Muffins

Sue Ten has been talking about adding muffins to the pie shop menu lately, but I do think she is mistaken. Surely she means adding muffins to the Swing Barn menu for those few fools who think breakfast should be full of fluff and sweetness. Wait a minute, that would be me.  Yes, I want brepakfast to have bacon, toast, eggs, grits, and some sort of garnish, maybe an  nice twist of Florida orange, but not a muffin.

A muffin is more of an afternoon food, or perhaps really an accoutrement to the entre.  Should be a bit grainy, and small.

I don’t know where this breakfast muffin came from.  I think it’s a little crazy and I don’t believe that what people are calling muffins today are muffins at all but are instead some sort of glorified cupcake. I’m with Frank Zappa here, on the muffin question.

Now somepeople they like cupcakes . . . .

And why not? Especially the Hostess variety, chocolately with those white squiggles on top.  Yum. I ate those for years, until the adventt of ding dongs and ring dings. Oh, my teeth hurt just thinking about it.

And then there were the birthday cupcakes that we had one year for the Twins – little cakes piled high with frosting beyond belief. For some reason, blue ws the color of the day and the frosting was spread from child to sugarfied child quick as a wink or a wiggle. Each cupcake had a little blue clown head with pointed cap; each child wore a pointed blue clown cap. All in all, a fairly eerie site. Good thing the whole crew was outside and we were just able to hose them down later on. What do parents of winter-birthday children do? I shudder to think.

Muffins, though, should be nourishing and life giving. I remember one particular camping trip in Maine, when my fellow partiers, i mean drinkers, no I mean campers, chided me for bringing  along a dozen blueberry muffins from the jordan marsh bakery.  Ah, but in the morning, when we opened our blearing eyes and spied that pale pink bakery box, my stock rose as fast as the  sun. Yes, nourishing and life giving.

Corn meal muffins are the perfect accompaniment to fish chowder, and bran muffins are, well, medicinal at best.  Banana nut muffins reek of tea time.  Let’s see, then there are all manner of poppy seed ones, lemon grass, and who knows what else.

Muffins are a step up from biscuits, and a stair case up from the nasty burned things that my mother called “bride’s biscuit” decades after she was a bride.

So how did they become the trashy breakfast dessert things they are today? The monsters with umbrella-mushroom tops handing over the edge? I don’t know.

I’ve also noticed that in some parts of the country people refer to donuts as “rolls” and I think calling near-cupcakes “muffins” is the same faux-healthiness. Oh, how can I eat something big and sweet and pretend that it’s really good forr me?  I know. I’ll call it a muffin.  All 2,000 calories of it.

So, no to Sue Ten. The Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and driving range will not be adding muffins to the menu, but I will  give you my recipe for corn muffins and you can serve them on Saturday nights along with the endless franks-and-beans buffet. Outside of that, steer clear.

We are a pie shop. And a driving range.  Life is good.

Sue Ten and the City

I may have told you some of the story, but there is always more, and now a few weeks or months after our visit to The City, I find it interesting to see what parts are risen to the top of the milk, and what lies submerged.

Now, seriously, I am not a city person by any stretch of imagination. I get rattled in crowds that are not headed to or from a ballgame. I hear too many heart beats around me, and I don’t know how to shut them out. I’m too busy gawking to watch where I am going, and I feel like I am constantly trying to break through the surface to find a more familiar horizon.

So why go to New York with Sue? Ah, well. Pretty easy answer. She asked me, and she also said, “Do you like to plan your trips?” Oh, my. Magic words. In no time at all I had a website set up, an interactive calendar in place, and a spreadsheet of what when and where all worked out.

“Oh,” she said. But of course, she already knew all that about me. After all, geekiness is something hard to hide for long, although it is more and more commonly accepted today as “normal” especially by people who don’t know the origin of the term.  Geek, my dear, is really a type of carney folk who specialize in odd things link biting heads off lizards,  and other acts of dismemberment and displaced body parts. Geeks will fry frogs alive and pop them in their mouths. Geeks will follow up the frog trick by popping our their own eyeballs, and eating them, too.  There’s really no limit to geekdom, and I do promise you, I try to keep that kind of geek out of the pie shop kitchen, although they do pretty well on the driving range since what they lack in skill they make up with creativity.

And so it goes.

Yes, we made our plan, and i do love a good plan, and we followed it through and through. I think Sue’s favorite part, at least in the re-telling, was  when the neophyte taxi driver tried to kidnap us, or so  it seemed. I, of course, was a total innocent, just going along for the drive, confident that public transportation would be every bit as reliable as it is at home when whoever is the designated driver for the day sets out with his or her precious cargo.

Boy oh boy, was I mistaken. This guy had no apparent idea where he was going but he was determined to take us there.  We knew we were in trouble when, soon after we got in the town car, Sue’s phone rang and it was the dispatcher saying “He’ll be right there.” Right where? We’re in the car. “Are you in a black car?” No, we’re in a gray car.

Okay, that was bad, but optimism reigned. One cab, two cabs, how different could they be? And then he took the wrong exit, and Sue started to quiz him. Or interrogate him. Or get into his face, which was difficult from the back seat since she did not want to take her seatbelt off.

Then she starts yelling at me to call 9-1-1, which made no sense to me at all since I knew my phone would call the local Everglades dispatch and what good would that do me in New York City.  Sue later told me I’d just have to tell them where we were. “But I didn’t know where we were!” Even now, she is incredulous remembering my face as I handed her the phone.

Oh, good lord. What would I have done without her? Would I have been sold into white slavery? Or was that Japanese businessman who took a liking to me in China behind the whole escapade? I don’t know.

Somehow Sue gained command of the episode, and  he convinced the driver to follow her instructions to the letter, and we did – sure enough – end up at LaGuardia airport in plenty of time for our flight to SoFLA.

And now, can you believe it, I’m about to go to New York again, and it hasn’t even been six months, not to mention 30 years. This time I’m on a mission with the American Pie Council to attend the Martha Stewart Pie Special.  I’m totally cracked up about the whole thing, and am still working on my pie design. Some sort of poetry pie, I think. Maybe a brownie pie with a ginger snap crust, the poems tucked into foil doilies between the slices. I am psyched.

And I have no intention of getting into a New York cab with Sue Ten.

Moon Landing

As you know, we are big fans of Big Science here at The Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, and what could be bigger, scientifically speaking, than putting a man or two on the moon?

After all, if Neal Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Cmdr Collins had not made that initial trip 40 years ago, our favorite astronaut Alan Shepard might never have been the first man to play golf on the lunar surface.

For our Moon Landing celebration, we had plenty of Alan Shepard Pie, we listened to NASA’s re-broadcast of the whole event, and we held a contest to solve the content-relevant puzzles in the New York times.

We had a lot of moon songs on the juke box – Blue Moon, Moon Dance, and Moon Shadow, to name a few – and Sue Ten showed Moonstruck on the side of the Swing Barn our usual lawn chair and popcorn crowd.  Our newest regular, Loretta Beauregard, the salsa-dance therapist, was on hand to give us all some lessons and some listening, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

I read recently that the computers used by mission control and on Apollo were perhaps as powerful as our cell phones, probably not as powerful as your own GPS golf-tracking systems, certainly not as sophisticated at the system that Sue Ten has set up at the Swing Barn to mash-up Karaoke renditions with key variables such as harmonic success, type of liquor sold during each song, and amount of money in her tip jar.

I’ve just got to wonder, though, if computers have become so much more clever, why isn’t the space program growing at a faster rate. Where’s my hover car? Shouldn’t we all have a space-station vacation home by now? Shouldn’t I be eating pie in zero-G and working on my short game on the lunar surface. I must say, I’m a tad disapointed.

Your second-cousin Darnell blames the robots, although he was a bit more colorful in his description of exactly what he calls a robot. He seems to think that the robots took all the good jobs, and let him with few options beyond becoming a greeter at Wal-Mart or a bag-boy at Publix.

I’m not so sure. I don’t know that I have ever actually met a robot, but I would like to. I do know that a lot of great technology – and I’m not just talking about Tang here – has come from the space program. Think of the medical advances alone. So, as we sat around with our slices of Alan Shepard pie and our glasses of Tang (I had some stored in the fall-out shelter), we talked about how we might personally benefit from more spin offs.

As you know by now, I plan to live to 120 for starters, so I want to believe that technology will help me out. I have no problem at all with cybernetic knees. I’m sure they are a good thing. Elbows, too. Maybe hips. Maybe more. And, in another 60 years, I might need even more parts. What about you? Where’s the line for your own descent into robotology? I’d really like to know.

Then again, there is always a concern that one might go too far, and end up and unfeeling brain in a metal container. No, I don’t think that’s likely, but it could be worse. I keep asking the Pie Shoppers if they remember this video, but apparently it was not as popular with them as it was with me and the twins, and as always, I’m happy to share.

National Pie Championships (Part Two)

I am excited beyond belief to be accepted as a judge at the National Pie Championships this month, even though it does mean leaving my beloved SoFLA once again for the Northern Realm somewhere near Orland. (Golf friends, please take note that this event is the equivalent of The Masters, or The U.S. Open.  Yes, it’s The Big Time.)

I’m hoping that Nurse Crotchett, Little Peach, or one of the other regulars can join me for the event, but I’m sure I’ll be fine on my own, happy in my work and fully enjoying the Never Ending Pie Buffet.

When I told Little Peach that I was going to be a judge at the National Pie Chamionships, she laughed for a very long time, and then she said, “Have you told the kids?”  I said I had emailed them, and she said, “They are probably laughing too hard to reply.”

Now why would she react that way?

I certainly would be happy for her if she had been selected to judge an Orchid Championship or a Model Train Championship.  Sometimes I think she does not fully appreciate my dedication to pastry, or my dedication to golf for that matter.

A couple of days later, though, she called and left a fairly lengthy message on my answering machine. Here is a reasonably accurate transcription of what she had to say, having had some time to reflect upon the fullness of my accomplishment:

“Okay,” she said, “I’m thinking I’m on this long drive back from Dade City, and I’m thinking to myself okay you have to be judging pie, hopefully key lime pie, and my big question is: What does one wear as a judge in a pie-judging contest? Do you have to have a special apron?  Do they give you a wooden spoon? Do you do have to wear something with Betty Crocker written across it? I mean, did you have to whip up a little something up? I dont know. I was kinda wondering.  Is there a special judge bow that you have to wear? I dont know. What does one wear to judge pies? So anyway, then I thought, “Heels!” What about your gold heels? Those would be perfect, with a nice little apron and a fresh green wooden spoon, with a green gingham bow tied on the end of the spoon? What do you think? I’m getting a picture here. Oh! What about a tiara? Something with BC for Betty Crocker or J for Judge. Maybe you could push a button and it could light up? I dont know, but now I’ve got all these visuals. Talk to you later. Bye.”

Just right off hand, she might be right about my gold heels, but I still don’t think she is taking this very seriously.

I am, though, and I’ve got just a few days to do my homework and really learn the criterialof pie judging.  Just as a tease, though, I’ll tell you two traits that I will be reviewing: One is “mouthfeel” and the other is “memorableness.”

Oh, yes. It’s the Big Time for me, now.

National Pie Championships

Road trip anyone? The National Pie Championships are just a month away. Might be fun to go check out the competition.

Actually, I think I’ll send in the application to be a judge. Who knows? This could be my dream come true, traveling the country with my crew of pie cronies, rambling from contest to contest, stopping here and there to chat with golfers, clowns, and people waiting at payphones.

It could be a fine life.

2009 APC Crisco®
National Pie Championships

Ramada Orlando Celebration Resort and Convention Center, Kissimmee, FL
April 24–26, 2009

Here’s one of last year’s winning recipes. Wish they had included a picture.

Key lime with raspberries? Not sure how I feel about that. What do you think?

Key Lime with Raspberries Pie

Key Lime with Raspberries Pie

An Urgency of Pay Phones

A few days ago, I was driving south on U.S. 1 in SoFLA when I spotted a run-down convenience store, windows obscured with hand-lettered signs in Spanish, and the sight triggered a memory of a day when I had stopped at that very place to call my ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd to draw a bead on his level of sobriety before continuing home.

