Posts from — March 2016
March 31, 2016
We’re through it now and flowers are everywhere, but for a while it was all doom and gloom and torrential rain around here. Typical “wet coast” weather that makes you long for summer–or a plane ticket to NZ, where it is summer…
But, ahem, we have survived the season and it’s time to celebrate with a look back at the best things that came out of it.
- Snow walks, when we searched out the snow. Watching toddlers walk, fall and flop down in joy in snow.
March 23, 2016
This is my Mum. She’s about twelve years old in this photo and it’s pretty clear her mother, my Grandma, always wanted a girl with curls.
My Mum has a love for regular spring-cleans and clear-outs. After which, my sister and I wind up with bags full of “gifts”. Things Mum isn’t keen to ditch herself but which she feels great about passing on to one of us. Some things which are sweet or useful, in amongst other things you wish you’d never been given because now you feel badly about throwing them away. A recent mixed bag included one of those sweet, special things – a school cookbook handwritten by my twelve year old Mum. The pages are neatly written and sometimes decorated with pictures from newspapers and magazines. The recipes are for un-delicious-sounding things like lamb’s fry or include instructions for “cooking for invalids”. I had to flick through to the very last page to finally discover this little gem: a recipe for hokey pokey biscuits.
March 16, 2016
I am now going to incur your wrath/gratitude by introducing something that you must either go and make right now or find someone else who will make it for you right now and have them make it for you…RIGHT NOW. I know I’ve said urgent things about other recipes a hundred times, and while it was true those other hundred times, it is equally, nay, even more true now. In fact, I might say this pie defies the laws of the universe and logic in being both equal to AND superior to the previous hundred must-make-now recipes on this site.
The above ramble should make it clear that this pie is worth it—see how it’s made me wax all ridiculous? Enough said.
This pie started out with a regular pie crust (it was okay, but not awesome) and mint extract as well as the bourbon (the mint didn’t stand up to the booze), so I switched both out—the crust for a graham cracker one and the mint for more bourbon. It really worked out (see the first paragraph) for us, and, thus, you.
This is a few days late for Pi Day, but don’t let that stop you from making it.
Chocolate Bourbon Pie
Adapted from Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
The filling is generous; I found the first time that I needed to whip up an emergency second crust so as not to waste the extra filling. I suggest using a deep-dish pie plate or a spring-form pan to make sure you can accommodate all the filling in one pie.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients until the mixture is like wet sand. Press into your pie pan firmly and up the sides as high as you can. I use a water glass to make sure things are pressed in well. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until slightly darkened along edge. If the bottom has puffed, pressed it down again gently with a water glass. Leave to cool until the filling is ready, or keep in the fridge until you’re ready to bake the pie.
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut small (or use chips)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla
A dash of old fashioned bitters (optional)
Cocoa powder for dusting
Preheat oven to 325 (or turn it down from previous temperature if you just cooked the crust). Place the prebaked crust on a baking sheet (one that doesn’t warp in the oven). Heat the milk and cream in a saucepan until hot, then take off the heat and add the chocolate. Let it stand for a five minutes, stirring to combine the melted chocolate with the milk and cream. Crack the eggs in a separate bowl and whisk. Pour a small amount of the (now warm, not hot) chocolate mixture into the eggs and whisk, bringing them up to temperature with the chocolate. Then pour the egg/chocolate mixture back into the chocolate/cream mixture, whisking as you do. Add the bourbon, vanilla and bitters if using.
Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pie halfway through. The pie will not be fully set in the middle at the end of baking. The centre should not be liquidy, but will still be wobbly. It will continue to cook as it cools. Be careful not to overcook or it will be dry. Cool completely on a wire rack. This pie is best at room temperature or cold, so leave it for 1 to 2 hours, or put it in the freezer for 30 minutes if you’re impatient like me.
Dust with cocoa powder if you wish. Cut using the sharpest knife you have and be prepared for some crust carnage—it doesn’t always come out cleanly. The taste will make up for it, however.
March 9, 2016
Julia Batchelor-Smith and I have known each other for a long time. We went to the same primary school. My enduring memory is of a magnificent cake her Mum made for one of her birthday parties – an upright lolly shop (made of sponge cake), filled with dozens of sweets, exactly like the one featured in this post and she still has a letter from me, aged 8, approx, detailing just how beaaauuuuuuuutiful I thought she looked with her hair crimped. We lost a few years, due to school changes and home moves and the absence of facebook, before reconnecting recently to discover we lived in the same neighbourhood, both with two daughters of similar ages. Time for a chardonnay and a chin wag…
Even before crimped hair days, Julia has always been gorgeous, driven, energetic, fun and all-round inspiring. It was unsurprising to learn that she had, in the gap in our friendship, become a successful lawyer, lived abroad, run marathons, travelled the globe and created two humans. Oh, and written a book. As you do. Though the title, Balancing Work and Life: A Practical Guide for Lawyers, suggests specificity for lawyers, Julia originally conceptualized the book with a general audience in mind, which is evident as you read it. This book is for all new parents and anyone trying to balance and juggle work and home and kids. It is THE GUIDE for “How She Does It” so of course I had to interview her for our series.
March 2, 2016
So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about creativity. Doing it, contemplating it, avoiding it, being scared of it, watching other people do it. All the things we do with (or without) it as artists. Have you heard that thing Tom Waits says? That as a musician, his job is to make jewelry for the insides of people’s minds? Aw man. The very idea is so evocative I want to eat it.
Actually, I’ll put a Fork & Fiction spin on it: I’m going to make cookies for people’s souls. Soul cookies.
And what I want to propose is this: we be brave here and put out some delicious, pretty things to feed the internet. I’ve always been a fan of quick, impromptu art, writing that happens in a flash, with the best you’ve got in any given moment, ego be damned. Scary? Maybe. Fun? Definitely. Worth it? I think so. Not all baking is successful, right? Some recipes fail, some batches fall flat. But is the process worthwhile? Do you want to keep trying? I think you see where I’m going with this.
I’m giving myself a writing prompt, right here, right now, to write a short piece and submit it to Everyone Everywhere, in the hopes that it will spawn others to take up the challenge and try making a little something fun. So here we go. Post a comment, a thought, or if you’re brave, your own piece in whatever form it takes.
**And in case you need a little extra nudge or support to do this kind of thing, please listen to this podcast all about creativity and the ways we stop ourselves from doing it. (It’s episode #12.)**
The Prompt: Write a short note from one person to another that tells a story. Roommate to roommate, husband to wife, daughter to mother, nun to God, kid to Santa Claus…options are endless. Deep breath. Go.
Why is there a puppy in the kitchen? When you finally wake up, please clean the bathroom, there’s dog crap everywhere. You can also buy me a new pair of running shoes. Does this dog have anything to do with the girl you were making out with last night? The one who works at an animal shelter? Okay, the puppy is biting my toes. It just broke the skin. Guess I’ll need to go to the clinic for a tentanus shot. No, wait–you crashed my car last week, didn’t you? Guess I’ll take your bike. By the way, have you paid the rent? The landlord just called for you. I told him you were at work. Great–the dog just puked on the carpet. I’m out of here. And you know what? After the clinic I’m going to the pawn shop to see how much I can get for your bike. I suspect that’s the only way I’ll get those new running shoes.
Whew. That was FUN! What else can we make here?