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such a tart

3 May

You should know—and perhaps you’ve already noticed—that my photography skills—the little that I had—went to pot fast here on McPolish. I’d like to blame camera phones, Instagram, dirty politicians, and cheap gin, but really it’s because I’m too lazy to pull out my big, fancy camera and do a proper photo with good lighting, photo editing, etc, etc.

And because of this, I realize in my quest to achieve Pie Greatness this year, I’m not giving you very appetizing shots of the pies I’ve made.

Well, Interwebs….

Prepare to be disappointed again, friends!

But what April’s featured pie lacks in photogenic-ness (?) (it’s a word now), it makes up for in taste. And know that I at least attempted to get you some better photos this month, friends. I may not have succeeded, but it’s the thought that counts.

I should also prepare you to be twice disappointed because technically I made a tart, which is not exactly a pie, but it’s not not a pie. As I mentioned on The Instagram when I made this brown butter raspberry tart from epicurious, tarts are similar to pies in that there is crust and there is filling, so it counts. And, and, when I looked up just now whether it should be tart or tarte, The Wikipedia says this “tarte” is a French word that can mean either pie or tart, “as both are mainly the same with the exception of a pie usually covering the filling in pastry, while flans and tarts leave it open.”

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The uncooked tart, which is similar to pie.

The key word here is usually, people. When have I ever done anything “usually”? Do you see pastry lids on any of the three previous pies I’ve made this year? No. No you do not.

Ergo, this tart counts toward my Year of Pie goal.

It also counts because I say it does.

Anyhooters, once I nailed the browned butter part of this recipe (my first batch of browned butter burned, and I learned something then: There is nothing sadder than burned butter) (I learned, too, that it’s easier to brown butter in a pot with a light colored bottom, because you can actually tell when it starts to brown) (tell your friends), the rest of it came together beautifully. And instead of listening to the directions, I only cooked it for about 30 minutes, rather than 40, but it seemed done, so I pulled it out of the oven. But then about an hour later I was second guessing my decision, and was worried I’d have yet another fall-apart dessert on my hands when slicing it up that night for our guests (because yes, I all the goddamn time buck the adage that you should never make new recipes when you’ve got guests coming for dinner, because what if it all goes to shit) (answer: order pizza) so I threw it back into the oven for another ten minutes or so just to be sure.

Let the record show that Swede gave me A Look when I did this and then put a voice to my doubt over this choice. And let the record show that he also agreed with me when I said, “I may have fucked up the tart.”

And also let the record show we were both wrong.

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The finished tart, which is still similar to pie.

Next time I’ll probably just bake it for 40 minutes straightaway, rather than 30 minutes and then another 10 random minutes later in the day. But it obviously didn’t affect the taste, because the four of us—me, Swede, and our old next-door neighbors who came for dinner—killed that tart in one fell swoop. There was not a crumb in sight.

And tart makes FOUR.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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and here we have the march pie

26 Apr

There are five things you should know about this Fudge Bottom Pie, besides the fact that yes, I did in fact make a pie in March and that makes THREE MONTHS IN A ROW THAT I HAVE DONE SOMETHING I PROMISED NO ONE IN PARTICULAR I WOULD DO. SUCK ON THAT, PIE HATERS!

 

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One: While thinking about, and while making this pie, I sang about this pie. Specifically, I sang “Fudge bottom pie, you make the rockin’ world go ‘round!” a la Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls, because you just can’t not sing it. And now you’ll be humming it for the rest of this post. You’re welcome.

Two: This pie fell apart. REPEAT: FELL. APART. The flavors are delicious, with the whipped cream pillowed high on the cream filling piled on the fudge layer slathered on the crust—it all mingles together in a bite that is delightful. But it FELL APART. The cream layer never set properly, and it didn’t hold when sliced. Had I read the comments on the recipe, I would have known this was probably going to happen, but I didn’t, so I didn’t, and rather than a nice clean holding together slice, it was more like what you get when you mix cake and ice cream together. Which is not a bad thing, necessarily, simply disappointing.

Three: Baby McSwedolish enjoyed the pie, because giving pie to an at-the-time 7-month old is always a good idea. She liked it almost as much as she likes yogurt, which is saying something, because she likes yogurt like I like Diet Pepsi. Which is to say that someday she may say she likes yogurt so much she would smack her mama for it, which is mildly disturbing because I really don’t want to get punched in the face for yogurt. If I’m going to get punched in the face it should be for something really, really good, like two Diet Pepsis.

Four: The crust of this pie tastes like a cookie, and I would definitely make it again with a different filling. Perhaps a filling that actually holds together.

Five: Did I mention I’m three-for-three in pie completion? Oh, I did? I yelled it at the top of this post? Funny, that. Well, whatever. I’ll mention it again just in case there was a loud noise in the background last time and you didn’t hear it. THREE. FOR. THREE. And even if this pie wasn’t a rousing success (by my own personal standards) I’m considering the fact that I got it made a success in and of itself, because it’s all about the journey and blah and blah and insert inspirational Oprah-esque quote, blah blah, move out of the way while I pat myself on the back, YAY ME.

PIE.

