March 6, 2014
So! I learned something! If I stop moving on this little endeavor of mine, my brain might stop as well. I’ve been in Sewanee, Tennessee most of the week, pretty truly one of my favorite places in the world. My intention for this post is not, however, centered on my traveling. Because again, I haven’t done very much of it this week.
Plus it’s so completely dreary outside, that these key-lime pie bars are a nice distraction. And some of you really might have only subscribed for recipes and then I went and put that program on hold…so here we go, momentarily back on track.
I made these for a dessert party that my sister and I catered the week before I left, and they were definitely favorites. I decided to top them with meringue instead of the more traditional whipped cream, because my muscle memory was still working on banging out lemon meringue pie at Rye. That and its sheen is nice in pictures. [I think] And who am I kidding, I really just wanted to use my kitchen torch.
Here’s the recipe that I used; it’s a classic key-lime pie recipe by Fine Cooking…I just adapted it to make a few dozen bars; here’s step-by-step of what that requires:
1) Make the crust dough x2, and line a rimmed cookie sheet instead of a pie pan with it. If you cannot roll out a single large rectangle of dough that will cover the entire thing, feel free to do it in two batches, and line the pan one half at a time, lining/pressing the middle seems together. Blind and pre-bake as you would a normal pie.
2) Make the filling as directed, and understand that the baking time will be significantly reduced due to the shallower dimensions. Cook until just set, checking after 15 minutes, and in additional 3-4 minute increments if it’s still liquidy (should register at 140 F on an instant read thermometer). Let cool/set as directed.
3) Make meringue! Whisk 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup egg whites in a heat proof bowl set over a pot of boiling water. Let set until the sugar dissolves, and the liquid is smooth to the touch (when you rub your fingers together you don’t feel any sugar granules). When ready, beat on high speed with an electric mixer/whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe away!
Neil Young today all day! Also just one today.
February 25, 2014
Quick quick post since it’s late!
I’m in Baton Rouge tonight! My schedule tomorrow is still up in the air(!), but I’ll either be in New Orleans or Alabama tomorrow evening! Had a great drive east today, and was actually kind of sad to leave Texas…not only because of the fun I had with friends who I’d been missing for years, but because it just had a generally good feel to it. Louisiana has been interesting; I’m pretty sure that I’ve never seen this many policemen around, both on the road and in town. Glad that I’m in no particular hurry; otherwise I’d be in full-swing lead-foot mode and have racked up a ticket or three!
I’d write more but I think Texas robbed a few of my brain cells and I should catch up on sleep! So–pictures!
Couldn’t be in Texas and not listen to Robert Earl Keen! I loved him years ago when my sister introduced me–hadn’t listened to him really since then (early 2000s!) until a song popped up on shuffle, right on cue pretty much. All my favorites are (of course) the depressing brooding ones but I think I’ll skip that feeling for now–
And in my opinion, Goodnight:Beatles::this song:Dan Auerbach. Ultimate lullabyes by some ultimate talent.
Annnnnnd because I’m a night owl and am wide-awake now that I’ve spent 15 minutes on this post, and because I repeated this song three times today before I let shuffle surprise me again:
February 22, 2014
Oh for goodness sakes! I’ve had the hardest time starting this post!
It’s difficult to describe the happiest you’ve been (for a long while at least) without feeling like a total braggart or a complete cornball, so I just. won’t?
I fled snowy KC yesterday around lunchtime after packing all morning, an overwhelming task at first, to say the least. I ended up filling my car with a little bit of winter, a little bit of spring fever, a lot of wishful wearing and a ton of intended reading. I have a bag or suitcase per clothing type, so that when I stop somewhere for a night or two, all I have to do is grab an item from each bag and be set with a small tote!
When you drive you can just do things like have a tall bag dedicated solely to shoes, for any weather/situation. And who cares if you magically finagle the zipper on the tote exploding with sweaters and jackets?! Not you! Because neither will the TSA! Case in point is that flying is the worst. Not only do you have restricted freedom when it comes to packing, but you feel indebted to society not to sing along like a maniac. Even if your voice is fine, your song choices might still flag you as a glare target.
