The aftermath of Pi Day.
Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2023/03/15/one-liner-wednesday-what-day-is-it-anyway/
eclectic, like me
The aftermath of Pi Day.
Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2023/03/15/one-liner-wednesday-what-day-is-it-anyway/
The US tends to have a lot of whimsical “holidays” in honor of just about any food, activity, relationship, etc. imaginable. March 14 is celebrated as “Pi Day” because Pi is 3.14…
The celebration entails eating pie. While Brent often bakes for Pi Day, this year I bought a suitably dedicated cherry pie from Wegmans.
Wishing an equally delicious pie to all those celebrating!
I did something I seldom do this morning.
I wore an apron.
Like many other locations in the Northern Hemisphere, this week we are having a heat wave. It was already 90 F (32 C) by 11:00 AM, so two hours before solar noon, given Daylight Saving Time. Not quite as bad as daughter E in London which set an all-time record at 40 C (104 F) earlier this week, but hot enough that I wanted to get kitchen work that involved heat out of the way this morning.
When I was at the farmstand earlier this week, they were selling beets for only a dollar a quart, so I bought some to roast. I decided to peel and cut them in chunks before roasting. Because I didn’t want to risk splattering my cream and blue print sundress with red beet juice, I donned the apron that B wears sometimes when he is baking.
While the beets were roasting, I made cooked butterscotch pudding for a pie. When I was growing up, my mom used to make pudding pies or sometimes fruited jello pies in the summer. I think that it isn’t a very common practice anymore because there were no pie directions on the pudding package. I remembered the modifications well enough, I hope, that the pie should set. Bonus: I had a graham crust in the cupboard so I didn’t have to bake one.
Admittedly, I don’t have to worry about our kitchen getting unbearably hot because of our air conditioning, provided very efficiently by our geothermal heat pump system. (Geothermal heat pumps use much less energy than conventional central air systems but I wanted to get my electric cooktop and oven work done early so as not to add to the electricity burden which rises in the late afternoon/evening.)
As I keep hearing about people in Europe and the US suffering from extreme heat, my mind goes to heat pumps which will keep them warm in the winter without burning methane and safely comfortable in the increasingly hot summer heat waves, all while helping to combat the greenhouse gas emissions that worsen climate change. Bonus: Heat pumps can break the stranglehold that Russia and other oligarchies have over fossil fuels, promoting peace and economic stability. So much conflict has fossil fuels as an underlying cause. We would do well to stop using them as quickly as possible, so, for peace and the planet, let’s transition to heat pumps NOW.
B and I baked an election day pie early this morning with an important message: VOTE! We did early voting last week and will be watching television coverage as the returns begin to come in this evening, by which time our tummies will be full of our fruits-of-the-forest pie. Today’s rendition is made with apples, raspberries, blueberries, and rhubarb.
Today, E and I took ABC to her first theater experience, a performance of Sesame Street Live. The theme was magic, but a lot of the story revolved around things that turned out to be science. One of those things was making cookie dough out of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar and adding heat to make it into cookies.
My other dough experience of the week was making pie dough for a birthday pie for Paco who turned 94 on Tuesday. I wanted to make him a prune-apricot pie. Unfortunately, it had been a loooong time since I had baked a pie from dried fruit. And I was super tired because I had been up at night with ABC and then had trouble getting back to sleep. I realized too late that I had forgotten the salt in the crust. D’oh! I also didn’t put as much water in the fruit when I stewed it as I should have, so the apricots didn’t soften as much as I would have liked and I didn’t have very much juice to thicken. Still, it all worked out okay as Paco enjoyed it very much.
I thought that doing an unsweetened pie might also appeal to Nana, who hasn’t had much appetite lately, but it didn’t sound good to her. She is still eating breakfast, but usually not much for lunch and supper and she doesn’t like things that are too sweet. One of the hospice rules is that she can eat whatever she wants and we are following that. We have gotten some coffee ice cream to keep on hand because it was always one of her favorites, the bitterness of the coffee cutting the sugar. We’ll see if she wants to try some someday soon.
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “dough/d’oh”. Join us! Find out how here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/03/29/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-march-30-19/
In my region, it is strawberry season. While strawberries from far away are available in supermarkets year-round, we almost never buy them, preferring to wait for the short but sweet local strawberry season.
When the wild strawberries in our lawn begin to ripen, it is time to head to the farmstands for quarts of flavorful, ripe berries. (It used to be time to head to the pick-your-own farms in the area but lack of time and an aging body have put an end to spending some early morning hours picking berries and avoiding slugs.)
In the early part of the season, I always make a fresh strawberry pie, using a recipe that my mom, known as Nana here at TJCM, made. It originated in a leaflet from the farm that we used to visit with her during childhood to pick strawberries. My copy was written out in Nana’s elegant cursive on a recipe card among those that she gifted to me when B and I married. We shared this year’s fresh strawberry pie topped with whipped cream with her and the family over at Mercy House, the hospice residence where Nana is now living.
As the season progresses and the berries need to be used more quickly, I move on to recipes that involve cooked berries. Last week, I made one of my favorites, strawberry rhubarb pie. I tried something different this time, using pastry cut-outs instead of a full top crust, hoping that the filling in the extra-deep pie plate would cook through without soaking the crust.
It worked! Again, the family gathered at Mercy House to enjoy pie with Nana and Paco.
Strawberry season is always a blessing, but this year even more so. Making more sweet memories is a precious gift.
The usual Christmas greeting in the United States is “Merry Christmas!” Merry meaning cheerful, jolly, festive.
I am not any of those.
As I have been writing about in several recent posts, I offloaded many of my usual Christmas preparation tasks to other adults in the house, concentrating on the few that really needed my attention. To be honest, some, like decorating, I just could not bring myself to do; they are too evocative. We have many ornaments that came to us from B’s mom; this is our second Christmas without her. With my mom under the care of hospice and my dad, at 92, not getting around as well as he used to, this is the first Christmas in many years that neither my parents nor my sisters will see our decorated tree.
Much about this Christmas has been bittersweet. My daughters E and T were invited by the music director that they sang and rang handbells with as children and teens to sing with the adult choir at her current church for Advent and Christmas. It was lovely to have them sing at the late evening mass on Christmas Eve, two young women among a group that is composed largely of people old enough to be their parents or grandparents. It is wonderful for them to have a chance to sing together as they did for so many years, but we all know that it is likely the last time they will be living here together, as E and baby ABC will likely join L in London when E’s spousal visa comes through in mid-2018.
Father Clarence began the homily by recounting early memories of celebrating Christmas and how the family gathering changed and diminished over time through death and moves and other obligations. It reminded me that I have a lot of company in the bittersweet department.
It also caused me to reflect on something that has been difficult for me in this part year. People keep advising me to enjoy the time with my daughters and granddaughter and parents, setting aside any thoughts of what we know the future will/might hold.
While I know some people can concentrate on only the present moment, it is not a skill I have mastered. It’s not even a skill that I can convince myself I want to master.
One of the sweet moments today was watching ABC eat the filling from pumpkin pie with whipped cream for the first time. It matters to me that the recipe we use is the same one that my mom made for us for many years until we took over the holiday pie-baking duties. It matters that my mom was sitting on the other end of the couch, watching her great-granddaughter grabbing the spoon of filling and cream and enjoying the new food – after the first few bites when she was adjusting to the new taste and texture. It matters that B’s mom, who was always telling us stories about her friends’ great-grandchildren, passed away before ABC was conceived. It matters that next year, ABC may be in London for Christmas and none of us know which other faces will be missing from our holiday celebration.
While it might be nice to be “merry,” I know that I can’t give up my connections with the past and my realistic projections of the future to create a merry present. Today, I have learned that it is possible to be feel simultaneously bittersweet and content.
Wishing Christmas blessings to those celebrating and the gifts of peace and loving-kindness to all!
The Algonquins who were native to my region named the full moon this time of year the strawberry moon.
Usually at this time of year, we are enjoying plentiful local strawberries. For many years, I would go to a local farm to pick quarts and quarts of berries. We would share some with family and then I would put the kitchen in full-blown strawberry mode. Strawberries on cereal or with yogurt for breakfast. Strawberries on fresh leaf lettuce or baby spinach with pecans and goat cheese. Strawberry shortcake. Fresh strawberry pie. Strawberry rhubarb soup. Strawberries on ice cream. Strawberry-rhubarb pie, crisp, or cobbler. Just eating them and enjoying their sweet fragrance.
The last few years, I haven’t been picking myself, but buying them from the local farmstands. We don’t often buy strawberries other than when they are local. Supermarket strawberries from hundreds or thousands of miles away just don’t compare to what our local berries taste like.
I know that the farms will have berries when the wild strawberries that grow in our yard ripen.
This year, the berries are late.
After a mild winter, the spring was chilly. While we had some wet weather in the earlier part of the spring, we are now in a dry spell. It’s all combined to make the local berries late to ripen.
