Monthly Archives: July 2012

Eagle Brand Cookies

Happy Friday!!! Let’s celebrate the beginning of the weekend with some cookies!

My mom and I made these cookies a couple days before she left for Disneyland with all my sisters. I couldn’t go on this totally awesome trip with them for a few reasons and I was suuuuper bummed. Like, the only thing that could cheer me up was… chocolate. And not just any chocolate. My mom’s famous Eagle Brand Cookies.

This is not your typical chocolate cookie. Its not chocolate-flavored, or filled with chocolate chunks. Its not even a combination of those things. Its just chewy, fudgy, chocolately heaven in your mouth. It’s probably more comparable to a brownie than a cookie… but not necessarily in the brownie category either. That’s what makes this cookie so good- the mystery. (ha, just kidding.)

These have been a family favorite ever since my mom first whipped them up. They are the most requested cookie at our get-togethers, and rarely does a batch last more than oh, half an hour. So, as my mom and I made these, I worked up the courage to ask her if I could possible put this recipe up on our blog. I was both surprised AND not surprised when my mom answered, “Of course!! A recipe this good canNOT be kept a secret! All people should be able to enjoy this recipe, not just our family.”

That’s my mom for ya- she’s never been one to refuse to give out a recipe to others just to ‘keep it in the family’. Deliciousness and love are meant to be shared!

That being said, you guys are in for a treat.

The cast of characters is minimal, which scores a point in my book. Also, there are no eggs in the dough which means… snoop away, my friends. I will warn you though, once you start snooping, it’s almost impossible to stop.

These are called Eagle Brand Cookies because of the sweetened condensed milk that ties the whole thing together. That was one thing my mom taught us to always have in the baking cupboard- Eagle Brand milk. K and I would lick this stuff right out of the can- gross, I know.

Look at all that delicious melty chocolate… you can use a double boiler if you want, but its easier and less temperamental to just nuke it in the microwave with a tad of butter for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time.

We just used good ol’ never fail Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips- you don’t want to use milk chocolate for this recipe. I know it doesn’t seem possible, but that would just be too sweet. You need the bite of the semi-sweet!

Nuke those chips in the microwave with some butter at 30 sec intervals, stirring each break. You’ll probably need 3 rounds in the microwave. Melt ’til smooth. You should probably taste it to make sure it, uh, retained its chocolatey-ness in that microwave. For the cookie’s sake.

Then add the can of sweetened condensed milk and vanilla, and then the flour. mix that goodness all together, and then when it is all incorporated, let it chill in the fridge for about an hour. Sometimes we put it in the freezer for less time because we are impatient, but sometimes what happens then is the outside dough gets really hard and cold, and the middle stays warm. So, its best to just stick in the fridge, and daydream about how your patience will pay off beautifully in the end.

When its all chilled and you just can’t wait anymore, go ahead and roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on a cookie sheet. In my experience, its really hard to keep them down to one inch balls- you just naturally want to make them giant 4 inch cookies, but the overall texture of the finished cookie is just divine if you keep them smaller.

Then bake ’em, cool ’em, and eat ’em.

Simple. Now go spread the love!



Eagle Brand Cookies


2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 TBSP butter

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour


Measure out 2 cups of chocolate chips and 1 TBSP butter- melt in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds, stirring as needed and melt until smooth.

Add one can of sweetened condensed milk and 1 tsp. vanilla. Once that is mixed in, incorporate 1 cup of flour and mix in until you can’t see any white streaks.

Then chill for one hour, and snoop on the dough as needed. The reason you want to chill the dough is so that the cookie holds its shape in the oven. Roll the dough into one- inch balls and bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Let them cool on wire racks and then eat them. 🙂


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Canvas Photo Transfer










You guys!! I did a CRAFT!! Maybe I should start with- this is Monica writing… I did a CRAFT!! (cue the audience *gasp*!!)

Forgive me all the blurry night-time pictures, but to be honest, I wasn’t really thinking this would turn out. It actually turned out alright for my first effort! My dear sister, K, convinced me to try a craft and see how it went. I promised her that I would accept the challenge only if she agreed to 1.) give me specific instructions, and  2.) make it do-able and affordable for a first-time crafter.

