Savory Pie – Not Quite a Recipe


I’ve been meaning to write this up for a while now. For a few years, I’ve been making savory pies for dinner. I made up a duck pie and served it to some North Texas friends, with good reviews. LawDog got a mouth full of it and blurted out, “Oh Gawd that’s good! You made this?” Dorothy Grant asked me for the recipe. Happy to oblige, I assured her that I’d write it up. Then, I sat down to my laptop to do just that, and went blank. Recipe. *tapping fingers on desk* Right. That’s one of those things that tells people the details on how to cook something. Hrrrm.

See, I’m kind of weird. I don’t really do the whole “recipe” thing. Maybe I’ll kind of “follow” a recipe once or twice to figure out how to make something, but then I wind up tailoring it to my taste for subsequent preparations. And, although my savory pies may taste like magic, there’s really nothing magical in the making. Honestly, this whole thing started when we had a bunch of green tomatoes at the end of the season. We didn’t really know what to do with them, and so they became a green tomato pie. since then, pie has become a way to deal with leftovers. It may seem a little gauche to serve your leftovers to your friends and family, but really; I will often prepare more than the three of us can eat in a sitting so I will have materials for a subsequent pie. So, rather than spelling out a recipe here, I’m going to try to explain the science behind the pies in question.

I’ve got a few old Pyrex pie plates. These things are awesome. You can make up a pie, cover it with foil and freeze it. These will go straight from the freezer into the oven without issue. They clean up easily, and store well. When your pie is in the oven, you can see the crust to monitor how done it is. If you don’t have any, you should acquire some. Look for them in junk shops and estate sales, and expect to pay between $.50 and $2.00. If you make your own pie crusts, great. I use the pre-made store bought ones. When the local grocery puts them on sale for under a buck a pair, I usually stock up and put them in the freezer.

The basics of my pies fillings are a mix of meat and starch, in the range between 50/50 to 65/35, the balance going either way, with some kind of binding agent. I have blended the filling all together in the past, but more recently have had great results with layering the starch and meat. If you can butter your Pyrex pie plate and roll out the dough, then this is a cinch. I usually do these two at a time

1 – Prepare the pie plate. Take a stick of butter and tear the paper off one end. Holding the butter stick by the wrapped end, smear it all over the inside of the pie plate until it is thoroughly coated. This does two things. It will act as a release agent so the baked pie slices come out cleanly, and it will help crisp up the crust. Roll out the pie crust and press it into the buttered plate.

2 – Starch layer – I like to use potatoes, but about anything starchy could be used here. about 1.25-pounds of plain, red, boiled and drained potatoes, mostly smashed into the bottom of the crust works great. I usually leave them lumpy, as the texture is nice in a pie, but mash them well enough to eliminate most air space. It never hurts to throw a few pats of butter on top here. You can also blend cheese or other delights into the potato layer. Alternatively, leftover french fries or tater tots are pretty wonderful for this layer. I used to hate leftover french fries until I started doing this. Now I plan to have leftover french fries. I suppose you could use rice or some other starchy agent with similar results, but I haven’t personally strayed much from potatoes on this part.

3 – Meat. This can be just about anything. I’ve used multiple types of beef (brisket, prime rib, pot roast), chicken (fried, boiled, roasted, grilled), pork (pulled, loin), and other things, such as duck and lobster. Tender slabs that are sliced lay into this layer fine. One of my more recent pies was brisket and ham on french fries, and it was amazing. In the case of chicken or duck, I like to pre cook it until it’s largely falling off the bone, and chunk the meat. If it’s leftover fried chicken, just break it up into bite-sized pieces and spread it evenly. Whatever kind of meat you have, lay it onto the starch layer, more or less evenly. Be careful with fowl, as it’s very easy to miss a few bones and have them wind up in the pie. If you have awesome friends like mine, they won’t mind the bones anyway.