I don’t remember the conversation, but I’m pretty sure it was an emotional one, as so many of our pay-phone calls tended to be. In fact, I now believe that the correct term for a group of pay phones should be “urgency.” Yes, an urgency of pay phones. When dormant and unused, as they typically are today, they seem so benign, but did you ever really need to find one? Did you ever scramble for change on the floor of the pick-up truck and focus all your homing instincts on a pay phone?

The first one would be out of order, and the second one would be unavailable, its attention fully given over to that enormous woman you always saw at Wal-Mart, wearing a flower-strewn sundress on the first day of spring. Finally, you pull up to one, run to the phone with the truck engine still growling, and make the call. Yes, urgency.

At the same time, you might talk in a low voice, barely above a whisper, at least at an outside phone. Now, the cell-phone generation shares everything with the immediate neighborhood, but those conversations are simply not that interesting to me: “Guess where I am?” or “What kind of milk did you want?” or “What do you mean it’s my turn to drive the carpool?” Mundane, at best.

Overheard pay phone conversations tend to be better stories, and I love a good story. (Otherwise, I probably never would have gotten married, but I wanted to continue to follow the narrative thread.)

For example, early one morning, walking by the Walgreen’s in South Beach before dawn, I saw a tall, dark-haired, mini-skirted woman leaning desperately into the pay phone: “You don’t understand,” she was saying, “they made the buildings too tall in Miami. You really don’t understand. All the buildings are sinking! Listen to me!”

I’ve always wished I had loitered there longer to hear more, but I could feel the story calling to me. What if I had stayed and offered my help? Where would I be now?

Yes, an urgency, compounded by knowing that once she hung up, the contact would be lost. She had to know she had one chance to make her point. If she called again, the person on the other end might not answer, and there are no call-backs on pay phones today.

There was a time, though, when pay phones were more aggressive than they are now. They would ring out at random intervals, beckoning passers-by to answer. “Sylvia?” the voice would say. “Sylvia? Are you there?” She wasn’t. Or maybe you would be the one hunkered down nearby, waiting for the call, growling at anyone else, saying, “Hey! Don’t be long! I’m expecting a call.” Bloody fist fights have broken out over less.

Picture a cell phone on a table. Doesn’t do much for you emotionally, does it? Now picture a pay phone, the receiver dangling, a soft voice calling out, “Hello? Hello? Dave?” Imagine a reporter calling in a story on a cell phone. Nope. Doesn’t happen. Blog it in on the smart phone. Now drop back to the guy in the fedora sitting in the wood and glass booth: “Hello, city desk? Give me rewrite!” (I always wanted to do that.)

Where would Superman and Dr. Who be without phone booths?

Then again, from the other end of the line, snuggled up comfortably at home, you might have to struggle to make out the spoken words against the backdrop of jukebox and bar noise: “I need you to come get me right now” or “Don’t hold supper for me” or “Jimmy says ger flog and we mast up to la overture.” No, I don’t miss receiving those calls at all, but I will confess to having made maybe one or two. I probably still owe your second-cousin Darnell an apology for that night I called from a truck stop in Kansas and woke him up at 2:00 a.m. for reasons that now escape us both.

So why do I want a pay phone at the pie shop? Perhaps this is part of my move toward the steampunk lifestyle, or maybe I’m just nosey and want to overhear better stories.

I’m thinking maybe an old style black one, with a rotary dial, inside by the front door, within easy earshot of the cash register. I promise I’ll always give you change if you need it, and I’ll even keep a pencil on a string and a pad of paper near by. From time-to-time, I’ll leave a some dimes & nickels in the coin return for the kids to claim.

Out by the road, though, I want a real phone booth, under the solitary street lamp.

When we are basking in the warm glow of the pie-shop lights, inhaling the warm scent of apples and cinnamon, we can look out there and remember all the pay phone calls of our old solitary lives, and remind ourselves how lucky we are to have each other, face-to-face, right here, right now.

And maybe on the jukebox, we’ll listen to The Coast is Clear, or perhaps Joan Baez singing Diamonds and Rust: “Where are you calling from? A booth in the midwest.”

That line still tugs at my heart. What about you? What’s your pay-phone story? Have a seat at the counter, and tell me all about it.

Remember, at the Slice of Heaven Pie Shop and Driving Range, we’re here for you, 24 hours a day.

Go Cry on Somebody Else’s Shoulder

The warmer weather here in SoFLA and the full moon have certainly combined to bring out the people. Just a week ago, the silence was fairly staggering, but tonight we’ve had a full house most of the night, and not much sign of a slow-down yet. I’m sitting outside the pie shop, just watching the balls arc up into the air, and listening to the washer spit out bucket after bucket after bucket. Life is good.

For some reason, while I was practicing my swing earlier, I kept hearing Frank Zappa’s song, Go Cry on Somebody Else’s Shoulder. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s just a Zappa carryover from a conversation with a friend who shared the news that he wished he’d been named Moon Unit. Knowing his father, though, I’m a little surprised that he wasn’t named Moon Unit.

After that song faded away, it was replaced by Bonnie Raitt’s You gotta know how, which is always a good soundtrack for homemade video greeting cards. At least I think so. I’ll have to add both of those to the pie shop juke box. We haven’t had any new tunes for a while, and we are over due.

Funny, but with such a crowd out tonight, I found that I talked less, concentrated more, and let quite a few thoughts roll around my head. Sue Ten has been away for a while, but called in on video to let me know she’s alive and well. She always asks what great Zen thoughts I’m having, and I often think I should be writing them down on my hand so I don’t forget when she asks. Yes, I do have great thoughts, but then I get hungry, and a large chocolate shake usually chases them away.

Tonight, though, I made a serious effort to try to hold on to a few, and I was doing pretty well until your second-cousin Darnell came by and distracted me completely with the news that he had just finished reading A Beautiful Mind, the biography of mathematician John Nash.

“It was much more interesting then the movie,” he said. “In the movie, I got the idea that John Nash was a pretty smart guy, and he saw things that weren’t there, but who doesn’t do that?” I waited for more. “In the book though, I really couldn’t understand what he was doing most of the time, so I figure he has to be a whole lot smarter than anyone I know, even you.” Again I waited.

Darnell went on. “Another thing that I didn’t get from the movie was how sad it was for him not to be crazy any more, how sad it must have been for him to give up all the magical stuff that was going on when he was nuts. I don’t know. I just think it must have been sad, just like the way Boyd acts when he’s sober.”

Darnell, of course, was referring to my ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd, and I’ll say Darnell made a good point there. I, personally, got so I couldn’t stand Pretty Boy’s alcoholic flights of fancy, but he certainly was never alone when he was drunk. He always had his selfs (himselfs?) to talk to, and he was certainly a legend in his own mind.

With John Nash, and Pretty Boyd, too, the difference between perceived reality and “normal” reality seems fairly clear to observers, but who are we kidding? Most of us are on the inside looking out, deciding how we want to present ourselves to the world, but a few of us have that decision already made for us in advance.

Me, I live in a world of pie and insomnia where clowns drop by to play golf, your second-cousin Darnell lives with a goat, and my best friend keeps her semi-comatose husband alive by hooking him up to potato-powered batteries. I’m certainly not in any position to argue about reality with anyone.

Sometimes, too, I think maybe there’s an alternative universe in which The Morning Guy has come to his senses and is not vacationing in Key West with his Stepford Girlfriend. Yes, I’m sure there’s a place where he and I are living happily ever after. But if that’s true, there’s probably also an alternate universe in which he’s carried off by a pack of Fem-Bots, and I never see him again.

That makes me sad, too, and what can I do but . . . go cry on somebody else’s shoulder?


Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/zappa shoulder

A Couple More Slices of Key Lime Pie

At least this time I remembered the camera.

All right, my dears, I did find Key lime in the Northwest, despite our initial stumbling block of the possibility that it might truly turn out to be a “seasonal” dish. Seriously: They’ve got a point. January is not a good time for the Washington State citrus crop.

Here’s a shot of the pie served at Flyers in Oak Harbor, Washington.

Flyers Pie

Flyers Pie

Flyers was a fun place to meet and eat. I did enjoy the aeronautical theme, and general exuberance of the place. Or maybe that was just the exuberance of my dining companions? For dinner, I had a “prime rib dip” which I’d known in a former life as a “French dip,” but I guess I should just be happy that they didn’t call it a “Freedom dip.”

I should never order this sandwich because I know it will never be as good as the one I had at the Limelight Cafe in Denver in 1972, but I am – as well you know by now – an optimist. Golf, after all, is a game for optimists, and so is the search for the perfect slice of Key lime pie.

Needless to say, the pie at Flyers met our expectations, which were low. We gave them points for presentation, and for adding nuts to the crumb crust, but the overall impression was that the whole concoction had only recently come out of the deep freeze. “Fresh” was not a word that sprang to mind, or to tongue.

The next day, we ventured by ferry to Port Townsend, and enjoyed some time out in the water. Granted, we were inside the ferry with our toes close to the heater, but we were there. I have a vague memory or two of being in Port Townsend before. Maybe you were there with me? I’m pretty sure Little Peach was my chaperone on at least one trip to that part of the world, and I did miss her this time around. She has such a wonderful knack for asking all the right questions, and that’s a gift that I envy. Traveling without her is always difficult, and when I get home, I know I will hardly be able to answer half of her well-placed questions, just because I didn’t ask. Ah, well.

In Port Townsend, this time, I did have a marvelous piece of salmon for lunch, perfect in every way. I left a gold star on the menu on my way out the door. We did give this particular slice of pie high marks for the chocolate crust, yes indeed. I like a little experimentation, when the results pay off.

Port Townsend Pie

Port Townsend Pie

The filling, though, was exceedingly tart. We weren’t surprised, though, since we had already leafed through the restaurant’s cookbook, in fact we bought a copy, so we knew this particular offering was full of lime juice, no mention of fresh limes. At least they did not spoil the pretty presentation with a garnish of Persian lime, and I liked how the whipped cream was a decorative option.

I copied the recipe, which was pretty basic. Just speak up if you want a copy so you can try it out yourself, and let me know what you think. It might be just the ticket to make you think of sunny SoFLA when you, too, are far from home.

National Pie Day Eve

Here it is, the Eve of National Pie Day, and I find myself far from home, wondering how I ever managed to schedule this trip to the Northwest without factoring in the holiday. Ah, well. Prentiss has something planned, I’m sure. I just don’t know what.

To add to my general disappointment in missing the annual festivities at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, I also discovered that people in the Northwest consider Key lime pie to be a “seasonal” dessert. Excuse me? It’s not like they grow Key limes here and don’t have any fresh ones right now. What can possibly be seasonal about Key lime pie? I am perplexed.

Of course, I ran into a similar situation years ago in Missouri when I went to the local Piggly Wiggly store to buy some salt pork for fish chowder, and was told that salt pork was “seasonal” and therefore unavailable. In that case, though, maybe salt pork is only harvested at certain times of year. Grim thought, and I shall not dwell on it.

Meanwhile, I am pretty sure that golf here is definitely seasonal, and not well played in the fog and/or ice, although I was pleased to see a woman on the ferry travelling with a driver and a putter. If she only had a wedge, she would be carrying all three of the most important clubs, as identified by both Harvey Penick and Ben Hogan.

I am fully enjoying Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, especially his comments on putting, which give me hope. For example, “Nothing is more important psychologically than knocking putts into the hole. Sinking putts makes your confidence soar, and it devastates your opponent.”

I find I am enjoying putting more and more, and I’m looking forward to the day very soon when Joe Sparkle Junior and The Morning Guy finish the work on our new putting green. It’s going a little slower than I would like since The Morning Guy has been distracted, both by football season and his Stepford Girlfriend.

Steppie, meanwhile, has been spending even more time here than usual as she has tried to find the right balance between cooing over her man, and giving him the space he needs to enjoy his football games and his pickled-eggs habit. She’s putting her spare time to good use, though, working on her long game. It’s been a treat to see her carefully lay out her golf balls and practice her swing. I believe she’s been getting advice from the fem-bots, but I can’t be positive on that. I do know she hasn’t worn the same color-coordinated outfit twice in the past week.

I hope you all have a wonderful National Pie Day. I miss you like crazy, and can’t wait to find out what all you all have been up to while I’ve been away. I hope the SoFLA weather will be warm again soon, too. I understand it’s been so cold there recently, that iguanas are falling out of trees. If our resident feral green iguana Hercules lands on someone, preferably my ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd, the damage could be massive. We can only hope for the best.