This project totally met all that criteria- it was fun, relatively simple, and surprisingly cheap. It is called a ‘Canvas Photo Transfer’. Sounds pretty tough huh? I know. When Katie suggested this for my first craft, I burst out laughing. “I don’t think you understand what I mean by ‘do-able’ , K.” She assured me that it was easy and I’d be thrilled with the results, so she emailed me the instructions and told me to get going.

And I got going! What is a photo transfer? It is simply printing out a picture you love (enter: my adorable niece, Michaela) onto one sheet of tissue paper, and mod-podging it onto a canvas! The result is a canvas photo that looks like you paid to have it professionally printed. It costs around $10, and takes about a half hour. Unless your printer eats 7 sheets of your tissue paper before deciding to work. Then it takes a little bit longer and a little lot more patience.









Here’s what you’ll need!

Mod-Podge ( I bought a big bottle for $7, but you can buy smaller ones) ((another side note- Target does not carry this, you’ll have to hit Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby!))

1 canvas, same size as the picture you want to print

white tissue paper (the standard gift-wrapping stuff)

foam brush (K used her fingers, but I opted for these since I’m a newb)



Start by taking your scissors and cutting out a single piece of tissue paper about the size of a regular piece of printer paper. I chose to do a 8×10 photo, so I bought a 8×10 canvas to match.

The trickiest part of this whole project is getting the printer to cooperate with you. It took me 7-10 tries to finally get a decent print-out on tissue paper- my sister suggested taping it to regular paper, but I couldn’t get that to work, as you can see.

my poor niece! I debated even putting this picture up, I felt so bad how it turned out!

take 2- still too wrinkly and ink spots where it caught… I’ll get it soon, Michaela!!

There we go… after many tries, I was happy with this one, even if it wasn’t perfect.























So, what I ended up doing was taking a loooong piece of tape and enforcing the top part of the tissue paper that feeds into the printer. I found that it went in smoothly after that. It’s hard to see, but I tried to get a picture for you:

see the clear tape of the top of the page?










After you have cleaned out scraps of tissue paper several times from your printer (ahem) and finally have a good picture smiling back at you, its time for the fun part!

Grab your canvas, foam brush, and mod podge. Set your tissue picture aside, and apply a thin layer of mod-podge directly to the canvas. Try to keep it pretty evenly distributed and work quickly so that it doesn’t dry unevenly. As soon as you have finished, take the tissue picture and make sure you center it as you apply it to the canvas. Don’t worry if there are extra flaps on the edge- we’ll take care of those later. Try to smooth out the wrinkles a bit, but be careful! You only have a few tries before it will start tearing!










Once you have it centered and laying how you want it, apply another light layer of mod-podge on top of the tissue picture and gently but firmly work those creases out. Again, be careful because it tears easily. But, as K said, if it does tear, no big deal. Push it back where it’s supposed to be and rub it back in! You’re in charge of that canvas!!!! 🙂

Then, I just took a sharp knife and trimmed away the extra paper and mod-podged the sides down onto the canvas. Then let it dry!

Aaaand WAH-LAH! Congratulations, you’re an artist!! Just kidding, but seriously, you kind of feel like one!

I will definitely be doing this again, it could be a great gift idea, or just decoration for your own home at a fraction of the cost of what it would normally be.

Give it a try! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did 🙂

Thanks, K!



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K’s kind of shake…:)

I have to admit, I have not yet tried either of M’s shakes that she’s made. I had a hankering for a coffee milkshake yesterday though, and no fresh fruit in the house *gasp*….so I whipped one up quick. It was amazing. Though not on the nutritious side, it would jolt you awake in a pinch.

I only had a teensy bit (about a cup) of ice cream left so this was small.

nom nom nom

1 cup of ice cream, little bit of ice, splash of milk, and one pack of VIA instant coffee and voila! Yum-ness.

I really needed a little boost this weekend with an extra shift at work. And I just really wanted one.

I’m quite excited about a new wall hanging I’m making using a small pallet I had in my backyard.

