The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston: Book Review and Book Club Menu

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston: Book Review and Book Club Menu

Florence Day has inherited two things from her undertaker father: an unwavering belief in romantic love and the ability to see ghosts. At thirteen, she solves a local murder with the assistance of a ghost, and when her gift becomes public knowledge, she is bullied by her peers. At eighteen, she leaves the family and home she loves, moving to New York. She finishes college and becomes the ghostwriter of a bestselling romance author. Still, she misses her family, even though she no longer visits, and in homesick moments, she tells her boyfriend stories of her childhood, presenting it as her latest idea for a novel. When her boyfriend scores a very lucrative book deal, Florence is shocked to find he stole her life story, only to dump her.

Now, a decade after leaving Mairmont, South Carolina, Florence is in a deep depression, surviving off boxed mac & cheese and unable to complete the final book of her four book contract. She’s begged her editor for extensions and received them, but when her editor retires, her new editor is unwilling to grant her extra time nor is he willing to permit her final ghostwritten novel to be anything but a romance, something Florence no longer believes in. Soon after her meeting with her editor, Florence receives a phone call from home. Her father has passed away unexpectedly, and she must come home and confront her demons. When she arrives home, she finds a hurdle she is not expecting. Her sexy new editor is waiting for her there, and he is a ghost.

A book about dead people shouldn’t be delightful, but this one is just that. The writing is beautiful and haunting (Sorry. Florence and Ben really like puns.), and I was hooked from the prologue. It moves from being lighthearted and funny to being a thoughtful meditation on grief to being quirky gothic lite without any of these things clashing. It’s different from any book I’ve ever read, in the best possible way. While it’s somewhat genre defying, if I had to categorize it, I would describe it as a rom com with substance. Instead of dealing with misunderstandings and bad first impressions, Florence and Ben are working through traumatic events of their pasts, and the character growth is steady but slow. Add in a quirky cast of Southern characters and you get one likeable book. This would be a great book club choice as it’s a crowd pleaser and will even appeal to people who don’t normally pick up romances.

Book Club Menu and Recipes:

“I felt a pang of homesickness. For the weather, the funeral parlor, my mom’s amazing fried chicken.” (Page 8)

Planning a menu around The Dead Romantics was pretty easy. Florence’s favorite comfort food is mac & cheese (we’ll pretend that she doesn’t prefer the boxed kind and we’ll bake ours in honor of the South), and her preferred drink is a rum & Coke. Also, the very first food reference in the book is her mom’s fried chicken, so we’re including that here as well.

If you happen to have a few book club members who are lactose intolerant, making mac & cheese a questionable choice, chicken & waffles would be my alternate suggestion, as a few scenes take place in a Waffle House.

The menu:

  • Baked Macaroni & Cheese (recipe below)
  • Fried chicken. Takeout is fine here. At risk of sounding like a terrible food blogger, deep frying is scary. Also, you can’t host book club if your kitchen is on fire. Insurance companies will back me up on this one.
  • Mom’s Simple Winter Salad, or your go-to side salad
  • Rum & Cokes with wedges of lime. Liquor.com has a guide for which rums pair best with Coke. 

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Adapted from Sweet Tea + Thyme.

Ingredients

  • 16 oz elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz colby jack cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz cream cheese, cubed and room temperature
  • 2 cups half and half
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon (4g) smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Add in elbow macaroni and cook until just under al dente, according to package directions. Do not overcook.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a pan and add chopped onion, sauteeing for approximately 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for another one to two minutes. Set aside.
  4. When the macaroni is just shy of al dente, drain the pasta.
  5. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except for half of the cheddar and colby jack. Pour the mixture into your baking dish and spread evenly. Top with the remaining cheese.
  6. Bake the mac and cheese for 32 to 35 minutes, and then broil for 3 minutes for a golden cheesy topping.
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Mom’s Simple Winter Salad

Mom’s Simple Winter Salad

cabbage salad, slaw, winter salad

Both of my parents were raised on farms in Paraguay. I personally have never known farm life, but seasonal living is part of how my parents operated and how they still live. As a child and a teen, I found this less charming than I do now. Sure, I loved all the baking that my mom did with blueberries in summer, but given that berries were available year round in the supermarket, I thought she was being downright cheap in waiting until summer. It was the eighties, and a farm-to-table approach was decades away from being trendy, and no one cared about the carbon footprint of their food.

