hit the floor.


So then I had to 1) vacuum, 2) start over, and 3) mop. Except that I haven’t actually mopped yet. Because I suck.

The second crust attempt went much better. I tucked it into the fridge and came in here and did some work. And then I went back to the kitchen and sauteed some mushrooms. And then back in here to do some work. And then back into the kitchen to wilt the spinach. And then back in here to do some work. And then back into the kitchen to grate some cheese. And back in here to do some work. And then back into the kitchen to gingerly roll out my crust. And back in here to do some work. And—

Hey, I think I may have figured out why I’m so tired all the time!

Well, I’d tell you more about it, but I have to go get the quiche into the oven. And make that turkey salad. Which is no big deal, really… I just need to dice some celery and slice some grapes and cube the turkey and stuff. And last night we finished off all the pies, so maybe I should make some cookies.

Help me. I’m not right in the head.


  1. Ariel

    You seem normal to me :)

  2. Anneli

    Hah! I know what you mean about being unable to stop cooking!!

    One of the things I miss the most about my home country is the butter. The butter I like to use for pastry doughs and such is very very soft, and for some reason it makes making the dough into the easiest task ever! I’ve not been able to replicate it here in USA, especially since my pastry cutter broke. :(

  3. JennyM

    I’ll join you in Crazytown — the holidays turn me into a pie-baking, candy-making machine. Because the New Year won’t come if there aren’t three different kinds of fudge available.

  4. RuthWells

    I, too, suffer from this disease, except in my case it is MUST BAKE!

    In re: the pie crust, next time, after pulsing it in your food processor, pinch a bit of the dough between your thumb and forefinger. If it clings together, you’re in good shape. If it doesn’t, add a little more water and pulse, or just pulse a few more times. You’ll start to get the feel of it.

  5. Leandra

    What time should I be there? For the quiche with the homemade crust, I mean. Because surely Chickie can’t eat the whole thing by herself.

  6. Sarahd

    One word. Frittata!

  7. Burgh Baby

    I have a different word than Sarahd: Pillsbury.

    You are sick, but it’s an illness that I wish I could catch. I get all into cookie baking this time of year, but that’s at the expense of the few shreds of real food that I usually make.

  8. liz

    Try Bisquick for the crust. I love me some Bisquick quiche. Easier than homemade and not quite like getting a pie crust out of the freezer.

  9. exile on mom street

    You have clearly been sending me crazy germs via the internet again…I am currently making fudge. And working on the laptop. And making fudge. You get the idea.

  10. liv

    hmm… maybe by reading this post over and over, some of your cooky-ness (not to be confused with kooky-ness nor cookie-ness) will rub off on me. i’m soo over cooking right now! bah!

    i haven’t tried this, but i’ve heard that grating frozen butter with a cheese grater, instead of cubing it or cutting it in, works wonders for pie crust.

  11. ImpostorMom

    and now I want quiche. Thanks.

    I have the exact opposite problem. I am so over cooking that what I’ve been making for my family barely qualifies as cooking lately. My husband says I “warm.”

  12. Jenni

    I’ve been a baking machine for the past month. Luckily, I can blame the weight gain on being pregnant! YAY! Of course come the end of the January the baby will be born and then I’m going to want to lose weight. But, between now and Christmas I plan to make: Gingerbread cupcakes, Sugar Cookies, some other cookies to give to the church next week, and some other things that I don’t know about yet. I’m still debating on make gingerbread cookies. And if I should buy the gingerbread house kit or just make my own.

    And sometime in the past month I realized that it is actually just as easy to make homemade cornbread as it is to use the Jiffy box.

  13. Half Assed Kitchen

    I’m the same way with the cooking. Quiche does sound amazingly good though.

  14. EmmaC

    Mir, I’m going to change your life right now. Ready? I don’t know if you’re ready. Ok, three words: Vodka Pie Crust. I know, I know, it sounds terribly naughty, but it’s brilliant and fool proof. It makes a soft dough that will still turn out a tender and flaky crust even if you knead it for 10 minutes and then drop it on the floor by accident. It’s a Cook’s Illustrated recipe and I’m e-mailing it to you right now.

  15. Fiona

    Oh do share the Vodka Pie Crust!
    Now is it Great minds think alike…. or fools seldom differ? I’m in the MUST.COOK.NOW club as well.

  16. Megan

    Huh. Flashback to me standing in tears in the kitchen after baking three – THREE – kinds of cookies for one of the Children’s somethingorother and finding a medium sized, fur-covered, melty eyed package of GUILT licking its lips after gulping down a full dozen jam thumbprints in 2 seconds flat. Now I give myself permission not to bake until the week AFTER Thanksgiving, and then only on the weekend, and then only as long as its fun. Well, except for the spiced almonds which have to be made soon and often because they are that fabulous although they require blanching the almonds, skinning the almonds (ergh – very messy) and then spicing ’em.