4 – Binder – A lot of the time, whatever I’m putting together is chunked in such a way that I lack confidence that the structure will hold together on its own when served. some grated cheese in the mix helps, and adds wonderful flavor to boot! Indeed, a quarter pound of freshly grated parmesan or asiago mixed into the meat adds a lovely zest, and helps the meat to physically hold together. A half pound of grated Jarlsberg makes even the blandest of boiled chicken fit for a king’s appetite. Another great binding agent is egg. With crumbly meat such as pulled pork mixed with an egg or two makes for a delightfully firm slice of pie. With the duck, I spooned the duck fat (liquid freaking gold) off the water and added it to the mix as the primary binder and never looked back.

5 – Top that pie! I top my pies in several ways, depending on my current whim. The store bought crusts come two to a package. Sometimes, I top my pies with the second crust. If you do this, make sure to cut some kind of vent in the top. My mom always cut a “~” kind of mark in her pies, but you can do anything, even “IZ PAH!” as pictured above. Also, drop a few pats of butter on that top crust. When you bake it, the butter will melt into the crust and give it a lovely golden brown, crispy, awesomeness. I’ve been known to weave a bacon mat and top a pie with it. Thick sliced bacon usually comes about twelve or thirteen slices per pound, and a six by six woven bacon mat is awesome for all kinds of culinary tricks. If you cook, but you haven’t played with this, you need to get your butt in the kitchen and do it now! Grated or sliced cheese sometimes makes a good pie topper. Keep in mind that some cheeses tend to melt an get gooey and others will crisp and brown more. It can be good either way, as long as you’re mindful of the end results. Then, there are times that I’ve simply left the pie open on top, as I did with the aforementioned duck pie. That one got topped with freshly ground pepper and Himalayan pink salt.

6 – Store and/or bake. As previously mentioned, I usually make these two at a time, because that’s convenient to how my ingredients come out, most of the time. Your mileage may vary, of course. When I’ve made two, and it’s the three of us eating, I’ll foil cover one and throw it in the freezer for later consumption. The other one goes on the middle oven rack at 350-degrees. Cooking time may vary between a half hour and a full hour. Just keep in mind that pretty much everything inside the pie is pre-cooked. So basically, when the crust is golden brown, and your bacon is done, or your cheese looks the way you want it to, whatever egg is in there is finished, and you’re done. I usually put mine in for a half hour and then monitor it after that. Remember what I said about the Pyrex pie plates? This is where seeing through the pie plate comes in handy. From frozen, take the foil off the pie and put it on the middle oven rack at 450-degrees for a half hour. Then, turn the oven down to 350-degrees and bake as needed. My frozen pies typically take a total of anywhere between one and two hours to get done.

7 – Serve. From fresh or frozen, it’s best to let the pie sit outside the oven and cool for about fifteen minutes. Depending on the size of your pie and the appetite of your crew, you can slice these in quarters, sixths, eighths, or whatever. There were seven of us miscreants, and I sliced the duck pie into eights. I don’t know who got the eighth piece, but somebody went back for seconds. LOL! Season to taste. Sriracha or Louisiana hot sauce see heavy use in my household. A very ripe avacado sliced tops a savory pie nicely too. Other times, I like to eat them without further embellishment. Whatever you don’t immediately eat will store nicely for several days in the refrigerator, and makes awesome subsequent lunches. (Meta leftovers)


If there’s a wrong way to do this, I’m not sure I’ve discovered it yet. Growing up, leftovers were leftovers, and never became anything more interesting. Now, when they’re trying to push leftovers at family gatherings, I get all grabby. The vast majority of our leftovers go into fried rice or pies at this point, which are good enough that I don’t feel ashamed to offer them to friends and family. As I mentioned, I often cook intending to have leftovers for pie filling now. For instance, I roasted the aforementioned duckling until it was medium, cut off the breasts for dinner that night, and continued stewing the rest of it so I could bake it into a couple pies. I used to make leftover fried chicken into chicken salad sandwiches, but it makes amazing pie. Get creative with it!