This salad is a perfect example of how my mom approaches winter food. Cabbage is seasonal, affordable, and stays fresh for a ridiculously long time. Dressing it simply with oil and white vinegar keeps it light, balancing out heavier winter foods. This salad is on her table for weeknight meals and holiday meals alike.

Mom’s Simple Winter Salad

If you don’t have white vinegar, I’d recommend buying it rather than using whatever vinegar you have on hand simply because it’s far more neutral in taste, and this is a very simple side salad.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 4-6 green onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or canola)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of black pepper (optional)

Directions

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. Taste and add more salt/oil/vinegar as needed. I personally use 3 tablespoons of vinegar, but I tend to like my foods more acidic than the average person.
Seasons of Wonder by Bonnie Smith Whitehouse (devotional)

Seasons of Wonder by Bonnie Smith Whitehouse (devotional)

seasons of wonder, devotional

Anyone else prone to making immeasurable new year’s resolutions? I have two resolutions this year, and they are both difficult to measure. The one that is of interest here is my resolution to be more in the moment. Like many people, I am guilty of saying, “I just can’t wait for spring/summer/whatever,” or “I can relax once I meet this deadline, but until then I will resemble a highly caffeinated squirrel.” This resolution has a few elements: practicing gratitude, incorporating hygge principles into my life, and living and eating more seasonally. A few weeks ago when I was buying the last of my Christmas gifts on Amazon, looking like the previously mentioned caffeinated squirrel, this devotional popped up on my Amazon recommendations. I found the description intriguing, as it seemed to align with my 2023 goals, but I was nervous as I have never heard of the author or anyone who blurbed the book. However, I bought it as I have zero self control when it comes to books.

I am glad I did.

To be clear, this is a book recommendation rather than a book review. I’m on Week 1 of a year long devotional. Obviously, I cannot comment on the entirety, only that which I have read thus far and that which I have skimmed.

Seasons of Wonder: Making the Ordinary Sacred Through Projects, Prayers, Reflections, and Rituals is meant to be a year-long journey, organized according to both the liturgical calendar and by the seasons. I would describe it as a spiritual take on hygge. It’s organized week by week, rather than day by day, and includes readings, prayers, hand drawn artwork, projects, crafts, and recipes to immerse you into the topic. Each week has several ideas so you can pick and choose which activities to do. In Week 1, you can write out a weekly blessing, host a Twelfth Night party where everyone makes their own crowns, or bake a King Cake. There are creation care tips for each month, and January’s is simple: Don’t waste your holiday leftovers. This is definitely organized as a family devotional, where everyone gathers together each week and participates in the readings and activities, but I am doing this alone in single lady fashion, and it seems doable.

The author, Bonnie Smith Whitehouse, is a lay leader in the Episcopalian church and an English professor whose previous books have focused on creativity and storytelling. Seasons of Wonder perfectly blends her area of expertise with her faith background. This book is a little outside my faith tradition. The book contains instructions on how to make and pray the rosary and recommends using a version of the Bible that contains the apocrypha. I am interested in learning about other perspectives and practices of other Christians, so this is intriguing to me. 

If you are looking for a new devotional this year, it wouldn’t be too late to start this one, given that it is organized by week rather than by day.

Portabella Pizzas with Turkey Pepperoni

Portabella Pizzas with Turkey Pepperoni

portabella pizza, portobello pizza

Ever wonder if it is “portabella” or “portobello”? I do. Every single time I use the word. Therefore, I Googled it before posting this recipe. Turns out they are interchangeable, only one term is feminine and the other is masculine. I asked my pizzas which they prefer, and they responded that they are the Wonder Women of pizza and do not respond to portobello.

Portabella. It’s official.

Admittedly this isn’t much of a recipe, as portabella pizzas aren’t exactly new or complicated, but it helps to know some tricks so you don’t end up with a soggy mushroom, which is the primary problem with these.

It turns out the trick is simple. You scoop out the gills. They come out easily with the use of a spoon. While the gills are perfectly edible, they do hold a great deal of moisture, so this is essential for good pizza texture.

This is a great meal option for those times when you are too busy or tired to cook a full meal in between holiday obligations, but you are too responsible of an adult to have Christmas cookies for dinner. (I’m not that responsible. Don’t tell my mother.) I like to use turkey pepperoni here, as I like to keep my toppings as traditional as possible, when there is an unconventional crust. Use whatever you prefer on your pizzas and enjoy!

