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snow cave cuisine

31 January 2012


after a recent, merciless pummeling of snow, it felt like an appropriate time to pass on some ideas for blizzard fare.

i live in the lowlands of the Pacific Northwest. so, you may be wondering if i’m truly qualified to give this sort of advice. simply put, yes. transplanted from New England and later in life, from the Colorado mountains, i can confidently say i’m not only casually familiar with the white stuff, we’re intimate.

a million years before i learned to drive, had to go to work, or really had a care in the world, i adored winter weather. when brutal Nor’easters blew in and dumped multitudinous foots of snow, i was elated.

with dad, before i told my mother she could no longer choose my clothes

it meant my dad could stay home and dedicate himself to pulling us around on our sled. before he could proceed with the entertainment, however, he would need to shovel. a lot.

at 6’ 2”, my dad towered over us. with agility and strength, he shoveled and tossed the weighty snow on either side of our driveway; the piles seemed to dwarf even him. after a while, dad had created a big enough heap for me to build an elegantly appointed snow cave.

climbing onto a giant snow bank, i enthusiastically started to dig. soon, the entry took shape, and i moved to carve out a living area. i snuggled inside my new quarters, pulling my knees to my chest. supremely satisfied with my expert craftsmanship, i basked in the snow cave’s blue aura. when my little sister asked if she could come in, she was met with a resounding no. when my mother came out with a mug of hot chocolate and a cheese sandwich, she was met with a resounding yes, please. (after lunch, i invited my sister to hunker down in the cave with me, but clearly only after i asserted claim to my icy domain.)

snow cave architect-in-training

if you’re out there building a snow cave or manuvering down some hill on your flying saucer, treat yourself to something hot and hearty, because there will undoubtedly be a lot more playing to do. always have a napkin close by to daintily dab the corners of your mouth. and never use metal utensils.

snow cave sausage hand pies
a variation on recipes from Alton Brown, and in pie by Angela Boggiano


for the crust
1/2 pound (two sticks) of good-quality butter, very cold, chopped
1/8 cup of sugar
3/4 tsp spoon salt
1/2 cup (or more if needed) ice water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

for the sausage
2 pounds ground pork
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper (i use Williams-Sonoma five-pepper blend)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

for the filling
1 pound sausage (from above)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium-size onions
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
1 medium tart apple, cored and chopped (i use Bramley or Granny Smith)
3 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
salt and pepper

one egg, lightly beaten


  1. whisk together the dry ingredients for the crust.
  2. with a pastry blender, combine the dry ingredients with the cold, chopped butter; be careful not to overwork.
  3. combine the ice water and vinegar; slowly add to the butter mixture by hand, being careful not to overwork.
  4. divide the pie dough into two discs, wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.
  5. combine all of the sausage ingredients and mix together well by hand; set aside 1 pound for the hand pies (i freeze the remainder or immediately make into sausage patties.)
  6. in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil.
  7. add the onions and cook until the onions caramelize.
  8. in a large skillet, brown the sausage, breaking up into small pieces until completely cooked.
  9. in a large bowl, combine the sausage, onions, mustard, thyme, apples and creme fraiche.
  10. season with salt and pepper, then mix well and let cool.
  11. preheat the oven to 375.
  12. roll out one of the dough discs, as if you were making a standard 9-inch pie crust.
  13. cut 7-inch rounds of dough out of the larger disc (i use a small plate as a stencil.)
  14. brush the edges of the small round with the egg wash.
  15. place 2 or so tablespoons of the cooled filling in the middle of the the round.
  16. fold over the round to form a half-moon, then press the edges together to seal.
  17. crimp the edge with a fork to further seal the deal.
  18. place the hand pie on a large rimmed baking sheet and cut several slashes in the top of the pie to vent.
  19. brush the pie with the egg wash.
  20. repeat the process until all the dough has been used. (pies should be placed around an inch apart.)
  21. bake until the pies are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

serve with roasted apple sauce, cheesy mashed potatoes and a green vegetable of choice (if you’re so inclined).


Post a comment
  1. kellie cheever #
    February 3, 2012

    Good Morning DJ,

    Hope all is well with you and Karla, and that your Holidays were better than antisipated. No spell check here aww
    I have every thing for these i have the herbs fresh in my garden and herb pots. Mark having lived in England loves pasties or any thing like one. This morning i am going to make the coffee cake. Costco has a bag of frozen marionberries, at the check out the man said they would only have them for a short time.
    They also had at the Kirkland store a bag 1 1/2 lbs washed organic baby kales that were so amazing even Mark liked them.
    $3.50 such a deal.

    I’ll try calling you soon . Have a great day
    Love Kellie

    • dj #
      February 3, 2012

      will look forward to hearing about your coffee cake and hand pie creations, K! hope you and Mark enjoy. until we next chat, be well.

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