Last week, I was able to find some berries from a farm about sixty miles from here and, yesterday, I finally found some from Broome-Tioga.
There is a fresh strawberry pie setting in the refrigerator. After supper, we will bring it up to Nana and Paco’s to share with them.
It’s best to eat it the day it is made.
It won’t be a hardship for the five of us to finish it.
Today, Catholics celebrate Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the magi to the infant Jesus. Technically, it should be celebrated on Jan. 6th, bringing to a close the famed twelve days of Christmas, but Epiphany gets moved to a Sunday in the modern liturgical calendar. Also, the liturgical season of Christmas extends through the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord the following Sunday. (Can you tell I spent many years serving in liturgical and music ministry?)
I posted about our Christmas Eve and Day, but haven’t filled in much of the rest of our Christmas observance. We do try as much as possible to observe Advent as a time of waiting and preparation, even though culturally in the US, most of December is packed with Christmas festivities which end on Christmas Day rather than begin there.
One of the things that helps us extend our celebration of Christmas is the arrival of my sisters and their families after Christmas. This year, they arrived on Dec. 26. We met at my parents’ apartment for food, fun, Christmas cookies, and gift exchange that afternoon and evening, followed by a big dinner at our house on the 27th.
We inherited the making of family dinners when my parents first moved to an apartment about ten years ago. Part of the inheritance came in the form of the electric rotisserie that I remember from my childhood, on which we made a traditional rolled beef rib roast. We served mashed potatoes, gravy, popovers, rutabaga which my parents prepared, baked onions, Aussie-style bread which our son-in-law made, and fall vegetable chili, which is made with carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, onion, tomato, and red and white kidney beans.
For dessert, we had four pies: apple, pumpkin, apple blackberry, and cranberry meringue, an addition to our pie repertoire made by our older daughter and her husband. Four pies may seem like a lot for fourteen people, but we always want to have some left over for breakfast the next morning!
Unfortunately, work schedules and threatening weather intervened and both sisters and family had to return home on the 28th. That left us two days with our older daughter E and son-in-law L before they had to fly home to Honolulu. We went out to lunch at a couple of our favorite local eateries, spent time with the grandparents, and enjoyed quiet times at home.
On the morning of the 29th, we were all up at 4 AM to get ready to bring E and L to the airport for a 6 AM flight to Newark and then on to Honolulu. We wished they could have stayed longer, but were very grateful to have them with us for a week.
I did write about our (sedate) New Year’s Eve and Day, although I did have the excitement of a new poem coming out on Silver Birch Press.
Epiphany is traditionally the day that we take down our Christmas tree, although we were late putting it up this year and it isn’t dropping needles, so maybe we will wait until next weekend. B returns to work on Monday and next week’s calendar is filled with appointments, so it is back to reality, or at least what passes for routine, tomorrow.
This post is part of Linda’s JusJoJan initiative. Join us! Read more about it here: http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/03/just-jot-it-january-3rd-frozen/
One of the trade-offs I made in spending five weeks visiting my daughter E in Hawai’i was that I was not at home for local strawberry season. (I can hear you all sarcastically saying “aaaaawwwwww!”)
In our family, strawberry season is one of the most anticipated times of year. We used to go to our favorite local farm to pick them by the bucket, for ourselves and to share with extended family. I will admit the last few years had turned into buying quarts at the farmers’ market, with fewer people at home and a few physical constraints creeping in.
The two to three weeks of the height of strawberry season then turn into an orgy of strawberry eating. Strawberry shortcake was usually the first entrant. Fresh strawberry glacé pie, using a recipe from the farm we used to visit when I was growing up. Strawberry spinach salad. Strawberries on ice cream. Strawberries on cereal. Eating strawberries plain or dipped in sugar. Then, there were the strawberry-rhubarb combinations – pie, crisp, and a chilled soup that is one of my favorite dishes ever.
It is all amazingly delicious and special because we seldom eat strawberries unless they are fresh and local.
So I thought I had missed all the strawberries until I went to the farmers’ market this morning. One of the vendors is not a farmer himself, but re-sells produce from various New York and Pennsylvania farms. He must have some suppliers who are a bit further north and still had fresh strawberries. I bought a quart and currently have about half of them washed, sliced, and macerating in the fridge. I baked the shortcakes and will get some whipping cream when I go out on errands this afternoon. The bowl and beater and chilling in the fridge.
I get to surprise B with fresh strawberry shortcake tonight for dessert. I can hardly wait!