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bye, bye miss july pie

8 Aug

You guys, I did it. I finally made a pie crust from scratch.

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Pie crust! Made from scratch! With a rolling pin!

And then made a pie with it!

What? Who? How? What is this madness you speak of! You finally found your rolling pin! Where was it?

No idea.

Oh.

I sucked it up and bought a new one from Amazon. Which, it turns out, I like a lot better than my old rolling pin.

Well, that’s okay, I guess. A little lazy and over-consumer-ish when you could have just sucked it up and taken 12 hours to dig through your basement and crawl space to find your old one. But whatever.

Stop judging me. I did it for the pie, okay? And for personal growth of finishing something I started.

Tell it to your therapist. Now tell us about your pie.

Gladly. But I feel this pie experience would be best expressed as a litany of Thank Yous.

How very Alanis Morissette of you.

Thank you, Indiana. Thank you, blueberries. Thank you, thaaaankk youuuu pie play-aate!

OMG. I can’t even with you.

You’re my inner voice, you have to with me.

Get. On. With it.

Right. Thank you….

…Indiana, for the blueberries. Everyone always touts Michigan blueberries, but Indiana is rife with berry patches as well. Plus, it’s marginally closer than driving to Michigan. Sadly, Indiana didn’t get the memo that the weather was supposed to cool off the weekend we picked, after three days of insane heat in Chicago, and after 10 minutes of picking we all looked like we’d jumped in a pool.

…my children, for not melting when Swede and I made them go blueberry picking on the aforementioned hotter than F day, even if Toddler McSwedolish, at one point, sat down in the middle of the blueberry patch and announced he didn’t want to pick anymore, and that I should fill his bucket with blueberries. If we started picking at 11 am, this statement was declared at 11:05.

…rain, which rolled in juuuuust as we were finishing up our picking. My God, I have never been so thankful for a cool breeze and playing on a jungle gym (which was at the front of the berry patch, and which is how we bribed Toddler McSwedolish to not run away while picking berries) in a steady rain.

…my children, again, for forgetting the hardship that was picking blueberries and happily “helping” me make, but more so eat, the pie. (No “helping” about it when it came to the eating, I should add.)

…King Arthur Flour, for the delicious and so-simple-why-was-I-avoiding-this-for-so-long? pie crust recipe.

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So much butter! All for the crust! I love you, butter! 

…Sally’s Baking Addiction, for the pie filling recipe. It’s different—all the blueberries stay their individual selves, rather than get kind of mushed together (in a good way) as in other blueberry pies I’ve eaten. Plus, I like the dash of cinnamon added to the filling, for the depth of flavor it provided.

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And more butter in the filling! 

… King Arthur Flour (again) for not getting upset that I didn’t use their blueberry pie filling recipe. (I only had 6 cups of blueberries left over after Swede made a dozen jars of blueberry liqueur!) This is most likely due to the fact that they don’t know I didn’t use their recipe, so don’t tell them.

…my own brilliance for using all brown sugar, instead of white sugar for the pie filling, as Swede had used all my white sugar in the aforementioned blueberry liqueur. If/when I make this pie again, I will keep using straight brown sugar. Though I may try an experiment of one pie with white sugar and one with brown, to see how the tastes differ. Project!

…self, for getting over yourself and putting your new rolling pin to work. Was that so hard? No. No, it was not.

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Look at that goddamned gorgeous finished pie. PIE! 

And blueberry makes 7.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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when my best intentions go south, or, the june pie

1 Aug

When I started my Year of Pie, I wanted to tackle this escapade because I wanted to challenge myself, sure, but I also wanted know more about the ins and outs of making pie. One half of a year into the project, and I can safely report that I know very little more now than I did when I started. Case in point, the June pie.

I was feeling daring. I felt like I’d had enough successes, even with my sloppy, messy—YET DELICIOUS—March pie, that I could successfully step out of my comfort zone of following a recipe and create my own pie. Kind of.

I started out thinking about what I liked about some of the pies I already created. The March pie, while a failure* had a delicious, cookie-like crust. The February pie, which I considered quite successful given that there was little to none left once our party guests left, was delicious and easy. But then I took the February pie one step further, and wondered if, instead of lemon, I could use orange instead.

And then I will have a pie that essentially tastes like a creamsicle.

And I love creamsicles.

YUUUHHHHSSSS.