It’s all wet cuz it was a spider home, apparently. So it needed a bath.

This is how it will hang on the wall!

I’m going to stain it dark brown and use it for either a spice rack or a shelf for frames….

I’ll post a pic this week with the finish project!


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Trip to San Francisco

San Francisco is probably one of my favorite places to visit. There is so much to do there! Curtis and I went to visit my dad in SF a couple weeks ago for a belated Father’s Day visit and we did a ton of stuff! Dad knows all the places we like to go, and this visit was no exception 🙂

First we grabbed some lunch at Barracuda, a sushi place. I don’t even remember what all the different rolls were that we ordered, but there was a little of everything!

Dad and I shared…YUM.









Curtis’ Bento Box









After sushi, I dragged the boys to FLAX. The best art supply store I have ever been to. It’s huge!

When you walk in, this is what you see…It’s a huge warehouse!











This was the paper room. JUST the paper room!











Stacks and stacks of sketchbooks……:)









I could wander in here for hours! However, I did not. 🙂

After Flax, we ducked into a used bookstore while dad checked on some work stuff, and then grabbed a beer after. I love used bookstores!










Yep. That’s a cat. Sleeping in a box of books. And no, I did not put that book there. Haha!



Ohh he makes me laugh 🙂 his ‘pensive’ pose











A little (HUGE!) gift from my dad that we found in the bookstore…

I cannot wait to cook from this!











Ever since seeing Julie & Julia, and reading My Life in France by Julia Child, I have wanted to try some French recipes! Boeuf Bourguinon….Beef stew. I would eat this even on day when its 110 degrees outside. Well, maybe not quite that hot, but you get my drift. Anyways, dad got this for me on the condition that I cook whatever he wants from it next time he comes to our house! Deal.

After the bookstore, we visited this crazy little shop called Paxton Gate. They have some taxidermy, weird plants, cool books and it’s just a little ‘treasure store’.

Curtis and a unicorn.











Crazy teeth! Not going in a lake for awhile.



Lastly, but definitely not least, we went to a Giants game!

Dad and me! Excuse my huge sleeve taking up the bulk of this photo. 🙂









FANTASTICALLY close seats 🙂









Curtis and me!









We had a fantastic day, traipsing all over the city and spending time together. It’d been six months since we’d visited dad, so a trip was looong over due. All in all, it was probably the most fun day off Curtis and I have had in a long time 🙂


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So Fruity Summer Smoothie











Yikes!! And I’m the sister in Northern Cal- I’m afraid to ask K what the heat is like in the Fresno area. I am a lover of sunshine and heat, but even this triple digit week is enough to send me into daydreams about winter and those chilly nights when hot chocolate sounded like heaven…

But then I thought, smoothies are the ‘hot chocolate’ of summer! I was over at my mom’s house the other day because my little sister and I had a dog-walking date planned. However, we had absent-mindedly planned it for the afternoon which translated into a very. hot. walk.

We immediately went for the fridge and came up with a smoothie recipe that is SO incredibly refreshing and actually quite healthy as well!












We plopped down on the couch and slurped these babies down in a matter of minutes. Which is okay, because it only takes about 2 minutes to throw the ingredients in a blender and make another one. With all that fresh fruit that’s abounding this season, I wouldn’t be surprised if you already have all of the ingredients in the house!









Also, it’s not green like the other smoothie I told you guys about. So if you just couldn’t get past the color of the spinach smoothie, this should be right up your alley!

Hope you guys are having a fantastic summer, and enjoy! K gave me a craft challenge to do so prepare yourselves…. this might not be pretty.


So Fruity Summer Smoothie

serves 2 generously, 3 appropriately

3 cups mixed fruit salad (we used watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and bananas)

1 single serving container of fruity yogurt

1 1/2 cup ice

2-3 Tbsp cold water for thinning

Put all ingredients (in that order) in the blender and blend away! Add as much or as little water as you need for the desired consistency. If you have different types of fruits, throw em in. Pretty much can’t go wrong with this! I was a little uneasy about the watermelon tasting right, but man, it hit the spot. Slurp away!

