Gigi Blog » The life and loveliness of Gigi's World

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  • Welcome to the Gigi Blog!

    Blessed to be a mother to half a dozen girls & one boy. Wife of an undertaker.
    Photographer. Homeschooler. Daughter of the King. Chicken and goat raiser.
    Lover of Jesus and all things pink and vintage. ♥

The Lost Art of Pie Making

Pie is slow food in a too fast world. Pie is a loving gesture. 
Good pie is simple, wholesome and real. You know what else pie is?
It’s sitting on the front porch glider having a lively conversation with family and friends,  even thought it’s too hot outside
and there are a few mosquitoes to swat. It’s kids playing in the woods, crisp cotton sheets drying on the clothes line,
crickets humming in the backyard, and time enough to play croquet. Pie is home.”

- The Lost Art of Pie Making




My sweet friend, Kate, gifted me this lovely recipe book during her visit to our home recently.


It’s just what I was looking for … time-tested-truly-scrumptious recipes, all about pie making! When it comes to making pies, I’m up against some pretty stiff ‘competition’ -  the the standard is pretty high in my family. My amazing mother can perfectly construct the most gorgeous magazine-worthy pies you’ll ever see … my grandma can whip up pastry and have the loveliest goodies to serve at get-togethers and my mother-in-law can make scrumptious pastry and tarts to please the most skeptical critics.


And then there’s me … who can barely manage to lift the rolled pastry properly onto the awaiting pie plate … yes, I have baked pies for our family before but rarely take a pie out in public to a large gathering. I know there are others who have mastered pastry so much better – why compete?


But … I am a bit stubborn. Certainly not a perfectionist. But I do like to accomplish things {who doesn’t?}. And proper pie making has been on my homemaking bucket list for some time. Even if it just to serve my family or guests at the dinner table … after all, is there a sweeter way to show love to your family than serving them warm, home-baked-with-love-pie made from scratch?

In my estimation, if I attempt to make at least one pie a week over the summer months, I may be ready for Thanksgiving’s elaborate pie buffet spread.

To try out the new recipes, Kate and I made two batches of pastry (one with butter, one with shortening).

Here is the recipe we followed from this darling book:

For pastry with shortening:

3 cups of flour
a pinch of baking power
1 1/2 tsp. of salt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of Crisco
1 cup of ice water (you may place ice cubes in your water or place your water in the freezer)


And here is the recipe for the butter version:

2.5 cups of flour 1 tsp. of fine salt
pinch of baking powder
1 cup of COLD cubed butter  {unsalted}
1/2 cup of ice water
2 tsp. of lemon juice

The instructions are the same for both pastry recipes. Mix the dry ingredients together well. Cut the cold butter or shortening in with a pastry cutter until the mixture resemble small pea like bits of flour dough. Add the lemon juice to your COLD water and sprinkle the water one tablespoon at a time into your flour mixture, mixing with pastry cutter.

According to the book …


“You want the dough to stick together  when squeezed, but it will be a bit dry. Too much water makes a tough crust. Too light and your dough will not hold together.

Divide your dough into two balls,  flattening them just a bit. Wrap them into plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of 1/2, or even better, overnight.

When ready to roll out the dough, lightly flour your surface. Let your dough sit out for 15 minutes. Roll your dough out as thin as possible giving it a quarter turn every few rolls. When it is properly rolled out, place it gently into pie plate, trim edges.”


The book also said do not attempt to stretch your pie dough into the right shape! It will remember its original size and return as such.


The next step is a blind bake. Place a plate full of dried beans on top of foil onto your bottom pie crust and bake it for 12-15 minutes at 425 degrees or so. Just to brown it a little. The weights (beans) keep the pie crust from shrinking. A blind bake also helps your pie from succumbing to a soggy crust.


Once the blind bake is accomplished, remove your pie crust from the oven. Fill your pie with your choice of fruit, etc. , then choose your topping {full pastry shell, lattice, etc.} Crimp edges.  Lightly wet pastry with milk and sprinkle sugar loosely on top of pastry. Bake at a high temperature {425} for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and bake till pastry is cooked. Place foil gently overtop your pie if it is  browning too quickly. Because I am cooking with the cookstove, I cannot greatly reduce or fluctuate my temperature. I bake at a somewhat even 350 degrees.




The kitchen smelled delicious when the pie came out of the wood cookstove oven … so worth the effort! And it tasted great! The first one was apple (it needed a bit more filling but was still great) and the second was strawberry … both were tasty and generally successful…


Now you are all set for tea and pie on your porch on a summer afternoon …

The strawberry pie passed the husband’s inspection and taste test (sadly, he did not make it home in time to try the apple pie).:)

Do you love to bake pies?
Do you have family secrets to share in regards to perfecting your pastry or putting the right touches on your pie?