So, Dorothy, I hope this helps. Kind of recipe but not a recipe, I guess. But yeah, pie is awesome, and more people should be having awesome pie for dinner. If I can help facilitate that, the world will be a happier place. Please do let me know what you come up with in the comment section, and have fun!

And Then, There Was Beer Video

Every year, we receive a care package from with some kind of Christmas goodies in it. This weekend, there was a 12-inch cubic box on our front porch from them. I nudged it out of the way of the door with my toe and noted that it had a bit of heft to it. “I bet it’s a ham,” I remarked to Jennifer.

“What makes you think it’s a ham? Did somebody already talk about theirs on the internet?” she asked

“No,” I replied, “but I’ve seen hams packaged for shipping and that’s what it looks like to me.”

We dragged the package inside and opened it up. Not ham. Inside the box was a brand new .50-cal ammo can (sweet!), two 12-oz bricks of ground coffee from Lock ‘n Load Java, and a pair of Pmugs from Battle Mug. Now, I have long wanted a Battle Mug, but I can’t bring myself to pay the near $200 for the billet aluminum version, and I had no idea they were making a less expensive polymer version.

I sat on the couch with my new Battle Mug, stroking it and murmuring about “The Precioussss.” As one does, we have accumulated a lot of bolt-on parts. It seems you get one gun with a rail on it, and they just start turning up. I was thinking over some of the junk that we’ve wound up with to this end, and what I might be able to attach to this crime against nature. And then, it hit me! We have a quick-disconnect 1/4×25 camera mount! And, I’ve got a 1/4×25 tripod to GoPro mount adapter! Scaring my family with maniacal cackling, I took off down the hall and came back with the necessary pieces to secure my GoPro Hero to the Battle Mug.

“Oh no,” Jennifer sighed as I assembled this stroke of genius insanity. As it turns out, my dad’s birthday was on Sunday, and he wanted to spend it at his favorite German-style beer garden in downtown Oklahoma City.

So, there we were, sitting at our bench when the server approached the table. I picked out a beer and asked her, “can you serve it in this?” As I held up the monstrosity proudly.

“Um…” she seemed skeptical.

“It’s like 25-ounces,” I said, as though that had any bearing.

“No,” she clarified, “I’m sure we can work something out, I just don’t want to break it.”

“Oh, you can’t break it,” I assured her, “they throw these things out of airplanes and stuff.”

Indeed, the beer cam was quite the hit. It was a great conversation starter and overall good time. And as promised, beer video:

Note to FCC: None of this stuff was given in return for any kind of review.


Here in the Evyl Robot Empyre, we eat a lot of eggs. They’re a cheap source of good protein and fats, they can be prepared in many different ways, and they just taste good. There’s not a whole lot of food that is more enjoyable than eggs collected from home-kept birds. Unfortunately, city code won’t allow the keeping of laying birds on a postage stamp property such as the one on which we live. Yesterday, Jennifer saw a message on MyFace from one of our mutual friends who we met years ago at Appleseed. She posted the question of whether anyone would want some free eggs as her chickens and quail have been more prolific than her family could consume and that they were “swimming” in eggs. Um. Yes please. Jennifer told our friend that we’d take as many eggs as she felt like pitching our direction; that they surely would not go to waste.

I was afraid that (but fully prepared to) I’d have to drive out to the boondocks to collect on the offer, but she specified that she wanted to meet for delivery at a school that is almost two miles from my home. SCORE! This morning I drove Grandpa’s truck to the school and met up with the Eggspress. There were a couple other people who met up with her to take egg donations as well. She had mentioned that she was also taking donations on used egg cartons as her family reuses them and never buys eggs at the store. Jennifer and I had quite a few of them saved up that we were going to try to start seeds in, but we’d given up on that idea so I bagged them up for her.

