Pear-fict Mini Rustic Tarts

One of my new years resolutions is to tackle (and maybe master) rustic tarts. I’m talking ground up. From that amazing crumbly buttery crust to the delectable filling.

My first attempt of the year was a rustic bourbon pear tart. If anyone is craving some pure earthy rustic goodness (with a little smokey bourbon kick) make this today.

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As for my first attempt at a tart crust I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t that far from my goal of tart crust heaven. The recipe (CRUST ONLY) was thanks to Sweet Fine Day. I will confess I have never made scratch crust before. The horror stories of the complication of a pie crust left me running for the refrigerator section poking that famous giggling dough boy.  Unfortunately our favorite sugar-rushed cartoon doesn’t make the crumbly, heavenly crust I’m determined to master. As far as I know scratch is the only way to go.  Do not be afraid to try this recipe. If you can manage your way around a typical scratch recipe you can handle this.

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As for the filling, I found this absolutely scrumptious rustic bourbon pear filling thanks to Design Sponge (FILLING ONLY).
For those that know me I doubled the bourbon, other than that minor change follow the directions as listed. Assemble the pie (lay out the pear slices pretty if you feel so inclined) bake as directed and enjoy a pure rustic symphony of flavor. These tarts actually get better a day or 2 after baking. The flavors really meld and intensify making for a truly earthy treat.

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The Mitten Tree

While trying to fill some space on my autumn gallery wall(I promise I will post how to hang a gallery wall super super super soon) I happened upon this print on Etsy by O’Reilly Ink. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the piece but wasn’t crazy about the colors. Plus I didn’t feel passionately about any of the tree species featured.

I decided to create a knock off print based on the design concept but featuring colors and subjects I was more into.

I selected the Sassafras tree as my study subject. If you are not aware of the amazingness of this tree it’s also lovingly called the Mitten Tree. Scientifically it’s the only deciduous tree that produces 3 different shaped leaves (at least the only one in the North East/North America).

There is also a fairy tale version “How the Sassafras Tree (or Mitten Tree) Got its Leaves” (as best remembered by yours truly)

Once upon a time there was a little old lady who had a cabin in the woods. Winter was coming so she decided to make some mittens. She finished her first mitten and realized she forgot the thumbs.

So she threw that pair out her window. The following day she tried again to make a pair of mittens this time she knitted too many thumb holes so out the window that pair went.

Finally the following day she knitted the perfect pair of mittens. Thumb holes in the right places, plenty of room for fingers.

She went to bed that night proud of her work. She woke up the next morning to find a mouse scurrying out of the cabin with her perfect mittens. Luckily she remembered how to make the proper pair and didn’t think much of the mouse, hoping the mittens would keep him warm. Winter came and went and the little old lady had warm hands all winter long. Then it was time for Spring which brought on the usual chirping birds, blooming flowers, and a remarkable new tree outside of the old lady’s cabin. A tree which was growing right outside the window she threw all her failed mittens out of. Now, what made this tree remarkable was it’s leaves reflected all the mittens she made over the last winter.

And that my friends is the story of the Mitten Tree.

So, anyway, this is a story I grew up with and a tree I always look for when out and about. This tree I decided shall be my muse. Creating the artwork is pretty easy, anyone with mild artistic talent and computer skills should be able to pull it off.

First dust off your pencils and sketch the leaf (leaves) of your choice. You could probably trace the leaf if that makes you more comfortable. Once you’re happy with your sketch grab a thin tipped Sharpie or other black inked pen. Outline the leaves and add a few veins for good measure.

Once the sketching is done and outlining is complete scan it into your computer. I used Photoshop however even Paint would do the trick. Open the scan up and use the paint bucket tool to fill in the fields with whatever color you desire. Finally find a fun free hand font and add the genus, species, and common name to the graphic. Print that sucker up slap it in a frame and admire your amazing artistic skills.

Yay cheap and easy diy artwork!

Pumpkins, Bats and Witches Hats

So a few years ago I impulsively purchased a set of fall inspired linzer tart cookie cutters. (Lets face it I’m a sucker for anything fall) They then sat in my drawer until a few weeks ago when I finally decided today’s the day to make some deliciously fall cookie sandwiches.

The recipe was from The Joy of Baking  and it was pretty good. I used apple butter rather than jam to make them a little more Fallish in flavor.

I also got to use my new flour sifter for the finishing touch of powdered sugar.

My favorite part of the cookie cutters is all the different fall inspired shapes including witches hats, black cats, bats, owls, pumpkins, and ghosts.