I recently read that singing releases endorphins, which explains some of yesterday’s high… That and the landscape. It’s a bold statement for the start of this trip but, the midwest is my favorite. None of that mountain/beach nonsense to distract from the sky, my favorite landscape feature (as aether is my favorite element). Clouds present so much visual texture, and yet you’ll never touch what you see. I’m obsessed, as with anything else elusive by nature. If I were a bright-eyed freshman in college again, I’d actually follow through on a Watson scholar proposal and find a way to internationally study clouds.
Heading to Austin tomorrow and Houston after that! Excited to catch up with more great friends and to explore Texas!
Note the progression from blustery clouds to blue skies; I feel like a late-to-migrate bird.
(p.s., bear with me while I finesse the point/shoot out the car window method! also, I’ve realized that I’ve been compositionally considering landscapes in terms of how I’d like to paint them. so…we’ll see how that changes and/or develops; I didn’t bring any paints with me (ahh!!!))
I only skipped a handful of songs on my iPod yesterday–shuffle was reading my mind! After weeks of repeat-cycles with “new” music flings, the hundreds of long-lost/random songs I heard yesterday were SO WELCOMED.
That said. For the first good stretch I’d still not tired of The Crow soundtrack (thanks, buzzfeed, for informing me of my internal alliance with this 90s movie. really though–it’s a perfect blend of the grunge/goth/industrial bender I’d been on and I love it). I’m going the mellow route for sharing though, and it was a toss-up between this one or my favorite by The Violent Femmes, Color Me Once. You think you enjoy a song to capacity until you blast it in the car and it’s a totally new experience–
This driving bass, while driving–
And Billy Idol! I know. I know I know I know but I love this song and I think he’s the only person to ever have made the word “sweat” almost, dare I say, appealing. (at the end there)
February 19, 2014
Well; the 17th came and went and I did not leave town, due to a culmination of reasons great and small. This process of leaving has fascinated me, and on so many levels. I’ve taken note of the static, subtle contexts of everyday subconscious comforts; the scent of my apartment when I walk in the door, the sunny porch that recalls spring 2013, the short drive to a favorite coffee shop–the things that don’t and won’t seem to change. Then there’s been the accelerated, dramatic waxing and waning of all that constituted the personal lifestyle I created; the lifestyle minus the job; I’ve realized what has been vs. what is important.
I’m excited to hit the road once I get the coolant leak in my car fixed tomorrow(!), and yet I’m also already looking forward to a return home many weeks from now. Nothing has muffled my wanderlust like the afternoon I spent with my niece today; first there was ice cream enjoyed outside in the sun and then, much like I used to ask of my Dad, she commissioned various sketches–mainly drawings of Disney princesses and fitting accoutrements. I left later, after dinner and bedtime stories, seriously troubled that I hadn’t been more available last year.
I’m going to leave it at that lest I start getting all dear-diary-ish. Or is it too late for that? Anyway; one more day to organize, pack, plan, tie loose ends. And I’m going the picture/song route to finish; I’ll miss my messy corner set-up for art and music!
This album is beautiful from start to finish. I found and bought it while in San Francisco last month, and it hasn’t left my record player since. Afternoon (7:46) and July (15:57) are my favorites; I listened to July very loudly while driving home two weeks ago, after a bad-long-day turned good-late-night. It was really just the nicest thing. A terrific album for mixed feelings:
February 7, 2014
Kansas City received around 10″ of snow this past Tuesday, which meant that instead of going to work at bluestem, I spent the day painting, reading, and baking. Almost identical to a snowday of last year, besides my mindset–I’ve come back around to appreciating, not avoiding, solitude. What a difference a year makes!
So–there I was, alone with a few empty canvases, a few next chapters in a few different books, and a few hours away from a decent bottle popping time, so I…baked the granola bars I’d been craving for nearly two years. Like any sweet I ever crave anymore, it’s from Flour. Only, I didn’t have some of the ingredients for the original bars–normal dried fruit varieties like apples and cranberries. But I did find some dried mangoes and dried papaya bits in my pantry. (from CVS and Whole Foods, respectively) I really can’t explain how I ended up with those two fruits–maybe I’m subconsciously bent on a tropical vacation.
I made another alteration to the jam, due to a recent obsession with ginger. I really can’t stop with it–I want it in everything from yogurt to tea to basically every recipe I’ve entertained in the past month. I halved the directed quantity of apricots and substituted nice huge chunks of crystalized ginger. I definitely recommend this if you decide to make these without a tart fruit, such as cranberries, because of the spicy contrast it provides to the bar’s overall fruit & honey sweetness.
