It’s been at least five minutes since I’ve posted about food, right?

So, I’m sick.  It started with a sore throat about a week ago, then when that resolved, turned into a wicked case of laryngitis.  My voice is returning slowly, but I’ve had headaches, a lot of fatigue, and an annoying cough.  I also may have hacked up a small alien larva this morning.  Gross.

Thus, I spent my evening making garlic soup.  I should use this post as a reminder to myself to freeze some and put it by, for the next time someone is ill… if I don’t eat it all.

I recommend this soup highly, not because of woo about garlic.  Most of its antimicrobial properties disappear when you cook it.  This soup will, however, help clear out gunk that is living in your upper respiratory system, comfort you like a fluffy blanket and a hug, and is guaranteed to resolve a headache and give you some energy when you’re dragging all the butts and feeling like garbage.  It’s also lovely for helping to break a fever.  I almost always have all the ingredients on hand, which is another big help.  So, make some of this, and put it by for the next time you or someone you love has a case of the yuck.

Ingredients:
4-5 heads — yes, heads — of garlic

3-4 onions, diced (I only quarter mine, so that T can pick them out, but its better if you dice them)

2T of butter

1 Quart of poultry stock — ideally, use bone broth, but sometimes, you gotta make do with the boxed stuff, like I did this evening.

4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme.

A container of shiitake mushrooms

1T lemongrass paste — always have this on hand, it’s brilliant.

A decent sized nugget of ginger, peeled and minced.

Hot hungarian paprika or Cayenne pepper to taste (I’m a bit heavy handed with it, so I use about 3/4 of a tablespoon.

A few tablespoons of olive or coconut oil, whichever you prefer.

Salt of your choosing.  Black pepper (fresh cracked is always best).

A fresh lemon or lime.

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350.

Have yourself some tea, or a nice glass of wine.  You’ve had a long day, probably went to work feeling lousy, and you should do what you can to enjoy the process of doing something nice for yourself.

Cut the tops off of the garlic heads.  Try to make sure each clove is exposed.  Don’t peel them.  Coat the heads in your oil of choice, sprinkle with a little salt, and wrap them in foil.  When the oven is done heating, put them in for about 45-50 minutes.

While those are roasting, do yourself a favor, and prepare your mise en place.  There’s a fancy french way to say everything in the kitchen, and that means cutting up and separating your ingredients in advance, or “putting them in their place”.  Dice your onions, mince that ginger, take the lemongrass paste out of the fridge, and gather your other ingredients.  Once everything is set out nicely, admire your work.  Mise en place can help calm your mind, and imposes order on a chaotic universe.  Enjoy the order.  And your wine or tea.

When the oven timer dings for your garlic, take it out of the oven, and carefully unwrap it, and place it in a dish or bowl to cool.  When the heads are cool enough to handle with your hands, squeeze from the base of the garlic and pinch toward the top.  The cloves should squeeze out either whole, or in a paste.  Either outcome is fine.  Let that all sit in a dish.

Warm up a medium to large saucepan at medium-high.  Brown your butter just a bit.  When it starts to foam, place your onions, ginger, and mushrooms in the pan.  Let that all cook until the onions are translucent and the edges are just starting to brown.  On my gas stove, this takes about 6 minutes.

Add the thyme to the mix.  When it becomes fragrant, add the whole quart of stock,  and all the garlic.  Bring that glorious mess up to a gentle boil, then lower the heat to a very gentle simmer.

Cover, and let that do magical things for around 20 to 30 minutes.  Go finish up that wine or tea.  Pet a cat, or watch something you love on Netflix (I watch Twin Peaks when I don’t feel well).

When the timer goes off, uncover your soup, and add the lemongrass paste, some fresh cracked pepper, a pinch of salt, and a can of coconut milk.  stir, and when it seems happy and integrated, kill the heat.

Ladle yourself a nice generous portion, and finish with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to taste.

I’d note here that you can add other ingredients to this that work very well.  Asparagus and bok choy have both been welcome additions in the past, but don’t force yourself to make a special trip out.

If you’ve got a terrible cough, you can add a touch of honey to this to finish it to soothe that awful mess, or just enjoy it with some rooibos tea.

Make sure you drink a glass of water when you’re done, because that’s important when you don’t feel well.

Go ahead, have a second bowl.  You’ll feel better, I promise.

 

It’s been at least five minutes since I’ve posted about food, right?

