Sunday, November 8, 2009


So, when I (Iain) start talking about pasties, people usually ask me one of the following two questions:

1) What's a pastie?

2) Aren't those English??

I think Neil Gaiman did a good job explaining the origins of the pastie in American Gods, but here's my synopsis. Pasties originally came from Cornwall, in England. Many people from Cornwall came over to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to work in coal mines, taking the pastie with them. It was ideal for the miners, because they were hearty, filling and came in a nice pastry pouch that they could hold in their coal-covered hands and then they could toss the coal-y bits when they were done. I'm not sure how far apart Michigan pasties and Cornish pasties have diverged, although from what I understand, Cornish pasties contain mostly meat, while Michigan pasties tend towards the more veggieful side of things.

My mom's family is from Michigan, and so whenever I go to the North Woods, I need to have me some pasties. This last time, I was determined to spread the love of pasties to people far and abroad, starting with my housemates, and now you!

Being me, my pasties are vegetarian, although often they are quite good with meat.

Vegetarian Pasties


1.5 sticks of butter
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 hearty pinch of salt
5-6 tablespoons cold water or milk

1 cup of sliced manly mushrooms
1 splash of white wine
1 splash of cider vinegar

2 splashes of milk
1 hearty pinch of flour
1 tablespoon of butter
1 manly carrot
1-2 manly turnips or rutabegas
1/2 a manly medium-sized winter squash (I used carnival squash)
2 manly potatoes
1 manly onion

*Note: yes, the manliness is required for all ingredients. How else are you going to survive the coal mines?

Cutting board
1 large, SHARP knife
2 large mixing bowls

1 wooden spoon
1 medium skillet
1 rolling pin
1 or more baking sheets
2 butter knifes or a pastry cutter.

Music Listened To:
Old Crow Medicine Show: "Big Iron World"

This will make about 6 pasties. If you have extra filling, make more pastry or just cook and eat it.

Step 1: Make the crust. Put all 3 cups of flour into a mixing bowl with the salt and half the butter. Cut the butter into the flour with the butter knives or pastry cutter until relatively fine. Cut in the rest of the butter until the bits of butter are about pea-sized. Sprinkle the milk or water bit by bit onto the flour and mix it in by hand until the dough is relatively cohesive. Wrap up the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for half an hour.

Step 2: Make the moist bits. With all those manly vegetables, we need something to have it all stick together. Normally, the meat takes care of the moisture for you, but alas, we don't have that luxury. This is going to resemble mushroom gravy. Saute the mushrooms in butter in the skillet. Sprinkle a little salt on there to coax out the juices. Cover it to minimize the loss of moisture to steam. Pour on a little white wine and apple cider vinegar to add to the moisture, as well as the milk. Put in a bit of flour to thicken it. Set aside.

Step 3: The manly veggies. Chop up the potatoes, onion, carrot, turnips/rutabega and squash into little 1/2 inch cubes. Place together in a bowl with plenty of salt and pepper. Add the mushroom stuff and mix thoroughly.

Step 4: Assemble. Now is a good time to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide your pastry into 6 balls and roll them out to about a 6 inch diameter. Be patient with rolling the crust - pie crusts can be structurally fickle, so add moisture and/or flour as needed to get it to cooperate. Getting the crust right will pay off. Dollop about 1 1/2 cups of the veggie mixture into the middle of each pastie and fold the crust in half. If you want to add or remove filling, do it as needed. Roll the edge and press down with a fork or fingers. (Sorry for the blurriness of the picture)

Step 5: in the oven! Bake on the baking sheet for about 40 minutes. Test the veggies to see if they're done - if the potatoes are still too firm, give them a while longer. Ideally the potatoes should be soft but a touch al-dente, but if there's any crunch, they need more time.

Step 6: Find the nearest mine to get the coal to bake the next batch!

I hope you enjoy this North Woods treat as much as I do. They freeze well (before baking), and so even though I made these over a month ago, there's some cooking up in the oven right now! I'm going to go eat the

1 comment:

  1. You know you could put in meat, and not have to overcompensate by calling each individual vegetable manly. Just saying.