Step Up Your Baking Game With This Super-Easy Homemade Pie Crust

iStock/2GreenEyes
iStock/2GreenEyes

Making pie crust from scratch can discourage even the most confident home baker. A dough needs whole flecks of butter incorporated throughout it to achieve flakiness, so temperature makes all the difference—if the dough is too cold, it's impossible to roll; too warm and the butter melts, causing the whole thing to fall apart. In a recipe shared by Martha Stewart Living, the home baking master herself lays out how to get it just right.

Start by combining 2.5 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon each of salt and sugar into a bowl. Next, take two sticks of chilled, unsalted butter and cut them into the mixture using a pastry blender. Once you've mixed your ingredients into a coarse meal, it's time to work the dough by hand.

Before getting your hands greasy, set aside a bowl of ice water and add 4 tablespoons of it to the mixture—this will keep the dough from becoming too warm as you handle it. Work the dough until it starts to come together, adding a tablespoon of ice water (up to 4 additional tablespoons) whenever it starts to crumble apart.

When your dough finally looks like dough, divide it into two parts, wrap them separately in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for at least an hour. Once they've been sufficiently chilled, roll each portion into a 14-inch circle, and using your rolling pin, carefully them to 9-inch pie pans. With your hands and a pair of kitchen scissors, shape and trim the pie dough so it fits the vessels neatly.

You can load your pie crusts with filling and start baking right away, or cover them with plastic wrap and pop in them in the freezer so they'll be ready for the holidays. Your future self will be grateful.

[h/t Martha Stewart]

Why You Shouldn't Buy Your Cereal at Costco

iStock.com/RapidEye
iStock.com/RapidEye

Scoring deals at Costco is an art. Smart shoppers know which price tag codes to look for and which delivery deals to take advantage of at the bulk discount store. But when it comes to navigating the food section, there are some tips even longtime members may not know about. A big one concerns brand-name breakfast cereal: When shopping for groceries at Costco, you should leave the cereal boxes out of your cart if you want to save money, according to Yahoo! Finance.

It doesn't make sense to buy perishable items in bulk, but even products with a slightly longer expiration date, like cereal, can end up costing you in the long run if you stock up on them at Costco. The cereal at Costco costs about $0.17 per ounce, which is comparable to the cereal prices you'd find at regular grocery stores on most days. But to reap the most savings possible, you need to visit the supermarket on days when certain cereal brands go on sale.

During different times of the week—usually weekends—many grocery stores will pick a popular cereal brand, like Kellogg's or General Mills, to sell at a lower price. At their cheapest, brand-name cereals can be purchased for $0.13 cents per ounce on sale days, or $1.50 for an 11-ounce box.

While you may be better off buying your boxed breakfast staples at the nearest grocery store, there are still plenty of reasons to shop at Costco. To many loyalists, their $1.50 hot dog and soda combo alone is worth a special trip. The store's addictive pizza slices (which are perfectly sauced by a pie-making robot) and dirt-cheap and delicious rotisserie chickens are yet two more reasons. Just be prepared to show your receipt when you're all done (and don't for a second believe it's because the employees think you might have pocketed something). 

[h/t Yahoo! Finance]

A Shrine to Brine: The Mysterious Case of Missouri's Highway Pickle Jar

iStock.com/MorePixels
iStock.com/MorePixels

No one knows how it started. No one knows who was responsible. Some may even have dismissed it as an aberration, a glitch in the scenery that would soon be corrected. But eventually, drivers in and around Des Peres, Missouri who took a highway off-ramp connecting I-270 North to Manchester Road began to notice that a jar of pickles was sitting on a dividing barrier on the ramp. And it wasn’t going anywhere.

Since 2012, the pickle jar has confounded drivers and internet sleuths alike, according to Atlas Obscura. Some have speculated that someone was trying to send a secret message or share a private joke. Perhaps someone pulling off to the side due to car trouble felt the need to place the brine-filled jar on the concrete wall and then forgot about it. Maybe someone thought it would be a kind of three-dimensional graffiti, incongruous amid the bustling traffic. Maybe it’s an indictment of commerce.

Whatever the case, once the pickles appeared, advocates refused to let them go. Jars that end up toppled over or otherwise damaged are replaced. Sometimes they reappear in protective Tupperware or with a holiday-themed bow. Sightings are photographed for posterity and posted on a Facebook fan page devoted to the jar, which currently has over 4200 members and has morphed from a place to theorize about the mysterious jar's origins to a place where people swap pickle-related recipes and stories.

There are dry spells—no one has posted of a pickle sighting in several months—but followers remain optimistic the jar will continue to remain a presence in Des Peres even if the motivation for placing them near the roadway remains as murky as the briny juice inside.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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