Key Lime Pie Test (Rusty Pelican, Biscayne Bay, FL)

I can’t believe that I didn’t take a picture of the pie before I ate it. I guess I’m just not fully committed to pie testing yet, but fortunately we are in the early days of the search and have barely begun to establish our testing parameters and matrices yet. I will, therefore, need to return to The Rusty Pelican in Biscayne Bay in the very near future and sample another piece, preferably with with Prentice the Pie Apprentice in tow.

The Rusty Pelican is perhaps my favorite restaurant in the Greater Miami Area, one that Little Peach and I have visited several times, always with good results and always with a song in our hearts, the song being “Mustang Sally,” but that’s another story.

At any rate, I was happy to go there with a couple of friends who were only going to be in SoFLA overnight, and who were willing to brave the bitter cold to go out for the evening. I had imagined up sitting outside, looking across the bay at the city skyline twinkling in the night, but the 50-degree drizzle forced us inside, which which still a delightful experience.

I had had Key lime pie at the Rusty Pelican before, but years ago, before the search for the perfect slice began, so I had eaten it without the scrutiny it deserved. This time was different.

I thought the presentation was lovely, with the pale yellow filling garnished with a tart green glaze but a floret of whipped cream. Sadly, the slice of lime twisted on top of the whipped cream was of the Persian variety. Ah, well.

The graham cracker crust was innocuous as best, doing nothing to enhance or detract from the firm filling, which was thicker than many, and had a nice tang to it. The best feature of this pie was the super-tart glaze. The whipped cream was bland, but worked well with the glaze.

Over all score: B-plus

Key Lime Pie: The Search Begins

I was a little startled lately to read that “key limes are the pink flamingos of Florida food, and they are a celebrated part of local color.” I don’t know what startled me more, the confusion of the color of the limes with pink or the realization that I have, apparently, missed the local key lime festival again this year.

I presume that the author was referring to the rarity of both flamingos and key limes, at least in Florida. There are flamingos in other parts of the world, and the same is true for “key limes” which are actually from Malaysia. How interesting, I think, that two items that say “Florida” to so many people are, in fact, phantoms from a not too distance past before plume hunters, hurricanes, and civilization tore through SoFLA.

Meanwhile, Prentiss and I are starting our search for the perfect Key lime pie. The challenge begins with some basic questions: Graham-cracker or pastry crust? Meringue or whipped cream? Cooked or uncooked filling? Fresh limes or lime juice? And, of course, can a Key lime pie be made with regular, old, every day, produce department limes?

We’ll let you know how our studies progress. I’m all for trying out a gingersnap crust, and I’m totally opposed to making the pie with any time of lime but a true “key,” but on the other hand, I’d rather use bottled juice from real Key limes than use fresh limes that aren’t Key at all.

Prentiss and I do agree, however, with the no green food coloring rule, and we’ll immediately rule out any recipe that even hints at artificial color.

I’ve been studying up a little on the history of the Key lime, and I’m not surprised to learn that no one knows who made the first Key lime pie. After all, who made the first apple pie, chocolate silk pie, or Alan Shepard pie. Oh, wait, that last one would be me.

It is possible, however, that the first Key lime pie of not was made by one “Aunt Sally,” the cook for one William Curry, who laid the foundation of his fortune as a “ship salvager” in the mid-1800s. Today, the staff at the Curry Mansion Inn in Key West still crank out the pies. Perhaps a field trip is in order to investigate the current incarnation of Aunt Sally’s pie.

There is, supposedly, no record of a written Key lime pie recipe written down before the 1930s. The supposition that “everyone just knew how to make the pie” puzzles me, because now I want to know how “everyone” forgot to make the pie. Was there a plague of amnesia, as there was in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude? Was there perhaps a cataclysm or sorts, wiping out the knowing bakers? Or did the Key lime pie bakers decide en masse to take their knowledge with them to the grave? Or elsewhere?

Here’s another aspect of Key lime pie history. A crucial ingredient in Key lime pie is sweetened condensed milk, which was invented by Gail Borden in 1856. No sweetened condensed milk, no Key lime pie. At least nothing that resembled our current dessert. As for the limes, they probably started growing as soon as the Spanish explorers arrived in the 1500s, bringing yellow-green golf-ball size limes from Malaysia. And they continued to grow until the hurricane of 1926 which wiped them out. Most limes in Florida now are Persian, not Key.

The lime trees that remain are said to be “ferocious” in nature, and I’m not really sure what that means at all. Prentiss and I will try our hand at growing a few around the edge of the driving range, maybe start a little grove down the lane by my turquoise conch cottage.

Floridians are quite passionate about their Key limes, and their Key lime pie.  In 1965, Florida State Representative Bernie Papy, Jr., introduced a bill that would have levied a $100 fine against anyone who advertised a Key lime pie not made with Key limes. Alas, the bill did not pass.  But, in 1994, the legislature did decree Key lime pie as the OFFICIAL Florida state pie.

Florida State Pie:

photo of key lime pie

Prentiss and I will be more than pleased to hear from you. Seriously, if you have a treasured Key lime pie recipe, we’ll be glad to try it out, and we’ll let know how all of us at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range rate it. And you are always welcome to drop by and rate our Key lime pies, too.

A New Year

The weather here for New Year’s Eve in SoFLA was close to perfect, with clear skies and a waxing crescent moon. Sue Ten decided it was a good time to show another movie on the side of The Swing Barn and advertised Casino Royale accordingly.

A lot of us were happy to see that since we wanted to be prepared for the new James Bond flick Quantum of Solace which picks up exactly where the previous Daniel-Craig-as-James-Bond movie left off, but Sue surprised us by showing the Peter Sellers / Woody Allen version of Casino Royale, and that one ends in a wild night of cowboys on horseback, Indians with flaming arrows, Navy seals in scuba gear, and US Marines, not unlike many regular nights at The Swing Barn.

The festivities at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range were a little more restrained, and aimed at the non-drinking crowd. Prentiss, my pie-shop apprentice, did come up with a fabulous new corn-dog pie with an onion-ring crust, and she also served one of the possibilities in our search for “The Best Key Lime Pie Ever”. Sadly, she garnished it with a slice of lime that was definitely not of the key-lime variety, but more on that later.

Out on the driving range, we offered free balls from nine to midnight, and that always brings in a crowd. One new player was a guy with long gray hair and a handlebar moustache, who told me, “I was a caddy 50 years ago, and just now I am starting to play myself.”I told him that it’s a game for optimists, since you can always believe that the next hit will be better. He said, “I was an optimist when I got here tonight, but I think I am a pessimist now.”  I hope he cames back. His accent smacked of New England, and I’m always a sucker for that.

As the evening progressed, I noticed several people from my physical therapist’s office, but I think they were just trolling for business. Also, there were any number of fem-bots in short black dresses and high-high heels, trolling for business of another sort entirely. Granted, there aren’t too many night spots out on the edge of the ‘Glades where we live, and with the economy slumping as it is, we aren’t in a position to turn anyone away.

Your second-cousin Darnell, by the way, did a great job of keeping the kids busy by having them create an “art car” which they covered with spray paint.  I’m fairly sure my ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd will like the new look of his formerly orange Toyota Celica. He’ll let us know when he gets back from New Orleans, if that is, in fact, where he really is. I hope so. He used to tell me that he had been a river boat gambler in a former life, and died in Louisiana. Perhaps history will repeat itself, not that I wish him ill. Of course not.

Nurse Crotchett brought along a truck load of fireworks, which she set about firing from the driving range, setting them off wherever she found an open slot.  I tell you, it made for a great visual impact: golf balls flying into the air, fireworks lighting up the sky, the movie on the side of the Swing Barn, and the waxing crescent moon overhead.

I worried a little about some of the folks stumbling out of The Swing Barn into harm’s way, but your second-cousin Darnell had the good sense to tether his goat Jonathan on a long line near the edge of the driving range, and for once, Jonathan earned his keep, and we resisted the urge to turn him into goat pie for yet another day.

I headed down to my turquoise conch cottage around 3:00 a.m., which was a nice change from my usual insomniac stroll TO the pie shop at about that time, and fell into a few hours of troubling dreams.

One of the dreams, that I can still see pretty clearly, involved a wild car ride down a mountain road with Nurse Crotchett at my side and distressingly ineffective brakes.  I probably don’t need much help analyzing that one. I also dreamt that I had found an Asian baby, and gotten quite attached to it. The child grew to toddler size and was able to speak quite eloquently in no time, which is when she said, “I think I’m ready to go home now.”

The final dream was that my orange hair color had gone strangely spotty, and was showing peculiar patches of mousy brown and gray. I can’t understand that one at all. Tonight, the girls & I are dressing up to go to the ballet, leaving Darnell; Joe Sparkle, Junior; and The Morning Guy in charge. I’m sure they will do just fine, don’t you agree?

Sweet Potato-Clock Pie!

Sue Ten never ceases to amaze me. Just tonight she brought me a plate of piping hot waffle fries, fresh from The Swing Barn’s own organic Fry-O-Lighter.

She assures me that these delicious crispy potatoes are full of vitamin C, and she hardly even winced when I sprinkled malt vinegar over the plate and dug in. As it turns out, confectioner’s sugar would have been just as good.

I tell you, the woman has a gift for potatoes. Granted, I do have an ongoing dispute with her about potatoes masquerading as pie crust, but I will never turn down her potato-sausage-cabbage casserole, her potato-brocolli-cheese soup, or her potato-bacon frittata. They are all perfect beyond question.

Just now, though, I’ve found out a little more about her love affair with The Spud. When her kids were in school, they all five, one after another, took on the daunting assignment of building a potato clock. I’m sure I remember seeing a kit for such a thing in the back of my brother’s copy of Boy’s Life, or Grit, or some such magazine, but I never attempted to assemble one of the things and had pretty much forgotten about the potato-as-battery concept.

Sue Ten never forgot, however, not after helping what must have seemed like a neverending parade of frustrated middle-schoolers year after year re-create this particular piece of magic. Never one to waste hard-gained knowledge though, Sue Ten continued to tinker with the damn things long after all five of the little Tens had long since grown up and moved away, leaving Sue and her husband Logan with time on their hands and several empty rooms.

Let me take a minute now and fill you in on potato-clock technology, Just in case you are one of those rare individuals who doesn’t know what a potato clock is. Yes, you might be, although that would be surprising. Even your second-cousin Darnell knows what one is, and Joe Sparkle Junior has been running one in the E-Z Cart so he knows what time it is when he’s out on the driving range picking up golf balls. I now have two in my turquoise conch cottage down at the end of the lane.

Regardless, I found this description on the Hooting Yard website, and I thought it might help you out:

Potatoes, as we know, have power.

”Which of us . . . has not, at one time or another, taken two common galvanized nails, three alligator clip/wire units (that is, alligator clips connected to one another with wire), two short pieces of heavy copper wire, a simple low-voltage LED clock unit, and two potatoes, and obtained a simple LED clock unit that functions from the power of a 1- to 2-volt, button-type battery, opened the battery compartment to remove the battery, noted that there is a positive (+) and a negative (-) terminal point where the battery was installed , identified the potatoes as number one and number two, inserted one nail in each potato, inserted one short piece of heavy copper wire in each potato, placing it as far from the nail as possible, used one alligator clip/wire to connect the copper wire inserted in potato number one to the positive terminal in the clock unit, then used one alligator clip/wire to link the nail in potato number two to the negative terminal in the clock unit, used the final alligator clip/wire to link the nail in potato number one to the copper wire in potato number two, and finally, with no little sense of triumph, set the clock a-ticking?

“Which of us has not harnessed the power of the potato to control time?

Indeed. Heady stuff, I think controlling time with potatoes. There’s more to this particular story, though. I mentioned Sue’s husband, Logan Ten, an affable guy with gifts of his own, a man who would go into any town and find a free buffet or a public reception in a matter of hours. He was a man who had mastered the art of the two-for-one, and usually came out with three.

Once Logan retired, though, he seemed content to collect his pension, and he began a peculiarly sedentary life of watching CNN 24-hours a day.

During that time, though, Sue developed what can only be described as an obsession with potato-clock technology. Her timepieces became ever more efficient, and her potato batteries reached impossible levels of duration. This, I understand now, accounts for the great variety of potato dishes coming out of The Swing Barn kitchen.

