Roots Latkes

Most kids, upon reviewing what they ate during college, will talk about late night burrito runs. There will be a fair share of ramen noodle stock-up stories, and an assessment of the school’s dining facilities. For a student who has moved off campus, such a topic is likely to provoke a discussion of microwaveable meals. I had my share of those as well, I’ll readily admit, particularly during the month after a stunningly disorienting and unexpected breakup during which I subsisted mainly on Coca-Cola, boxed stuffing mix, Godiva ice cream, and carne asada burritos to-go from a restaurant next door to the grocery store where I was buying the rest of my supplies.

Food Blog November 2014-0694Thankfully, that month or so was an exception. For much of my off-campus college career, I lived with one other girl in a duplex her mom rented to us, and we fed each other. Sometimes it was easy stuff: pancakes, omelets, pasta with jarred red sauce, sometimes something a bit junkier like Oreo milkshakes. But we definitely introduced each other to our classics. One of mine was a modification of an old Ghirardelli oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. One of hers was a simple, lovely little roasted vegetable dish her family just called “roots.” Roots consisted of, well, roots. Russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, and sometimes beets got peeled, cubed, and tossed with salt, pepper, and olive oil. The first time she made it for us, K. said that she wasn’t sure how much olive oil to use, but that her mom said it should be just enough that the raw cubes of vegetables “glistened.” Then we loaded them into large glass casserole dishes and roasted them until they were done.

Food Blog November 2014-0681Roots comprised whole meals for us during those years. Sometimes there would be some kind of green side, but mostly we just sat down (never at the table, always on the couch) with big bowls of autumnal cubes, toasty and brown on the outside, starchy and pillowy soft on the inside, and inhaled them. It was reasonably good for us, it was filling, it was delicious, and best of all, it was cheap. The biggest disadvantage to the whole endeavor was getting a cashier at the grocery store who didn’t recognize “weird” vegetables like rutabagas and parsnips, and would take a long time looking up the codes to ring them up.

Food Blog November 2014-0682Over the years, I’ve made roots more times than I can count. They are a lovely comfort food dish: simple to make, hot and forgiving, and easily changed up depending on what vegetables and herb combinations you like the best. Over time, I’ve eliminated beets from the equation, and opted to add plenty of chopped rosemary to the requisite salt, pepper, and olive oil.

But recently, I got thinking about roots again and wondered what it would be like to turn these simple cubed, roasted vegetables into a latke. This would increase the ratio of crisp edges to soft interior, always a good thing, and cut down a bit on preparation as well as cooking time – you can just shred everything in a food processor before frying it up, rather than cubing by hand before waiting out the hour or more the original takes in the oven.

Food Blog November 2014-0687This was, as it turned out, exactly the right thing to do. I opted for potato, carrot, parsnip, and rutabaga as my key players. They whiz into a tangle of starchy threads. Half an onion joins the party – it’s part of a standard latke, and it’s a root vegetable too. As a nod to the common practice of serving latkes with applesauce, I added a tart green apple to the vegetable combination and was pleased with the sweet sharpness it contributed. And I preserved my own love of rosemary with a hefty tablespoon in the mix.

A few eggs, a toss with some flour, and salt and pepper to season, and you carefully drop-pour dollops of the sticky mixture into hot vegetable oil, preferably in a nicely seasoned cast iron pan. It sizzles, it browns, you flip it, and within ten minutes from your first addition of batter, you are passing out hot roots latkes to your delighted diners. Or, if you want to serve everything together, you can stow each batch in the oven on a rack in a baking tray to keep them warm and crisp.

Food Blog November 2014-0690What you are left with is a reasonably quick, reasonably easy (both provided you have a food processor with a shredding disk) meal that doesn’t cost much but tastes exactly right for the approach of chillier weather. The flavors are more complex than your standard latke – there’s a mix of sweetness from the addition of the carrot and the apple. The parsnip and rutabaga have a spicy, earthy flavor that reminds me somehow of incense, a feeling pleasantly intensified by the rosemary.

Since I’d already captured the applesauce element by adding apple to the batter, I served these with a dollop of sour cream as a nod to another classic pairing.