So I went ahead and did all of those things, creating a Frankenpie of my own dreams. I made the pie crust from the March pie. I made the filling from the February pie, but subbed in orange juice instead of lemon.

It was obvious then, that I was a pie genius in-the-making. This, despite my doubts as I put the pie in the oven, as the pie in its pan was thin, watery(?), and a very unappetizing color. No matter, I assured myself, things change when they bake, because of all the heat and sugar and science and magic. It would be fine. It was going to be delicious.

Interwebers, do I need to tell you that what I had hoped would be the pie to end all pies was, in fact, a piestrosity?

Because it was.

I’m not entirely sure where I went wrong, except maybe being too in love with my own personal grandeur, and for the millionth time ignoring the little voice in my head as I was making the pie that something didn’t seem right. I certainly overbaked the pie, but I’m not sure if I had baked it less it would have been any better. There were, in my opinion, several things wrong with the pie, but for brevity’s sake I will share with you the top three:

  1. The pie never magicked into an appetizing color. The crust and the filling both stayed an unappealing beige, though the filling did have a sort of yellowish, almost ghoulish underlying tint to it. Not that that helped anything.
  2. There was little-to-no orange flavor. I guess when baked orange is just not as strong as lemon? Perhaps I should have added orange zest? I just…I don’t really know how to explain it. But the filling was creamy(ish) (if overbaked) and tasted like baked condensed milk. Not…terrible? Certainly not good. (IMHO.) But not at all what I was going for.
  3. The crust and filling switched places. I repeat: THE CRUST AND THE FILLING SWITCHED PLACES. I wish I could say I’m joking about that, but even more I wish I could explain how that even happens. (I mean, I know baking is half done by magic, but this seems a trick beyond compare.) After I pulled the pie out of the oven and let it cool, I cut into it, and realized that no…no, my eyes were not playing a trick on me—the crust had definitely somehow sort of floated to the top and caramelized over the filling. Underneath was a softer texture—what was meant to be the filling. I wish I had taken a picture as proof, but the pie was so ugly I couldn’t bear the thought of having that image captured. As it is, I can never unsee it.

I was so disappointed that the pie was such a flop that I didn’t even bother decorating it with piped whipped cream as I’d planned. I didn’t even bother eating more than a bite of it—I didn’t think too highly of the flavor, though my Swede said it tasted pretty good and ate a whole slice. And I didn’t even bother taking a picture of it. So just believe me when I say that it was not good.

I should probably take “Pie Developer” off my resume. May have been a little preemptive in that addition to my skill set.** Excuse me while I go make some edits…

On to the next pie!

*In my personal opinion.

**Though if someone thought, in my line of work, that pie developer was an asset of a skill to have, well. It would be a whole new ballgame.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

and now we are 40

15 Mar

I turned 40 a couple days ago. I feel pretty good about that. I didn’t complete any more of the five goals I had set for myself beyond the one about going to Canada. Which I still haven’t told you about, but I’m sure I’ll get around to it. At some point. I’m not giving up on this list, though. I still want to do the other four things, and so I think I shall. I may even add some other things, though I can’t think of what those things might be right at this moment.

You’ll be happy to know that I’ve learned some things in my 40 years on this planet. Not many things, but some. And I’m still learning, which is the most important part, I’m told.

Here are a few (but not all) things that I’ve learned so far.

I’ve learned…

…money is not something to trifle with. Money is a tool, and it can be a powerful tool. On the flip side, tools can be dangerous if not handled properly. Money is no exception.

…and furthermore, there is not nearly enough education around money in this country. Because if you read the news, people are f-ing dumb when it comes to money (I say this knowing that I myself have had my dum-dum moments about money). Given the lack of financial education we as a society have, for God’s sake, people, educate yourselves. Don’t be dumb!

…I am not made of straw. I will not topple over in the wind, and I mean that both literally and figuratively/emotionally/mentally.

…God, I really love dill pickle relish.

…people will still love me even when I’m a jerk. And better yet, they will still like me. Which is good, because I can often be a jerk (and often without realizing I’m being a jerk). And in turn, there are people I still love and like even when they are jerks, and I have no intention of stopping.

…sometimes people don’t like me, even when I’m not a jerk. Oh well.

…I can’t get what I want if I don’t ask.

…I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m not always comfortable leaving the house without putting on my eyebrows.