As Sue experimented with different strains of potatoes, she would buy spuds in quantity, and then cook up the leftovers after determining key factors such as longevity and quality of the best electrical charge.

While all that was going on, my mother and her sisters were running the pie shop, the driving range was but a fantasy, and I was on an extended walkabout, looking for an honest man, but settling for Pretty Boy Boyd instead. By the time I returned to South Florida, no one had seen Logan for quite some time, but Sue Ten was behind the bar at The Swing Barn, smiling and chatting as usual.

I was happy to see her, and we soon moved from small talk to more serious issues. “It must be hard on you,” I said, “without Logan here now.”

She looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“I’m sorry, Sue,” I said. “I thought you and Logan had split up. No one has been him for so long.”

“Oh, no,” she said. “He’s still here. He just doesn’t go out anymore. You know how he always loved to watch CNN? Now he just does it 24 hours a day, but that’s fine. His pension check is on automatic deposit, and he’s fine.”

That night, as I walked down to my turquoise cottage, I looked back at the Tens’ doublewide behind The Swing Barn, and I noticed a warm glow coming from one of the bedroom windows. I knew Sue was still at the Swing Barn cleaning up, so I let my path diverge and headed north to see what was up.

Standing on my toes, I could peek into the window, and there I saw Logan, propped up in bed, smiling just as I remembered him, eyes closed though, and beathing softly. The glow was coming from the television set broadcasting CNN, as well as from an array of aromatherapy candles.

There was just enough light for me to notice that Logan had been outfitted with what appeared to be a couple of electrodes affixed to this temples. The main wires for the electrodes came from opening just above the bed’s elaborate headboard featuring a reproduction of some of the murals in the “happy house” in the ancient city of Pompeii. A container of blue bills was nearby on the nightstand.

I moved silently to the next window and was stunned yet delighted to see shelf after shelf after shelf of potato batteries, some with clocks, some without, but all feeding into the network that was, apparently, keeping our dear Logan in his perpetually restful state.

“Yes,” I thought, “Logan his beloved news show on 24/7, the pension checks are being deposited, and Sue will never really be alone. No need to tell anyone about this at all.”

I don’t know what brought Sue and Logan to this junction, but I do know she does seem as happy now as she ever was. As for Logan, he may even look a little bit more relaxed than before. Yes, I think he is doing fine.

Blackbird Pie Cupcake

I think I like this pie, but it confuses me due to its cupcakeness:

Four and twenty blackbirds …..

Four and twenty blackbirds ..... by abbietabbie.

For more nursery-rhyme cupcakes, click here.  And when you see the original fo this one, move your mouse over the screen for “notes” of interest.

Mad Scientist Pies

Can we ever have enough mad scientists? I don’t think so, especially not the good kind, and let’s face it, mad scientists have been getting a bad rap for years.

Surely one or two have done something wildly good, like inventing the giant-head titanium drivers that so many of my midnight golfers seem to favor. I’ll give the mad sci guys bonus points for astroturf, slinky critters, and the whole space program, too.

As you can imagine, I was glad to see that the folks at xylocopa.com are doing what they can to foster more mad science by adding a set of “Young Mad Scientist First Alphabet Blocks” to their catalog.

Young Mad Scientist First Alphabet Blocks

Young Mad Scientist First Alphabet Blocks

As I look at the blocks, all I can think is how great these designs would look on pie crust, and it doesn’t really matter what the filling is. I’m hoping some existing mad scientist — maybe you — will volunteer to help me fire up the laser etcher in the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range so I can get going with this project.

Here are the 26 images on the Xylocopa blocks:

A – Appendages
B – Bioengineering
C – Caffeine
D – Dirigible
E – Experiment
F – Freeze ray
G – Goggles
H – Henchmen
I – Invention
J – Jargon
K – Potassium
L – Laser
M – Maniacal
N – Nanotechnology
O – Organs
P – Peasants (with Pitchforks)
Q – Quantum physics
R – Robot
S – Self-experimentation
T – Tentacles
U – Underground Lair
V – Virus
W – Wrench
X – X-Ray
Y – You, the Mad Scientist of Tomorrow
Z – Zombies

That’s a lot of pies, and I’m excited to be on to something new. Let me know what you think, and put in your order soon. I want to have all 26 under my Christmas tree, don’t you?

Mississippi

I haven’t had any particular song stuck in my head for a while, but tonight I found myself repeating lyrics from Bob Dylan’s Mississippi out on the driving range. I can’t say that it helped or hurt me, but when I got back inside I did stop to listen to a few different versions.  The lines that kept rolling around tonight were:

I was raised in the country, I been workin’ in the town
I been in trouble ever since I set my suitcase down

I don’t really know why those surfaced, except that this past week, I do feel like I’ve been in a bit of trouble, and haven’t really understood why. As far as I know, all I did was to set my suitcase down. Well, sometimes that happens to us all. I’m saddened by the folks who have gone on the defensive around me. I suspect this is the sad effect of that waning gibbous moon that I keep warning you about.

Anyway, here’s a video of Bob Dylan. If you stop in at the Pie Shop, you’ll see we have the Dixie Chicks version on the jukebox, but this is the one I’m hearing tonight. I’d forgotten about another line, “I’m going to look at you until my eyes goes blind.” Ah, yes. Once I felt that way about my ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd, but that was a long time ago.

As I look at the lyrics to this song, I’ve got to say, I love them all: “Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow. Things should start to get interesting right about now.”

http://www.bobdylan.com/#/songs/mississippi

Mississippi

Every step of the way we walk the line
Your days are numbered, so are mine
Time is pilin’ up, we struggle and we scrape
We’re all boxed in, nowhere to escape

City’s just a jungle, more games to play
Trapped in the heart of it, trying to get away
I was raised in the country, I been workin’ in the town
I been in trouble ever since I set my suitcase down

Got nothing for you, I had nothing before
Don’t even have anything for myself anymore
Sky full of fire, pain pourin’ down
Nothing you can sell me, I’ll see you around

All my powers of expression and thoughts so sublime
Could never do you justice in reason or rhyme
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Well, the devil’s in the alley, mule’s in the stall
Say anything you wanna, I have heard it all
I was thinkin’ about the things that Rosie said
I was dreaming I was sleeping in Rosie’s bed

Walking through the leaves, falling from the trees
Feeling like a stranger nobody sees
So many things that we never will undo
I know you’re sorry, I’m sorry too

Some people will offer you their hand and some won’t
Last night I knew you, tonight I don’t
I need somethin’ strong to distract my mind
I’m gonna look at you ’til my eyes go blind

Well I got here following the southern star
I crossed that river just to be where you are
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Well my ship’s been split to splinters and it’s sinking fast
I’m drownin’ in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it’s light and it’s free
I’ve got nothin’ but affection for all those who’ve sailed with me

Everybody movin’ if they ain’t already there
Everybody got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now

My clothes are wet, tight on my skin
Not as tight as the corner that I painted myself in
I know that fortune is waitin’ to be kind
So give me your hand and say you’ll be mine

Well, the emptiness is endless, cold as the clay
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Copyright ©1997 Special Rider Music

Night Golf Flu Shot Clinic

I think sometimes more people would understand the mystical nature of golf if the game were less accessible. I mean really, drive down any given road in SoFLA, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself passing a golf course, or two, or three. Some are behind high hedges, but for the most part they are right there, waiting to lure you in.

At least here at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, we are so far off the beaten path that when you come to us, you bring along a sense of deliberation and destination, and I like that about our visitors. Except, of course, for my ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd, they tend not to do much by accident.

It always bothered me when Boyd would arrive home lit up like one of those impossible-to-blow-out candles that are so funny to everyone except for the birthday boy or girl. Boyd liked to say, by way of apology for whatever distress he was about to bestow on me, “I didn’t mean to get so drunk.” What did he think was going to happen once he started pouring pints of Guinness down his throat? It was hardly worth discussing. Boyd, as far as I can tell, just likes to go through life in a state of chronic surprise.

Even now, I can see the look of mystification on his face as he finds himself parked outside The Swing Barn in my old Toyota. Pretty soon, though, he’ll remember his recent encounter with our resident feral green iguana, and he’ll leave again. That iguana has proven to be much more effective than a more traditional restraining order.

Most people, like you, come here by choice or obligation, rarely by chance, and that holds true for Nurse Crotchett, too. I hadn’t seen her since the Hollywood Halloween party, and tonight I was surprised to discover that she really is a nurse. For the party, she’d worn a snug white uniform complete with cap, white stockings, and shoes, but now she is in lavender scrubs with matching eye shadow, and she is carrying a clipboard as well as a medical bag.

“Where do you want me to set up?” she asks.

Quick as ever, all I can say is, “What?”

“For your flu-shot clinic,” she says, handing me a typed memo, on my letterhead, recommending that we participate in the county’s “Alternate Hours” flu-shot program.

“Oh, yes,” I say, noting The Morning Guy’s name on the bottom of the memo,  vaguely remembering seeing a green Post-it note that said “Flu Shots Tuesday Night” stuck to my computer monitor.

Crotchett efficiently commandeered one of the pie shop tables, and I took her some coffee and a piece of blackberry-raisen pie. Within minutes, your second-cousin Darnell was there, filling out paperwork, handing over eight dollars, and rolling up his sleeve for his shot.

I saw more cars pulling up, and called Joe Sparkle Junior in from the driving range to help with the influx of customers, considerably more than we normally have rolling in at 11:00 p.m.

During one of the lulls, Crotchett told me that all-night flu-shot clinics were definitely unusual in this part of the world, but a recent New York Times article had given The Morning Guy the idea to run one here, and her boss at the county public health office wanted to be seen as an innovator, so we were the test case.

I will say, it was actually quite pleasant to have so many people around, and most of them did stay on well after the pinch of the Crotchett’s needle had passed. We went through more than a dozen servings of blackberry-raisen, 20 of banana cream, 7 of midnight chocolate, and two of pumpkin-cheesecake.

Because we were so busy inside the pie shop, I didn’t notice that the driving range lights were acting up again. Someone finally came in and said, “Just turn them off. The strobing is giving Darnell flashbacks.” I pulled the switch and came back inside, leaving a note for The Morning Guy to check on the problem, and thinking the range would empty out.

I was wrong. There were still a dozen golfers out there in the dim glow of the pie shop lights, hitting balls as well as usual, if not better. In fact, freed from seeing the arc or the final distance, all they could do was concentrate on the swing, and that seemed to be to their advantage.

I joined them, closing my eyes since there was really nothing to see except the distant glow of the porch light down at my little turqoise conch cottage. Like the rest of the line, I hit the ball anyway, telling by the sound whether the hit was good or not. All in all, I found it to be a most satisfying experience.

Throughout the rest of the night, people continued to make the deliberate drive out to the edge of the ‘glades for flu shots, pie, and mystical golf in the dark.

Finally, I saw the light in the east, and I went inside to say good-night to Crotchett, but she was already gone. I glanced out the front door and saw The Morning Guy just pulling in on his motorcycle, counting the cars, as he strolled around to the side door to begin his day, as I ended my night.

I picked up a piece of quiche, nodded to Sparkle, and headed down the lane to my cottage, satisfied, happy, and pleased that I would not have to go into town for my flu shot this year.

Chocolate-Laced Lemon Chiffon Pie

First, prepare a chocolate cookie pie crust, and set it aside

Assemble your ingredients:
1/4 oz unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 C sugar
6T water
6 eggs
dash salt
3/4 C fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 t grated lemon peel
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 T butter
1 1/2 C whipping cream

Dissolve the gelatin and 3/4 C sugar in hot water in the top of a double boiler or in a microwave-safe bowl.

When ingredients are fully dissolved, wait for mixture to cool before continuing.

Separate the eggs and beat the yolks into the cooled gelatin mixture.

Add salt and lemon juice.

Simmer for five minutes, stirring repeatedly, until mixture becomes thick.

Add lemon peel, then chill. Take your time. No hurry, no worry.

Meanwhile, whip up the egg whites, adding 3/4C sugar, until the whites form peaks.

Whip the cream, too.

Fold the egg whites, the cream, and the gelatin mixture in together, and go back to chilling until it all reaches a nice level of firmness.

Melt the butter and semi-sweet chocolate.

Bring out the pie crust and start scooping the filling into it, alternating the filling with drizzled chocolate. Do this three times, ending with a lacy drizzled pattern over the top. If you run out of chocolate drizzle, just make some more.