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Roots latkes
Makes about a dozen  3-inch latkes
1 yukon gold potato
1 large carrot, peeled
1 large parsnip, peeled
1 medium rutabaga, peeled
1 large tart apple, cored
½ large white or yellow onion, ends and papery skin removed (either color is fine, so long as it’s not a sweet onion)
1 tablespoon minced rosemary
1-½ cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste
½-1 cup vegetable oil
Sour cream, for serving (optional)


  • Begin heating ½ cup of vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat – it will take a few minutes, but you are looking for it to just shimmer when swirled around the pan. If you plan to make the whole batch at once and need to keep them warm, preheat the oven to 300F and position a baking sheet with a wire rack on it inside the oven.
  • Fit a food processor with the shredding disk, or address the largest holes on a box grater with care for your knuckles. Cut the vegetables into the size needed to fit comfortably down the feeding chute of the food processor, and carefully feed the potato, carrot, parsnip, rutabaga, apple, and onion through the machine to create long, thin shreds of vegetable.
  • Dump the whole mess into a large bowl and mix them up a bit with your fingers to distribute evenly. You’ll be left with strands of vegetable confetti.
  • Add the rosemary and flour to the vegetable shreds and toss well with your fingers to combine. Then add the eggs and the salt and pepper, and mix well to combine. You could use a spoon or spatula for this, but I just use my fingers. They do a better job ensuring everything is evenly distributed.
  • When the oil is shimmering, plop ¼ – ⅓ cup dollops of the mixture into the oil. In my 10-inch skillet, I can fit three dollops of batter comfortably without touching – don’t crowd them. When they hit the oil, they should sizzle lightly. If the oil spits aggressively, it’s too hot. Turn the heat down or remove the pan from the heat for a minute to cool it down.
  • Sizzle the latkes for 4-5 minutes on the first side, until it is evenly golden-brown and crisp. Flip carefully (oil splatters) and cook for 2-3 minutes on the second side, until it too is brown and crisp. Move to the rack in the oven to keep warm, or directly to a plate for immediate consumption.
  • Repeat until batter is used up. If the oil level gets low or the latkes begin to brown unevenly, add additional vegetable oil to the skillet, giving it time to heat up before adding more batter.
  • Serve with sour cream, if desired, or applesauce, or just an anxious fork.

Honey Mustard Roasted Carrots

If you’re frequenting your Farmers’ Market this spring, you have probably seen the amazing bundles of carrots cropping up everywhere.  Some are knobbly and stubby and round, like little turnips, some are almost wispy-thin and well-whiskered.  The ones that drew me, and made last week’s side dish for our biscuits, were the rainbow bunches: orange and yellow, but also the vibrant, veiny purple that was probably the original color of these funny, beloved roots (orange carrots were reputedly a Dutch development: in the 17th century the color was cultivated to celebrate William of… wait for it… Orange. Harold McGee agrees on the date and location, but he doesn’t mention political motivations).
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The treatment I subjected these little bolts of spring to was so good that rather than dawdling through a lengthy bread recipe, I wanted to share these instead.  I can’t stop thinking about them (we’re probably having them with dinner again tonight), and since it is the perfect season for it, I can’t really fault us for that.
Carrots sometimes seem too straightforward: sweet and crisp, made only marginally complex by a mild grassiness.
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Liberally slicked with a mixture of honey, mustard, and olive oil, then roasted until their skins almost blackened under the heat, ours became intensely savory and yet also caramelized, homely to the eye but stunners on our tongues.  Their taut skins, lacquered with crackly coating, retained a barest crunch while the interiors just slid down our teeth like cold butter.
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(Admission: I did make bread this week: my first attempt at baguettes.  They were okay, but nothing amazing – the interior had a nice spongy crumb but the crust was a bit thicker than I like, with none of the shattering crispness that makes a really good French loaf.  They were bumpy in shape and the deep scores I made across their surface didn’t puff the way they do in bakery cases.  They were far from shameful, and tasty sliced, toasted and spread with salted butter, but still. So pedestrian. You deserved something more exciting.)
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Honey Mustard Roasted Carrots
Serves 1-2 as a side dish


This is almost too simple to be a real recipe, but a few of those are nice to have in your repertoire.  Note: cooking time and ingredient quantities may differ depending on the number and thickness of the carrots you are using.  Start with these amounts, then adjust as suits your palate and pantry.