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Peacock Sunburst Canvas

So last time M and I went into a craft store together, she talked me into buying this pack of Handmade Indian peacock paper just cuz it was pretty. So of course, I did.

I just love all the pretty colors….

I’ve been seeing all these cute ideas on Pinterest for crafts and I’ve totally been getting carried away with hoarding the craft supplies that I buy for them- supposedly saving them for ‘the perfect project’. I think I realized it when M came over to put stuff together for her sister-in-law’s baby shower. She would ask if I had glue and I’d bring out four different kinds. She’d ask for some scrapbook paper and receive a blank stare. ‘Please specify,’ I’d reply, ‘What color? Size? Theme?’. That was when I came to terms with the fact that I have a mini-craft store in my spare bedroom. (I was a little proud of my collection, not gonna lie. I like having options.) So now I have decided to craft for a bit with what I have already.  No more trips to the store. (Glue does not count. But since I have several bottles, I don’t think that will be an issue.)


So for this craft, I was inspired by a Pinterest find using canvas, paint, and scrapbook paper.

Aren’t the colors gorgeous!?









I painted over a canvas I had done awhile ago, just cuz I was sick of it and I really wanted to do this specific project on a larger scale.

I did like the blues…..but this baby needed to be grey. 😦









Then I used my peacock paper and cut leaf shapes out. I saved the scraps- I’m sure I’ll need them for something eventually. 🙂

I have no idea what the real name for that cutting device is, so I call it my ‘roll-y cutty thing‘. It’s truly wonderful. No wrist-soreness even after cutting about a hundred little leaf shapes. It is quite sharp too-  it can cut easily through poster board and fabric! I highly recommend it. I got it on sale at Joann’s. Apparently, it’s called a rotary cutter. I like my name better.

I wanted a sunburst look, so I cut a circle for the leaves to center around and started gluing!

I did sneak in a little piece of lace behind the center circle….just cuz I had some 🙂











The placement and gluing took some time. I spaced them out more the farther they got from the circle (which, you can’t tell here, is located in the bottom left of the canvas).








I like to utilize the sides of my canvases. I don’t frame anything, so the sides need to be part of the art 🙂

Here’s the finished project! I really want to hang it in my kitchen once its painted- the color scheme will work very well together, I think.










I love it. 🙂 But now my canvas supply is seriously depleted…..No. I will use the 8 x 10 ones I have before I go get more. I will be patient. I will….



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Bedside Books: The Good Earth

This book has been in my “Top 5” category for the past ten years. Possibly even “Top 3”. The Good Earth is one of a few books that has had a place on my bedside table since I was in Jr. High. I don’t know what it is about those books on my table- its almost like I can’t fall asleep unless I know I have the option of re-reading one of them.

I don’t know why K and I both love to re-read books- I mean, there are so many books out there that you could probably read for the rest of your life and never have to re-read anything. Come to think of it, I can think of a book about that very concept!! See what I mean? There’s really no excuse to re-read things. Yet, we do. And I think we do have some good reasons.

The Good Earth is the life story of a poor farmer in China before World War II. His father gives Wang Lung a freed slave as a wife, and together, they bear the brunt of living a hand to mouth existence. However, through hard work and frugality the couple manages to enlarge their property and make a better life for themselves. The story continues with it’s ups and downs as famine and drought force them to leave their home and ride the ‘firewagon’ to an unknown city to find work. Wang Lung’s wife and children are forced to turn to begging while Wang Lung pulls a rickshaw to feed his family. He longs to return to his land to continue farming, and worries that his children will grow up as thieves because they steal to feed themselves.

His life takes another drastic turn when Wang Lung unwillingly joins a mob that is looting a  rich man’s house. Wang lung manages to escape with enough gold to bring his family back home and start a new life. From then on, his sons grow up and Wang Lung faces the new difficulty of living a wealthy life and all of its hidden thorns.

Pearl S. Buck is an amazing author, and I highly recommend this book to all. If you have been looking for that next ‘Argh I can’t put it down!!’ book, I promise you , this is it. It is historical fiction, and its voice is a little different that most books today because it takes place in the early 1900’s.