Have fun.

Eating Humble Pie

Ever since I took up golf, people have been telling me what a “humbling” sport it is, but I find most of life to be humbling, in one way or another.

Just when I think I’m doing a good deed, and flying rapturously into your imaginary embrace of gratitude, I discover that I am totally off-course, perhaps even in free fall, and I remember that no good deed goes unpunished.

Take, for example, the sad case of the lost-and-found cellphone.

In my not unusual insomniac state the other night, I gave up on sleep, pulled on some clothes, left my turquoise conch cottage around 2:00 a.m., and wandered up the lane to the driving range. A couple of my fellow night-golfers were already there, as usual, and we nodded as we do. No need to talk, just hit a few balls and give sleep another try.

This, as you may understand, is one of the reasons why I am so very glad I have The Morning Guy around, since morning is pretty much foreign territory to me. Ah, but from 2:00 to 4:00 a.m., I know each shadow on the wall by name.

To my delight, I was soon in the zone, hitting with ease and grace, thinking that maybe one of these days I’ll try out something besides a nine iron, but no rush. I was doing so well, in fact, that I made an error in judgment and sent a gloating text message to The Morning Guy, knowing full well that his phone would be safely turned off, wherever he might be enjoying his vacation.

To my surprise, just a few minutes later a response came in from his phone. That alone was enough to rattle me, but the kicker was that the message — judging by spelling, length, and content — was from a person or persons unknown.

Having lost my place in the zone, I immersed myself into the problem at hand, and deduced that The Morning Guy’s phone had been lost and found, and I quickly cast myself into the fantasy that I was now the heroine who could save the day, and the cell phone, by pulling the strings needed to reunite man and machinery.

Oh, yes. I was giddy with anticipation, delighted to think how happy The Morning Guy would be with me; so happy, in fact, that he might even give me that long-promised up-close-and-personal golf lesson.

Unfortunately, by the time I did make contact with him, I was not only wildly tired, but also a bit light-headed from living so comfortably in the future, and I’d totally discounted how upset he might possibly be about the lost phone.

In the real world, all I had to do was say, “Someone found your phone. Here’s the number to call,” and I would have been good to go. But I was so damn busy giving myself a really nice, shiny medal for tracking him down out of town and far away — which was certainly far from easy — that when it came time to deliver the news, my words were sadly both sarcastic and silly, thereby canceling out both my effort and my intent.

His somber response was to inform me that my fun at his expense was not fun to him.

Ay yi yi!

I fell to earth in a heap, and I have been banging my head against the pie-shop wall ever since.

All I can do now is to eat the mandatory slice of humble pie, the traditional meal of those who must learn through experience how to act submissively and apologetically, especially when admitting to an error.

I don’t mind the metaphor of humble pie, and it seems fine and appropriate, but I’m not too wild about the real origin of the phrase.

In England in the 1500s, the name used for deer entails, liver, and heart was numbles, or possibly noumbles, nomblys, or even noubles; a hundred years later the term had morphed to a more uniform “umbles,” which were in fact a common pie ingredient. Even Samuel Pepys, a notorious blogger, was known to enjoy a bit of umble pie, as stated in his blog on July 5, 1662: “I having some venison given me a day or two ago, and so I had a shoulder roasted, another baked, and the umbles baked in a pie, and all very well done.”

At the same time, the word humble came into play, meaning “of lowly rank” or “having a low estimate of oneself,” and before long the two terms merged, giving us the current concept of behind the phrase “eating humble pie.”

Interestingly, if you are a fan of pie history as am I, humble pie has followed the path of mince pie and turned itself from a simple meat dish into a tasty and sweet fruit dish. Now, if I were one to stretch metaphors even more than I do already, you might already be seeing a happy ending to this story, and I hope you are.

Time will tell if I have survived this particular meal, but meanwhile, here’s a recipe to put us both on the right path:

Humble Pie

Prepare an unbaked pie shell

Prepare a filling made from:

3 large sweet apples, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 1/2 C of fresh cranberries
1 C light brown sugar

Place filling into pie shell.

Mix up following ingredients and sprinkle on top of the apple-cranberry filling.

3/4 C finely chopped walnuts
1/4 C light brown sugar
1/4 C flour
3 T softened butter
Cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger to taste
Pinch of salt

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes.

Cover pie with foil and turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes.

Serve with excessive humility, apologizing as much as necessary to make yourself feel better. I’ll tell you when you can stop.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

A few weeks ago, some of the girls and I got together for what I thought was to be an “Evening in India,” but what turned out to be a continuation of my month-long birthday celebration. What a treat! We had a lovely time sitting by the pool over at Pancho Villas, the new gated community down by the beach, and then we had quite a bit of Indian food for dinner, punctuated with photo ops, and followed by a screening of the Bollywood movie Water.

The only thing missing, we decided, was pumpkin cheesecake.  I should mention here that we did have pumpkin pie, and we did have cheesecake, too, and while alternating bites was certainly delicious, the combo would have been even better, so I promised to add a pumpkin-cheesecake pie recipe to the Slice of Heaven menu, and here it is.

For the crust:

Make a graham-cracker crust. Surely you know how to do that by now.  Cinnamon grahams are the best for this spicy sort of concoction.

For the filling
1 1/2 C canned pumpkin
3 eggs, the larger the better
1 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/2 t nutmeg, 1 t ginger, 1/2 t salt
1/2 C dark brown sugar – pack it in there
24 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 C sugar
2 T whipping cream
1T cornstarch
1 t pure vanilla
Dash of bourbon

For the topping
2 C sour cream
2T sugar
Another dash of bourbon, maybe a little more generous this time

Preparation

Make the crust and chill. Don’t skimp on the “chill” part.

Whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, spices, salt, and brown sugar.

Cream the cream cheese and sugar, then whip in the cream, cornstarch, vanilla, and booze. Add the pumpkin mix, and keep at it until it’s all smooth and mellow.

Get out your chilled crust and fill it up with this lovely mixture.

Bake in the middle of the oven at  350°F for 50 to 55 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick. When it comes out clean, put the pie on a rack to cool for at least five minutes

Meanwhile, whisk together the sour cream, sugar, and bourbon..

Spread the topping over the pie and bake it for another five minutes, and you are good to go.

Fried Steak in Space

I remember the first argument that I ever had with my ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd. When I told the twins about it, Chandler said, “You mean you finally told him that you don’t really like Irish music?”

“No,” I replied. “I told him that I fry steak.”

Pretty Boy had almost walked out of my life right then and there, but sadly, he changed his mind, and spent the next several years trying to convince me that the hours it takes to perfectly BBQ a steak Kansas-City style somehow produce a finer meal than the five minutes it takes to drop a fine piece of beef into a super-hot salted skillet and cook it cowboy style.

This past week, a British fragrance firm — Omega Ingredients — reported that it had been contracted by NASA to identify the aroma of space. The results are in, my dear friends, and sure enough space smells like fried steak. (Note: I am not entirely convinced that this news is not a spoof.)

I immediately went to the NASA website to investigate further, but when I typed “fried steak” into the search box, all that came up was the week’s NASA Exchange Cafeteria menu, which sure enough did include a $5.00 Fried Steak Dinner for the week of October 20 to 24.

I know I cannot offer that value for your dollar at Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, but maybe I can offer you a slice of fried-steak pie for supper tonight, but only if you put your order in early. I don’t want to miss the Red Sox on the big screen at The Swing Barn tonight.

But I digress.

As I tried to find the official NASA word on steak in space, I came across a reference to an interesting short-story and video, both titled “They’re Made Out of Meat.” While some say the odor of space is “a high energy vibration in the molecule,” others says this story and video both more fully explain the space-steak aroma phenomenon.

Let me recommend both of these items to you, and I hope you will give me your thoughts on all of this.

Here’s the link to the Terry Bisson story: http://www.electricstory.com/stories/story.aspx?title=meat/meat, and the video is posted below. Enjoy.

Just as a P.S., the number for this post is 666!

Spider Pie: Work in Progress

I do believe that there must be a great way to combine the general concept of Carmilo Villegas  (a.k.a. Spiderman) with the general concept of these fabulous Spider Cakes and come up with a most excellent Spider Camilo Villegas pie.

What do you think?

http://www.notmartha.org/archives/2007/10/26/spider-cakes/

spider cakes

Last year I had a lot of fun making the creepy crawly cakes so I decided to try a few again this year. This time I pulled out my Betty Crocker mini bake and fill pans and bought a box of chocolate cake mix and some Pocky. I made whipped cream (vanilla pudding would work too) and raspberry coulis (I left the seeds in) for spider guts. I also made some cupcakes to fill, tested one using a bakery bought cupcake and did a frosting variation, the Pocky legs can take an awfully long time. Pocky leg instruction can be found mid-page here.

the dome cakes:

I found the filling stayed in fine without any icing glue, but I do think this would have looked great with a chocolate glaze poured over it.

I love love love the many sugar eyes.

the filled cupcakes:

the bakery cupcakes:

This is a Triple Chocolate from Trophy Cupcakes here in Seattle. If you don’t have time to bake but think Pocky legs are doable, I think this turned out fantastic.

the non-pocky dome cake:

I used a milk chocolate fudge icing from a can – I figured the fudge icing would be a little stiffer. I like this effect a lot. Again I would have loved to have glazed these with chocolate, a shiny spider body would be so dramatic here.

Last year I tried pretty hard to make molten chocolate spider cakes but didn’t figure out quite how to pull it off. So, if you can imagine cutting through the side of this one and having the warm center come oozing out, that would be my ideal chocolate spider cake dessert.

the non-pocky cupcake:

I did this will a full sized cupcake and one I cut in half doing the Seinfeld muffin top thing. I like the way the short cupcake looks but it would make for a rather skimpy dessert. I would use a smaller dome pan or egg-shaped pan next time.

I linked to this last year but it’s worth a second time – Hannah made a giant spider cake using the large Bake and Fill pan and Peppridge Farm Pirouette cookies to make the legs. I totally adore it.

p.s. Oh lookit! My crawly cakes from last year were featured on DrRuth.com yesterday.categories: food, halloween

Obama’s Favorite Pie!

Here’s an excellent news item that I picked up from the Yahoo Shine Channel. I like the attitude of this writer: If you want it, you should have it — at least when it comes to pie. We follow that precept at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, too. You bet we do.

Obama’s Favorite Pie! – Food on Shine.

YUM!
http://yum.tv

Obamapie

Obamapie

obama pie

USA–

The Wall Street Journal reports that in one of the small, rural towns where Barack Obama was campaigning this year, he asked an aide for a slice of pecan pie to go with his usual dinner of salmon, broccoli and brown rice. But there was none on the menu, and the aide was loath to disappoint him.

Mr. Obama’s even-keeled senior adviser and longtime friend told the aide to forget the pie. Then, she told the senator from Illinois “be careful what you ask for.”

SAYS YUM: “Well, Mr. Obama we have a pecan pie you can eat as often as you like! Sweetened with all natural agave, but not too sweet – and incredibly YUMMY!”

Difficulty: E-Z
Prep/Cook Time: 1 hour
Yield: 8

INGREDIENTS

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla
1 1/4 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

1 9-inch pie shell, chilled for an hour if freshly made, defrosted for 10 minutes if frozen.

TIP

Because nuts stale quickly, use only the freshest of pecans.

MAKE

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread pecans along the bottom of the pie shell.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over pecans. The pecans will rise to the surface of the pie.
  3. Bake at 375°F for 45-50 minutes until the filling has set.
  4. About 20 minutes into the cooking you may want to use a pie crust protector, or tent the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent the pie crust edges from burning.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

YUM!
http://yum.tv

The Short-Short Game

Sparkle Junior and I are starting to consider the possibility of adding a putting green to the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range.  When I say “starting to consider,” I mean I talk and Spark nods. This is all fine and good, but I know, too, that every so often, he will do exactly what I suggest, so I have to be careful to use my powers for good, not for evil, at least when I am around him.

This afternoon, we are eating a real simple lemon-yogurt dream pie with a graham cracker crust. I once made this pie for my dad, and he absolutely loved it, right up until the exact second when I told him it had yogurt in it, and that was that. He put his hand on the edge of the pretty little china dessert plate and pushed it away delicately while at the same time pushing his chair back, and then he went outside for a smoke to get the taste out of his mouth.