She rather hesitantly said, “Jennifer said you’d take as many as I’d give you so…” and she proceeded to pull out multiple egg cartons. She explained that the dozen chicken eggs were unwashed so I’d need to rinse them prior to consumption. She also explained that the other chicken egg cartons had two dozen quail eggs each, in addition to handfuls of 10-egg quail cartons. She asked if I could save the smaller cartons for her as she reuses them. I offered to let her take those with her and transfer the contained eggs to some of the chicken egg cartons. She thought that was a good idea so we stood there, transferring eggs between cartons on the cooler in the bed of the pickup; chatting about raising birds, Appleseed, and shooting in general. Of course, I thanked her profusely and headed home. Upon my return, I decided that I had better inventory my haul.


That’s 183 quail eggs. That’s 183 dark and sultry, buttery, tasty bite size morsels. I accidentally dropped one on the floor while counting. The membrane under the shell is tough enough that it didn’t leak though. So I ate that one. Including the chicken eggs she gave us and the grocery eggs that we already had in the refrigerator, that makes a total of 212 eggs in the refrigerator. Guess what’s for dinner tonight? When we eat eggs, I usually have three jumbos. It takes about three quail eggs to equal one jumbo. It usually takes about four home raised chicken eggs to equal three jumbos. So, if I was eating these alone, and ate them every day, it would take me about a month to consume what we have in there. That might make me tired of eggs, and I don’t want to get tired of eggs. Then again, we do have a teenage boy here. Somehow, I suspect that we’re still going to come up with some pickled quail eggs before all is said and done.

our friend said that once we’re ready to start keeping our own quail, we can get live eggs from her for hatching. Apparently, start up is far more successful with local eggs than ordered ones. I suppose that makes sense. When we move, I’m pretty sure we’ll be working this into the plan. In the meantime, I’m glad when someone else can’t eat all the eggs their birds produce and we get the overflow.

Central Oklahoma Gunblogger Schutenfest 2014 – Things Learned


Haphazardly throwing meat on fire will get the job done, but properly rubbing it and painstakingly monitoring temperatures produces better results. I think we proved this with pork ribs, beef brisket, and even squirrel.


It’s always a good time for recreational archery, and a worn out archery target is not at all useless. Please see below.

You know the party has warmed up when the swords come out.

It’s awful fun to hack up a used up archery target with a Scottish claymore.

Sitting by the smoker all day is simultaneously relaxing and exhausting.


No matter how well organized you think you are, you will forget something. Targets, tripods, the other camera, revolvers…

Shooting is a depreciable skill, and I personally am not putting in nearly enough trigger time lately.

Rifles should always outnumber people 2:1 in any civilized gathering. A higher concentration of them is even better.


With many thousands of dollars worth of hardware laying about, sometimes it’s the $4 vinyl decal that steals the show.


Trophies make good targets.


Pulling out a life sized mannequin and placing her downrange will excite a line of shooters the same way the ice cream truck does kids in the park.

And then, a half pound of Tannerite will blow her into more pieces than you can count.


If you want someone to try your gun, seize the opportunity to shove it into their hand along with ammo at the first opportunity.

There’s no better way to wear yourself into exhaustion than a day at the range.


A windy night will do remarkable things to a 40-foot tarp left out.

There’s a lot of fun to be had even on the clean up day.

Often, a $200 rifle is just as much fun as a $2,000 rifle, even when each of them was fully worth the respective purchase price. You’ll probably want at least one of each.

Make sure you have enough charged batteries for all the cameras you might want to run.

You can in fact have too many tripods. This is a relieving, good problem to have.

A home made long bow with a ~40-lb draw weight will launch an arrow at over 100fps and least 100-yards, although the arrow is nearly impossible to track with a camera.

A pound of Tannerite will reduce 120 eggs to a fine layer of goo and tiny shell fragments faster than you can say, “Woah!” Pics and stuff forthcoming.

Overall lessons from the weekend:

When the event is over, you can simultaneously be relieved to get back to normal life and saddened that it couldn’t last longer.

The third weekend in March is a less than ideal calendar date for an event like this.