You’re gonna love it, guys. Go grab a cold drink, sit in a shady spot outside, and enjoy.


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Cold Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is one of my happy-foods. I absolutely love it! It’s so fresh and delicious and perfect for summer time. I’ve made several, but I have to toot my own horn a little- this one was bomb. and I made a ton of it. This is what was in it:

There’s red onion in there too….somewhere….

I really wish I had a picture of this zucchini. I can’t believe you can only see a teensy part of it in the picture- but when M went to Israel, she left her garden unharvested which means her zucchini turned into monsters. Seriously. I think she had 3 of them and they were all over 2 feet long and about as big around as….I don’t even know. I’m looking around for something to compare it to, and there is nothing. It was huge. My thigh maybe? Which helps you not at all. If I think of something I’ll letcha know.

So, I cut off the end of the zucchini and cut it into cubes and threw it in a frying pan with some olive oil, garlic powder (cuz I didn’t have any garlic salt), salt, and pepper. I like it with a little crisp on it so it was in there for awhile. While the zucchini was frying, I got the asparagus broiling in the oven with a little olive oil and pepper. (I didn’t cut the asparagus because I got the skinny ones, not the thicker ones.) Again, I like that crispy too. So both of these veggies were cookin for most of the time I was chopping the cold stuff.

Oh, I just love love love asparagus. I could eat it every day. Just not when it’s 6.99 a pound.

Doesn’t this look so yummy?!? See how toasted it is? I love it when it has that char on it. MMmmmm….I’m getting really sad- I have none of this left.

So while these yummy greens are toasting away, I chopped the tomatoes, red onion, and bell pepper into pieces. For cold pasta salad, I cut them a little larger than if I was cooking them in a hot dish. Then I cut the green onions and mix all these in a bowl til everything else is ready. The salami I got was really thick which turned out to be really good- initially I was going to used sliced salami cut into strips, but having a thicker cut worked out because I cut it to the same size as the veggies (maybe a little smaller) and it tasted really good that way.

By now the pasta and hot veggies were done so I drained the pasta and let them both rest/cool for a bit.

Once this is cooled down (or in our case, starving and ready to eat no matter what the temperature is) mix the pasta with the pesto, (my favorite) Red Bell Pepper Italian Dressing, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix it up with all the veggies and enjoy!! Oh it was so good. I can’t even describe.

I decided to just take a picture of what’s left of the monster zucchini (duh) next to a water bottle so you can get an idea of the size of this thing. I cut off about 6 inches for this recipe.








See?! Steroid zucchini. Tasted amazing. 🙂

Here’s the huge bowl this recipe made-








Another thing about my pasta salads- I like a ratio of half veggie to half pasta. That’s just me.

Ohhh it was so good. I might just have to run to the store to replenish my ingredient list….








I also served it with some Sun dried tomato bread from Panera, toasted up of course 🙂








People, it was so good. I can’t say it enough. Let’s just say this, Curtis doesn’t eat leftovers. He ate these leftovers. Yes, this is how I judge my cooking. 😉


Cold Pasta Salad

Half a box of pasta (I use whole grain)

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 large bell peppers, chopped

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 bundle green onion, chopped

1 pound asparagus

3 cups zucchini (cut into cubes)

2 cups salami, thickly cut into cubes

1 cup (approximately) pesto

1 cup (approximately) Red Bell Pepper Italian Dressing

salt, pepper, and garlic salt (or powder) to taste

Cook pasta. Broil asparagus until thoroughly cooked. Fry zucchini on the stove until cooked. Cut all other vegetables and meat into similar size pieces. Once the pasta and veggies are done cooking, let them chill in the fridge. Once they are chilled, mix seasonings, dressing, and pesto into the pasta noodles. Then add all vegetables and meat. And eat it ALL. (We didn’t really eat it all- I shared it with Adrienne, I promise! And we had leftovers)

Side note: The earlier you make this, the longer it can chill and really be a cold pasta salad.

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4th of July Rhubarb Pie


Its so good to be BACK!!!