Spark, though, has no problem with yogurt, or anything else that might spill on the floor and make an unusually sticky mess. I’ve wondered at times if he were not switched at birth with some very tidy baby at the hospital where he was born.  I’ve been to his family home a couple of times, and it never looked fully lived in.  Or maybe his mom just had emptied out a can of that new-house air freshener. I don’t know. Spark’s room, though, always looked a lot like Spark: slightly disheveled and optimistic, decorated with memories of rock ‘n’ roll parties that never really happened.

I wonder sometimes what he thinks about when he’s out on the tractor, and other times I really don’t want to know.

I’m sending him off now to go find a copy of a Putting Green Construction Manual, and that should keep him busy for a while, and I will clean up before the after-work crowd starts to arrive.

I had my first short-game lesson yesterday, and I found it fascinating, especially since Sandra told me how putting greens are built, at a cost of $40,000 to $60,000 per green. (You can buy a lot of Royal Palms for that money, seven or eight, at least.) Of course, my drives are so short that my regular game is a short game, so putting must be my short-short game.

I would love to bring The Morning Guy in on my new construction project, but I really want him to focus more on my game, and tell me how I can improve my performance. Sadly, he seems a bit distracted lately, and I suspect he’s been watching football again, and backing a losing team. That surely must wear a man down after a while. Still, I know he’ll come around and the tips will start to flow, if not from him, then from one of you. (Don’t hold back now.)

It has occurred to me that you may wonder how I ended up owning a driving range without knowing anything about golf, so perhaps I should fill you in. (Pie pun intended.) The pie shop has been in my family for years, and the building is one of those great low-slung Old Florida places, caught in a tangle of overgrown greenery, and the acreage around it was pretty much a mad scramble of vegetation, too.

One Sunday last spring, I was sipping on an O’Doul’s over at The Swing Barn and talking to Sue Ten as we watched Tiger Woods up on her large-screen TV, and I realized I had been watching golf from a far for more than 30 years. I had fallen in love with The Inner Game of Golf in 1977, but I had only played twice, both times on a ramshackle course in rural Arizona where everything was brown, including the greens.

“I think I will take up golf,” I said.

Sue replied silently by drying a couple more glasses and opening another O’Doul’s for me. By the time I finished off that one, the sugar high was starting to kick in.

Sue looked at me warily, and said, “That would be good. You need to do something to get your mind off your divorce and all that crap.”

Crap, indeed. My ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd had managed to deplete my savings account completely and run up my credit cards just as thoroughly, and all I got out of it was more than I wanted to know about everything and anything having to do with Kansas City barbecue, and an all too personal knowledge of the local legal system. I tend to fall for men who are talkers, so you can probably understand why I now like to associate with men like Spark and The Morning Guy, neither of whom shows much interest in talking to me at all. Ever.

That night, I went to a driving range for the first time with my sister Mel, who was visiting from Maine, and I became a believer. Melbie and I had no idea what we were doing, but we did laugh a lot, and we were outside in the early evening enjoying life. The big news for me was how quiet it was. At last, a way to have men in my life without having to listen to them, not that I actually listened that much anyway. I think you know what I mean, and I do apologize if you are one of the men to whom I did not listen. I’m much better now, but I still really prefer that you just send me a note, or leave a message on my answering machine. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

What I did not like about that particular driving range was the hours. I am plagued with insomnia, and when I am plagued, my dear, you can expect to be plagued as well. As the saying goes, When Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy.

What I wanted was a late-late-night establishment, a place where I could go and put my dreamless state of mind on hold. The pie shop was already open 24-hours a day, but I did not want to work all night, and I already knew that The Morning Guy had a passion for golf, or as much as he has a passion for anything besides maintaining his own comfort zone. We passed a few notes, we struck a deal, and you know the rest.

That was just a few short months ago, and now I am enjoying some smooth sailing on my own. More people eating pie, and more people hitting balls, 24-hours-a-day. And often, as I fall asleep just before dawn in my little turquoise conch cottage down the far end of the lane, I hear The Morning Guy’s motorcycle as he arrives to stock the soda machine and drink coffee with the other morning guys — and sometimes I dream. I do. I dream.

Perfect Timing

I’ve never been someone known for her timing, or at least not for her good timing. Pretty Boy Boyd, my ex-husband, used to tell me at least once a week, “Your timing stinks.” Of course, that retort would usually come right after my weekly suggestion that he find a new place to live. And yet, tonight, my timing is so good that I go through 97 golf balls before the rain starts. And hitting those last three in rain is a pleasure.

After all, I’ve already had more than solid hour of practice, and during most of that time, my new employee Joe Sparkle, Jr., is out on the tractor, scooping up balls. I’ve got to say, I’ve never seen anyone operate a tractor quite so slowly or carefully, and it surprises me, since Sparkle Jr. is usually pretty wound up on sugar and caffeine. I suspect that The Morning Guy may have had a word with him at some point about safety, responsibility, and keeping his job.

So, Sparkle Jr. is making his transit, carefully and endlessly, and the late night crowd is, as usual, entrancing me with their high and long arcs. I definitely prefer to practice at night under the lights so I can watch the balls, and tonight we’ve got some good hits going on, even without the metallic clang of new age drivers.

Behind me there is an Asian guy, who is so obsessed with perfection that he continues to stand and work on his swing, long after his bucket is empty. I go over and speak to him for a second, just to make sure he understands that we do now have an “All You Can Hit” policy at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range. For some reason, he looks at me as if I am crazy and goes right on swinging at air. Apparently, he feels he’s already gotten his money’s worth. Myself, I would keep going until I can’t go no more, but the rain ends that little revery.

Speaking of our “All You Can Hit” policy, I had earlier imagined a sort of conveyor belt bringing the balls out to the range, but the engineering concept lost out to the K.I.S.S. method, and I decided that people can just keep refilling their buckets. Too bad, though, I was looking forward to seeing what The Morning Guy would come up with to deliver the balls to the customers. Ah, well.

Tonight I’m getting in some nice swings, myself, but I’m uncomfortably aware that I am wearing the wrong bra. Something about this black underwire just isn’t doing the trick for me. Then I think maybe I can use the aggravation to my advantage, like Tim Robbins wearing a garter belt in Bull Durham. Or maybe not. I find myself longing for my favorite Body by Victoria orange bra, and make a mental note to look for more of the same type next time I’m at the mall, which is at best a twice a year event. Perhaps “the perfect golf bra” will offer The Morning Guy an even better engineering challenge, one that I am sure he can solve given the right data, parameters, and hypothetical situation.

I’m tempted to leave him a post-it note, and maybe a catalog or two, but I resist, although, I do think he might secretly enjoy adding a lingerie subsection to his “proper attire” hints for golfers. Actually, I did conduct a quick internet search, and it appears that I may be the only one interested in finding the perfect golf bra anyway. Apparently, a number of people are looking for the perfect Volkswagon Golf bra, but that’s not the same thing at all, now is it?

As I practice, I am again wondering about other kinds of equipment, too. I am still messing around with the same old nine-iron, and will do so until Sandra tells me to try something else. “Your job is just to swing the club,” she says, and I do. I look out at the target, then down at the ball, find my focus to the left, do some yogic hocus pocus, let my right hand pull up the club, and watch it drop down like a pendulum through my proposed path. If the ball is sitting in the right place to be hit, so much the better. And all that time, the voice in my head is singing, “Don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing, do wop do wop do wop do wah.”

I’d write more, but I do have to get back to the pie shop. Sue Ten came by earlier to leave off something that she calls pie, but that I still say is a casserole. Back in Maine, there’s an expression: “Just because a cat has kittens in the oven, that don’t make ’em biscuits.” And I feel the same way about pie: “Just because you throw some food into a round tin, that don’t make it a pie.”

Of course, this will probably just encourage her to bring over more possibilities.  I sure hope so.

By the way, if you aren’t doing anything on Friday night, you should stop by The Swing Barn. Sue was planning to show the McCain-Obama debate on her big-screen television, but now it looks like the debate won’t be on, so she is going to show Soylent Green outside on the wall.  Bring your own lawn chair and bug spray, but if you want a real pie, come see me.

And look, Sparkle Jr. is finally bringing in the tractor. Perfect timing.


Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/if you ain’t got that swing

After the Fall Pie

“Don’t forget, it’s the first day of fall,” my sister Melbie tells me on the phone. As I hear her voice, I am sure she is wearing at least one sweater and knows where her boots are. After all, that’s basic survival behavior in the Great State of Maine.

I, too, know that it’s fall, even here in SoFLA: The traffic on I-95 is starting to pick up, the sidewalk cafes in the village are bustling again, and the boutiques are showing pink sweaters with fur trim. And out at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, we are on the look out for migrating birds and we’re starting to get orders for apple pie, pumpkin pie, and squash pie. One more month, and the mince-pie people will be showing up.

There are other signs of Fall, too: The ubiquitous football games on every flat screen in every bar, the faux fall leaves in the shop windows, and the Halloween decorations already up in the Winn-Dixie.

As I talk to Melbie, the idea for an “After the Fall” pie pops into my mind: It should have both apples and pomegranates to signify the mixed myths of Adam and Eve, and Persephone. No doubt at all:  Pomegranate is a powerful fruit, a particular favorite of the lords of the underworld, which would of course include Satan. I think it’s too bad for the lovely, innocuous apple to take the rap for The Fall of Humankind. Mythologists feel it was much more likely caused by Eve’s consumption of pomegranates — and possibly a whole lot of wine.

Persephone also had a pomegranate problem. If she’d never been tricked into eating those seeds, we’d have summer all year round.

Oh, wait a minute. I live in SoFLA. We do have summer all year round.

I’m still thinking about my After the Fall pie, not sure where to go with it. I take a break and listen to the Pogues singing “If I Should Fall From Grace With God,” and it is so jarring that I can’t listen to the whole song.  I’m also thinking about the movie After the Fall, in which Brad Pitt inexplicably never ages, although the rest of the cast appears to be quite gnarly by the end.

After that, I come up with the idea that Eve didn’t just eat an apple. Or a pomegranate. I don’t think it was wine either. No, I’m pretty sure she got into the applejack. Now, if you’ve never sampled applejack, this may not be the time to start. My oh my. Consumed with the right amount of gusto on a crisp fall night, possibly over on the other side of The Swing Barn where Sue Ten has those cute little hard-resin chairs with cup holders, applejack will remove the top of your head and fill your brain with autumn leaves.

So, I’ll just give you a little taste.

After the Fall Pie

First, buy a large bottle of applejack brandy, and prepare your favorite type of unbaked crust with fluted edges.  A 9″ pie plate should be just about right.

For the filling:

Peel & slice six tart apples

Soak apple slices in a cup of applejack brandy overnight, and maybe take a sip or two yourself, just to make sure it’s all right.

In the morning, cream 4oz of butter with 8oz of sugar

When the mixture is light and fluffy, strain the apples and fold them in.

A little lemon zest wouldn’t hurt.

How’s that brandy, anyway?

Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Feel free to have another drink while you wait, or go ahead and make the topping.

For the topping:

Cover the hot apple mixture with a layer of thin pomegranate slices

Whip a cup of heavy cream, then blend in 3 to 4 T of sugar and 3 egg yoks

Cover the pomegranate slices with the whipped topping and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Drizzle any remaining applejack over all.

Chances are, the applejack will have disappeared by the time you get to this step.

And just like Adam & Eve, you should probably go put some clothes on, too.

Birthday cake is good, but birthday pie might be even better

NOTE: This post has been written by Guest Pie Maker Emily Alden Foster.

When my sister turned 8 or 9 or one of those pre-teen ages, she decided she wanted a pie for her birthday. I was disappointed because she wanted cherry pie and I hate cherries. It turned out that my sister was also disappointed with her birthday pie. When it came out of the oven, in went the candles. And by “in” I mean into the pie, because they melted. Ooops.

Fast-forward to my 20ishth birthday, and my dear friend and birth-week-sharer Lauralee’s somethingth birthday, and there’s birthday pie again. In fact, we were so excited about pie at this point that we decided to have a pie party. We each made a pie or two and many of the guests also came bearing pies. It was a horrible, horrible party. Of course it was fun, but there’s something horrible about being surrounded by twelve pies and being too full (or too afraid of a diabetic coma) to eat more than the tiniest sliver of each. Everyone was very thankful when a late-arriving guest brought a savory pie: pizza. The cheese soaked up enough of the sugar that we were able to move and talk to each other again instead of curling in the fetal position moaning and waiting for our digestive systems to cope with the full pound of sugar that each of us had just consumed. For the next week my roommates and I had pie at every meal. I didn’t make a pie again for a long time.