Your Wardrobe is Your Friend. That’s Only Sort of Just a Metaphor

For my gorgeous “Punky”  —

In the last year, I’ve lost a net of forty-five pounds.  People have lots to say about that, sometimes.  I’m sort of uninterested in most of that dialogue, because I was pretty happy with my body and how it works, looks, and moves before and after that change.  While I wasn’t really focused on changing my body, I did change a lot of my habits and also the emotional backdrop of my life, and I think the body change is a consequence of that, combined with the fact that I have eliminated a major allergen/irritant from my food choices and my guts are healing and functioning better.

So gross medical crap and weird body discussions aside, one of the things that this big change has necessitated is some major adjustments to my wardrobe.  Yes, I’m going to talk about clothes.  With enthusiasm.  If that’s not your thing, I’ll get you next post with something more your speed.  It’s cool.  You don’t have to love everything I love.  Have a cuppa and go look at baby marmosets or something.

I’m going to skip a lot of the over-arching commentary I have on Issues with Women’s Clothes for a hot second, because frankly, this post would be of Epic Length if I went there.  Instead, I’m going to stick with talking about clothes the way I talk about friends.  Friends, in the general sense — not my friends individually or specifically.

I’m an introvert. We’ve discussed this.  You’re aware.  Hi.  Part of that introversion means that I curate my friend circle pretty ruthlessly.  I’m the same with my closet.  My general rule for closet cleaning (I’m available, if you need help with that) and clothes purging is this:

Step One: Put the thing on your body.  Preferably with other things with which you typically wear it.

Step Two: Is it comfortable?  Does it button/zip?  Can you sit down in it?  Can you move your arms? If No, pitch it.  If Yes, proceed to Step Three.

Step Three: Is it wearable?  Is it free of stains, holes, tears, missing buttons?  If No, pitch it.  If Yes, proceed to Step Four.

Step Four: Look in the mirror.  Is your immediate reaction something along the lines of, “Oh hell yeah”?  If No, pitch it.  If Yes, proceed to Step Five.

Step Five: Do you like it?  This step also includes things like, will you actually in real life wear it?  Does it have at least two or three other playmates in your closet?  Can you layer it, or is it a one season item?  Do you look forward to putting it on your body and wearing it in public?  If these are mostly either positive answers, or answers like, “I’d wear this more if I had a ____ to go with it,” where _____ is a broad category of item like “cardigan” or “pencil skirt” then keep it.  If it’s something mega specific like “purple and green striped blazer from Anthropologie that ran last season and is on eBay for $400” pull an Elsa and Let it Go.

[Step Five is why I only own one pair of jeans.  I don’t wear them.  Every once in a while, you need a pair of jeans, sure.  I wear jeans maybe, MAYBE once a month, even in the winter.  In the winter, it is mostly to put over long johns so I can shovel snow.  Don’t get me wrong!  There’s not anything wrong with jeans.  They’re comfortable, I look great, you can wear them year ’round, they go with everything… jeans are great.  They’re just not a strong part of my personal style, and I’m okay with that. I’m just not a denim girl. Plus, jeans take up hella bureau space and I hate that.  I also don’t own any shorts, unless you count a pair of compression shorts for dance classes, which I don’t because they’re not clothes I can actually wear on the street without getting arrested, probably.]

Just as I curate my social group using specific, pragmatic criteria (that’s another blog post, though) I keep a tidy, smokin’ hot wardrobe by being as unsentimental, decisive, and parsimonious as I can.  If a piece of clothing doesn’t jive with the other stuff I wear (more on that in a second), or fails to make me look or feel awesome?  It goes.  Period.

Okay, exception: I have a tee shirt from Tori Amos’ Dew Drop Inn ’97 Tour, and that is literally the only article of clothing I own that is worn out, super comfortable, and is three sizes too big for me.  I wear it with yoga pants for dance class and cleaning days and I will never, ever get rid of it because that concert was amazing and Ears with Feet for lyfe, y’all.  We all have that tee shirt, and we all have that friend.  To be fair, I also don’t own a lot of tee shirts.  It’s like, that one, one from PM Press, a True Blood tee-shirt from 2010, and a black one featuring Death from Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novel, because of course I have that, and one with an octopus on it that my friend Michelle gave me because I like octopodes.  Again.  Nothing wrong with tee-shirts!  I just don’t wear a ton of them.