Portabella Pizzas with Turkey Pepperoni

  • Servings: 2 as an entree or 4 as an appetizer
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
The recommended wine pairing is mushroom’s best friend, Pinot Noir, which conveniently also complements pepperoni.

Ingredients

  • 4 portabella mushrooms
  • Olive oil, to brush mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons pizza sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 8 to 12 slices turkey pepperoni (or your preferred pizza toppings)
  • Optional: Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, fresh basil

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Clean your mushrooms and remove the gills. Brush with olive oil and salt lightly.
  2. Line a sheet pan with foil. Place mushrooms, gill side down, and bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the mushroom.
  3. Flip the mushrooms over and pat dry with a paper towel. Add a spoonful of pizza sauce to each mushroom. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes, if desired. Add mozzarella and your preferred toppings.
  4. Bake for another 7 minutes. Remove from oven and top with fresh basil.
Spiced Thumbprint Cookies with Guava

Spiced Thumbprint Cookies with Guava

thumbprint cookie, christmas cookie, guava cookie

Are you ready for Christmas? We’re in the last week of baking, cooking, and shopping. Or, perhaps the question is, what does getting ready for Christmas mean to you? Is it movie marathons, or caroling, or Black Friday shopping, or Christmas Eve services with your family, or giving to your favorite causes?

This year, I have followed an Advent devotional (though I am admittedly a few days behind), done a surprising amount of my shopping online, watched a lot of terrible Hallmark movies, baked cookies, attend my church’s Advent services and their festival of tables, made the curious choice to read a selection of holiday themed murder mysteries, and purchased Angel Tree gifts for a young girl. Do I feel ready for Christmas? Not particularly, even though my gifts are all purchased and wrapped.

Whether you are ready for Christmas or not, baking these cookies will make your house smell like Christmas. (Well, it smells like a commercialized North American Christmas anyhow. The first Christmas probably smelled like a petting zoo and nothing like my cookies.) These festive cookies smell fruity, spicy, and warm, and they taste every bit as amazing as they smell.

These combine two of my favorite cookies: the guava filled cookies that my mom makes every year, and  gingerbread cookies, which no one in my family ever bakes because I am the only ginger fanatic in the family. The flavors go together beautifully and the cinnamon sugar dusting adds a pretty holiday sparkle.

I hope you enjoy!

Spiced Thumbprint Cookies with Guava

Guava paste is not the most common grocery item. Unless you have a Latin American grocery near you, it’s easiest to buy it off Amazon.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 7 oz guava paste, cut into small cubes

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes.
  2. Add molasses and, on medium speed, beat until combined. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined, approximately 2 minutes.
  3. In another bowl sift together flour, spices (minus one tsp of cinnamon), baking soda, and salt. Stir it into the wet ingredients just until combined.
  4. Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Mix together ¼ cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.
  7. Roll the dough into small balls. Smaller is better here, go for approximately the size of a chocolate truffle. Roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place them on a baking tray lined with parchment. Make wells in cookies with a teaspoon measuring spoon or your thumb. Fill them with cubes of guava paste. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Bookseller Nina Hill has developed a life and a schedule that suits her and her comfort zone perfectly. She has a trivia team, several book clubs, and a cat named Phil. She gets out enough to keep from being lonely, but the environment is controlled enough to keep her anxiety from being triggered. During an otherwise normal workday, Nina learns that her nomadic mother lied about not knowing who Nina’s father was. A lawyer arrives at the bookstore to inform Nina that her wealthy father has passed away and she has a large family scattered throughout the LA area. An expert at keeping people at bay, Nina now has to deal with relatives dropping into her life, sometimes invited and sometimes not. Also, the attractive leader of a rival trivia league has decided now would be a good time for him to get to know Nina.

Nina is a delightful main character. I would describe her as a cross between Anne Shirley and Bridget Jones. Yes, a strange combo, I know. She resembles Bridget in her whimsical self improvement plans. (“Drink more water and less wine,” Nina might journal, while pouring herself a second glass of wine.) However, Nina’s intelligence and depth are what keeps this from being too similar to a late ‘90s, early ‘00s chick lit novel. She’s thoughtful and dreamy and her mind is always going to surprising places. She’s a modern day Anne Shirley, filled with romantic longings for what life should be, yet sharp enough to see life exactly as it is.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is a perfect choice if you want something page turning that will make you giggle but also want a book that is thoughtful. It will appeal to readers who enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and A Man Called Ove. It deals with isolation, mental health, and overcoming fear of rejection in a way that is humorous and sensitive. Highly recommended.