Sporting clays apparently reproduce. As long as we keep hosting this event, I’m confident I’ll never have to buy another box of the things. Then again, it’s hard to have too many.

There’s no way to accurately guess how much food will be needed in advance, but we got pretty close this time.

I should already know by now, but a gray tarp would be better to photograph and take video on than a blue one.

As wonderful as it is to see the friends who came, and as grateful as you can be for their attendance, there’s always room to miss the ones who couldn’t make it.

Another Great Commercial

I’ve explained before that I love a good commercial. Uncreative commercials are boring at best and sometimes outright irritating, but when they are done right, they become a form of entertainment all of their own. When advertisement first hit YouTube heavily, I was not impressed. However in the current format, where you can opt to skip the commercial after the first fifteen seconds, it’s forced many marketers to step up their game. If they can sell you on the commercial in the first fifteen seconds, then you might just watch the rest. This approach causes the quality to come up overall. Check out this Totino’s commercial:

Classic! And, it’s holiday-appropriate too. To that end, do have a happy Halloween. Let’s get some kids all sugared up tonight!

KTKC 2013 Day 27, Recap from Yesterday

As you all know by now, the least sane of us have been kilted this month to raise awareness about male specific cancers, and to seek sponsorship in the endeavor to benefit related charities. Please feel free to throw some bucks at my Prostate Cancer Foundation page.

Sometime last week, we ran out of paycheck at the end of the bills. This happens more often in September than any other time of the year. Especially when we just upgraded phones. And, accidentally lost $500 to an embarrassing clerical error. Oops. On Wednesday, we ran out of coffee. Yesterday, I decided to use Coca Cola as my caffeine delivery system, but my body wasn’t having any of that nonsense.

For a while, my uncle was brewing green coffee, as he had read that it was the new, popular ‘superfood’ that would cure all that ails you. He got tired of drinking green coffee and gave me half a bag of green Brazilian santos that he no longer had any use for. Last summer was entirely too hot to roast coffee, as is produces entirely too much smoke to roast indoors, and consequently I still have quite a bit of this hanging around. So, yesterday, I dug out the roaster that I made out of a popcorn popper and a grill thermometer, and threw a pound of green santos in it on the grill’s side burner.


Once the beans achieved the proper color, aroma, and sound, they went into the colander to remove the chaff.


Update – sorry. I got twitchy on my publish button, apparently.

While the coffee beans were cooling, Jennifer and I put together a couple of smoked tri tip roast quiches with home grown parsnips, onions, and basil, topped with white cheddar. We baked one for dinner and threw the other in the freezer for next time. Over dinner we watched classic Doctor Who with Teen Bot. After Teen Bot went to bed, we pickled up jalapeƱo hybrids* and pear tomatoes from our garden with some garlic chunks. Although I’m a little disappointed at the anemic production of our garden over the last few years, yesterday reminds me that we really are producing quite a bit of our own stuff. As we sat and relaxed before bed, I commented that I wish my shoulder wasn’t bothering me so much because I’d like to get that couch cushion stitched shut finally.

Again, please do consider sponsoring me in this year’s KTKC drive. You can donate here. We only have three more days to go!

*Having planted our peppers too close together this year, they apparently cross-pollinated. Our best guess is that our jalapeƱos crossed with our habaneros, or possibly some kind of demon. They are bright red and wicked hot.

Guns and Coffee?

I’m not going to bother linking to everyone in this post, but it seems like every gun blogger and his or her dog has weighed in on the non-committal letter from Starbutts concerning company policy on the carrying of guns. Here’s a link to the letter from the CEO, if you don’t have navel lint to gaze at or grass to watch growing, or sand to count, or any other more gainful thing to do with your time. Otherwise, I’ll summarize the new ‘policy’ for you:

Starbutts managment has decided that they don’t want to be a soapbox for the gun debate. They just want to sell bad coffee. They aren’t going to put up gun buster signs, and their “partners,” i.e. minimum-wage employees, won’t ask you to leave or refuse you service, but they would really prefer that you not come to their establishment armed. They won’t call the cops or anything, “but come on, guys! Please?”