Oh! And since my snowday endeavor had already taken on this absurdly tropical theme, and because there’s shredded coconut involved too, I went with macadamia nuts instead of walnuts.
Original recipe here! Enjoy!
The Police! Is the only band I want to hear right now! I hadn’t listened to them virtually at all–not since I was quite young on family roadtrips, until recently… My favorite songs are those that essentially set the stage for ska, their tones channeling a spastic blend of punk and reggae that works. Before this revelation I hadn’t associated the Police with any musical styles beyond basic pop-ish-ness; thus the skyrocketing of my interest. Yes, there are a few songs (particularly a few on Reggatta de Blanc) that make you really want to tell Sting to chill out, but…it’s all still just so good.
Annnnnnnnd this one, which renders me truly unable to sit still, and inexplicably reminds me of my mom. It’s ridiculous (which makes this album cover even better/hilarious):
February 4, 2014
Oh geez, another comeback from another hiatus! As with any and all previous lengthy breaks, this means there have been too many things happening too quickly to write about.
As it happens, tomorrow is the first day of my last week at work in a kitchen. If you’re a regular reader then perhaps you’ve recognized my increasing drive toward the visual arts, and general expansion of curiosity. On January 10th I gave notice at Rye, which, although hard, felt right. If there’s one thing I’m good at dealing with, it’s a gut feeling. And, as for me personally, I find that it’s better to walk away from something while you still love it. So often I think that the pursuit of happiness is construed as the pursuit of comfort. While nice, comfort is hardly conducive to motivation or development…so, I’m moving on after a truly unforgettable and wonderful experience, from a place that felt like home and people who were true friends and family. [comfort.]
So! Now that I’ve dropped the whole ‘pursuit of happiness’ bomb, what am I doing if not making beautiful and delicious food alongside people I love? The answer to this question has two parts. To start, I’m taking a road-trip around the country to build an American landscape portfolio…stopping here and there to visit friends and family, and continuing with food photography at various bakeries/restaurants of note. …and *hopefully* I’ll get a chance to bake for anyone whose hospitality I may receive!
I plan to leave on February 17th, which allows time for me to a) finish out a week of working pastry at bluestem(!!!), and b) complete a last-minute Kansas City bucket-list.
So far, I plan on keeping this blog the same. I say “the same,” but in reality, photos of America’s natural beauty are an indubitable upgrade from my amateur art and introspective rambling. (not that my trip really precludes the latter from happening though..)
Part two! Moving to Paris this fall, to formally study photography. With every visit, that city has hooked me in a bit more. I left it with a surge of reluctance last September, and am elated to be returning. I’m excited to progress with photography there; it’s the first place I ever took a photo with any amount of consideration…I find that, due to the distinctive nature of French culture, the city all but demands your engagement, and on multiple levels–not only is it a veritable playground for the senses, but it is so steeped, still steeping!, it seems, in such rich history–! Suddenly you feel called upon to be worthy of being there; it offers so much and yet, is nothing compared to what you can offer yourself by truly appreciating and giving yourself to the city. So, I’m going to do it.
Signing off with a few pictures from a trip I took to San Francisco, to see my brother and his family last week! Such a tease, really, since I’m chomping at the bit to get on the road!
Ahh, I’m giving in. I tried to resist this song but really can’t. I heard it in the car last night while driving to a party that I hadn’t originally planned on attending, and everything about everything was good at that moment. Here we go…
January 10, 2014
So call me insane but I am finding myself loving this drab colored, freezing month. I suppose the white and white-grey of snow and streets has motivated me, literally, toward drenching my life with color. Yes, I’m still into the blues, but no, that doesn’t reflect a state of mind. Blue is, you know, just kind of more beautiful than other colors.
I’ve also started reading a beautiful book, A Death In The Family by James Agee. It’s one of those books that I vividly remember purchasing at the Sewanee bookstore (whenever I was having a bad day I’d pop in, lose track of everything for a few hours, and leave with a good book (or two)). Anyway, I remember that I took in the title and immediately recoiled, suddenly recalling Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying–not a great high school read for me. Death is such an aggressive word, I thought. Who wants to buy that?