Part of the reason I’m this unforgiving with clothes that get to live with me is I’ve moved A LOT, and moving clothes is The Total Worst Augh.  I try to keep my wardrobe under the following limitations: excluding undergarments, 3 dresser drawers; fewer than fifteen hangers (with allowance for skirts to double up on pinch hangers), one winter coat, one rain/spring/fall coat, and fewer than 5 pairs of shoes, not including a pair of athletic shoes and a pair of snow boots because Mid-Atlantic Region.  Ideally, that’s my whole wardrobe for all seasons.  That rarely obtains, because sweaters can be bulky, and everyone has that hoodie they love (I do), etc.  However, I hate having too many clothes, because too many clothes means too much d*mn laundry which is the only thing worse than having to move with too many clothes.  It’s a maintenance bandwidth issue (just like it is in social circles).

The other reason I’m unforgiving with clothes that get to live with me is that I’ve developed a very distinctive way of looking, dressing, and presenting myself to the world.  I worked on that, because it’s something I like, I love looking and feeling like my best self, and it also helps me curtail spending money on clothes and shoes I have to store, launder, and move twice annually it feels like periodically, to my annoyance and chagrin.

Another way I limit the number of clothes I permit myself to possess is that everything in my wardrobe needs to play nicely.  I build my wardrobe the way I used to build Magic: the Gathering decks: by color.  This means that if you look in my closet, you will see only shades of the following colors: white, black/grey, brown, purple, pink, burgandy, and navy.  That’s it. Those are the colors of clothes I purchase.

That probably sounds insane, but hear me out.  Since I don’t wear trousers often, and jeans even less so, I rely on layering basics.  To stay under my self-imposed limit, every article of clothing needs to be relevant for at least three seasons, and in at least two or three outfits.  The secret to that is to make sure you can put that burgundy blazer with a pair of burgundy tights, to pair with that lilac sleeveless dress, the black cowl neck sweater and pencil skirt, and those navy skinny trousers and white button-up blouse.  As long as your pairings are purposeful and mindful, you feel put together and polished. Plus, those are the colors I like wearing.

I am also like this with my social group, which sounds weird.  I don’t like single-task relationships.  I prefer rich relationships that span interests, values, and virtues to someone I can connect with over, I dunno, Twin Peaks, and nothing else.  Having limited time and energy (maintenance bandwidth) to devote to people, I like social interactions that run the gamut of laughter/goofiness, emotional connection, deep abiding care, and reliable support.  I have a pretty specific range of needs and desires, and like when I am close to people who can speak to an amalgamation of those needs and desires, and for whom I may do the same.  I don’t pursue relationships (or clothing purchases) that are not purposeful and mindful in this way.  Friendships don’t just blossom for me, I select them.  Mine are diverse, varied, rich, and personal — I value and love my friends, deeply.

So, to draw a parallel, the Keep/Purge decision tree is comparable to what I consider basic requirements to associate with me.  This includes things like, does it fit/do you advocate for gender equality; does it look good/do you know how to love people well; is it comfortable/do you respect boundaries, and so forth.  The aesthetic decision tree is comparable to a sliding scale of shared and diverse values and skills between my friends and I: the things we share in common, and the things that make us different but well suited for one another.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this is twofold: first, I need to clean out my closet and dresser, like whoa, and have been investing (about $50 a paycheck) in filling out my wardrobe in a purposeful fashion (get it?!).  Modcloth’s been a huge help with that; second, a friend of mine recently discussed with me her desire to fully and explicitly develop criteria for herself regarding dating partners.  I think the parallels are strong because lookit: life, time, and closet space are all limited things, and we all have a particular vision of the kind of life (or style) we want to achieve.  We all have really different needs (I don’t need a lot of knocking around clothes, some people do!, I don’t need bras, some people do or like them!) and should address those needs as valid.

We should also interrogate our tastes.  I’d always wanted to be that girl who gets up early and does something cute to her hair.  Reality: HAVE YOU MET ME I AM NOT THAT GIRL, and that’s okay.  I throw it in a french braid, or run a brush through it and go, most days.  The thing is, I felt this pressure to be a certain kind of woman who did certain kinds of things and that pressure was not coming from inside of me.  This is obvious because I was not willing to do the work to be that sort of woman.  I wanted to HAVE ALWAYS BEEN that girl, because that’s how women “should” be.  Or whatever.  What even.  We’re the same way with our desires.  There’s this pressure to have “a lot” of friends and a busy social calendar to be seen as sociable and successful.  There’s this pressure to pursue romantic relationships with people who meet criteria that have nothing to do with what helps us to flourish.  There’s this pressure to look really good in empire waist dresses, because that’s what’s on the rack.  There’s this expectation to wear jeans when you prefer wool tights and dresses. These pressures and “shoulds” can be especially intense for women who are whip smart, ambitious, successful, accomplished, educated, etc.  Some of them come from our families of origin, from movies or books or magazines, from our well-meaning friends, or from the culture and geography in which we find ourselves.