2 bunches (12-15 individual) rainbow carrots (though I suspect any carrots would be great). If you are using a Farmers’ Market variety, you won’t even need to peel them.  The skin will caramelize beautifully, and any wispy roots clinging on will gain an addictive roasty crunch.
2 TB dijon mustard
2 TB honey
2 TB olive oil
pinch freshly ground black pepper
scant sprinkle of sea salt
  • Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • To prepare your carrots, remove the greens, scrub them well (if they are dirty), and roll them around on a clean kitchen towel to dry.
  • In a shallow dish, use the tines of a fork to combine the honey, mustard, and olive oil.  If the honey refuses to play nicely, send the mixture through 10-15 seconds in the microwave.  Add salt and pepper to taste, though I recommend under-salting just a tad.  The flavors intensify so much after roasting that you’ll only need a tiny hit of salt.
  • Toss the cleaned, dry carrots in the honey mustard mixture, then tumble them onto your baking sheet and spread them out so none are touching.  If you have too many carrots for that, at least be sure they are in a single layer.  We want as much surface area to be heat blasted as possible.
  • Place the loaded baking sheet in the oven and roast for 30-45 minutes, or until carrots are well-caramelized and tender.  This is a wide range of time, I know, but everything depends upon the size and thickness of your carrots.  Plunge the tines of a fork into your thickest specimen.  If you meet with considerable resistance, leave it in the oven for another 10-15 minutes before checking again.  If the tines slide in easily, or you get only a bit of push back from the flesh of the carrot, it’s probably ready.  Your own preferences also play a role here: roast them until they have the texture you like best.
They will be amazingly hot when they first emerge from the oven, so if they sit for a minute or two before serving, all the better.  But once you start tasting, don’t expect them to last long.

Veganize it!

I must admit to getting nervous.  Counting this week’s offerings, I’m down to 8 Bittman selections, and just over 3 weeks in which to complete them all.  If I face the honest fact that it’s unlikely I will attempt any of these concoctions during Christmas or the days that surround it, as family and I insist on old familiar dishes, reality tells me I in fact have just over 2 weeks left.

But I have a determined set to my jaw, sometimes, and I can feel it approaching.  This must be done.  It can be done.  It may mean making soup for lunch from scratch sometimes, but as I’m learning, soup doesn’t have to be something that simmers all day long.  It can be a quick meal.

It can be delicious, too.  This week’s selection is proof positive.

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“Thai Squash Soup: Simmer cubed winter squash, minced garlic, chili and ginger in coconut milk, plus stock or water to cover, until soft. Puree if you like. Just before serving, add chopped cilantro, lime juice and zest, and toasted chopped peanuts.”

This was a lunchtime experiment, because N., in one of his tragic shortcomings, doesn’t like coconut.  At first I thought it was something I could break him of.  I have, after all, in under a decade, convinced him to eat everything from sushi to quinoa to kale chips.  He is, as an eater, unrecognizable as the man I met in college.  But the coconut sensitivity is the food analogue to ESP.  He can eat a granola bar with coconut oil hidden deep in the ingredient list and say “I’m not sure I like this.”  If I don’t choose my sunscreen carefully and it happens to have that delightful coconut aroma that means it’s well and truly summer, N. tells me I smell funny.  So a coconut milk based soup had to be consumed in his absence.

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½ big butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes

1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk

½-1 cup water or vegetable stock

½ tsp red chili flakes

3-5 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tsp ginger, minced

salt to taste

2-3 TB cilantro, roughly chopped

2-3 TB peanuts (if you have a nut allergy, consider using the butternut squash seeds instead), toasted and chopped.  I used dry roasted peanuts for mine.

zest and juice of ½ a lime

Put the squash, chili, garlic, and ginger into a pot.  Add the coconut milk and, if necessary to cover the chunks of squash, water or stock.  Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

During this simmering process, don’t forsake your kitchen completely.  Coconut milk boils over, just like regular milk.  If you leave to, say, comb out your hair, do your makeup, and put a few things away, you might return to a stove swimming in chili infused coconut milk sludge sitting underneath your burners.  One of which isn’t working anymore.  Just saying…

Once the squash cubes are tender, you can choose to puree or not to puree.  I, feeling lazy, took my potato masher to them and ended up with a slightly chunky, rough textured soup that I liked the look and feel of.

