A Long Long Time Ago

I can still remember how that music use to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance I could make those people dance.
And maybe they’d be happy for a while.

Is today black Friday? You’re freakin’-A right it is! Hostess Brands the iconic maker of such things as Twinkies, Zingers, Devil Dogs, and Wonder Bread is shutting down and gone.

The company has been in trouble for a couple of years now. When you really look at the numbers from an objective eye to business, this one is a shame. There was obvious management and leadership problems here. It wasn’t too late to fix those issues and the company and board of directors were trying. Want to know what killed this company? The damn unions! 18,000 plus workers get to go home without a job this holiday season and for the first time since 1930 we get to walk through a grocery store and not see a box of Twinkies or a loaf of Wonder Bread for sale.

Being a child of the seventies and eighties, I can tell you these foods were a normal part of life. I didn’t know there was anything other then white sandwich Wonder bread until I was probably twelve years old. In fact there was a loaf of it in my parents house last week. My father still eats it.

Twinkies and Devil Dog snack cakes have an indelible mark on my childhood. My grandmother used to have a dedicated drawer in her kitchen where at any time in history there was a box of Twinkies and or other snacks. Guaranteed! Not just when grandchildren were visiting either. My grandmother as sure as rain had on hand at ALL times Twinkies, Devil Dogs, and out in the refrigerator in the laundry room at least a case of Yoo-Hoo. In fact, I would bet my last dollar right this second that somewhere in Virginia in my grandmother’s kitchen at this very moment is a Twinkie, Ding Dong, Devil Dog, or other reasonable facsimile of a snack cake, junk food, or candy treat with roots to this iconic company. She may not remember it and it could very well be past its published shelf life (which is in and of itself not possible), but I’d bet I am right. If I was there right now, I’d eat that damn thing and sit and cherish fond memories of my grandparents and being a small boy without a care or problem in the world one last time.

It’s a cruel world out there today.

This week I re-visited my homemade pizza recipe and finally published it in the Recipe section of this blog. I have pontificated on New York style pizza and especially making it at home here on this blog in the past. I have come to the conclusion that pizza is pretty much the best food in the world. Getting the basics down and being able pull off a good pie at home is easier then one would think. I tested and retested the basic dough recipe, oven temperatures and cook times. Its a slam dunk. I am now going to move into making my own mozzarella and I have fresh basil growing. I will plant tomatoes this spring. By June of next year, with the exception of the yeast and flour, I fully intend to make a pizza from scratch with everything 100% home grown and or killed. Yes, I will kill a hog and make my own sausage.

Pizza made in the oven, pizza made on the grill, pizza made on the Big Green Egg, I am going to document it all right here. There is too much cheap shitty pizza out there, and I am going to prove we do not need to put up with that garbage.

It just occurred to me. How in the 7th level of hell can we as a country watch the maker of Twinkie and Wonder Bread cease to exist, yet that bullshit Domino’s, Papa Johns, and Pizza Hut can survive through a plague?

Well, not on my watch. YOU NEED ME ON THAT WALL! Can you handle the truth? They can have my pizza when they pry it from my cold dead hands. REMEMBER THE ALAMO and THE TWINKIE!

So that’s where we are on this Friday before Thanksgiving. I got a recipe for Turkey shepherds pie. Its a great way to get rid of leftovers. I’ll put it in the recipe section next week.

Be safe, have fun, love one another and enjoy the weekend.

Let ‘er rip, tater chip!

Turkey Pot Pie

In this recipe we’ll explore a very simple and easy to make turkey pot pie.

While I show and make my turkey pot pies in a fancy little pot pie maker from Williams Sonoma, do not fear. You can use this exact recipe to make a normal sized pot pie in a pie plate/dish in a conventional oven.

This recipe is good for getting rid of a lot of leftovers in in the fridge. You can also use this exact same recipe for Chicken Pot Pie, if you want to replace the word turkey for chicken. Its the exact same thing. I had turkey to get rid in my case.

I have broken this recipe down into three parts. Stock, Pie Dough and Pie Filling. Divide and conquer then it all falls into place with very little work.


You need about 2-1/2 cups of chicken stock for this recipe. You can certainly buy chicken stock in the grocery store and use it. If you enjoy cooking you know most good recipes call for good stock. I like having stock on hand. It keeps just fine in the refrigerator and you can use it in anything. Rice, potatoes, anywhere you need water in a recipe you can substitute chicken stock to add or increase flavor. You like gravy? Then you know about stock. Its easy enough to buy stock in the store. Here is the problem. Its absolutely loaded with sodium. Even the lower sodium options are still full of salt. Its just a fact of life with store bought stock.

Watch how easy it is to make your own stock to have on hand when ever you want.

Do you eat chicken? What do you do with the leftover bones and carcasses and necks? You throw ’em away don’t you? Well stop. Every time you make chicken, save the bones and necks and wing tips and put them into a zip lock freezer bag and freeze them. I do this all the time. (If I remember) I’ll have a bag of chicken bones / part in the freezer for six months or more. Don’t even care about freezer burn. When I get a bag full of chicken bones and parts its time to make stock.


  • 2 onions quartered
  • 3 carrots busted up
  • 3 celery stalks busted up
  • 1 gallon of water (or whatever your stock pot can hold)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper
  • Chicken bones parts and pieces. (I don’t even know what the hell I had in the bag, I think there was a turkey breast from 2011, some chicken bones and wings etc)

You don’t have to peel the onions or carrots or cut up the celery. Just chop and or break it all up into chunks that will fit in pot with the chicken pieces. Put it all into a good sized stock pot or large pot and cover with tap water.