Let me tell you, going to Israel was the trip of a lifetime. If you ever have the opportunity to go, seize it. I will tell you guys all about it very soon, but you’ll have to wait just a bit longer. Takes a while to go through all those notes and pictures! I was sooo close to doing a post on bacon cheeseburgers. With milk. And more cheese. (We could not have dairy and red meat together EVER in Israel, because it is not considered kosher.) Was I ever a die-hard cheeseburger fan? Did I always HAVE to have milk with dinner? No… but its one of those things where, once you aren’t allowed to have it, its all you can think about. It clouds your mind. You start to see visions of cheese dancing dangerously close to steak. Just kidding, it never went that far. But I did have a delicious cheeseburger on Sunday afternoon with milk.

Anyways, now that I got that out of my system, on to one of my favorite holidays!! I love everything about the 4th- bacon cheeseburgers with milk, the fireworks, BBQs, swimming, freedom, popsicles, family time, hot dogs, and PIE.


Especially the rhubarb kind.


I meant to share this recipe with you guys yesterday, to give you enough time to make it for wherever you are going for the 4th, but jet lag is really doing a number on me. Good news is, you can whip this baby up and have it in the oven within an hour. So, you still have time!


You might ask, why make a rhubarb pie (isn’t that a vegetable!??!) when you can make a strawberry pie?? Or blueberry pie? That’s a valid question- because those are all delicious. However, there is something about this pie that reaches just a little further than the other ones… also, there’s streusel topping. And it makes your house smell sooooo good. And tastes even better than how it makes your house smell! And it’s basically healthy for you because it’s technically a vegetable. Just don’t ask questions.


Your 4th of July peers will love you. And probably invite themselves over for more later.

My mom took the time to show Linds and I how to make her “never fail pie crust” too. Think buttery, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. If you don’t have time to make this crust, a storebought one will work fine. I would recommend the Pillsbury frozen crust, not a graham cracker one. That being said, the homemade pie crust really does made a big difference in the end product. You won’t regret making the extra trip to the store for lard. Yup, you heard me. LARD.




Man, I’m doing a horrible job of convincing you to make this pie. Just please do it, this lard-y vegetable pie will knock you to your knees. Promise. It might even be better than dutch apple pie. If that doesn’t convince you, then I don’t know what will.


What a little snooper.



P.S. Did I tell you guys how much I missed you?

Rhubarb Pie

serves 8

To prepare fresh rhubarb, wash it well, trim all the dry ends of the stalks, and slice. (Like celery)


1 recipe Mom’s Never-Fail Pie Crust (see below)

1 recipe Crumb Topping (see below)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

4 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened sliced rhubarb



Prepare and roll out pastry crust. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pastry (no need to grease the pan). Trim and crimp the edges as desired. Prepare crumb topping, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together granulated sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add rhubarb. Gently toss to coat. (If using frozen rhubarb, let mixture stand for 15-30 minutes or until fruit is partially thawed, but still icy.)

Transfer rhubarb to the pastry-lined pie plate. Sprinkle crumb topping over the filling.

To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the pie with foil (We did not do this, and ours turned out fine). Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes with fresh fruit (50 minutes for frozen fruit). Remove foil. Bake for 20-25 more minutes for fresh fruit (20-30 more for frozen) or until topping is golden. Let cool completely.

Crumb Topping

In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup AP flour, and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in 3 Tbsp. butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Mom’s Never-Fail Pie Crust

makes 2-3 crusts

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup lard (can find this in refrigerated section at any grocery store)

10 Tbsp Crisco

1 egg

1 Tbsp vinegar

5 Tbsp ICE COLD water.

(Lard and Crisco should be refrigerated. Temperatures are very important!)

Combine flour and salt. Cut in lard and Crisco with pastry blender until crumbly. Slighty whip egg with a fork in a separate bowl, then mix in cold water and vinegar. Add liquid to crumbled mixture until ball is formed.

** When rolling out this crust, make sure you sprinkle ample amounts of flour on your work surface and rolling pin- otherwise the crust will tear and stick to the counter. This crust can handle a good amount of extra flour, so don’t be shy.

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