But really, the shoulds we ought concern ourselves with are the ones that we already know best, but sometime need to excavate from the avalanche of cultural concerns.  For this friend of mine, we’ve talked a bit and  I have my suspicions.  I suspect she needs someone who deeply (and independently) values and advocates for consent, bodily autonomy, and gender equality; someone who acts as a grounding point for her electrifying presence and energy; someone who values her ferocity and her gentleness in equal measure and has the strength to help her temper their raw edges…  These are not needs you can find talked about “on the rack”  — you have to go looking for these tweeds and suedes and velvets off the beaten path.  If you clear the closet of the stuff other people keep telling you to wear, you make room for the things you really want.

And that is what I want most for you, Punky.  *clinks champagne glass, and tosses a pair of red wool tights your way*

Your Wardrobe is Your Friend. That’s Only Sort of Just a Metaphor

Supper Club Co-Operative

So an idea I’ve been kicking around a lot, as we start to think about our mid-Winter move to Philadelphia is a Supper Club Co-Operative.  We have so many friends in Philadelphia, it’s ridiculous.  It’s one of the reasons we have decided to move — we’d be there every night of the week for one thing or another, if it didn’t involve driving home at 11PM or later.  Tom and I fully plan to join a CSA at the beginning of the season, and if I can find one that does meat or dairy in addition to produce, more’s the better for us. One of the ways I plan to get through the period where both Tom and I are both moving toward different careers, is to make as much nutritious amazing food in big batches as I can.  This means hacking a few gadgets, probably purchasing a small chest freezer, and investing in a few tools for the kitchen to make life a bit easier.  A DIY sous vide machine is high on my list of priorities.  Hacking one yourself costs about $75, and gives you the capacity to use a wide variety of water-filled vessels.  Buying one costs, legit, almost $400 and you’re stuck with the countertop size you have.  A sous vide machine gives you the capacity to pump out a lot of perfectly cooked protein at a fraction of the time you can do it on the stove or the grill. I’ve also been considering a stovetop smoker, but that’s mostly my tastebuds talking.  A pressure cooker might be on my list, for similar reasons to the sous vide — working around my shortcomings as a kitchen manager, mostly; but also an acknowledgment that our food choices aren’t conducive to emergency meals like spaghetti.  Most of the stuff we eat requires more preparation than “boil water, wait ten minutes, strain, add something from a jar, consume.”  I think, with the right tools I can get to managing to make sure we have a stocked fridge, plenty of produce, and some emergency stores set up for nights when we don’t feel well, or weeks when we’re broke or busy.  Some of the staples that belong in my fridge take 24 hours to make.  Some, like Kvass, take longer.

We have a lot of people in our soon-to-be-neighborhood, many of whom are excellent, talented, and creative.  I’d like to share my work and experience with them, but I’m no Gatsby.  I’m not currently in a position to do the sorts of things I want to do without reaping a benefit in return — even if it’s pet sitting on weekends we’re away, or picking up a CSA share so I can relax (with wine) after work, or a bottle of homemade wine, or storage in someone else’s basement for carboys of my mead to age.  I’m trying to come up with trades and barters that make sense — a chance to share the things we have, and we all do well and enjoy (and would be doing otherwise) with people in exchange for things we might need.  I know what my contributions are likely to be — food, primarily, since it’s already one of my goals.

I think there’s a lot to be said for mindful community building.  There’s also something to be said for sending out a text on Monday that says, “Hey I have treats for everyone, come on over,” knowing that the text on Wednesday, “Huginn is sick, can he get a ride to the vet while I’m at work?” will be met with: YOU BET.  Communities of reciprocity are something I work hard to build in my life, and enrich the world in which we live.  I’d like my next home to be a node in a much larger network of people who set out to do things for each other.  I don’t know who among my friends in the metro area will be interested in participating, or what the other things I might have to offer could be.  But it’s on my mind a lot.  The fact that I have talented friends further outside the city who might also benefit and be totally down with reciprocity is also encouraging.   A monthly gathering at our new place where we bring the things we have to offer, socialize, and block out time to connect sounds like another way for me to work around one of my shortcomings: scheduling time for people I love (including myself).