What are your favorite pie fillings? Mine, indeed, is fruit – mainly, blackberry (and that is because I was raised on B.C. blackberries and they make the *best* juiciest pies ever).


P.S. You can pick up this sweet little pie book for yourself here.




June 16, 2016 - 2:37 pm

Rebecca - Your pies look amazing! I will have to check out this book. I too want to master a perfect pie!

June 12, 2016 - 8:36 am

Brenda (Gigi's Proud Mom) - Gillian, you are too hard on yourself! Your pies have always been scrumptious! And these pies look like they could win a Fall Fair! You go, girl



Thanks to a talented, helpful friend … the blog is back. After a month long break due to unforseen technical difficulties here on the blog, it seems as if there are a lot of little things to catch up on. Summer has begun unofficially, baby animals are being born here at the little homestead, gardens growing and lots of outdoor chores to be done … and of course, little Lazarus is growing each day, despite my pleas to slow down his first year…



Isn’t he delightful?

We sure think so. xo

June 17, 2016 - 6:34 am

{Retreat} » Gigi Blog - [...] last to be painted and refreshed since moving into our home 2.5 years ago. I could put up with the mossy green colored paint for a while because it was not as bad (in my opinion) as the muddy/butterscotch paint that covered [...]

June 16, 2016 - 2:30 pm

Rebecca - I was worried about you for a while there but I’m so glad you are back! I hope you are having a wonderful summer!

June 11, 2016 - 1:42 pm

Maike - Me again ^_^ The commenting for older blog entries still doesn’t work so I will ask my question about the dandelions here. I like trying out those natural self picked foods and tried adding dandelion flowers to my salad about a year ago. They tasted super bitter and I even washed them. Have you only tried the leafs yet or the yellow flowers too? I wonder what was wrong with them that they were so bitter.

June 11, 2016 - 1:37 pm

Maike - Oh I’m so very glad this blog is back and you are doing okay. I was really worried especially since my mails didn’t get answered either. Lazarus looks so much bigger indeed. By now you can almost picture him how he will look as a walker. Though I do hope it is still lots of time till then so you can enjoy this teeny tiny baby longer. :-)

June 9, 2016 - 3:37 pm

Erin Lynn - Missed you, girl! Was worried about you. SO glad you’re back.

June 9, 2016 - 3:34 pm

Rachel - So glad you’re back! Missed all your pretty photos. Mr Lazarus is such a cutie!

{Spring} Dandelion Salad

Years ago, it’s not something I ever thought that I would be serving at our dinner table …
but people grow and change and learn to appreciate different things…
and so, here I am, serving wild dandelion leaf salad, which we gathered together this afternoon, to my family tonight.

Topped with diced tomatoes, carrots, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar, it truly was a treat. And frugal.:)I like that.

{Some of the girls did not agree, but they managed to eat it anyways.
They are not fond of spinach, either, and I would say that this salad mildly tasted like said greens.}

In fact, most of the meal we enjoyed tonight (with the exception of the fresh vegetables – as it is only early spring in Ontario -  and the rice)
was grown and raised here on our little tiny piece of land. The chicken, tomatoes, onions, peppers, greens …  There is a nice feeling indeed to realize that…

We’re planting seeds and turning soil, getting things ready for spring planting in our family garden.
I think we are bit behind, as I see the farmers around us already planting potatoes.
It is on my mind to get things into the ground, but I must wait patiently for a few tasks to be done ahead of time …
so I have planted more seeds inside, placing them along the kitchen window to see what will grow.

So far, my herbal medicine garden is growing well in their tiny little pots.
I am excited to plant them outdoors once it is truly warm enough. We had to dig out our flower garden on thes ide of the house this spring due to septic issues,
so I am almost starting from scratch in the particular garden. Thankfully, I do believe my lavender survived, along with my sage.
And of course, hoping the mint survived as it seems to survive most hardships.

A note about eating dandelion leaves …. if you feel so inclined…

You will want to harvest the fresh, spring leaves – don’t anticipate eating the older dandelions that already have flowers as they are much more bitter.
Dandelions can prevent disease, it is anti oxidant and a great source of fibre.
The leaves contain vitamin A, which is good for your skin and eye sight.
Dandelions are a good source of potassium, calcium, manganese (required for building healthy bones structure), iron and magnesium.

 That’s a lot of goodness in a simple “weed”.

