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Over the last few years I’ve baked pies from scratch. Like quilting, it is easy to understand why preparing dough by hand could easily become a lost art for the amateur baker. If a holiday pie is on the menu, instead of store bought, consider wowing the crowd by bringing a homemade pie.
After creating several decent-but-mediocre pies, I’ve learned a few tricks that have dramatically improved my results. A self-proclaimed baking neophyte, I humbly offer you the following advice based on personal trial and error. Going against popular modern instruction (including Martha), I declare the food processor the foe of flaky crust. Cut the fat into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter and a little effort. Most beginner pie makers overwork the dough which results in a shortbread-like crust consistency. Since switching to the cutter from the processor, the previously illusive flaky texture is now literally within my grasp. The recipe for pie crust only requires 3-5 simple ingredients: 3 cups flour + 1 cup butter and/or shortening (I use 1/2 cup of each) + as little ice cold water as possible (1/8-1/4 of a cup) , a pinch of salt and a skosh of sugar (about 2 tbsps). Cut abut half the water into the dough with the pastry cutter and reserve the other half to dribble on as needed once the crumbly dough is transferred to the location where you plan to roll it. Add water conservatively, keeping in mind the fat should hold it together. It took me quite awhile to get comfortable with the relative dryness of the dough. Immediately after forming the dough into a mound, use a greased fondant roller to roll an 1/8 inch thin round. Form into a shape that generously exceeds the diameter of your intended pie pan. Not sure? Turn the pan upside down and use a knife to cut around it, leaving yourself at least a 3 inches all the way around the circumference. For the lattice, cut strips from the remaining dough. Some strips should exceed the diameter of the pie pan. Refrigerate the crust after it’s rolled and formed rather than chilling the dough and then trying to roll it. If you choose apple filling, I learned you really don’t have to pre-cook the apples as is generally recommended. As for type of apple, the cheap and ubiquitous organic Granny Smith works great. Peel and thinly slice the apples. In a large bowl, bathe the sliced apples in sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Let the mixtures stand for a half hour and then use a slotted spoon to transfer the filling into the pie.
Weave a lattice with strips of dough you cut while rolling out the pie. Dot the top with butter. Use a foil lined catch pan in the likely event the pie juice simmers over. Try the lowest rack of the oven for a crispier bottom crust.
As the sun revs up for summer, clean your windows and bathe in the brightness that shines through polished glass.For optimal results, try enjoyable Sprayway Glass Cleaner paired with lint-free flour sack towels. Martha would have your ass out there with a squeegee, but a more realistic, if less effective method is to spray the exterior windows with a high pressure hose. The lazy approach results in spotting, but an intense spray will remove the dust and considerably improve the amount of light that shines though. Go back over key windows with the Sprayway for spectacular results. Don’t forget the car windows, inside and out! Seriously, when is the last time you cleaned out your car?
Martha asked, “What advice do you have for brides when they are choosing a gown?”
“Don’t bring your mother!” – Oscar de la Renta.
Along with the rest of the Martha Stewart empire, Whatever with Alexis and Jennifer moved to the Hallmark Channel (go to Lifetime and take a sharp left down Geriatric Lane).
These two have shit the bed. They abandoned their uptown girl Beavis and Butthead routine in exchange for an hour long interview-heavy format. The original premise, Alexis and Jen mercilessly mocking Martha, was good. Why switch to an interview format? You bitches suck at interviewing people. Stick with what you do best — talking shit with an air of superiority and condescension.
The most frustrating part? On the newest incarnation of the MARTHA show, Martha Stewart is in particularly rare form. Know-it-all Martha condescends (where you think Alexis got it?) ridicules, and insults guests and their expertise five days a week on her talk show. For instance, when Jeff Leatham was on, she taught him a thing or two about flowers. Like fine fromage, this bitch just keeps getting better with age. With this much readily available source material for Whatever Martha!, it is a damn shame Alexis and Jennifer don’t do a MARTHA after show, because truthfully, their new show fucking sucks. Pull it together ladies, nothing offends like squandered potential.
Have you been watching The Fabulous Beekman Boys, those two crazy soap-making queens who bought a farm upstate? Josh, a writer and ad exec, and Brent, a doctor and former Martha Stewart Living exec, purchased a historic acreage with a vision of recapturing a simpler time and reinventing themselves as the face of chicer, gayer, local agriculture.