This year I once again turned to the pie for my birthday celebration. (Also for Channing’s birthday celebration, but that’s already been posted here.) This time it was sugar-free, because I’m trying really hard not to eat sugar. I love sugar, but my body doesn’t. The best method I’ve found for making sugar free desserts involves fruit juice concentrate (although technically fruit has sugar, it’s the added processed sugar nonsense that I’m worried about) and in my experience is more delicious with pies than cakes. I take birthdays pretty seriously, and didn’t want to take a chance on having a gross cake, so I went with the peach-raspberry pie. Delicious! We went out for pizza while the pie was cooling. It’s about a half-hour walk to the pizza place, most of which I spent singing a song I made up about pie and how I was going to eat two of them. It was a good birthday. Not at all horrible or disappointing, and with plenty of pie.

Spawn of Satan Pie Recipe

Spawn of Satan Pie Recipe

Created in Honor of NY Yankee Derek Jeter’s Birthday

Ingredients:

3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup cut-up cooked chicken
1 1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t fresh chopped oregano
2 t fresh basil
6-oz tomato paste
1 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
2/3 cup Bisquick
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease a 10-inch by 1-1/2-inch pie plate with butter.

Alternate layers of Ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese.

Mix chicken, 1/2 C Mozzarella, garlic powder, oregano, basil, and tomato paste.

Pour over Parmesan cheese layer.

Whisk together cream, eggs, Bisquick, salt & pepper

Pour into pie plate.

Bake 30 minutes.

Top with remaining Mozzarella, then bake an addition five to 10 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Spawn of Satan Pie

I’m out on the driving range before noon today, but I can’t concentrate.

Today, I will blame the New York Yankees since their fans are coming out of the woodwork to mourn the passing of their blessed temple in the Bronx. All my hits are off kilter, low, and lethargic, obviously affected by all that negative energy. In time, I give up and go back into the pie shop to get out of the heat, as much as anything.

I take out my notepad and start working on a recipe for “Spawn of Satan Pie” with a special Derek Jeter Crust.  Jeter’s favorite food is chicken parmesan, so this is a no brainer, and I know I’ll be getting calls from Sue Ten over at the Swing Barn once the pre-game show starts at six.

It’s one of those hot, humid SoFLA days that keeps people indoors, so I’m not expecting much excitement today. I gave The Usual Idiot the day off, and I’m thinking this might be a good time to varnish the new combination step-ladder book selves out in the back room, with the exhaust fan going full blast. The Morning Guy copied the design that I found last week, and he’s already built the prototype, finished the sanding, and vacuumed up every stray bit of sawdust. He’ll be leaving me snitty notes if I don’t get moving on this project soon.

I like varnishing, especially roll-and-tip with warm varnish.  It goes on fast, the tipping with a foam brush breaks down the bubbles, and then I can just pull up a chair and watch it dry. In truth, it’s more fun to watch it dry if someone else did the application work, but I know I’ll see plenty: curtains, holidays, bugs in their death throes, visions of alternate universes, dreams of another time and place. It’s all entertainment to the receptive mind. Varnish, sand, repeat. Shampoo, rinse, repeat. Signs of infinity in the known universe.

I’m sure, too, that the sound of the fan will drown out the noise from the over-emotional Yankee fans at the swing barn. If not, I have a set of Ruger firing-range ear muffs that should do the job.

Before I can put them on, though, the phone rings.  It’s Sue Ten. “Boyd’s here.”

“I wondered why Hercules was heading that way.”

Hercules is our resident feral green iguana, a gargantuan beast by all accounts, and for some reason, he has an attraction for my second ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd. Hercules’ affection, however, is not returned. Boyd has a deep abiding dislike of all things reptilian, including his own lizard brain.

I look out the window and see my old car in the far side of the parking lot. A lime green Toyota Celica, it was a parting gift, or bribe. Call it what you like. It was the WD-40 that lubricated the exit door to get Boyd out of my life.

“What’s he up to?” I ask Sue.

“He’s pretty quiet so far,” says Sue. “Not annoying anyone too much.  Just the usual ranting about The Royals and how many players started out in Kansas City. Apparently, he no longer has a television at home.”

“And what’s he calling home these days?”

“Hard to tell,” says Sue. “A couple more drinks, and I’m sure I’ll have his full life story. Again.”

“Sorry, honey, but he’s your customer,” I say. “The restraining order has expired. Give him some waffle fries on the house. If he’s busy eating, he won’t be able to talk as much.”

I’m rattled, but I go back to varnishing anyway. Roll. Tip. Roll. Tip. One. Two. Lift. Swing. Lift. Swing. I’m reviewing this morning’s practice, more convinced than ever that negative Yankees energy was my enemy, and Boyd was all too often a fan of The Best Team That Money Can Buy.

I had not watched baseball for years when I met him, but he awoke something deep and significant in me: A Red Sox fan’s utter hatred of the New York Yankees, and it felt good for me to know an emotion that deep and pure. Yes! It’s the opposite end of the mood-spectrum from that mystifying ability that some people have that allows them to say, in any situation, “It’s all good.” Anti-Yankeeism consists of a certaintude and clarity of vision found primarily in extreme religious sects, and it’s a wonderfully cleansing experience. I do recommend it.

Boyd was never much of a golf fan, though. So, now I can picture him at the bar, telling his usual two golf jokes. “Oh, yes,” he says, “I agree with Mark Twain that golf is a good walk spoilt.” Not that he’d know what a good walk is either.

And when someone asks him if he plays, he say, “I do. I love golf, but I always have trouble getting the ball through the windmill and into the clown’s mouth.”

By now he is telling Sue his one remaining joke. “You know why a bartender is like a priest?”

I can see the beatific look of unbearable patience on her face now, her chin cocked to the side, her hand smoothly reaching for the taser under the counter.

She doesn’t answer, just raises her eyebrows a bit in a questioning glance.

“They both serve wine and take confessions,” says Boyd, laughing too loud, and then raising his own eyebrows — in surprise.

The bar goes silent, except for Madeleine Peyroux on the jukebox singing “I’m All Right.” Maybe even singing my favorite line, “Wherever you are, you’re still driving my car.”

Hercules has planted himself directly behind Boyd’s bar stool. Boyd’s already pale skin goes white, and then he yelps. As I hear it later, Hercules has nudged off one of Boyd’s baby-blue flip-flops and has chomped into Boyd’s big left toe.

Everyone else in the room backs off, except for Sue, safely behind the bar.

There’s that beatific smile again.  “I believe you are supposed to remain calm,” she says. “Can you do that, Boyd?”

He nods.

“Now, my understanding is that we need to turn this sucker upside down to get him to release you. Are you ready?”

She motions to a couple of the regulars, one in a Yankees tee-shirt and the other in a faded-orange Oriole shirt. They pick up Hercules and twist him, and Boyd’s toe in the process, with no positive results.

“What about the alcohol trick?” Sue asks.

“Okay,” says the Oriole’s fan. He picks up Boyd’s schooner of Guinness and pours it over Boyd’s foot and Hercules’ face. The well-fed iguana still does not budge.

“Only one more thing to do,” says Sue. “Load them both up and get them to the emergency room.” She points to the door.

“I can’t do that,” says Boyd.

“Oh yes you can,” Sue. “It’s either that, lose your toe, or spend the rest of your life with an iguana attached to your foot.”

She gives the two good Samaritans a quick hand signal and twenty dollars, and they load up Boyd and Hercules, droppng them both in the back of a blue Chevy pick-up truck.

I look out the window just in time to see the truck take off down the hot and dusty road. Boyd’s white ponytail has come undone, and I know by the time they reach the hospital, he will have a serious case of uncombable hair syndrome, as well as the more obvious foot-in-iguana-mouth condition.

Sue is already on the phone giving me the delicious details, but I notice, as we talk, that there’s a little activity going on by the back door of The Swing Barn. Usually, Sue keeps that door shut tight to minimize uninvited guests, such as large feral green iguanas.

I’m about to tell her I’m surprised to see the back door open, and then I see The Morning Guy, laughing to himself, closing the door and walking away. No need to mention that to anyone.

And it’s time for me to bake some chicken-parmesan pie before the game gets underway.

Sometimes you can get enough . . . of Barry White

Last night, out on the driving range, well after dark, I go through 100 balls in only an hour, which I know is much too fast. I’m not spending enough time in the silent space between the swings, and I’m going too fast when I am swinging, so I know I need to adjust my sense of time and timing and slow it all right down.

As usual, I need to find a source for the defect, and so today I am passing the blame on to Wendy’s Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough Frosty, a 480-calorie treat, and 25% of those calories are from fat. W00t! The “healthy alternatives” website suggests that I would have been wiser to go for the Mandarin Chicken Salad instead, but it’s just not the same kick, and standing around with a Mandarin Chicken Salad would not endear me to the local golf teens as much as the Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough Frosty does.

“Wow,” says one bright-eyed local boy. “I just had one of those two hours ago, and I am still buzzing.”

My point exactly. If I’d gotten mine with chocolate ice cream in stead of vanilla, I would probably still be out there.  Then again, I didn’t sleep well and I am out there again at 7:00 a.m., hitting balls and musing about the events of the past 9 or so hours.

Picture me on driving too fast on I-95, high on way too much sugar but happily reviewing the evening’s progress, remembering the voices of the two men next to me, softly sharing advice and stories, whistling low in appreciation as one or the other hits a truly spectacular shot.

I am happy. I cruising on the super-highway that can be seen from space, and I am listening to jazz and thinking about The Morning Guy who is out somewhere for his evening run, staying fit, keeping the boxes in his mind all nicely organized and never letting them touch each other, and then it happens: The radio inexplicably switches from jazz to Barry White, and I hear Barry moaning about how he cannot get enough of my love.

Suddenly, my mood goes from crest-of-the-wave to serious paper cut, and I feel like I just plunged my hand into a vat of organic lemon juice.

I want to swerve into the nearest bar and knock back some Jack Daniels Black to ward off the unexpected and unwelcome stab of loneliness.  For just a split second, I even find myself missing my two ex-husbands Pretty Boy Boyd and Patrick-the-Liar, but that impulse blinks out of existence just as quickly as a firefly being eaten by a bat.

The next song, though, is equally devastating, and I am plotting the shortest route to Pepe’s Hideaway, when my cell phone jangles, and it is Sue Ten, stranded at a Starbucks with a folding bike and no interest in pedaling any further.

“I was just reaching out for a human connection,” she says.

Relieved to have a diversion, I say I understand fully, and continue south, well past my exit, slowing down to navigate a major speed trap, with at least a dozen blue lights flashing, and I pick her up in a matter of minutes.

On the way to her house, we debate the Pie Shop menu. I am not at all convinced that her version of Eggs Benedict Pie, with sliced potatoes instead of a crust, works for me. She argues for more variety in the menu. I’m holding my ground. I’m running a 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, not a cafe. And I like purity of definition. What’s she’s offering is a casserole. I will only serve pie, and metaphors.

So this message is for all of you who want more than what I have to offer: Get in your pick-up truck and just go next door to The Swing Barn. You can talk to Sue Ten, in Italian no less, and you can eat whatever you like. You can even have waffle fries covered with cheese-in-a-can. You can swing dance. You can weep in your beer. Remember, though, The Swing Barn is not open 24-hours a day, there’s no free internet, and there aren’t even any good books to read. Although some of the grafitti in the rest rooms — which, by the way, have signs saying “Them” and “Us” on the doors — is pretty interesting.

Now, if you want a pie for dessert, give us a call, and I’ll send someone over in a golf cart to deliver it to you. Please have exact change.

Life can be so easy.


Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/barry white can’t get enough

Book Shelves for the Pie Shop

Yes, of course we need book shelves. And we’ll be filling them bit by bit. Right now, my favorite library consists of the bookshelves in the lobby of The Colony Hotel in Delray Beach.  I’m guessing it’s okay to take the books they’ve got stashed there.  No one has ever tried to stop me.  And I do usually take back more than I borrow. I especially like it that there are no overdue fines and no problems with inventory. Either they have what I want or they don’t. Life can be simple.