In my home state, as well as many others, a business can put up a sign. If they don’t want guns in their establishment, they may post a sign that is “clearly visible at the entrance.” If you ignore this sign and enter anyway, you are not breaking the law anyway. If any worker at the establishment happens to notice your gun and if they then happen to give a trickle of whiz that you have ignored the sign, they may at that point ask you to vacate the premises. You still have not fallen afoul of the law if you turn heel at this point and find something better to do. If however, at this point you refuse to leave, they may call the police and you may be held liable for trespassing. In other words, there are a lot of ‘ifs’ to get through in order to make it illegal to carry a gun on private property here. What does that all mean for Starbutts and their new “policy” you might ask. Not so much as a hill of beans. Not even overpriced, former coffee beans that have the flavor completely roasted out of them.

And, what does this all mean to me? Just a little less than the aforementioned hill of tortured beans. I’ma tellya why too! Years ago, I started ordering my coffee beans online from these guys, mostly because none of the local groceries carried good coffee. CCM Coffee ships their coffee within 24-hours of roasting it, so it all tastes fresh and fantastic. You typically want to consume your coffee within a week or two of roasting it for the best flavor. For perspective, your typical canned coffee was roasted sometime since the Pleistocene. I only ordered a pound or two at a time because we couldn’t drink it before it went stale if I ordered it at higher quantities for a discount. Then, I started ordering green coffee beans in quantity, and home roasting in small volume to meet our coffee drinking needs. At this point, there’s a frou frou grocery store within walking distance of our home that has a couple dozen varieties of high-quality coffee (far better quality than Starbutts uses), reasonably priced; so I’ve pretty well fallen out of home roasting anymore.

The whole coffee beans go into a burr grinder, of which we have two (two is one, one is none). When it’s precisely ground to spec, it gets brewed with filtered water in our Briel Domus Uno espresso machine. Incidentally, Starbutts used to use good Briel machines, until they replaced them all with automatics once they found that a typical, minimum-wage barista can’t run a good machine reliably, even though I’m pretty sure I could train my Siamese to do it. Sometimes I’ll sweeten with a touch of raw agave nectar, and/or add a splash of milk, cold or steamed, depending on my mood. I usually drink it black. If you tell an average, knuckle-dragging barista that you want a double or triple shot of strait espresso, they will likely look at you like you just sprouted horns. Plus, I may or may not get dressed before I have my coffee. Try that at Starbutts!

Ten bucks will get you a pound of coffee that will make approximately fifty espresso shots, if I’m guestimating right. You won’t use a gallon of milk before it goes bad if this is all you do with it. A quart-sized bottle of agave nectar is about seven bucks and lasts me six months. Figure $.20 per shot on the beans and maybe a penny to sweeten your drink. Even if you go triple shot, with milk, you’re looking at well under a buck for a latte. Needless to say, I’m not spending money at coffee shops. Between equipment cost (~$300-$500 for a decent machine, plus ~$50 for a grinder) prorated over the years it will last (current setup here has been running fine for over five years so far) and expendable supplies (see above), it’s pennies on the dollar to brew at home as compared to going out for coffee. Plus, you get a far superior cup of joe.

Over the last few years, when the troops were rallied to support Starbutts for their refusal to ban us for our guns and to make up for their loss of business on the antis boycott, Jennifer and I would begrudgingly wander into the corner coffee shop and spend $20 on their crap as an act of solidarity. I can confidently say that Starbutts won’t be getting our $20 a year anymore. Boy, that’ll hurt! With the amounts I know other people are spending on coffee, and how those green and white signs seem to sprout out of the ground like weeds, they aren’t going to miss our $20, and we won’t miss their coffee. I know that some people are getting a little more worked up about this than others. I just don’t see it as much of an issue, one way or another, on any given level. Oh and, we’re still doing Kilted To Kick Cancer. Please take a minute and go donate here. Thanks you!