    However – after the surprising All-of-a-Kind-Family community yesterday, did anyone else read the Betsy-Tacy books growing up? Anyone??

  17. Jamie AZ

    I’m a good baker, but crusts seem to be my nemesis. I haven’t practiced a lot, so that’s probably what I need to do – make lots of pies for practice!

  18. Lucinda

    I’m laughing because I suck at pie crust. For thanksgiving, I threw the ball of crust in the pan and PUSHED it into place. No one would see it, right? Strangely that doesn’t work so well for the top part of a turkey pot pie. So the bottom looked fine. The top, well, let’s just say it was more like a drop crust. You know, drop little pieces of dough on the top and hope they bake together. Not pretty.

    So, uh, Good Job! Hooray for you for actually rolling it out. I’m very impressed.

  19. annette

    I am reading your post instead of mopping.

    I refuse to bake, however, unless it comes in a roll and I can slice it. Ohhh, the holiday memories I am creating for my children. A dirty floor and slice an d bake cookies. That will have them quoting Psalm 31 at my funeral. What IS it I am good at again????

    Must. Go. Mop.!!!!!!

  20. StephLove

    At least you are giving me some ideas of things to make for dinner. I’m sick and not much seems appealing, but yet we must keep eating. We’re having a veggie version of the turkey soup you posted earlier and I’m thinking quiche sounds good for next week ’cause I have a leftover STOREBOUGHT crust from the apple pie I made for T-giving. (Any idea why they only sell pie crusts in pairs?)

  21. hollygee

    Add the extra tablespoon of water, fer chrisd’s sake, it will make it easier to work with. Then dredge the disk well with flour and roll out between plastic wrap. And then make another in a day or two and another a day or two after that. You will get a feel for it. And yes, that does have a deleterious effect on pant sizes.

  22. Karen

    I love to cook when I have all the ingredients for what I am making already in the house. If I have to go out to get even one thing, I lose interest. And three words for you: Frozen Pie Crust.

  23. mom, again

    Megan: ME! on the Betsy/Tacy books. And re-read them when my girls went through that sort of phase of reading. Did you know they are, like the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, basically true stories from ‘Betsy’s’ childhood? In fact, they may be rather more true, as I understand Laura’s daughter pretty heavily edited her mom’s manuscripts to suit her own politics.

    StephLove: pie crusts come in pairs because, in theory, you can flop the second one on top of the first in order to have a top of pie crust. I say in theory because it always rips and it doesn’t drape over the top the way it should and the extra thick edged don’t really mash together the way they ought to. The other solution is to automatically make one pumpkin and one pecan pie every Holiday. Being southern, apple pie doesn’t play much of a part in our holiday tradition.

  24. Laura

    Easy crust with far fewer calories: filo dough and canola spray (instead of butter) between the layers. Yummy, virtuous and fast. I’m with Sarahd on the frittata, too.

  25. Sarah

    Frozen pie crust all the way. Seriously. I use cookie cutters on the top to make it look homemade.

    And try not to drop it when ya take it out of the oven? It burns. A LOT.

  26. kd@abitsquirrelly

    Will you come to my house? I need to get a bit of your cooking sickness.

  27. Groovecatmom

    Dude. Two words: crustless quiche. You just take the filling and pour it into the greased pie plate with no crust. Then if you need something carby to go with it, serve crackers or bread or biscuits or something.

    Also, no one is going to separate me from my turkey tetrazzini. It’s what makes the whole Thanksgiving meal ordeal bearable.

  28. The Other Leanne

    EmmaC is right about the Vodka pie crust–I heard some Famous Cook recommending putting vodka in the crust on NPR just before Thanksgiving. Okay, that sentence probably reads a little funny…

  29. Lily

    Quiche sounds really good right now.

  30. Ann

    Betsy-Tacy books! Me! In fact, I grew up in Mankato, Minnesota, where Maud Hart Lovelace lived and have gone up the big hill many a time. You should come visit the town – they have restored the Betsy-Tacy house and I beleive there is a Betsy-Tacy Society that gives tours of the neighborhood and points out the landmarks mentioned in the book.

  31. Dragon

    Butter pastry. It’s the only kind I can make. You put the dough into the pie plate and pat it into place. Naturally this doesn’t work so well for two-crust pies, but I find that streusel topping makes any kind of pie seem fancy without exposing my failures as a pastry chef.

    For quiche, I make a fritatta, which is the same thing without a crust. I tell myself I make friattas because they are lower-calorie, but really it’s because they are lower-frustration.