Port Old Fashioned

Port Old Fashioned

This recipe was inspired by a port old fashioned I had in Columbus (possibly Dublin, OH?) when I was in Ohio visiting my fabulous cousins. I wish I remembered the name of the restaurant, which was cute and had delicious food. This is a great recipe for an Old Fashioned (or Manhattan) drinker who wants a more festive variation for the holidays. Or for someone who wants to ease into drinking whiskey.

I’m a big believer in customizing recipes, even cocktail recipes, to individual taste. If you are not accustomed to drinking whiskey, you might want to do 2 oz of port and 1 oz whiskey, while a regular whiskey drinker might do the reverse. For most people, I think equal parts whiskey and port will be ideal.

Cheers!

old fashioned, port old fashioned, port cocktails

Port Old Fashioned

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz bourbon
  • 1.5 oz tawny port
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • A couple dashes of orange bitters
  • Orange slice for garnish

Directions

  1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add bourbon, port, maple syrup, and bitters.
  2. Shake. Dance around the kitchen if you feel so led.
  3. Pour your drink into a rocks glass with ice and garnish with orange.
Four Festive Mysteries for the Holiday Season

Four Festive Mysteries for the Holiday Season

Christmas and murder really shouldn’t go together. It’s like peanut butter and pickles or something else that should never, ever be combined. But it also makes sense. Family gatherings are where everyone knows a bit too much about each other, and there are memories of the deepest loyalties and deepest betrayals. All of these mysteries deal with family gatherings gone wrong. And each one is delightful. (I came across a few that weren’t delightful; they did not make the list.)

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

Simeon Lee gathers his mostly estranged family for Christmas. Hoping the verbally and emotionally abusive patriarch has grown sentimental in his old age, they gather, only to find that the old man is baiting them to fight about the will. When Simeon is found dead, there is no shortage of suspects and Hercule Poirot must determine if the motivation was money or hatred. As a mystery, this is a 10/10 with twists, turns, and family drama. As a Christmas story, it isn’t the most festive on the list.

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron

Part of a mystery series featuring Jane Austen as an amateur sleuth, Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas follows Jane and the Austen family as they celebrate the Christmas season at an estate named the Vyne. After Jane’s first evening at the Vyne, one of her fellow guests leaves early, as he is on his way to deliver the recently signed Treaty of Ghent. However, his horse immediately returns without him and the remaining guests find the man murdered and the treaty missing. Jane can only conclude that one of their party is a murderer. This is a book intended for readers who are Regency lovers first and cozy mystery lovers second. 

The Mistletoe Murder by PD James

This short story collection was the best surprise of this reading list. Being a fan of complicated mysteries with multiple subplots and fields of red herrings, I wasn’t so sure about reading mysteries in short story form. I was surprised at how satisfying these stories were and just how much James was able to do with both character and plot twists in such a short space. The title story was the best of the group and the ending was just so, so perfect. While these were all originally published as Christmas stories, only two felt truly Christmassy to me and the two others . . . mildly wintry. In spite of this, this collection is strongly recommended.

A Christmas Party (Envious Casca) by Georgette Heyer


Two elderly brothers, one a curmudgeon and the other a jolly fool, live together in an English manor. When one brother decides to invite the whole family to celebrate Christmas, it can only end in murder. Originally, I was going to claim The Mistletoe Murder as my favorite of the bunch. That was until I read this book. I didn’t go in with great expectations. Georgette Heyer was an author of Regency era novels, but she also published a few mystery novels, of which Envious Casca (later named A Christmas Party is one). I think I was expecting this one to be silly, but I was immediately drawn in. The humor and characterization was very Jane Austen, while the plot and twists were all Agatha Christie. I am definitely reading more of Georgette Heyer, and I plan to get this book trending on Twitter with #Won’tAnyoneConsiderNatsLumbago? and #GiveMaudHerBookBackYouBarbarians. (Join me on Twitter to assist my crusade!)

What’s on your reading list this holiday season?

Top Secret Mashed Potatoes

Top Secret Mashed Potatoes

miso butter shallot potatoes, mashed potatoes, thanksgiving menu

You know that untrustworthy friend who drops an entire stick of butter (or two if it’s a large batch) in the mashed potatoes when you are not looking?

It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem. It’s me.

Or I was.

Luckily for my arteries and yours, I found a super secret ingredient that will allow the butter to be cut in half, while keeping all the flavor and adding a brand new flavor that will make people say, “That’s delicious! What is it?”