…take care of your body. It’s the only one you have.

…take care of your mind. It’s the only one you have.

…people who do not support mental health, or feel that taking care of your mental health makes you somehow “less than” are not worthwhile people.

…I was totally wrong when I’d think that there was always someone out there whose life is more together than mine. I realized that that is impossible, because that someone else is not actually living my life, they are living THEIR OWN life, so how can it be more together than my own, when the two lives are inherently different? And furthermore, let’s be real—my life is as together as I make it and/or feel it is. Trying to compare it to someone else’s is just stupid. It’s like believing what people post on social media is the really real-deal of their day to day life.

…“Do it for the story” are (still) great words to live by.

… so are “Never trust a big butt and a smile.”

…relationships (romantic, friend, any kind, really) are hard. Anyone who says they aren’t is lying through their goddamn teeth.

… Who are you? Why are you here? What’s important? What’s not important? are the four guiding questions that resonate with me, and sometimes I have answers and sometimes I don’t.

…writing makes me whole.

This is 40.

things i miss since becoming a parent

8 Mar

Oh sure, like every parent I miss the usual things like sleep and being able to jet off to exotic lands at a moment’s notice for the weekend,* and going to the bathroom without an audience. But when you become a parent, you adjust to the loss of those things pretty quickly whether you like it or not, and eventually sleep becomes a vague concept, exotic lands are very far away from where I live and thus not really worth the plane flight for a mere 48 hours of different scenery, and well, if you have a dog you gave up going to the bathroom by yourself a long, long time ago.

So no, these are not the things I really miss. The things I miss, since becoming a parent, are much deeper than that.

Sitting at the bar. Swede and I went on a proper date night recently. We went for dinner and drinks and then we went to see a play because we are cultured and shit. And also because tickets were only $15. And we drank our drinks while bellied up to the restaurant bar, and I realized that it is a rare occurrence that I get to sit at the bar and sip some booze. And lo! How nice it was! So adult-like and swanky. And something I just don’t do enough of these days, because bar-sitting is just not conducive to toddlers, particularly those toddlers who like to dick around on barstools rather than just sit in them like a normal person. Also because it is illegal in some states to let people under the age of 21 sit at a bar. But mostly because tiny humans can’t sit still and nothing ruins a good drink faster than having to leave to treat your child for a concussion.

Driving by MYSELF. Listen, I don’t drive a lot in general these days (thank you, commuter train to work, and husband who drives more often than not when we go places) and when I do, it’s usually with two small humans in tow. I love listening to them babble in the backseat, and I can maneuver them in and out of their car seats like a champ. But driving by myself, or even just me and the dog? Wow. Just, WOW.

On Christmas Eve I volunteered to go pick up the pizzas we were serving to our guests (yes, we had pizza, and yes, it was glorious). I got into the car, and after a brief moment of panic when I looked in the rearview mirror and didn’t see either child in their car seat, followed by a quick relief with the realization that they were at home with Swede and various aunts and cousins, well. I have never felt such freedom. I was responsible for no one but myself and pizza! In those 15 minutes, you would have thought I was Julie Fucking Andrews playing Maria von Goddamn Trapp, except instead of a hilltop I was twirling around in a Subaru.

Thinking about one thing at a time. I was going to say that before I had kids I could separate thoughts into individual…thoughts. But now with kids it all just sort of runs together, at a constant, eager clip, because if it doesn’t, then surely 30 things will be forgotten, whereas if you let it all run together only 10 things will be forgotten. (shoesdiapersextraclothesdidwedropoffthecheckforsummercampwhatsfordinnerwhendidwelastbathethechildrenischeeseandacceptabledinnerwhereareallofourpants)

But then I realized that I’ve never thought about one thing at a time, and it’s always run together. Pre-kids it was maybe only thinking about five things at a time, which is admittedly better than my current 712, but it was never just one thing at a time. So this isn’t really a being-a-parent-thing, it’s just an I’ve-always-been-that-way-thing. Yet still I miss those halcyon days of five. I’m not sure my brain actually knows how to think about one thing at a time. So much chatter over and under and over and under each other in my brain, it’s really no wonder I’m in therapy. But I could do without all the clutter in my head, and I’m hopefully that one day the 712 will scale back to the low 300s.

I’m doubtful, but hopeful.

 

*I’ve never done that.