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.

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.”

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.