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Top with garnishes and eat!

Alternative: I liked this, and the simmered squash had a nice, fresh flavor.  But I missed the caramelized depth you get when you roast it.  Were I making this again, I would roast the squash with olive oil and salt until it was tender.

While the squash roasted, I would add the spices to the coconut milk and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Then, when the squash was cooked and the milk was hot and flavorful, I would add the chunks of squash and proceed as above.

This bowl of soup was surprising.  It awoke flavors of sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter.  The squash was tender and freshly vegetal.  The coconut milk added this incredible unctuous creaminess that felt round and thick against my tongue, but the squash itself and the lime flavor kept it light and fresh and delicate at the same time.  The peanuts were the right crunch, and I surprised myself by finished an enormous bowl and feeling quite satisfied but not overly full.

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The soup wouldn’t have been right without the lime juice.  I’m learning, as I continue to cook, that acid is a seasoning just like salt or nutmeg.  This new understanding, and a little bit of experimentation, saved the next dish from being muddy and boring.

“56. Cook lentils, thyme sprigs and chopped carrots in a pot with water to cover until tender; drain and remove thyme. Cook chopped onions in oil until soft; add chopped kale and allow to wilt. Add lentils, stir to combine and cook until kale is tender. Add chopped parsley.”

With the holiday season practically upon us, this seemed like a sobering, “healthy” dinner choice which would, against all the logical reasons for eating healthy, permit us to have cake for dessert.

1 cup lentils

12-15 baby carrots, quartered lengthwise, chopped into small rounded triangles

6 sprigs thyme

4 small whole cloves garlic

½ red onion, chopped

2 cups kale

2 TB parsley

sprinkle of red wine vinegar to taste

I put the lentils, carrots, thyme, and – in a flash of inspiration – garlic in a pot and added water according to the lentil package directions (depending upon what color lentils you use, you may need more or less water).  I added a bit extra, since I realized the carrots might benefit from some bubbling too.  I let them simmer for about 35 minutes, at which point the lentils were just barely still resistant between my teeth.

Never enthusiastic about using multiple pots, I dumped the lentil mixture into a strainer and then, with a bit of olive oil to lubricate the surface, sauteed the chopped onions in the same, now-empty pot.  When they were just beginning to turn golden around the edges, I added the kale and a sprinkle of salt.  Softening the onions and wilting the kale took about ten minutes.

After the kale had collapsed a bit, I dumped the lentil mixture back in, folded it gently in with the greenery, and let them stew over low heat until the kale was the texture I like.  I tasted and felt the muddiness of the lentils and carrots: winter vegetables are wonderful, but sometimes the heaviness they impart is reminiscent of the dirt from which they were pulled.  Lentils, though they aren’t root vegetables at all, tend to have a similar effect.

This was my inspiration point.  Only a few drops of red wine vinegar pulled the flavors up out of the garden ditch they’d been wallowing in and made them interesting and individual again.  Add the vinegar and chopped parsley at the last moment.

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I mounded this on our plates and topped it with a tuna steak (I know, that’s not vegan.  But the Bittman is, and that’s what matters here!).  It would have been better with salmon – the more delicate meatiness would have contrasted nicely against the lentils and carrots.  The tuna was almost too dense a pairing, calling back to the muddiness of the pre-vinegared dish.  Lamb rubbed with harissa, or maybe even a grilled portobello or a big steak of tofu, pressed, dried, and rubbed with a marinade that involved roasted red peppers, are other potentially promising pairings.

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* As the year draws to a close, I’m thinking a lot about friends I’m now physically far from.  This title celebrates two of them: M. and Ph.  Both became unintentional vegans due to food allergies, and M. is fond of exclaiming, of dishes she likes the sound of but cannot eat thanks to its animal product ingredients, “I’m going to try to veganize it!”  So here you go, ladies: these are pre-veganized.  And gluten-free.  And yummy.  What more could you ask for?!