But before we bring in the books, we’ll need the shelves.  How do you like this set up? (From www.dannykuo.com)

Danny Kuo on his .StairCASE: “This is one of my favourite projects, which realised in 8 weeks, from assigned theme to an almost finished and working prototype.

“The initial keywords: space, storage, future.

“In the future space becomes more desireable because big apartment buildings are taking over normal 1, 2 or 3 level houses. Building vertically is more efficient because less ground square meters are needed to house people. Therefore focus for will be on height rather than width in the future. However current storage furniture is designed for humans with a length of 1.7 or 1.8 meters also our furniture needs to grow in height in in order to be more efficient. This StairCASE is an answer to this need. It reaches the ceiling and the topshelves are still easy to reach without getting into awkward positions or getting help from another furniture piece.”

Lemonade Pie

Didn’t get what I wanted, and you know what they said? Honey, when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. I always said, when life hands you a lemon, look for tequila and salt.

How to make Lemonade Pie:

Take all your disappointments, sorrows, and, grievances

Soak in tequila overnight

Wake up wanting something sweet and crunchy

Find it

Mash it up for the crust with real butter

And extra cinnamon

Distill the liquid ingredients

Until you have something you can use

Fold in some whole organic eggs and heat ever so slowly

In time it will thicken

In time it will jell

Pour into the crust

And then, baby,

All you need to do is

Chill

September Full Moon

I went out to the driving range earlier than I had planned because I was a little worried about the usual weather prediction of thunder storms, but then I live in SoFLA so what do I expect? Still I did not want to get shut out, so I had my 100 balls ready to go long before the full moon came up at 7:30.

After no practice for more than a week, I didn’t feel much flow, and that’s probably much of what I will feel in tomorrow’s Ashtanga yoga class, too.

The lighting tonight was exquisite. I wished I had taken my camera, thinking that the sky I was seeing would be just perfect on the ceiling of the pie shop, oh hell, puffy clouds turning all pink and gold against an impossibly blue background. Just the sort of thing I would have drawn in third grade and been told, as I was, that it was unrealistic.

The sky to the west, though, was steel gray, and foreboding. No matter. It was all bluff, no action.

At first there was a lot of chatter, lessons taking place, tips being offered, ah, but not for me. I settled in for an evening of way too many swings and misses, marveling at how many little things go into a righteous hit, worrying about the recent misses elsewhere in my life, trying not to get too spaced out on metaphors.

Yes, yes, yes, I want to believe that golf is all Zen, but then I’m noting, too, my check list of motions and notions. I hear the guy behind me advising his friend to separate the bright yellow balls from the old ones and see what difference that makes. Oh, no! I am not ready for that level of refinement.

What I want first is consistency. I want to see that I can repeat the few good strong hits that please me so much. It seems that I am setting up the same every time, but apparently not. Some piece is missing. I try putting different thoughts in my head. I get engrossed in my imagination and my body goes ahead with the swing.

Meanwhile I have my right toes, all of them, are cramping up and that does a lot to help with focus now, doesn’t it? I sing a little to myself. The guy next to me swears, not about the singing. At least I don’t think so. Then, when I see that I am running low on balls, I start to feel sad because I will be done.

No great breakthrough or giant step ahead tonight, but a satisfying practice. I know from swimming and yoga that the tiny improvements will continue to add up, and it will all come down to learning to breathe, and that has been the story of my life for the past five years.

Or, as John Lennon once said, “As breathing is my life, to stop I dare not dare.”

A Perfect Cup of Coffee

Oh, yes. I remember coffee. Did you know that there is not even a support group for people who, for reasons both sad and true, are better off without caffeine? My name is Barbara Jean, and I am in coffee recovery.

What am I missing? Only a major connection with most of the people I know. Ah, to be one of you and savor that early morning, or late evening, cuppa cuppa cuppa. 

I long for it. 

What’s my perfect cup of coffee these days? A glass of ice water.  What’s my perfect cocktails? A glass of ice water. And on and on and on. It’s tap water, too. But we have excellent tap water here at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, so don’t go getting all hoity toity on me. I’m thinking of bottling some of it with our own house brand special “Quality of Mercy” label.

You just wait and see.

Meanwhile, if you do want to talk about coffee, here’s a great starting point. But pull up a chair and get comfy. I can guarantee that’s it’s more than you want to know.  Have I listened to it?  No, so I’m hoping you do and give me the abbreviated de-caffeinated version.

Free University – How to Make The Perfect Cup Of Coffee

September 14th, 2008 

Dr Mark Miodownik – How to Make The Perfect Cup Of Coffee

Mark Miodownik: How to make the perfect cup of coffee.

What elements are involved in the making of a simple beverage. The
Director of the Materials Library and Head of the Materials Research
Group at King’s College London provides an audibly practical
demonstration of the answer.

Duration: 43:10.

icon for podpress  Free University – How to Make The Perfect Cup Of Coffee [43:10m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Visit http://www.materialslibrary.org.uk

Full Moon Golf Music

So, yes, I know it’s September and not July, but this song does have a great lyric in it: My arms are empty and the moon is full.

It’s a sad, sad song,  and don’t you agree that they ought to put warning labels on those sad country songs? I was thinking I might find an antidote in some Magic Mushroom Chocolate Pie, but apparently the key ingredients are just a tad difficult to find.

And I know I will feel better once I’ve had an hour or two out on the driving range watching the full moon come up.


Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/dixie chicks cold day in july

Or then again, I might be more in the mood for Bat for Lashes . . .


Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/i’m on fire bat for lashes cover

Large Hadron Collider Webcam

From Boing Boing Gadgets:

Watch protons dry with Large Hadron Collider official webcams

webcamlhc.jpgThey’re just warming up the dipole magnets, and the first major experiment (bunching thousands of protons and making them headbutt) is about to begin: be sure to watch it at the LHC’s official webcams.Chances are it’s just going to be like any other webcam, of course, and you’ll just stare at it for 20 seconds, then get bored and go somewhere else.
Click here — Webcams — to view.

Yes, the Pie Shop Will Have a Scan Toaster

Some people like to read a stack of newspapers in the morning. Some people watch The Weather Channel. Some do both.

Me, I like to read Lifehacker and BoingBoing. Both readings give me a never-ending supply of tips for making the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range a finer experience for all you all.

 Scan-Toaster

Scan Toaster: Bread Printing Protocol needed immediately

Posted by Rob Beschizza, September 12, 2008 5:35 AM | permalink

Of all the companies that make toasters, I’m pretty sure Electrolux has the biggest R&D budget. It always pops up sponsoring fancy design competitions and the like. Here’s its “Scan Toaster,” a concept by Sung Bae Chang, whose mode of operation is refreshingly obvious.

You plug it into your computer, put a slice of bread in it, and then print. But come now – toasting on bus power? I think not.

Scan Toaster [Electrolux Design Lab via Gizmodo]

Golf Lesson Number One

The morning guy gave me a golf lesson — by email — a couple of weeks ago. I was hoping for something more personal, like the snuggly stuff they always show in the movies, but I will take what I can get. As it turns out, I am doing most of this stuff anyway, but maybe I am not doing it right. (Or, as they say so often in LOLcats: “U R Doin It Rong.”)

Here goes: “Golf lesson number one: At the range, take time in between every hit. After the hit, step away from the next ball. Think of how you just hit the ball. Think of the feeling of hitting. Regrip the club correctly. Step up to the ball correctly. And hit the next ball. Repeat.”

You see, it’s all Zen. I love this game.

What’s on the jukebox?

As I have mentioned, the morning guy says “no” to Dixie Chicks, but I do like the girls, and sometimes I find that I have bits of “A Home” stuck in my head, especially the line, “Not a night goes by that I don’t go wandering in the house that might have been a home.”

Then again, just as often I might want a little bit of Tom Waits’ singing about The Heart of Saturday Night.

What would you like to hear? Does the time of day matter? The flavor of the pies?

Click on the comments link to chime in.

Morning at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range

It’s a little before noon so I am just coming in to work. The morning guy has already been there to chat with the late shift postal workers and firefighters. He’s stocked the soda machine and, once again, removed the Dixie Chicks from the jukebox. I will put them back in after you & I have had a chance to catch up. I do love the smell of coffee even though I can’t drink it any more.So, what’s going on with you? How about a piece of pie?

Ten Hours of Chatter

“Ten hours of chatter,” said Marilyn, when she saw my post in Facebook late in the day, but early for her in China. It was productive chatter, though, I think — and something I needed to help me move ahead, or at least sideways.

Thanks to all who chimed in and push me out of my dense daydreaming and inertia.

I still have a lot of questions about friendships, connections, time, memory, and communication. Click on the “comments” link to continue the conversation.

And, no, you do not need to use your real name. This is all a fantasy, maybe even a dream.

Vodka in the Pie Crust

Somehow, a chat with Becca, Paul, and Macy this morning went very quickly from ghosts to silly putty to play dough to eating play dough to eating library past to making — of course — pie dough. “The new secret ingredient is vodka” said Paul. So I’ll have something new to try out when I get home. Of course, this means I will have to break into my hurricane supplies to get the vodka, which will make this crust a Category One provisions. (I’m saving The Glenlivet for Category 4, and tequila shots for Category 5. Bourbon for 3 and possibly mojitos for 2. Keep in mind, that I usually do not drink at all, but at different times in life, Hurricane Rules Apply.)

So, here is the Vodka Pie Crust recipe .  .  .  .

Cook’s Illustrated’s Foolproof Pie Dough

When we talked to Cook’s Illustrated publisher Chris Kimball about the November 2007 issue of the magazine, we asked what recipes really stood out in it this year. This pie crust is one of them, he said. “It’s a brilliant recipe,” Kimball said. “The secret ingredient in it? Vodka.”

Foolproof Pie Dough

– makes one 9-inch double-crust pie –

The trick to this pie crust is the inclusion of vodka. Eighty-proof vodka, which is 60 percent water and 40 percent alcohol, adds moistness to the dough without aiding in gluten formation since gluten doesn’t form in ethanol. Although the recipe includes 8 tablespoons of liquid, the alcohol vaporizes during baking, resulting in a tender crust that only contains 6 1/2 tablespoons of water. Because of the extra liquid, the dough will be moister than most standard pie doughs and will require up to 1/4 cup more flour.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

Procedure

1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

A Night Out at the Hu Ke Lau

What can it be like to be a member of the Show at a Polynesian restaurant in Chicopee, Mass.? I can only wonder what the six dancers, four musicians, and the MC do the rest of the time.

You may remember that this is the place where we all went out to eat on Fathers Day in 2006, the day after Becca and Paul’s wedding. I seem to remember that Paul work a construction-paper tie, but that could be wrong. No, I’m sure that’s right. And we had a group photo taken against a mural of some island scene.

So, I did know what to expect, and I was somewhat disappointed when Macy told me that there was no longer a stuffed alligator in the lobby. We got there in time for the warm up act, before the dancers came out, and my main observation for that is that the keyboard player exhibited a wan appearance that most moviemakers would key into for a serial-killer suspect. Of course, the real serial killer would be more of a surprise. During the fire dances, the smell of lighter fluid permeated the air.

You can tell I am still very much a small-town girl by the fact that I was fascinated by the glowing plastic ice cubes in the drinks on most of the tables, including ours in time. I will definitely want to order some of those for the pie shop, especially for that late night sip of cold water with your lemon meringue.

Back to the dancers: Our MC took us on a journey through several islands where all the dances involved a great deal of hip movement and fire. I liked it, but probably not as much as the wedding-rehearsal group at the edge of the stage did. They got a lot of special attention, and rightly so.

I also did not previously know that “Tiny Bubbles” was the Hawaiian National Anthem, and I enjoyed singing along in my usual combination of ignorance and enthusiasm.  One of the closing songs was “I’m proud to be an American” which I remembered from living in Ozarks, but in the Ozarks when they got to the line about “stand up” everyone did actually stand up.

It was all over by 9:00, and the cast member were free to take off their makeup and leis, and do what? I had to wonder if they thought it had been a great night, or just anohter job. They reminded me very much of our own Elvis impersonator in Delray, well known about town, and easy to spot even in his police uniform, because he was still sort of Elvis all the time. So maybe the dancers are the same way, local celebrities, smiling across the footlights, even when they are just shopping at the five and dime.