 

 

year of the pie–i’m telling you i didn’t forget!

5 Apr

I know you think I’ve let pie fall by the wayside, because it’s April and there’s yet to be a mention of pie since my successful(ish) January bake. But there was pie in February, Interwebers. And there was one in March, too, thankyouverymuchandhaveaniceday. But we’re not talking about March’s pie right now. We’re talking about February, because it’s April, and I am nothing if not timely.

February’s pie was delicious. I made a creamy lemon pie, with the recipe courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction because that Sally knows her shit. (If you’re on the hunt for some delicious baked goods, I highly recommend checking out her site. It’s reputable.* Granted, I haven’t had success with EVERY recipe I’ve tried from her, but let’s be frank—that’s most likely due to user error rather than the recipe she’s touting.)

I made the pie for Swede’s birthday, and it took some trial and error getting to the decision to make the creamy lemon pie, because when I asked Swede what kind of dessert he wanted for his birthday, he listed five different options. One of which was a lemon meringue pie, which I immediately jumped on because I actually know how to make a lemon meringue pie, and I know how to make a really delicious lemon meringue pie, but then I realized that couldn’t count toward my Year of the Pie Goal, so I decided what Swede really wanted was a creamy lemon pie, which would be also delicious and would, in fact, count toward my Year of the Pie Goal.

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The name of this pie says it all: It’s creamy and it’s lemon. And the whipped cream on top is delightful (and yes, I did that piping myself). I liked the crust, too, because A) Not a pastry crust! I still haven’t found my rolling pin! and 2) The almonds in the graham cracker crust add a nice flavor. Overall, this is a stupidly easy pie to bring together, though I was a little nervous that it wouldn’t set and the filling would come blubbering out once I sliced into it, because I’m nervous about this with any pie, really. But it didn’t! It held together beautifully. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, even Swede, even if it’s not really the pie he chose, but whatever.

Pie.

*After pinning thousands of pins on Pinterest, and actually making some, I’ve come to the stark realization that you can’t always believe what is on the Interwebs. (!!!) And frequently, the recipes I tried turned out like crap. So over the past year or so, I’ve largely been sticking to food sites that I know have been around since the dawn of blogs and have a good reputation.

 

year of the pie–i haven’t forgotten

21 Feb

I told you back in January how I was All About the Pie this year. And then I pretty much went radio silent. And then you were probably like, “Oh look, McPolish made a promise about baked goods she doesn’t intend to keep—AGAIN.” Or you probably thought, “Oh sure. Big goals. NO action. Typical McPolish. AGAIN.”

And that is where you are WRONG, my friends. I am ALL ACTION.

For pie, at least.

Granted, I just barely got January’s pie off the ground, literally whipping it up on the last day of the month, but I did it. And while the only thing I have to prove to you that I did it is a terrible photo and the glowing accolade of my six-year-old nephew who isn’t terribly discerning when it comes to baked goods so long as they are sugar filled and no one tattles on him if he has a second piece when his mom isn’t looking, it’s safe to say my first pie was a success.

Kind of.

The filling and topping were a success. How could they not be? The filling was a decadent chocolate pudding-like creation. The topping was whipped cream. How does a person not like those things, separately or combined?

But the crust was meh.

Admittedly, it was store bought, and lacking in proper cooking instructions. (Proper baking temperature? Amount of time for parbaking? Bueller?) But it was the best I could do under the circumstances, seeing as how I still haven’t located my rolling pin and thus firmly believed I could not make a pastry crust. And more admittedly, I spent most of the month of January avoiding thinking about pie, pushing it off “until I find my rolling pin,” because the rolling pin was so key. You can’t make pie without a rolling pin! Because you need the rolling pin to make the crust! Except for all those other pie recipes that don’t require a pastry crust! But F those pies! I needed to make a pie with a pastry crust and I didn’t have a rolling pin and finding it required actually looking for it and it was more fun to just think about looking for it than actually digging through boxes.

And then the next thing I knew it was January 31st and I still hadn’t made the pie and I was all, “Awesome, totally screwing my goals from the word go! Again! Wheeeee!” But then I had a talk with myself and I was like, “Girl, just go get the damn store bought crust and make the damn pie and stop damn sabotaging yourself and don’t be an asshole.*”

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Terrible photo. Delicious pie. 

So I went to the damn store and I bought the damn crust and I made a damn chocolate cream pie from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and it was damn delicious. A damn success all around if you ask me.

One month down, 11 to go.

*You should know that most of my pep talks with myself involve me telling myself not to be an asshole.

kind of like glee, without the drama

25 Oct

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A couple weeks ago I went with two of my pals to Choir! Choir! Choir! 

If you’ve ever been to this event, you just clapped your hands and got very excited and started humming the song you learned, trying to remember the harmonizing notes.

If you haven’t ever been, here’s a brief overview: It’s a high school choir reunion with alcohol.

This is the second time I’ve participated in Choir! Choir! Choir! and both times have been memorable experiences. Not because I was suddenly discovered to have a voice like Norah Jones and signed a record contract (my first album will be titled “What the Shit is Going On Here and Where Are My Car Keys?” Look for it this Christmas); but rather because now I know all the words to “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen and “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. And not only that, but I can harmonize the shit out of both songs.