So yeah!  If you’re reading this, and this sounds like a community project you’d like to offer to and gain from, I’d love to hear from you.  What would you want?  What would you provide?  What are the things you love doing, and what are things you can’t stand or don’t have the time or resources to do, but need?

Supper Club Co-Operative

An update on Finanxiety

Finance Anxiety!  I have it!

However.  I made a pretty big improvement this month from last month, and I want to share it here.  If you recall, I had the HORRIFYING revelation, thanks to Mint.com and Smartgirlmoney (no seriously, thank you), that I spent $908 last month on food I did not make myself, most typically on evenings when I was out in philly for tabletop games.

Well, September had it’s own share of fun financial surprises, BUT: I cut that number from $908 in August to $226 in September, and honestly: I could have done a little better than even that.  Cutting a major area of spending by 75% in a month is a really big deal!  That’s like, $700 you guys.

There were some craptacular developments with cars and the like that ate a lot of that difference, but hey: I wouldn’t have had that money if I was spending it on thai food.  We also adopted two glorious panther cats this month, and some of the money I saved from not eating out as much went towards things they needed (or we needed to preserve our sanity).  So while bottom line, my overall “what’s left” at the end of the month is really similar to last month (augh), I made a decision to execute a very serious change, and I did!  If I can keep that up in October, things might look much sunnier by Yuletide.

In the next week, I’ll be selling my old car, and using a portion of the proceeds to pay down my credit card, and do some repairs myself on my Subaru.  Replacing my radiator and thermostat myself means that I’ll be spending $150 instead of $400, and I’m down with that, even if it does take phone calls to my buddy Adam, and a bunch of youtube videos.

Mostly, guys, I’m just really proud of myself. Seeing the numbers of what I spent on something seriously non-essential plummet that far in a span of four weeks was a really big deal.  Despite the fact that on paper, I still sort of over-spent this month, I had the money available for serious essentials (car stuff) and a thing I’ve wanted to do for a long time with my partner (furbabies) because I made this one change.

In addition: I also found a therapist with availability starting in December (she’s on maternity leave at the moment) who is within my health insurance network.  That investment in my overall well-being is something I want to prioritize, and now I’m pretty confident I can, if I work at it.

Making this improvement has given me the confidence to be like, “Oh hey, I might be CRAZYPANTS when it comes to money and my thoughts and feelings about it, but at least now I have the knowledge that Things Will Probably Be Okay.”  I’m not sure if that sort of visible improvement (I just like piecharts and graphs, okay?) will fully resolve the level at which my financial brain feels disordered, but it certainly helps.
So yeah: I DID A THING YOU GUYS!

An update on Finanxiety

Another Installment of “Texts from My Best Friend”:

Here’s a thing you might not know: My best friend is a motherf*cking Valkyrie.  She is a shield maiden who will dismantle foes with her ravenous teeth.  She is fierce and caring, and one of my Reasons To.  She is a force of nature and I get to see her tomorrow.  In the meantime, welcome to this snapshot of our friendship.

“Here’s the thing about boundaries.  No matter how loudly you defend the ones you draw, if you’re drawing them for/on someone else, it’s still violence.  Even if you have /so many/ salient points about yours.”

“Put your d*ck away, and get on the same page.”

“I wrestled a hallucinogenic alcoholic onto his bed and tied him down this week, man.  Don’t f*ck with me/mine.  Also none of this sounds like your fault at all.”

“That was not coming out.  One comes out about things that are okay to be and do.”

“____ can respond, by sitting the f*ck down, is what.”

Another Installment of “Texts from My Best Friend”:

Things I Love about Autumn: Pie. Also, Pie. Then there’s Pie.

In an effort to collect some recipes for holiday gifts this year, I hit up Ashley for my Apple Pie recipe.  It appears below, with some revisions secondary to ongoing learning experiences.

Hilary’s Apple Pie: Guard this with your life, okay maybe not really. THE GLUTEN EDITION —

The apples I used were Gold Rush and Winesap.  The gold rush really make it, but the only place I’ve found them is the West Chester farmer’s market.  Winesaps or similar (super tart, super crisp) are a good bet.  Stay away from Granny Smiths.  They’re generic and lame, and get stupid and mushy.

