I Made a Pie

I made a pie today.  I woke up late, glazed-eyed, and briefly considered staying in bed and watching Downton Abbey at least until the last episode of the second season, when Matthew and Mary kiss and smile and look to be together forever.  And then I thought that perhaps it might be better to get up and contribute to the world.  So, I made a pie.

Bright blue sweatpants drawstringed securely around waist, sleeves rolled up, hair braided back but still flopping forward in the bangs department, I made a pie.  The cherries for it were picked by my mom and my dad and sometimes my sister.  Even the dog snapped cherries off the ground and off lower branches, crushing them between her teeth and eventually looking like a killer with bloodstained muzzle.  I helped pick until the mosquitos discovered me and tucked in for a feast.

I’ve always been intimidated by pie making.  The forming of the crust seemed a particular challenge.  So much can go wrong: dough too sticky from excess liquid, dough too rubbery from excess flour, dough too thin from over-zealous rolling, dough too thick from hesitant rolling.  In the end, I took a few deep breaths, fumbled with floury fingers to the “pie” section of The Joy of Cooking, and just did what the dear authors told me to do.

I poured the fresh-picked cherries into the bottom crust.  I briefly considered making a lattice top, and then determined a lattice top to be a bit out of my league.  I put on the top crust, trimmed the excess skirt of dough, and used two fingers and a thumb to crimp the edges together.  Then I carefully made tents of tinfoil so the crimps wouldn’t burn.  I pushed the pie into the oven.  I waited for almost an hour.  And there was a pie.

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And I felt, as I was making it, a little like this:

As if all could be right, all was right, as long as I was quietly turning fruit and flour into pastry.  And as long as I had my bird friends to help me with aesthetics.

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Will You Be My Valentine?

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Happy Valentine’s Day!  I’ve noticed that when it comes to this particular holiday, there are lovers and there are haters.  I am a lover.  I love the chocolate, I love the cards, I love the flowers, I love the red and pink.  I love the air of excitement: you never know who you’re going to get a Valentine from.  It’s the day of the year, in my opinion, when those who are too cowardly at all other times to profess their love can do so without shame.  (And anonymous notes count).

Believe me, I’ve done the anonymous notes.  That was fun.  But this year, as I have a gentleman caller, I got to be a little more up front about my feelings.  I also got to suggest that instead of attempting to choose between the sub-par Morris restaurant options (think a fancy but gross Italian place, a Subway, and a Pizza Hut), we make our own gourmet meal.

Steak, twice-baked potatoes, salad, and chocolate mousse for desert.  (By far the fanciest meal I’ve ever had whilst at school)

Let me tell you that having just finished making the mousse, I think the g.c. will have to take the reins on the rest of it.  I’m actually tired.  I really am a pretty good cook (thanks Mom and Dad for forcing me to start dinner all throughout high school), but mousse was over my head.  It’s putzy: you need about four different bowls, you have to constantly mix things just until they reach a specific consistency, and if you do something wrong, your mousse will lack volume.  The horror!

Plus, there were a few setbacks that stressed me out considerably.  Firstly, someone ate one of my eggs.  I had precisely four left in the carton, the exact number needed for the recipe, and this afternoon, one was gone.  Okay, well, I’ll just do a half recipe.  But wait, will that work?  Aren’t people always going on and on about how halving recipes isn’t reliable?  All right, calm down Hol, we’re just going to have to try it.  (five minutes later) I need a bowl filled with ice water?  We don’t have ice!  There is no ice in our freezer, because we are college students and don’t own things like ice cube trays or whisks or measuring cups.

I finally realized that I could use snow in lieu of ice water.  It worked rather well, and provided a much-needed Little House on the Prairie moment.

All drama aside, the mousse is currently setting in the fridge.  No housemates are home yet, but I intend to guard that darn mousse with my life.

If you want the recipe (may you have more patience than I with it), it’s right here: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/05/perfect-chocola/

The batter (which I unabashadly tasted), was delicious.

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Doings

Not one to fail to wring every last drop of ‘weekend’ out of the weekend, I have done the following in the past two days:

1. Hosted a game show (see previous post)

2. Watched Mad Men with my gentleman caller (we’re on Season Two now, and although still enthralled, we both continue to be disgusted with a) the amount of smoking everyone does, b) the sexism, c) the infidelity, and d) the terrible parenting exhibited in almost every episode by Don and Betty Draper.  Was an entire generation like this?  I certainly hope not).

3. Made the most delicious chili in the universe with the g.c.  It was an easy enough recipe, but we had to take a twenty-minute break in the middle of cooking because I feared I was going to perish from the combination of eyes burning from onion and throat burning from jalapenos.  I think at one point I was sitting on the linoleum with my eyes pressed against my arms, seeking reprieve from the fumes wafting above.

4. Watched my third favorite movie of all time (You’ve Got Mail) with the commentary turned on because I know every line anyway, and because I was missing Nora Ephron and wanted to hear her insights.

5. Did two loads of laundry.

6. Cleaned the kitchen.

7. Painted my fingernails.

8. Practiced with my intramural volleyball team.  Scraped up my knees diving for the ball without kneepads.  Also fell on my butt a few times, an anecdote I’m including just in case you were beginning to think that I’m some kind of intense, Misty May-esque player.

9. Am just now settling in to do some studying.  No class tomorrow, so this isn’t a complete act of procrastination on my part.

Going to heat up some leftover chili.  Enjoy these last few blessed hours of weekend!

 

Dandelion Whine

We did it, Ray.

It smelled like asparagus, tasted like swampy tea, and burned like vomit at the back of the throat.  It was non-alcoholic, because we didn’t have yeast and we certainly didn’t have a fermenter.  It didn’t follow the recipe we found online; instead of lemon and orange slices, neat peach cutlets, and about three pounds of sugar, we used bottled lime juice and honey.

But Ray, we drank it in shot glasses, having strained out the wilting buds and detached petals clustered with pollen.

It was disgusting, as I suspect you knew it’d be.  I wonder if you ever tried it in your lifetime, or if you merely plucked the practice from backwoods obscurity and wrote it into a story, taking care to keep a safe distance from the steaming brew.

Regardless, Mr. Bradbury, this night was for you.

“My gosh, if you’re going away, we got a million things to talk about! All the things we would’ve talked about next month, the month after! Praying mantises, zeppelins, acrobats, sword swallowers!”

Day Tripper

Not much to report.

It’s cold enough that my fan is off, my windows are closed, and I have a blanket on my lap.

The plan was to make creamy cucumbers for dinner, but I realized this morning, after another largely sleepless night, that I forgot to buy vinegar.  I’ll do that tomorrow.

An hour ago, I pulled out The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume A for perusal.  Not much happened except that I reaffirmed my belief that John Smith was utterly and insufferably full of himself.  I wish Disney had at least gotten that part right.  Who writes an autobiography in third person, anyway?

Tonight is my first movie theater shift.  I’ll be working concessions, which should be simple enough.  Scoop popcorn, pull lever to flood waxy cup with Pepsi, retrieve rattling boxes of Nerds or Milkduds for waiting customers.

I don’t mean to sound so sarcastic, really.  I just need to learn to keep myself occupied when I’m not working.  I don’t know if I can take another slow day like this one.  Even in the summer.