    I bet you are a good cake baker. I find that people make good pie pastry or good cakes from scratch, but not both. The world would be a better place if the cake-bakers and pastry-rollers would just get together and marry each other. Any couple would be able to produce any baked good, and 50% of their children would receive both genes, hence be good at both.


  32. Jennifer Suarez

    You should consider volunteering at a soup kitchen. Maybe it will help get out some of that pent up food related energy :-D

    Have a happy holiday, and if you MUST cook, please come cook for me?

  33. Janet

    Pie crust never comes out right if you use a food processor. Using a pastry cutter works much better. I’ve found that I always need to use more water than the recipe calls for. (the recipe I used is in the Fanny Farmer cookbook) I also let it rest in the fridge for at last an hour before rolling out.

  34. Carla Hinkle

    Check out, she has a whole series on pie crusts (I think it is called Pie Crusts 101, 102, etc you get the idea).

    But the single best thing you can do for your pastry (because really, it sounds like you did everything else right) is to blend it by hand using a pastry blending. A food-processor pie crust is just too likely to overmix. I have made a million by-hand pie crusts and while they are not always beautiful, they always taste AWESOME.

  35. laurie

    You’ve just made me want to take a nap.

  36. Aimee

    Oh man… I have that holiday cooking disease, too. And we have the smallest kitchen EVER, which does not lend itself to baking. Which leaves me mostly with regular cooking. I’ve been melding and re-combining leftovers with wild abandon. Turkey hash! Turkey soup! Turkey pasta! The hash was the best, I have to say.

    Anyway, do let us know how the quiche comes out?

  37. Stephanie

    I’m a FIRM believer in accepting my limitations…making pie crust from scratch definitely falls into the “limitations” category…as do MANY other kitchen related activities. Bless your sweet heart for what you’re willing to put yourself through to make it from scratch. I truly admire you for it. :-)

  38. dcfullest

    Make the Vodka Pie Crust from Cooks Illustrated, it is so easy. I made used it for our THanksgiving Apple Pie and it was awesome, as always.

  39. MomCat

    I’ll be over at 6, thanks. :)

  40. Katie in MA

    Phew! Here I was thinking I was the only one who sucked at pie crusts. But, happy news – we all suck!!

    And what is this pastry-cutter thing you guys keep mentioning? My mom always has me “cut” the dough with two butter knives in a scissoring motion.

  41. tans

    i can not make a pie crust to save my life. my husband, on the other hand, is a pro.

    i love your blog. not sure how i got here, but i think i’m staying, if you don’t mind.

    and i get that whole “need to cook, need to bake” thing. i’ll be baking like a mad woman now until christmas is over. then i’ll re-join weight watchers and wonder why my ass is so big.

  42. Chuck

    You know, the phrase “spontaneous crust combustion” actually sounds kind of cool.

  43. tori

    You sound exactly like me. I’m not sure if that is a compliment or not so take that however you want. But I know if we lived closer we would be good friends and probably encourage each other to cook/bake even more things.

  44. Sheila

    There are many days when, reading your latest entry, I am certain we are leading parallel lives.

    Today is not one of those days.

    I have a fridge FULL of Thanksgiving leftovers, and today I went out to lunch. As for pie (or quiche), mine comes from the store. Or a relative. But never from my own oven. I salute you in your craziness, and promise to think of you next time I buy pie crust.

  45. abrandname

    Sounds completely normal to me….that is what this holiday season is all about right? Right??

    Just relax and the dough making will get easier….it’s kind of like an animal you fear….don’t let on that you are afraid of it….it can smell fear and it will bite you…..

    Seriously….my boyfriends grandmother is a Sicilian and she could make crust in her sleep….I don’t think she has EVER made it any other way other than scratch….so my boyfriend critiques every crust I have ever attempted….they did not start coming out well until I stopped being afraid….

    Good luck and hopefully you will be able to stop soon…..


  46. jp

    TURKEY TETRAZZINI……………….my fav!

    Whip some up, I’ll be right over!

    DCFULLEST…………Vodka Pie Crust………..pardon me??????

  47. Crisanne

    It seems clear to me that your husband is working at the wrong university. There is an excellent one just a few states to your north (VA) which would allow us to get together and work out those pie crust troubles!

  48. Tammy

    Another Betsy-Tacy-Tib/Mankato native here! They’re some of my favorite books from childhood. I love the fact that I can drive by Tacy’s house! Makes me feel like I know a celebrity. ;)

  49. Peggy Spence

    did anyone else read the Betsy-Tacy books growing up? Anyone?? I LOVED those books, especially the one where Betsy got to be in the Uncle Tom’s Cabin play, and left a bit of “actress red” on her cheeks afterwards. (And they wondered where I got my theatrical leanings!!!)