Crust (makes 2 shells, so halve recipe for punkin or open faced pies)

4 ½ C. All purpose flour.  I like King Arthur, but you can use anything.

16 T. of salted butter – put it in the freezer for at least an hour or two before you begin.  Trust me, you will thank me later.

A glass of water, with ice, in the fridge.

Enough granulated sugar to fit in your cupped palm

¼ t. salt

1 T. Cinnamon.

Split the butter in half, and substitute the other 8 T with lard, ideally, leaf lard.  Do not make that face at me.  Just do as I say.

Combine Flour, cinnamon, sugar, and salt in a food processor (or whisk in a bowl).  Pulse/Whisk until fully integrated.

If you want to get serious about pie-baking, I highly recommend purchasing or procuring a Cuisinart food processor.  9 or 11 cups is fine.  Make sure it comes with the plastic pastry blade.

>>Edit<<

Screw that.  Nobody likes cleaning a food processor.  Use your hands to integrate your dry ingredients.  You will be able to feel when it is well-integrated.

If in a FP, move the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Get out a cheese grater/planer.

Shred the frozen butter with a cheese grater or planer into the dry ingredients.  Move quickly.  Do not shred fingers, though.

Once the butter is shredded into the flour, mix with your hands until the butter is coated in flour, and has broken down to pea-sized bits.  Your dough should look and feel a bit like damp sand at the beach.  It helps to chill your hands before you do this, or to use a pastry cutter.  Get one with the steel blades, not the wire.

Put it all back in the FP. Take your ice water out of the fridge.  Add a *little* at a time (I’m talking a table spoon or so) while you pulse the dough.  At some point, the dough will start to clump up and may get clogged or separated in the FP.  You can either move it around and fiddle with it, or take it out and work it by hand, adding water a little at a time.

You’re looking for the time when, if you squeeze the dough together, it holds its shape.  Too dry?  It’ll crack.  Too wet?  Slimy.  Sticky.  Gross.  You can counterbalance if you cross the too wet line by adding a little more flour.

*Important with gluten doughs* You can overwork them.  Handle and knead and mix the dough as little as possible.  Ideally (this takes practice) you want to roll your dough out, and be able to see chunks of butter apparent in its surface.

When the dough is cohering properly, place it on a large sheet of plastic wrap, lightly dusted in flour.  Form the dough into 2 disks (like a hamburger, not a Frisbee) and wrap tightly.  Put it in the fridge for an hour.

FILLING:

Cut your apples into thin slices.  Don’t peel them.  People who don’t like apple peels have stupid preferences.

About 4-5 apples should do you, depending upon the size of your pie plate, and how mountainous you like your pies.

Throw the following into a bowl with the apples:

¾ C of brown sugar

1/8 C. white sugar

Some acceptable ratio of Cinnamon:Cloves:Nutmeg:Cardamom or any other spices you like in pie.  You can (and in fact ought to occasionally) easily adapt this pie to be savory with onions, sausage and sage, for the record.

A little flour or some Tapioca Pearls that you have soaked according to the instructions on the box – this is to help your pie thicken instead of being soupy.  The tapioca pearls work well, if you are patient. Otherwise, rely on butter + brown sugar to form a caramel.

You can also add things like:

Molasses, Grade B Maple Syrup, Honey, Agave Nectar >>edit<< EW.  Dont’. or other delights of your choice.  Like, you know, whiskey.  Just sayin.

Make sure you balance the liquid sweeteners with some butter and some brown sugar, mixed well. That goo will form a caramel-like paste and counteract the liquid content of your liquid sweetener. 

You want the apples to be well-coated, but not sitting in a gallon of goo, ideally.  The consistency of the filling should be fairly thick and sticky.  Like chocolate chip cookie dough sticky.  Lumps are a bonus.

Let the filling sit for a few minutes.  Have some coffee.  Maybe clean some of the myriad of dishes you’ve created in making this pie.  Sweep the flour off the floor (it will be there, trust me.)

Take out your dough.  Lightly grease your pie plate >>edit<< Use some lard, not butter.  You can use the wrappers from the butter to do this.  Leave your dough on the plastic wrap.  Flour your rolling pin.  >>edit<< Do what you can to chill your hands a bit.  Hold a glass of ice, or a cold pack.  Keep it nearby.  The less warm that touches your dough, the better.  More’s the better if you have a marble rolling pin.  Stick that ish in the fridge in advance, and use it cold.