This is important. It all goes into the pot cold with just regular tap water. Then you turn on the heat to medium high. You want to start cold.

When the pot just begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium / medium-low. You want the pot to just barely bubble along, NOT rapid boil. You do this for a couple reasons, but mostly to keep from getting a cloudy stock. You want your stock nice and clear.

You are going to simmer the water gently for about 2 -1/2 hours. The stock will reduce but thats ok. You are concentrating flavor. In the end you will wind out with about 2 to 3 quarts of stock.

After 2-1/2 hours turn off heat and let it cool on the stove for 20-30 minutes. After it has cooled off a bit, strain the stock into a container large enough to hold the liquid. Discard the bits and pieces of vegetable and bones.


Refrigerate the strained liquid. The fat in stock will solidify at the top when you refrigerate the liquid. You can then spoon this off before you using the stock. Look how easy this was to make. Fresh homemade chicken stock. You can keep this in fridge for a month or more. Use it in anything. Try it, I dare you.

Pie Dough

Pie dough is just like stock. You can buy it in the grocery store easy enough. You can also make your own any time you want with just a few basic ingredients. Pie dough isn’t hard to make. Don’t let a bunch of old ladies from church convince you that you need 300 hundred years of experience to make a good pie dough. Not true. If you follow a few steps you can make pie dough whenever you want. Good pie dough too.

You may think good pie dough is made with butter. Your grandmother may have taught you this over many years. I am going to tell you something right now. Your grandmother is wrong. Period the end. Pie dough is very simply made with Crisco shortening. Crisco shorting has two places in this world. The movie Caligula by Bob Guccione with Malcolm McDowell and pie dough. That is all plain and simple. Never forget!

I made a double batch of pie dough in this recipe. Enough to make two nine inch pies or in my case 8 mini pies. You can half this dough recipe to make one nine inch pie or four mini pies if you have a mini pie maker like mine.


  • 4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cup of VERY COLD Crisco shortening
  • 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • 8-10 tablespoons of  ice cold water

Flour salt and cold Crisco into a food processor or large bowl. Pulse in processor a few times just until the dough looks like a course corn meal. Crumbly like but still loose. It took me about 6-7 one second pulses. If you have no processor, you and use a pie dough cutter or even your hands to crush and break up the Crisco in the flour. Just remember to stop when you get to a course mealy texture.

Now, if you have a processor, while its running add the ice cold water tablespoon by tablespoon. Should get to about 8 tablespoons. The dough will all of a sudden come together into a ball. Turn off the processor. If your doing this in a bowl by hand, add the water, and combine with dough into a ball.

When the dough comes together, pour the dough out to a floured surface and knead gently together two or three times. Don’t handle too much. Divide dough into 2 or 4 equal parts depending on if you make the full double recipe of dough I show here or if you halved the recipe.

Form the divided dough into small disk like shapes, place into individual quart size zip lock bags or wrap each in plastic wrap. Freeze the dough.

Here are the key items to remember to make great pie dough. Use very cold Crisco. Work quickly and do not over handle the dough. The less you pulse and knead the dough the better. Remember we want to keep the Crisco and dough cold. Make the dough, divide the dough, wrap the dough and get it back into the freezer ASAP with as little handling and kneading as possible.

Pie Filling

Where home free lets make the filling and get this over with. I am hungry.


  • I onion diced
  • I small bag of frozen peas and carrots
  • 2-1/2 cups of your chicken stock
  • 3 cups diced up cooked turkey. I had some smoked turkey breast to get rid of but remember you can easily use chicken if you want.
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the diced up onion in a pan over medium high heat with butter and olive oil.

Sauté the onion until it gets translucent about 4-5 minutes. Next throw in the small bag of frozen peas and carrots and continue to sauté and heat the frozen vegetables. 3 or 4 more minutes.

Now its time to add the stock. Pour it in there and deglaze the pan. Add your cooked turkey too. Heat it all through. It will start to boil again. While you’re waiting for the stock to return to a boil, whisk the 2 tablespoons of flour with 1/4 cup of water. When the stock in the pan has returned to a boil add the flour slurry to the pan of boiling stock and stir well to  combine. Bring this all to a boil one last time. Stock in the pan will thicken to a gravy. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Kill the heat.

You have just made the filling. We’re in the home stretch now. Lets assemble the pot pies.

Heat your pie maker up if you’re using one or heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Get your dough from the freezer about 20 minutes before you want to use it. I took mine out when I started to make the pie filling. You can make this dough ahead of time and keep in the freezer for a week or more. Its up to you.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface to the size you need for your pie plate / dish or pie maker. If using a pie plate or glass dish spay with non-stick spray. Place dough in maker or plate and mold into place accordingly.

Fill the pie with the filling. Cover with another piece of dough and crimp the edges. If cooking in the oven, make a few slits in top of dough with a knife to allow steam to escape.

I used my pie maker and essentially do the same thing. Place into oven and cook about 30-35 minutes. You’re just cooking the dough here. Everything else is already cooked through. In the pie maker it takes me about 14 minutes. So keep your eyes on your pies no matter what method you choose to cook them in.

That’s all there is to it. You just made from scratch turkey pot pies. You know exactly whats in the pies and none of the commercial preservatives and yellow number 6 food color crap.

A little involved? Mmmm yeah. But the satisfaction of making something this good is worth it. I make the small pies in the pie maker and freeze a bunch of them. You can make one or two pies and even freeze the big ones to eat another day. Just reheat in the oven at 350 until heated through.

We don’t get much fall or winter here in Florida to enjoy this hearty type wintery food, but you northerners don’t lack any cold to bust these out. Try these. Just don’t eat one while watching the movie Caligula.