NIH and PD (the kind that comes with pie, not akinesia)

(who says you can’t dramatically light a pie?)

I’ve already experienced a brief hiatus from keeping this relatively current, I’ll blame that on my job.  I now feel completely integrated into the lab.  I’m working fairly independently and my results and productivity are completely of my own doing.  Granted, accountability only means so much in an internship position as compared to a real, proving yourself, type of job.  But nonetheless, I’m calling the shots now.


This is very much a double edge sword.  One on hand, I feel integrated, not only into my lab, but also into society as a contributing member of the big whatever that everyone contributes to.  My specific project is looking to characterize healthy and compromised mitochondrial autophagy in neurons, specifically relating to vesicle and organelle trafficking and behavior within the axon.  Autophagy is kinda like one mechanism of trash disposal in a cell.  Garbage is sequestered, taken out back and then destroyed.  Mitophagy is the specific subsection of this pathway that involves mitochondrial degradation and turnover.  Anyway, I won’t go into anymore detail, the point is, autophagy is a fairly new topic of research, looking at it in neurons is even less understood or pursued, and looking at mitophagy specifically in relation to neurodegenerative diseases is even more of a blank canvas.  So even though I’m contributing to science in a very small way, it is within a topic that is barely understood.  This makes it a little more interesting.  I’m trying to identify characteristic cellular functions.  Woah, think about that for a second.  Now, the other edge is that now I’m planning everything for myself and I often get carried away and try to fit too many things in together, leading to long days of experiments, lots of weekend work, and generally getting burnt out and not having time to do other things.  However, this weekend, I made time to make a delicious pie (even if I did have to shirk some of my responsibilities…).


Pushing Daisies is my favorite new TV show (Season 2 begins October 1, btw).  I started rewatching season 1 with my friend, Liz, who hasn’t seen them before.  My newly inspired culinary experimentation was once again piqued by the delicious pies that cameo in every episode of Pushing Daisies.  Ever since I saw the episode (don’t worry NO SPOILER TIPS, I don’t do spoiler tips) with the Apple Gruyere Pie (it may have actually been done with pear in the show, but I’m using a degree of creative license), I’ve been dying to try to make it.  I’ve never made a pie before, and despite my motivation, trying to create this from scratch, by myself, would have been disastrous.  So one day at work, probably while I was waiting for a blot to blot or mice to birth or bacteria to grow, I scoured the depths of the interwebs and BEHOLD: Apple Gruyere Pie.  I found a food blog with a similarly keen interest in fantastic realism and pies.  However, the idea lay dormant in my brain until one day, wandering through the aisles at Whole Foods, I see “SALE: Gruyere Reserve”.  Done and done.  Here are the results:


Firstly, I give all credit for the deliciousness of this recipe to Tisha, the creator of The Rice and Spice Cupboard.  Most of this recipe is directly from her.  Her version of the recipe is linked above.





2 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

20 tbsp unsalted butter (yes, that’s 20 tablespoons, 2 ½ sticks, this one goes on the menu of our restaurant, Jessica)

~2 ounces of Gruyere, freshly grated with a fine cheese grater

6-7 tbsp icewater

(note on piecrust: if you’re interested in extremely delicious crust, check out the original post linked above for the recipe using lard.  yummmmm.  I’m not opposed to lard, I just didn’t have access to it…)


The Rest of the Pie

4 lbs apples, cored, peeled, quartered

½ cup sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

¼ tsp cinnamon

5 tsp cornstarch or all-purpose flour

1 egg, lightly beaten


Day 1:  The Crust

So I’ve never made a pie before.  However, I’ve watched my friend Jessica, a pie fiend, make pies and crusts of all kinds: cream, fruit, cup sized, regular sized, tartlettes etc…  So naturally, I count all of that as personal experience and go to begin my pie-making quest.  I’ve read and heard about all these high tech ways of making piecrusts using cuisinarts or automatic chopping devices, but I decided to follow the steps of my pie maker mentor and use a fork and knife (or a spoon and knife in this case, as all 3 of my forks were being used).


Begin by adding all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and give it a once over.  Chop all 20 ounces of the butter into chunks about an inch large or so.  This part is supposedly the key to a delicious piecrust:  cut in the butter until you have approximately pea-sized chunks of butter left.  Mine were personally larger than a pea, they were actually approximately the size of Po mouse pups, I attribute this to the spoon I was using to cut,  unsurprisingly, not very helpful.  So go at it with the chopping and cutting until you run out of patience or it looks about done.  Keep in mind, you don’t want the butter to melt here, so minimal finger mushing should be used.  The chunks of butter will be flattened out when you roll the dough and then when baked will create a deliciously tender and flakey crust (hopefully).  You can also put the butter in the freezer for about 15 minutes or so before you use it just to chill it a bit more.  Next, add ice water to the mixture 1 tablespoon at a time.  There will be a point at which cutting is no longer effective and you will need to switch to using your hands.  The recipe called for 6-7 tablespoons but I probably ended up using 8-9.  Just make sure you add cautiously, as just like making pasta dough, it will come together nicely exactly when the right amount of water is added, and you don’t want extra.  Boo mushy piecrust.  Once it’s all done, divide it into two chunks or disks, one a bit larger than the other (approximately 3/7 and 4/7), cover inn saran wrap and put in the fridge overnight.


Day 2:  OMG Pie!

Preheat oven to 400°F.

The day has finally arrived: Pie Day!  First, make sure you actually have a pie tin.  Apparently, I do not own one.  Luckily, my better-equipped roommate, Whitney, has a baking stone that would suffice.  It was a little bigger than a normal pie tin would have been, but it worked just fine.  Quarter, core and peel your apples.  Slice them into medium to thing slices and throw into a large bowl.  At this point you add the rest of the ingredients (not the egg).  You might want to actually measure them.  I was getting a little overanxious and just started throwing them in by eye and my pie ended up a bit runny, not enough cornstarch.  Toss the apple mixture until all the ingredients appear to be evenly spread.


Place the apples aside for a few moments; it’s time to prep the dough.  Work on a well-floured surface and be sure to add flour as you roll out the dough, flipping it over a few times helps, too.  If you’re not careful, the dough will totally stick to the surface and you’ll be totally frustrated.  Roll, roll, roll, then place the dough circle from the larger piece into your floured pie tin.  Toss in the apple mixture on top.  For the truly decadent, you can add a few thin slices of butter on top before you put the top crust on.  Say your goodbyes to the apples and place the top crust on its home.  Crimp the crusts together any way you wish.  I made a peace sign with my left hand, placed it on the edge of the tin with both layers of dough underneath, then took my index finger from my other hand and push up between my peace signed fingers and squished it all together.  Take your egg, lightly beat it, and brush it on to the top of the pie.  If you don’t have a brush (like me) you can just use your fingers and rub it around, just don’t tell people.  You might not use the whole egg, don’t worry about it.  Cut 3 parallel slits in the top of the pie and then throw it in the oven and reduce the heat to 375.  Bake approximately 50 minutes.  Also, if you want to make sure your crust doesn’t get super crispy, you can make a ring of tin foil and place it on the crust then remove it about halfway through the baking, although, I found with the egg wash on top, even the edges of the crust didn’t burn, they just got a little bit more crispy than the rest, so the foil probably isn’t really necessary.


Take out the pie; let it cool for at least 20 minutes.  Prep your favorite episodes of Pushing Daisies, cut yourself a LARGE piece of pie and enjoy.


(another picture for the road, and to motivate you to make it, …delicious…)


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