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.

Pie Poems for the Poetry Pie

Oh trouble trouble trouble. What shall I bake for the Martha Stewart pie show? I had such grandiose ideas of different ways to create a poetry pie, but let’s face it, we’re flying 1,500 miles to get there, and it’s going to be tough enough to get my pie with its silver doilies through TSA, although I did check the website and they claim there really is no problem at all. I’ll just send it through the X-ray machine and be on my way, flying to NYC with a pie on my lap, my Mohawk friend Hannah next to me all the way.

Believe me, we are some excited.

I’ve decided: The pie, my dears, will be a decadent brownie pie with a ginger snap crust. Gooey and spicy. Pretty I hope. I make the practice pie tonight, I think.

But first the poems, it needs to be crammed with poetry, just like McCabe (in the Altman film McCabe and Mrs. Miller). And the poetry needs to be of the postcard variety, only about pies and baking, not trains this time.

As it is, I’m pretty far behind on my postcard poems, so maybe this will give me a chance to catch up.

Okay, six poems about pie:

 

Pat’s Apple Raisin Pie

Kayaking in Florida’s 10,000 islands,

expeditioning with Outward Bound,

I finally shed one more food phobia

and ate a meal that included raisins–

didn’t even try to pick them out.

But still, you know, even so, I don’t regret

passing up Pat’s Apple Pie with Rum-Soaked Raisins

in the filling. It just did not seem right

there on the table with our stoic New England fare.

 

Yogurt Dream Pie

Yogurt! I loved it! Made it myself in funny

little cups, plugged into a yellow warming tray that

I bought from some catalog. I put it in

everything, even Dream Whip pie with lemon

Jello-O and who knows what else. “I like it,”

said Dad, pointing with his fork. “What’s in it?”

“Yogurt,” I beamed, then watched in astonishment

as he pushed it way, slid back his chair, and

left the kitchen for the comfort and security

of his old, familiar recliner.

 

Steak and Mushroom Pie

We bought the first one in a tin in some tiny

gourmet shop in Portland, Maine, so cool we were

as college students, English majors, worldly

in our willingness to try something new, something

that I could replicate in our galley kitchen where I had

Already failed so stupendously to create coq au vin

and had come up with pink chicken. But, my dear,

let me tell you, that steak and mushroom pie, the

one that I made myself, still sizzles on my tongue, leaving

its savory essence in memory ever better, every year.

 

Mincemeat Pie

“Mincemeat pie,” I said to John, “was invented by Paul Bunyan

after Babe the Blue Ox finished off the last of the

real minces, a single-ox extermination unit, that one. So

Paul had to create a dish every bit as sweet and delicious.

I don’t know whether he poured brandy into the first

one, or if that was someone else’s idea, so in either case,

what you have here is actually mock mince.

Not mince.”

“Can’t say that I care,” he said, and sliced his way

through my crust of cookie cuttered stars, ate his way

into yet another Great American Myth.

 

 

Another Thanksgiving, Another Pie

Somehow, my son and I developed our

own tradition over the years, never quite getting

the pumpkin pie right, always managing to forget

one ingredient, never two, always finagling our

way through the shopping list, then opening the

oven door to find something unexpected in

shape or texture, but always finding something

for sure that we could pass off as pie.

 

Boston Cream in Boston

When Nanny turned 72, we all hauled down to

Boston for a night at The Pops, preceded by a

dinner at Jakie Wirth, me a satellite to Nanny’s family

who gossiped and sipped, drank beer,

drank wine. And for dessert the crisp waiters trouped

out with the most fabulous Boston Cream Pie

I have seen in my life, decadent as only custard

and chocolate can be. She cut us each an

ample slice, and surveyed her congenial tribe with

a nod and a knowing grin, a bit of custard on her lip.

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.