Snakes and Ladders

It’s a classic children’s game.  Climb a ladder: advance!  Land on a snake: tumble backwards.  And so it goes with most ventures.  Last week newness delighted me.  This week I’m plodding a bit, experiencing not setbacks, exactly, but settling for lackluster(ness?)(ocity?).  I’m discovering things I don’t love about my syllabus.  I’m wading through class prep.  Students are still (still!  The third week is about to start!  Papers will be due soon!) adding my classes, which means I am overenrolled and there are new faces every day.  And though I’m mostly inspired in my kitchen, not every dish is a triumph.  Some slip a little.  Some slither into lackluster.  But it’s our job, as cooks, as experimenters, as eaters, as humans – and pardon me while I get a bit metaphorical – it’s our job to take this as a challenge.  Make it work, as Tim Gunn continually reminds us.  So we squirm ourselves around and push back toward the ladders.  And sometimes, even after a devastating slide, we climb a few steps.

70. Blanch, shock in cold water, then julienne green beans, daikon and carrots, chill. Whisk soy sauce with honey and lemon to taste; pour over vegetables.”

The most important thing to note about this particular Bittman combo is to leave yourself enough time, particularly if your knife skills are not perfect.  It is not possible to concoct this dish in anything but a zone of utter frustration and simmering disappointment if you only have twenty minutes until dinnertime.  Here’s what I did:

3 carrots, peeled and cut into thick sticks

1 6-inch chunk daikon, peeled and cut into thick sticks

½ lb. green beans, rinsed and stemmed

3 TB soy sauce

2 TB lemon juice

1-2 TB honey

I dropped the carrot and daikon sticks into a big pot of boiling, salted water and let them cook for 2-3 minutes, until they had give between my teeth but still put up a bit of resistance.  I plunged them into ice water and put the tailed green beans into the boil.  This was the point at which I ran into trouble.  Performing a nice julienne on a pile of veg takes some time and some patience, and on this particular day I lacked both.

Nevertheless, cut each thick stick of carrot and daikon into thin slices (Food Network calls them panels), then turn those slices to cut long, thin vertical strips.  You want uniformity but also thinness, since these are only partially cooked, and you want even quantities of carrot slivers and daikon slivers.

At this point the green beans were overboiled and the sausages – the other component of our meal – were almost done on the grill, so I shifted into I-don’t-care-how-it-comes-out-just-get-it-done overdrive.  It happens.  You should julienne the green beans.  I just sliced them into strange vertical halves.  You should chill the whole salad until nice and crisp – probably at least half an hour – after lovingly tossing the thin sticks of orange, white and green together.  I shoved the bowl in the freezer for five minutes while I made the dressing.

I whisked the soy, honey, and lemon together and was satisfied with the flavor.  Were I making this again, I would definitely increase the quantity of lemon juice and maybe even add some zest, but I say it’s up to you.  Play with the combination until you like the ratios.

Dressed, the vegetables had a pleasant texture and tasted well seasoned, but the salad as a dish was missing something.  N. and I agreed that the dressing was a little one-note, and that note was soy sauce.  Flavorwise, things were also a bit on the dull side.  Red pepper flakes or raw garlic, we decided, or more or different acid, would have helped things along.  Maybe some chives or lemongrass or ginger or cilantro, and certainly pairing this Asian-flavored dressing with something other than Italian sausages, would have been the right move.

And so, in my attempts to slither back into success, I considered the leftovers.  They weren’t stars, but they could perhaps be supporting players.  In fact, though they were not the traditional combination, they seemed not so different from the vegetables that go into a bahn mi sandwich.  Setting off to work a morning or two later, therefore, I slathered a crisp roll with mayonnaise, piled up a good portion of drained veggie slivers and, lacking lunchmeat, topped the whole thing with slices of pepperjack cheese.  I know.  Cheese is not part of bahn mi either.  But jalapeño slices usually are, and the vegetables were crying for spice anyway.  It wasn’t the best sandwich I’ve ever had.  But it wasn’t a disaster either.  It was a few steps forward.  Keep moving forward.  On to the next ladder!


This is not a Bittman recipe.  But it is something I made.  It’s hearty, it’s autumnal, it’s colorful, and it’s easy.  Oh, and it allows you to turn your oven on for around an hour and thereby heat up your house a bit!