May 6, 2016 - 4:28 pm

grandma Cardinal - Yes, they are delicious when young, but very bitter later! We had them, they taste like spinach and are full of Iron! So good for you! x

May 6, 2016 - 4:28 pm

grandma Cardinal - Yes, they are delicious when young, but very bitter later! We had them, they taste like spinach and are full of Iron! So good for you! x

Large Family Recipes {Feed-a-crowd-Chili}

I’m not sure how it happened:)… but somewhere along the way … we became … a large family …


Shockingly, it still surprises me when we count heads around the table. We didn’t really plan on having a large family but we  did have a change of heart around baby #4, where our eyes were opened to how Scripture clearly explains that children are a blessing from above.


That being said … I have slowly, over the years, adapted our lifestyle, with each new baby, to adjust to our big-family.  Living in and with a lot of people  just seems natural to me now. Around here, food disappears very fast. A loaf of bread is for barely one sitting – a dozen muffins fresh from the oven? Gone at one snack time. We are always running out of forks and knives and spoons, not to mention the other dishes required for eating.

When making a meal, I usually naturally triple everything because we want to have leftovers (handy for lunches, especially since we school at home – I do not have time to make lunch … we need to have lunches ready to go as I am with the children all morning, doing school).

This weekend, one of girls has chosen to be baptized at church. Some family members will be coming over afterwards for church. Altogether, there are 29 people coming. I knew we needed a big meal that would feed not only my large family, but also company. Because we cook on a wood cook stove – and because we will be at church in the morning (which will mean the fire will be dead or just coals by the time we return home), I also needed to have a meal that is ready to go, pre-cooked and just requiring re-heating.

{pot on the left is chili and pot on the right will be rice}

When cooking for a large family plus company, you have to think about what or how it is going to be served, how long it will take to cook and will it be delicious and filling for young children and adults alike.

We choose chili with toppings of grated cheese & corn chips and a big pot of steaming rice as our main food.


Recipe for the chili for many as follows:

Large stock pot

6 pounds ground beef, browned
5-7 lbs of pre-soaked dry kidney beans {you may add beans of choice, as well}

3 peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 large onions, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of water
4 jars of crushed tomatoes
4 jars of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
chili seasoning to taste preference
{optional – add in some corn, mushrooms, sausages, etc. if desired}

Simmer together for approximately for  2-4  hours or until desired taste is achieved. Add water if needed.

For your homemade chili seasoning, which you may customize to your family’s preference, here is what is in our pantry:

4 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2  teaspoons ground cumin
1  teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

{Recipe adapted from here.}

Hoping with the salads and buns to come, this big pot of chili will successfully feed a crowd – maybe even with leftovers!


May 2, 2016 - 6:02 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - Great recipe! Thanks for sharing!Its rare to find a large size family recipe!

May 1, 2016 - 10:32 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Gillian, it was a delicious meal and beautiful time shared together! Thank you for hosting xoxo

Spring, Spring, Spring!

“When the barnyard is busy
in a regular tizzy, 
then the obvious reason
is because of the season …
spring, spring, spring!”
-Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

{flowers from a dear friend}

It’s definitely spring around our home lately…
(or as the girls have named our little spot – Rainbow Ridge).
The weather may not be that warm most days, but that has not discouraged the entrance of Mistress Spring.

From seedlings in the kitchen, to three levels of new new seedlings in the living room…

… to 50 chicks warming by the cozy fire  in the back room {trying to avoid using the heat lamp to save electricity and using the natural wood fire to warm them instead}…

… to newly purchased 3-week-young Polish chickens in the kitchen beside the cookstove {Lacey’s new babies}

…to {hopefully!} fertile eggs in the incubator in the dining room …. to a mamma duck sitting on her nest in the barnyard… our house is in overload spring mode!

To welcome spring, one must clean their windows, most definitely. Although they may look dirty already, we have already cleaned and scrubbed the windows (this house has a lot of windows!) with vinegar and newspaper. This is by far the cheapest, most effective way to clean windows, ladies. Do not be fooled into thinking fancy products will do the job. All you need is newspaper and vinegar spray.

Oh yes … and kittens!! We have kittens … adorable, fluffy kittens!

With spring here, hopefully, the vegetable garden will be started soon.

                         And, with lovely timing, school is nearing the end (the official school work, that is).

Spring is a beautiful season. A busy, busy season but a good one indeed. What are your spring plans?

P.S. Dandelions are starting to pop up! Take time to harvest them while you can for some wonderful herbal recipes!

April 28, 2016 - 8:12 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - I love Spring too! And you are definitely right … you have real Spring at your house!! Lovely pictures too. xoxo

April 28, 2016 - 5:52 pm

Sarah - Oh, this post really brings a smile to my face! I love spring. : ) We just bought seven little Isa Brown chicks, but the photo of your daughter with the golden Polish chickens brought back memories. My sisters and I had golden and silver Polish chickens when we were about your daughter’s age. And your kittens! Oh my, so adorable!