And I’m a better person for it.

The two guys who founded this event, Daveed and Nobu, basically teach a crowd of people who have typically consumed between one and four glasses of wine or beer the music to popular songs. You self-select into highs, middles, or lows, depending on your vocal range, and learn your part of the music. And sometimes you can stick with your part. And other times your ear fails you and you end up singing a totally different part of the music. (Maybe you’re better at melodies. Perhaps you can’t resist the harmony. Whatevs.) There’s a little bit of comedy, ALL of the audience participation, and more than one person who thinks they have a voice like Norah Jones but in fact is the opposite of Norah Jones and really their voice is more akin to a Muppet but who gives a crap because it’s fun and no one is really getting a record contract so let’s all just calm the hell down and sing a bit.

Singing makes me happy. I’m not terribly good at it, but I so love it. I loved being in choir in high school, and I’ve never made time to pursue community choirs or the like as an adult. Maybe I should. Maybe I will. One day. But in the meantime, I love these types of one-off events that make my heart happy and make me feel like the world IS in fact a beautiful place and people are not completely terrible. Singing feels good, and I like being a part of something that is bigger than just me, even for just a little bit. Together we make a nice song.

(Check out the video of the Chicago event!)

on freak outs, animals and otherwise

8 Nov

One thing I was not expecting when we moved was how hard the animals would freak the fuck out.

I knew the move would be an adjustment for them, particularly for the cats, as everyone says* that cats are attached to places, while dogs are attached to people. But what I did not know is that in our first two weeks of living in our new Animal House in Zoolandia (our affectionate nickname for our new town) I would wake up more than a few times with all three animals in bed with Swede and me. The dog, yes—she sleeps with us every night.** But the cats have never—and I mean never—slept in bed.***

The first night I woke up and thought that Swede had piled a couple thick pillows and blankets on my legs. He’s never done this before, and I don’t predict that he ever will in the future, so why this was my first thought I can’t really say except that these things make sense when it’s 2 am and you try to turn over except you can’t because your legs are pinned down by pillows and blankets. Except it’s not pillows and blankets, it’s a large cat, draped over your legs. I managed to free my legs and roll over, only to nearly roll out of the bed in fright, because as I rolled over something jumped off the side of the bed, right at head level.

A ghost? The essence of the previous owner spiriting away after coming to check on us to see how we liked the house?

No, just Lady Gaga Halloween Cat, who had stationed herself near my head to…I don’t know that I’d call it sleep, as I don’t think she actually sleeps. Maybe go into a trance would be a better description. And when I rolled over I must have snapped her out of said trance because she went flying off the bed and into the shadows of the room to hid and most likely further plot her outline for world domination.

On night four, I woke up at approximately 3 am, and reached up to move the pillow that I thought was pressing against the top of my head, and again nearly fell out of bed in fright. This time it was the Fat Cat, who—and this is probably the weirdest thing he’s ever done****–had stationed himself above my head, and was resting a single paw on the top of my noggin. There is little that is as disconcerting to wake up in the middle of the night and feel something furry attached to the top of your head, Interwebers. Believe you me.

And the dog, well, she’s still adjusting to All the Wildlife that she can now see when she positions herself on the couch to stare out the front window. The dastardly birds, the bastard squirrels, and don’t even get her started on the Other Dogs in the neighborhood who deign to walk down her street. This all, of course, when she’s not busy running between the living room at the front of the house and the bedroom at the back of the house, crying, because Swede and I are in separate rooms, and how is she supposed to protect us if we’re in separate rooooooooms?

I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do to help the beasts settle into their new home, besides give them time. Time will help, yes? Yes, let’s hope so. Because we can’t go back to the condo, it’s sold and out of our hands. The good news is that they’re already showing signs of settling in. The Fat Cat, for one, has taken to exploring the basement (and then getting stuck down there when we shut the door). The dog only races between rooms in mild anxiety, rather than full-tilt. Lady Gaga Halloween Cat—

Well, whatever. We all make progress in our own ways, on our own time.

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So irritated that we moved them. They just…ugh. They just can’t believe our audacity. 

*I don’t really know who this everyone is. But I heard one person say this one time and it made sense to me.

**Terrible idea, BTW, letting dogs sleep in bed with you. This one in particular because she’s a bed hog, pillow hog, and snores like a g-d Mack truck right in your face.

***Apparently they used to, before Swede’s life had meaning, ie, before he and I started dating. But then here I come along, Jerky McJerkerson who’s allergic to cats and effectively kicked them out of bed. This is a big reason why, for the first four years of Swede’s courtship of me, I’m positive the cats were secretly campaigning to overthrow me as girlfriend and get back one of Swede’s previous love interests, whom I’m told were much more cat-friendly.

****And that’s saying something, considering this is the cat who regularly will sprint out of the room for no apparent reason, and yell—yell—at visitors when they come in the front door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo friday: state and monroe

11 Aug

20170803_163605_Burst01Monroe and State.

State and Monroe.

An underground picture to complement the above-ground picture I snapped oh so many years ago.