Roasted Root Vegetables

3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks

2 purple topped turnips, peeled and cut into chunks

2 rutabegas, peeled and cut into chunks (see a pattern here?)

1 sweet potato (or 1/2 of a mammoth yam), peeled and cut into chunks

1 tsp dried rosemary, or to taste

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

olive oil to coat

Preheat your oven to 400F.  Peel and cut all vegetables into equal, bite-sized chunks.  Toss them with seasonings and olive oil in a 9×13 inch glass baking dish.  Use enough olive oil so that all chunks of root vegetable get an even coating and glisten slightly.  Depending on size of vegetables, this might range from between 1/2 – 1 cup of oil.

Roast until all vegetables are tender and begin to brown on the outside, 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size.

As you can see, this is almost ridiculously easy.  You can substitute for any of these vegetables you don’t like – easy additions or change-outs would be regular or fingerling potatoes, beets, even celery root.  Choose what you love, mix them well, and enjoy!

Turkey Pot Pie

I have discovered that, much as I enjoy baking, I am not and may never be a master of the finicky, temperamental beast that is homemade pie crust.  Fortunately, this did not hinder me when I embarked on my major repurposing-Thanksgiving-leftovers meal last week.  No, I shamelessly bought a package of pre-made pie crusts to lovingly enclose a turkey pot pie.

We had a big turkey this year, and after stripping off the meat and making stock from the bones, I decided both could be put to good use in a pie.  Since the weather has been so chilly, baking is a good way of warming up the house and therefore a good way of choosing dinners.  Never having attempted pot pie before, I surveyed a few likely looking sources for potential recipes before scrapping them all and making it up myself.  Here’s how it went down:

I chopped up three or four cloves of garlic, about ¼ cup of onion, and five or six cremini mushrooms, which I sweated down in olive oil until they were soft.  While this was happening, I chopped up a couple of carrots and a handful of fingerling potatoes into small pieces.  I tossed these into the pot with the aromatics along with some poultry seasoning and a splash of white wine, and then added about 2 cups of turkey stock and heavy cream stirred briefly together.  In a flash of genius, I realized this was an opportunity to use up the mushroom gravy my mom had made for the big Thanksgiving meal.  Everyone seems to stress about gravy – avoiding lumps, getting the right consistency, producing a good flavor without drowning the sauce in salt, and then it doesn’t get used up.  It coagulates into a strange, meaty jelly in the refrigerator and just doesn’t microwave right.  Most years we throw the leftovers away.  But mixed into my pot pie filling, it melted back into a slightly thickened liquid, bringing all its flavor with it.  I added some extra poultry seasoning and slapped the lid of my pot on to let the vegetables cook.

In the mean time, I assessed the crust situation.  Thanks to one of my cookbooks, I had decided to do a lattice top crust.  I’ve never made a lattice top crust before.  It looked daunting.  Helpfully, I found a diagram of how to do it, so while the potatoes and carrots slowly softened I cut my top crust into about twelve strips of semi-even thickness with the tip of one of my sharper knives.

When the potatoes and carrots were almost done, I added a handful of green beans to the filling, probably around a cup of frozen peas, and about two tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with water.  That way the filling could thicken while the green beans cooked.  When things were thickened up nicely, I carefully slopped the steaming filling into the bottom pie crust, which I had carefully laid into my pie plate.

I carefully completed the lattice-work top (I don’t think I can explain without step-by-step pictures, which I unfortunately neglected to take, but it’s not quite as complicated as it looks) and then brushed it with an egg wash.  There was a little bit of filling and a few strips of crust left, so I made two mini-pot pies in tiny corningware dishes to use up the remainders before putting everything into the oven.

After 40 minutes or so at 425F, the pot pie was done.

The crust was golden and crunchy, the insides smelled delicious, and even though the whole first piece I cut fell completely apart, it was glorious.  Though N. enjoys my cooking, he is usually demure about his compliments, but not this time.  He proclaimed “I think I love this,” after only a bite or two, which I interpreted as ultimate triumph.  The veggies were tender but not mushy, the sauce had bubbled up on the sides and had a rich, meaty flavor, and the turkey itself was as delicious as it had been fresh off the bird.  I used only dark meat, which I think kept things moist and extra flavorful.  We glutted ourselves on turkey pot pie, and life was good.