Roll the first disk of dough in a starburst pattern, starting from the middle and working out in a radial pattern.  This ensures your pie crust will be uniform in width.  It should be stretchy, but not rubbery, or bouncy.  In other words, when you roll it out, it stays put and doesn’t shrink back the way pizza dough or bread dough sometimes do.

Roll it as thin as you can manage.  I struggle with this.  When it is to your desired or tolerated thickness, pick up the dough, plastic wrap and all, and gently (!!!) place it, dough-face down onto the pie plate.  Peel the plastic wrap away.  Arrange dough in pie plate.  Trim off excess (and eat it, because it’s delicious) beyond an inch or so of the pie plate’s rim.

Roll out second disk as you did the first.

Fill your pie.

Place the second disk of dough in a fashion similar to the first, only on top of the filling, this time.

Seal and crimp edges.

Cut slits in the top of your pie.

*Important* EGG WASH YOUR PIE I MEAN IT.

2 yolks and a little salt should do it.  Brush on gently.  You’ll thank me.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350 and bake for 35-45 minutes.  If you see your crimped edges starting to get too brown, shield them with some tin foil.

Let the pie sit for 20 minutes before you cut it.

Things I Love about Autumn: Pie. Also, Pie. Then there’s Pie.

Musing

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about contact I’ve had with a collection of faux-feminists and false allies, and the risks they pose to communities I value.  I’ve come forward in another venue, and spoken in story-form a bit about those troubling feelings, with full awareness that doing so is likely to inject discord into my life.  I abide in the knowledge that there is an army at my back, ready to mobilize if I am in jeopardy.  This army knows the value of the person I am, even in imperfect and deeply flawed moments, and I rest in the knowledge that they will rise with me if need be.

Trolls and bullies aside, this is a conversation that skepticism requires.  That one’s values and beliefs can be publicly mirrored and privately disregarded is not something that should go without mention. It is painful and exhausting, and undermines the kind of change I want to see take place in the world.  Appearances and practices are distinct means by which to measure a person or group of people.  Both matter.  Both deserve consideration. And I find them most problematic when taken in tandem and found unharmonious.

I’m tired.  This feels like the final word in a much longer tale.  The journey is exhausting, and I simply want my words to stand as they are, and to retreat to being present for the people I value.  I’d like to remove this armor I’ve been wearing — the armor of silence, of caution.  Of politely declining to answer questions about other people’s behavior.  Of avoiding or re-directing conversation so people don’t have to feel compromised, despite the fact that maybe, they should.  These plates and chains and straps have grown heavy with the knowledge that with my silence and evasion, perhaps I protect the wrong things.  Perhaps more radical honesty is required, now that I have some clarity and reflection under my belt.

I think this signifies moving away from the facticity of transgressions and events transpired, and towards lessons learnt and ground gained.  I’m scanning the horizon for wonderful places to land, and I’m struck with the knowledge that:

  • I don’t need someone else to tell me what should make me feel empowered or loved.  I already know the answers to those questions.  In fact, the only reason you should be using “empowered” is in the form of a question (e.g. How can I empower you to ______?”) because what empowers me is not up to you.
  • I can rely on myself to know when I am being treated well or poorly.
  • When someone identifies that what is most valuable about me is my capacity to feel with and for others, caution is warranted.
  • The way people treat me without prompt or instruction says volumes about them.  It shows how they are naturally disposed to treat others, and is worthy of a great deal of scrutiny and attention.  It is okay to test people before you trust them with your wishes, desires, or needs.  And by “okay,” I mean, “It is probably a good idea.”
  • When a request or boundary is hard for another person and they respect it anyway, without complaint or protest, they are likely a friend.
  • The people who love me will affirm me even in the face of my faults.  One of which is putting off paying parking tickets and making doctor’s appointments.  (Sorry, guys.)
  • Loving me means extending consideration and care to the people I love.  Full stop.
  • It remains perfectly alright to curate a social life based on what energizes me, makes me happy, and fills me with strength and peace.  Discontinuing relationships that don’t meet those criteria does not have to be personal or fraught.  It is okay to say, “I have outgrown this relationship,” and leave.  People are not entitled to explanations or ongoing contact simply because they desire it.

Those are some pretty decent conclusions at which to arrive.  Despite the fact that there are some thunderheads in the sky, my feet are on the ground, and the storm will pass.  I have spoken my truth, and it is time to move forward.

Musing