It’s miso butter shallots.

Yes, it sounds weird. I got the idea from a pizza. (Please don’t stop reading. I wouldn’t expect a story about mashed potatoes to begin with pizza either, but I promise no mozzarella or tomato sauce will be added to your Thanksgiving potatoes.) I made Half Baked Harvest’s Mushroom Pizza with Miso Butter Shallots from this cookbook, and all I wanted to eat was the miso butter shallots, which is saying something given that mushroom pizza is my favorite food group. The savory flavor was perfect, and I kept wondering what other foods could benefit from it. Orzo? Mac & cheese? Mashed potatoes?

Once the idea was in my head, I began Googling to see if other people also use miso and random alliums in their potatoes. I found that miso butter garlic potatoes is not unheard of, and even featured in Bon Appetit’s Thanksgiving menu last year.

So I bring you miso butter shallot mashed potatoes. This recipe is for 2 lbs of potatoes, but if you are feeding a crowd, you’ll need to double or triple this. Since I am a lazy person, I used new potatoes, so no peeling would be needed. All the nutrients are in the peels, right?

Top Secret Mashed Potatoes

Miso can be tricky to find for those in the Midwest and in small towns. As a Michigander, the only store where I am reliably able to find it is Fresh Thyme, where it keeps company with the tofu and the kimchi in the refrigerated section. If your grocery store fails you, try Amazon.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs potatoes
  • Half a stick (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 2 to 3 shallots sliced thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup white miso paste
  • ¾ cup milk (plus more, if needed)

Directions

  1. Bring potatoes to a boil in a pot of salted water.
  2. 2. While the potatoes are cooking, melt butter in a skillet. Once melted, reduce heat to medium low and add the shallots, garlic, and miso. Do not salt at this point. The miso is already salty. These will caramelize while the potatoes are cooking. If needed, reduce heat to low. 3. Once the potatoes are fork tender, drain the potatoes and return to the pot along with the miso butter shallot mixture and milk. Mash with a potato masher or with an electric mixer, adding more milk if needed. Taste to check salt levels. If you salted your potato cooking water well, you likely won’t need to add any salt.
Apple Custard Pie

Apple Custard Pie

apple custard pie

There are many Instagram worthy pies out there. As a beige wonder, this is not one of them. However, the taste makes up for whatever its appearance lacks. This is a pie my mom used to make, and it was a favorite of mine and of my cousins’. However, with time and fewer large family Thanksgiving dinners, it was forgotten. By that, I mean my mom forgot about the pie. I kept reminding her it was a perfect Thanksgiving pie, only to get blank looks from her because my mother has made too many pie recipes in her life to remember all of them.

Last year over either Thanksgiving or Christmas, I started going through my mom’s loose recipes: things cut out of magazines or printed on butter boxes. All of those gems that mock the KonMari organization method with their nonstandard sizes and formats. 

And I found the pie.

And a surprise. It turns out my favorite Thanksgiving pie is a product of the fat-phobic nineties. One of its ingredients is something called Land O’Lakes lean cream, which I am guessing is probably some discontinued fat free sour cream, as I recall my mom using sour cream in this recipe. There has been some tweaking, as my first version did not turn out quite right, but there is a picture of the original at the very bottom of this post if you want to see it.

Apple Custard Pie

You don’t need eagle eyes to see the recipe has an oat crumble trust, while my photo does not. Let’s just say the oat crumble was the best part of my first attempt.

Ingredients

  • Butter pie crust (Recipe below. Or use a store bought pie crust. This blog is a no judgment zone.)
  • 3 cups chopped apples
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ old fashioned oats
  • ¼ cup brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, mix chopped apples with a tablespoon of cornstarch. In a large bowl, combine sugar, sour cream, egg yolks, cinnamon, lemon juice, and vanilla. Fold in apples.
  2. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Tuck the overhang under and crimp the edge with a fork or flute it between your thumb and index finger. Pour the filling into the crust.
  3. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, oats, and brown sugar. Crumble over pie. Add a pie shield to keep the crust from burning.
  4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely before serving.

Butter Pie Crust

This is for a single crust pie.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Directions

Mix pastry flour, all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Mix the butter into the flour mixture, using either your hands or a food processor until your butter cubes are butter flakes. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is evenly moist (but not wet) and is just starting to clump together. Do not overmix. Pat the dough into a 5-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Tuck the overhang under and crimp the edge with a fork or flute it between your thumb and index finger. Pour the filling into the crust.