Josh and Brent engage in amusing (if predictable) first time farmer antics, but the true heart and soul of this show is Farmer John, the animal-loving bear who literally tears up at the mention of his beloved goats. In the pilot, Farmer John explains, “The Beekman was a place for me to bring my goats, which are my life…sorry…” He choked through tears, “My goats are very important to me… shoot!” Fully sobbing he continued, “Without Josh and Brent I wouldn’t have been able to keep ’em. One of my best and worst traits is that I can become very emotional about my animals.” Don’t miss one of the most humble, lovable, and endearing men on television, the earnest Farmer John.
As promised, here’s the second installment of Martha Stewart gossip from Mariana Pasternak’s tell-all. Trust, you’ll thank me for saving you the time of reading this four hundred page masturbatory opus.According to The Best of Friends, Martha is not a woman’s woman. Martha was interested in famed architect Richard Meier. One night at Nobu, Meier took a fancy to the author instead of Martha. Martha abruptly got up to leave and ordered Mariana to join her while Meier urged Mariana to keep her seat. After a silent battle of the wills between the two titans, Martha naturally emerged the victor with Mariana scampering after her and leaving Meier pouting in his sushi. Martha and Mariana did quite a bit of traveling with one another: Machu Picchu, the Amazon, and Egypt to name a few. Often the author felt she couldn’t keep up financially with her über-wealthy friend, so Martha would loan her the money to take the extravagant trips – with interest – all arrangements made through her business office. These trips often involved big groups, so Martha’s business office would prorate the bill and send an invoice for each person’s portion – irrespective if the person participated in all the meals and activities. Apparently, Martha really liked extravagant activities.
Martha became jealously obsessed with some Judith Leiber bag the author received as a gift from a boyfriend. Martha concocted some weird scheme to exchange the Leiber and put the money towards her friend’s portion of the Amazon trip. In another bitchy move, style biter Martha bought the exact version of an Hermès leather jacket that her friend already owned.
In Monte Carlo, when Martha’s boyfriend traded her in for a younger model she stormed into the famous Jimmy’z and bitched him out in front of everyone (during the Cannes Film Festival no less). The explosive fight continued on the street outside before Martha cock-blocked her boyfriend by hustling his young paramour into a waiting car. Martha offered Pasternak Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia IPO stock at $18 a share. When the company went public the stock priced soared to $52 a share. Martha ran from party to party telling everyone she was rich! It’s true, that’s the day Martha Stewart became a billionaire. The book wraps up around the time of the ImClone insider trading scandal. The most interesting take-away from the author’s description of the transaction was discovering that Martha’s total investment in ImClone amounted to about $228,000. Martha’s decision to exercise her insider knowledge and sell her stock prior to the public release of information that ImClone’s anti-cancer drug did not receive FDA approval saved her only $50,000. Even though Martha lost big money in the September 11th crash, her wealth still exceeded half a billion dollars at the time. $50,000 ain’t shit to Martha Stewart, but for that one greedy choice she went to jail. In the end, it cost her millions in fines and penalties, in addition to loss of prestige. In the end, Mariana was served with subpoenas and sang like canary telling investigators everything she knew over a two year period including testifying before the grand jury. A true Best Friend till the end, at Martha’s trial, Pasternak’s damning testimony all but assured Stewart’s conviction.
My interest in Martha Stewart revolves mainly around her daughter, Alexis, who co-hosts the hilarious show Whatever, Martha! with the lovely Jennifer Koppelman Hutt.
When I heard that there was a new tell-all about Martha written by her former close friend Mariana Pasternak, my interest was mildly piqued.
The book is called Best of Friends, and it is a four hundred page doozy. I’m about half way through, but I already have some juicy gossip for you, so I’ll break my review into two parts.First off, don’t get it twisted, this is one self-serving book. Pasternak’s overwrought writing style is self-indulgent and distracting, but she retains quite a bit of detail from her memories of the 90’s. Here are a few gems from the first two hundred pages.
Martha was infuriated her husband Andy had an affair with Erica Jong because she “writes about having sex!”Martha dated and probably fucked Charlie Rose.Martha was supposed to be on the ill-fated Sandy Pittman 1996 Everest climb where eight people died. She and Blaine Trump backed out at the last minute.In the early days when Martha ran a catering company, she had Alexis do some cooking for her. This was back when Alexis was in middle school. One evening, Alexis made madeleines and apparently they were too dark for Martha, so she awoke Alexis in the middle of the night, on a school night, and demanded she make a new batch! No wonder Alexis grew up to mock her mother professionally. I’d be fucking resentful too.
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