    As for baking, I make some MEAN toll house cookies. That is about it. But baby stand back at Cookie time!!!!!

  50. Megan

    Lovely! I grew up being the only kid who read extensively and the only kid who read the particular books I read (amazing how few kids in New Mexico were tearing through the Enid Blyton books…) so it’s all warm and fuzzy to find people who not only read beloved books, but loved them too! And how fun that two of you are FROM that town and climbed the Big Hill! I used to go Betsy, Tacy and Tib Christmas shopping, and always dragged out the high school books when I was suffering too much from having a Julia-esque perfect older sister (later learned she thought she was much more like Betsy which is ridiculous, natch).

  51. Giyen

    I am worried about you. Do you have a fever? Are you feeling delirious? You are insane woman! :)

    Now that I am thinking about it, I think I will make some quiche too … and some turkey salad sounds good too … stop me …

  52. carrien

    I sew the way you cook. I may cook the way you cook too, come to think of it.

  53. Deputy's Wife

    Pate Brisee.

    Two words that I have come to love. A few years ago I came across this recipe for pie crust, Pate Brisee. Prior to this recipe my pie crusts resembled pre-historic rocks and sometimes sand. This is THE recipe. At least for me.

    The link is

    Joy of Baking is my go to site for almost everything I bake. The recipes are wonderful and I have never had one fail.

  54. The FringeGirl

    It’s a good thing I don’t live in your house or else I’d be so big I wouldn’t be able to get up from the table. Sounds yummy! I can’t make pastry crust either.

  55. Tootsie Farklepants

    Little jealous over here that you still have turkey leftovers. We sent so much home with guests that we had just enough for sandwiches the next day. I am about ready to toss any remaining casseroles, however. Because I just. can’t. eat. anymore.

  56. Headless Mom

    We had quiche tonight, too!

  57. mama speak

    There must be something in the moon phase or something; we made quiche too.

    But I have no idea about this baking madness of which you speak. I would certainly be up to testing your recipes to let you know how they come out though.;-)

  58. Cele

    It sounds to that you have too much flour in your crust in comparison to your butter and water. Then when you roll out your dough, roll up, not down. What I mean is make your rolling pin go up into the air at the end, don’t roll your crust into the counter. Oh crap, just come to Oregon I’ll teach you how to make a great pie crust. Bon Appetite!

  59. Emily

    VODKA PIE CRUST – Totally easy, very tasty (no vodka flavor imparted) and PERFECT.

  60. Mom to Six

    Mir: I no longer use pie crust for a quiche. Never, ever again. I went over to allrecipies one day looking for a quiche recipie and found one that uses mashed potatoes for a crust. Now you can spend the time peeling and boiling potatoes if you want homemade; however, I buy the cheap instant cheesy potatoes. If you make the potatoes, bake it in a pie pan until it’s nice and crispy and then put the quiche on top of that, you’ll have the best quiche you’ve ever tasted. EVER.

  61. Donna in VA

    I’m like that too – the cooking thing. I start before Thanksgiving and don’t stop until after the New Year. I give so much food away cuz there’s no way I can eat as much as I cook. I give it to my boys, my mom, and I bring stuff into work all the time. I can’t help myself. It’s just what I do. Glad to see I’m not the only one who’s not right in the head. heehee

  62. Kerry

    Hi…new to your blog… but I have to say, I typically don’t cook on the holidays. I always get cooked for. My family heads to others to do the cooking. So my fridge is EMPTY! Although I do have left over pumpkin cheesecake that I made. I usually at least bring something for the host!

  63. Karen

    Yeeees Megan!….Betsy Tacy! I loved those books.

    Mir…For quiche, I never use crust. I make a crustless quiche, spray the pie plate with a spritz of oil, or wipe, just a tad really. Then bake the quiche. I dont’ like the taste of crust so this works great for me!

    PS new contacts today, so if this post is all misspelled, blame it on the lenses

  64. jwg

    Have you ever noticed that the pretty picture at the top of your page looks like some lovely meat,with a lemon slice, cooking on a metal grill pan? Now I understand.

  65. Michelle

    Oh my god.. you sound like a MOTHER.

    Don’t fret.

  66. annette

    So, I am driving the kids to school yesterday thinking about my inadequacies when I realized I posted Psalm 31. OOOPS! I meant Proverbs 31. Now does my comment make sense. Yet another mess up. Oh the humility…..

  67. jess

    hey… guess what is NOT very good? turkey curry salad–turned into turkey/ broc quiche. yup, went one step too far with combining leftovers.
    Other than that… bf is in charge of all things crust. They behave for him, maybe scared of how large his hands are?

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