Well, I did. Because I’d heard of but not read James Agee’s writing, and after I scanned the first page, I couldn’t put it down. His prose has a lilting cadence that makes his depictions almost hyper-realistic–technicolor for words. The opening section, Knoxville: Summer, 1915 seemed more real to me than the 2009 Tennessee I was living in. I think that poetic writing (whether an actual poem or prose,) often has that effect–it demands an integrated reaction from the self, allowing resonance to settle in every shared nuance of the soul with the world at large.
I admit that it took me what, five years, to really dig into it–but now that I’m into it, I’m loving it. It’s complemented my recent musings on time….”good” timing vs. “bad” timing; the “right” timing, if such a thing exists. Not having enough time. Being on time. Wasting time. Wanting more time. TIME! Time.
It’s an inevitable continuum, a binder of the human existence. Relationships and events coalesce and, at times, transcend the mundane clock. That is my takeaway from a particular passage early on in this book–Agee captures what it is to momentarily live, affected but not defined by, the simultaneous closeness and loneliness of family. An ineffable feeling, beyond telling because it is so beyond control–a spontaneous moment of (inter-) personal transcendence, while the universe descends to grace the moment. A meeting in the middle, off our worldly charts, where time is arrested and barely breathing.
The following excerpt depicts this type of moment, shared between a father and his son…appropriate too since I’ve recently only felt this sort of thing with my nieces. Perhaps it’s because time, in its various and differing aspects, hasn’t yet imposed itself too greatly upon them. Children aren’t consumed with asking, “is this the right time?” or, “do I have time for this?” or, “ugh why did I just waste so much time.“ Without those questions, life is a matter of living, not controlling. Thus, time with them is defined by all the inherent truths we don’t have the “time” to otherwise acknowledge.
And now, something actually worth reading:
“It was, mainly, knowing that his father, too, felt a particular kind of contentment, here, unlike any other, and that their kinds of contentment were much alike, and depended on each other. Rufus seldom had at all sharply the feeling that he an his father were estranged, yet they must have been, and he must have felt it, for always during these quiet moments on the rock a part of his sense of complete contentment lay in the feeling that they were reconciled, that there was really no division, no estrangement, or none so strong, anyhow, that it could mean much, by comparison with the unity that was so firm and assured, here. He felt that although his father loved their home and all of them, he was more lonely than the contentment of this family love could help; that it even increased his loneliness, or made it hard for him not to be lonely. He felt that sitting out here, he was not lonely; or if he was, that he felt on good terms with the loneliness; that he was a homesick man, and that here on the rock, though he might be more homesick than ever, he was well. He knew that a very important part of his well-being came of staying a few minutes away from home, very quietly, in the dark, listening to the leaves if they move, and looking at the stars; and that his own, Rufus’ own presence, was fully as indispensable to this well-being. He knew that each of them knew of the other’s well-being, and of the reasons for it, and knew how each depended on the other, how each meant more to the other, in this most important of all ways, than anyone or anything else in the world; and that the best of this well-being lay in this mutual knowledge, which was niether concealed nor revealed. He knew these things very distinctly, but not, of course, in any such way as we have of suggesting them in words. There were no words, or even ideas, or formed emotions, of the kind that have been suggested here, no more than in the man than in the boy child. These realizations moved clearly through the senses, the memory, the feelings, the mere feeling of the place they paused at, about a quarter of a mile from home, on a rock under a stray tree that had grown in the city, their feet on undomesticated clay, facing north through the night over the Southern Railway tracks and and over North Knoxville, toward the deeply folded small mountains and the Powell River Valley, and above them, the trembling lanterns of the universe, seeming so near, so intimate, that when air stirred the leaves and their hair, it seemed to be breathing, the whispering of stars.”
It’s official; The Moon And Antarctica is my January album. I’m afraid that I can’t not lambast you with some Modest Mouse right now, it’s just everything all at once. There was an episode at work exactly one year ago, where I let this album repeat itself all night long. It’s abrasive and lovely, just like real life.
A friend of mine at work recently challenged my album of choice, quite vehemently actually, believing that Everywhere and His Nasty Parlor Tricks is actually their best. I maintained that it’s a close second. BUT. It does happen to have two of my very favorites on it:
What’s funny is that, a year ago, I didn’t post the song I actually wanted to post. Here’s to a significantly less filtered and more satisfying 2014. “So much energy seizing then collapsing, pulsing between positive/negative in a way I find addicting.” I still feel that way: