The Second-Best Damn Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ever.

I AM IN DANGER of taking back one of my own staunchly-held claims.

I said these were the best damn chocolate chip cookies, ever.  They’re fantastic.  They’re moist, and gooey, and have a doughy center of vanilla pudding and warm summer memories.

But the ones I made tonight?

They’re pretty damn close.

+++

A good friend of mine has decided to quit smoking.  It’s a big deal for her — she’s been smoking for about as long as I can remember, and it’s gotten her across two continents and an ocean, through undergraduate and graduate school, between two languages and two sets of idiomatic intrigues, and over heartbreak, romance, hope, and despair.  People talk about smoking as a filthy habit, as a crutch, as any number of things.  But it is also sometimes that line between going screaming out into the frigid night with nothing but nightmares in your eyes…and staying indoors and watching the curl of smoke plume up into the air.

My grandfather died of lung cancer.  He didn’t tell the family for five months after he got his diagnosis, and the cancer was already pretty advanced when he’d gone to the doctor for the first round of tests.  My grandmother’s biological mother died in February, and her adopted mother in August; and my grandfather refused to tell anyone that he was dying until it couldn’t be hidden anymore.  He told us in December, and he was dead by February.

The day I found out, I walked out of my college dorm building and sat numbly on the crumbling concrete steps, and I smoked four cigarettes, stub to stub, and then leaned my head against the wall and held the tears back while people walked past me and swiped themselves into the building.  I could hear laughter behind me.  One of my hallmates finally came and bundled me back upstairs, and I wrote an email to my Spanish professor to let her know I would not be writing the essay on my fondest memories of my grandparents.

And then I called my father, because he was across the world and too many time zones away, and told him that his father was gone.

My grandfather was a tall man with a face that looked like the raw side of a hatchet.  When I was little, it was hard to think that my father was his son, or that he was my father’s father.  There’s not much of him to be found in his sons.  The same hairline, maybe, and a similar glint in the eye when they’re getting ready to say something they know will stir up trouble.  But my father’s hands were made to hold guitars and paintbrushes, and my grandfather wore his hands out against farm implements and heavy rope.  He threw knives and wasn’t sparing with the flat of his hand, but he also dyed the family chipmunk with bright colors so local hunters would know not to shoot her.

We visited my grandparents on their farm every couple of summers when I was growing up; the other summers were spent with my mother’s family.  My grandpa took me out to see his cows, and one of the calves tried to crawl into the truck cab with me.  I remember shrieking, but secretly being thrilled.  I fed another calf from a bottle, and cried a little bit when I found out later that Beula had probably become hamburger.  “How can you eat something with a name?” I remember crying, and then refusing to talk about it anymore.

When he retired, my grandfather turned from tending cattle to growing grapevine for Christmas wreaths.  My grandmother got a website together, and they began taking orders online.  They kept time by a garish tacky clock that rang out every hour in a different bird’s call, and their house was decorated with angels and fluffy, fuzzy cushions.  At every meal, my grandmother sat a stack of sliced white bread at my grandfather’s side.

My grandfather quit booze, and he quit smoking.  His voice creaked.  He’d been a strong man who got irritated when I was too clumsy and gangly to figure out how to properly toss a frisbee.  He had a series of dogs, and each of them was named Princess.  He drove Ford F-150s, blue.

I called him when I found out he was dying, but he was already having trouble speaking.  I couldn’t figure out what to say.  I tried to tell him about college.  I tried to tell him I was going to be a writer one day, or that I’d at least put my college degree to use.  I tried to say I’d really liked riding out to see the calves with him that day, and I wanted to ask him if he ever ate all the bread from that stack Grandma put out for him.  I wanted to say so many things.  I wanted to ask so many things.  I know I cried after I hung up the phone.

I know I’m crying a little bit now.

My grandfather never got to eat anything I cooked.  He never knew I could cook.  He died before I ever picked up a spatula, before I cracked my first egg, before I figured out that if I cut onions with my contacts still in, I won’t cry over them.  He didn’t get to see the announcement of my college graduation, or that I’d taken a job overseas.  Or that I’d loved it.

I remember dancing with him once, when I was about seven.  He was an awkward dancer, or maybe I thought it was awkward because I was so small next to him, and my pigtails kept slapping my cheeks and catching my attention away from his stiff legs.  He twirled me once or twice, and I laughed.  I had lost a few teeth that year, so I was gappy and smug about it.  He called me “his girlfriend,” and let me ride in the cab of his truck and pet that ugly calf and take the first slice of white bread off his stack.

I forget that it’s okay to miss him, sometimes.  I forget to give myself permission.

I forget that you don’t need permission for that, that grief just takes.

We are better for having people in our lives lovely enough, vibrant enough, to bring us to grief.

He was my grandfather, and I miss him.

August 1984

+++

I made these cookies tonight as part of a care package for my friend, so that she’d have something to savor on the frost-edged nights when her mind needs a reason to stop twirling long enough for her to get her bearings.  They’re good cookies.  They’re moist, and warm, and have a soft dark chocolate center offset by a thrum of orange zest.

They’re comforting, in the way that an old man, going frail around the edges and starting into an ugly cough, offers comfort when he presses a shed buckeye into your hand and closes your fingers over it — and comforting in the way that finding that same buckeye, years later, tucked into a zipped-up pocket of a half-forgotten purse, is a grace.

The Second Best Damn Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ever.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp)  butter, melted
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 10 oz dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a wooden spoon, beat together the olive oil, melted butter, orange zest, and sugars.  Once mixed, add in the eggs and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add to the olive oil mixture.  Beat these together.  Once mixed, stir in the dark chocolate chips.

Roll spoonfuls of dough into tight balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375F until the edges are golden brown.  Cool — but not for too long — and enjoy.

-bisoux

Almond Pear Hostess Tart

TEXAS IS TURNING COLD.  They say we might have snow this year, but so far it has just been cold winds and low fogs.  Already we’ve lost a pink mandevilla to the frost.  My mother waters her plants carefully, and I see to the trees.  One is a firm red oak, with small pinched leaves.  Another is a deciduous live oak that has discarded all of its leaves for the winter.  It is young, and looks young, and without its leaves it seems nervous and unsure of itself.  I tell it that in the spring, it will make friends again with the artichoke plant my father planted at its base.

My resolution for 2013 is to write more, and to write with intention.  I’m not completely sure what I mean by this, but I know I mean I want to write more.  My fledgling writing group is working hard to figure out how to keep afloat; we’re all doing very different things, in various parts of the US, and it’s hard to work writing and critiquing and google+ hangouts into three busy, feverish schedules.

But we’re trying.

And I’m reading, delving into fiction and YA lit and essays, and reintroducing myself to poetry and to Billy Collins.

Like this, which I love, and which I whisper to myself when I cannot make my own lines tie together in any convincing manner:

Introduction to Poetry – Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

In the new year, I also resolve to be a better hostess, or at least to think more fully about the kind of home I want to open to my friends and family.  Food is a big part of that, and this tart has already been a hit with neighbors.  It’s easy, it’s lovely, it’s lush, and it’s surprising.  What more could you ask for?

Pear Almond Hostess Tart
  • one unbaked pie crust (may I suggest the crust from this?)
  • 1 8-oz can of almond paste  (I used Odense)
  • 3-4 ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375F.

Roll out your pie crust (or tart crust, as the case may be) and line a tart pan.  Remember to press into the bottom of the pan and, using your thumb and index finger, pinch along the lip of the pan.

Roll out the almond paste.  Line the bottom of the crust with it.  Set aside.

Toss the sliced pears with lemon juice.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Pour over the pears and gently mix, so that the pears are coated but retain their shape.

Arrange the pears in the tart crust.  I like a rosette shape myself, but there are certainly no rules on how to arrange the pear slices.

Bake for 45-55 minutes at 375F, until the pears are soft and the crust is golden.  Remove and allow to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy hostings!

-bisoux

Kale and Haloumi Savory Pie

IN MAY 2011, I wrote about being uncomfortable with the whole “We are Egypt/We Are All Egyptians” thing that seemed to be happening in Spain, Wisconsin, and wherever there was popular media coverage of uprisings.

In the wake of the Newtown, CT tragedy, I’m finding I’m still uncomfortable with the “We Are All XYZ” sentiments.  It isn’t the same sort of discomfort, of course, as the two situations are wholly different.  But it is still a feeling of something not being right, of trying to reduce an action to something fathomable and relatable–of stripping something essential away from a moment in order to commodify it and translate it.

That isn’t precisely right, either, but I find I’m lacking words for this.  How is one supposed to react to such an horrific tragedy?  I can’t imagine the pain of those families and of that community.  I’m not a parent, and I can’t imagine what other parents are imagining as they send their children to school.

On some level, I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  There are private moments for grieving, and we should not be a part of them.  It’s for those families affected to grieve and do what they need to survive, and it’s for the rest of us to work on ensuring something like this does not happen again.

MFK Fisher once commented that, when she wrote about food, what she was writing about was much grander than a plate or a heavy table:

It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others.  So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it … and then the warmth and the richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied … and it is all one.

It makes sense to me that loss is accompanied by food, and that when one basic need has been absented another must stand in its place.

Kale & Haloumi Savory Tart

Parmesan Pastry Crust (from Not So Humble Pies)

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 2 Tbsp ice water
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Filling

  • 4 cups kale, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup haloumi cheese, chopped into bite-sized bits
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the pastry crust, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cheese together in a large bowl.  Add the chilled butter.  Rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers, pinching the butter into pebbles until about 30% of it is pea-sized while the rest is well blended.  Add the water and vinegar, and mix until the dough forms a rough ball.  (If need be, you can add more water, a few drops at a time, to make the dough grip.)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  It can keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

When you’re ready, remove the dough from the refrigerator.  Give it about 10 minutes to warm up before rolling out on a lightly floured surface and readying it for your tart (or pie) pan.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Roll out the pastry crust and place in a tart pan.  Set aside.

20121215-171008.jpgBring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the kale and stir to submerge, and cook over high heat for about 3 minutes, until the kale is tender but still gorgeously green.  Drain and set aside to drip dry.

Heat the oil in a pan (or use the same pot, to save on dishes).  Add the onions and garlic and saute over medium heat until they’re just turning golden, about 6 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, salt, and half-and-half.  Add the haloumi, kale, and onions.  Stir to mix, and pour into the tart pan.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 375F until the center of the pie is firm and lightly golden.  Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, and serve.

Enjoy!

-bisoux

Pumpkin Surprise Tart

I JUST GOT BACK from a quick trip to Philadelphia, which was cold and wonderful and filled with steaming mugs of chai and full-on, full-throated laughs with friends.  My hands are still not quite recovered from the sudden plunge into the low 40s (luckily, shea butter comes quickly and ably to the rescue), but it was a lovely trip and I am so glad I got to spend it meeting up with old friends and newer friends, and catching up with a city I adore.

And now, with Thanksgiving approaching, I’m back in Texas and I’m planning dessert.

I made this tart a couple of weeks ago — I was hoping for a slightly different result than what I ended up with (sometimes, planning is so not my forte), but it turned out to be wildly popular with the neighbors and my mother.  I’ll be making it as my contribution to the Thanksgiving potluck we’ve been invited to, and it really is an easy, satisfying tart.  Good for dessert, teatime, or breakfast, it’s ready to be enjoyed all by itself or with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Pumpkin Surprise Tart

The secret to this pie is the caramelized bananas.  When I planned it out, I thought I’d be able to lay the bananas on top of the tart as decoration, but when I actually poured them from the skillet onto the soft pumpkin filling, they sank.  Whoosh!  There went that brilliant idea.  Instead of throwing up my hands and grieving my plan, I swirled them into the tart filling and voilà: pumpkin surprise tart.

Crust

Once again, I used Nick Malgieri‘s recipe for the crust, which I also used for my ‘Til Next We Meet Peach Tart.

Caramelized Bananas

  • 1 banana, peeled and sliced into rounds about 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cream (or half & half)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or bourbon, if you want)

Pumpkin Filling

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I used a yoghurt & milk mixture since I didn’t have any buttermilk on hand, and it worked perfectly: 1/4 cup yoghurt mixed with 3/4 cup milk, and then take the 3/4 cup needed for the recipe)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Set oven rack in lowest setting.

Roll dough out onto a floured surface.  Line tart pan and sever excess dough from the sides; patch as necessary.  Set aside.

For the bananas, spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and add the bananas.  Cook for about 1 minute over medium heat, just so they sear.  Add the remaining ingredients — except for the vanilla (or bourbon) — and cook over medium heat, stirring gently, for about 3 minutes.  The sauce will begin to thicken, reduce, brown, and caramelize.  Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.  Set aside.

For the filling, place the pumpkin puree in a bowl and whisk in the eggs.  In order, whisk in the remaining ingredients.

You have a choice now, about presentation.  Either spoon the caramelized bananas into the tart shell, then pour the filling on top (which would be very orderly of you) — or pour the filling into the tart shell, then spoon the caramelized bananas on top.  As the bananas sink into the filling, swirl them through, so that they are more or less evenly distributed through the filling, but will still pop up as surprising accents as it is eaten.  (Personally, since I did call this a surprise tart, I’m going to go with option 2.)

Bake at 350F until dough is baked through and the filling is set, about 40-50 minutes.  Cool on a rack, then chill briefly.  Top with whipped cream if you are so inclined, and enjoy!

-bisoux

(Til Next We Meet) Peach Tart

I HATE GOODBYES.  Hate them.  I grow irritable, I’m short-tempered, I snap, I growl — basically, I turn into Kid-Me, circa 1987.  It’s horrible.  If I can, I avoid them with something approaching skill.  I slink out of cities with my suitcases filled & my head hunched into my shoulders; I disappear with my books and shoes and toothbrush, like a well-stocked shadow.  I send my regrets from other cities, other countries, other continents.  It’s easier, it’s safer, it’s better.  I hate having to say goodbye.

My dad has been visiting, but he’s leaving in two days.  I see him twice a year.  His job is overseas, and he only gets a certain amount of vacation days/conference days each year, and he usually has to split those between my mother and me.  But, as I’m still taking care of my mom in the aftermath of her surgery, he’s been able to see both of us together… But now he’s leaving again.  Which means another round of goodbyes, and I. Am. Dreading. That.

Ugh.

Consider: my parents are at a nursery right now, picking out new plants for their garden.  I am at home.  I made muffins for the neighbors.  I am thinking of making soup, or biscuits.  I am writing this.  I am not with my father, in one of the last two days he is here.  I am crawling back into myself, so that when he goes, I won’t have to think so hard about the fact that he was here and then left.  If I can put myself back together, absent from him, it won’t be so bad when he’s gone.

It’s pathetic.  I said it already, but it’s worth repeating: it’s horrible.  I’m horrible.

Last night — in a burst of realization that the actual goodbyes were really, suddenly upon us — I made a peach tart.  I’d stumbled across Nick Malgieri‘s cookbook, Bake!: Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking, a few weeks ago and wanted to try out his sweet pastry dough recipe.  Joy of joys, it’s a wholly hands-on recipe, which is fantastic for someone facing a task they don’t want to do — all the anger, hurt, worry, despair, and sadness can go into your hands as you work the dough through, first breaking the butter down and then kneading the dough into a malleable and sensible ball.

On his blog, Nick Malgieri provides a couple of tart recipes that I will definitely be trying out soon, and which use his sweet pastry dough recipe.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your preference), they use the variation for the food processor.  Since I was all about the hands-on approach last night, I’ll walk you through that, but please do check out his blog and the recipes he offers.

This tart is a great distractor.  The dough lets you pound your frustration out onto a helpless stick of butter; the peaches ask to be sliced up with your anguish; the tart pan itself begs for a good thwacking with the rolling pin when you’re done.  (In future, I think I might even drown the peaches in brandy before laying them in the tart pan, to add a smidgeon more distraction.) So, here it is, the tart I made to take my mind off my dad’s impending departure, and which tasted — thankfully — not at all like a goodbye.

(Til Next We Meet) Peach Tart

Crust (taken from Nick Malgieri’s Bake!)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold; cut into 10 pieces
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 2 large peaches (or 3-5 small peaches), pitted and cut into slices
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour (if your peaches are really juicy, you may need to add 1 Tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter, cold; cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 375F.

To make the crust, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl; mix well to combine.  Add in your cut pieces of butter and, with your hands, reach under the dry ingredients and mix them evenly through the flour.  With your fingertips, pinch the pieces of butter into the flour mixture, occasionally mixing them to evenly redistribute the butter.  Continue pinching the butter, sometimes rubbing handfuls of dough between your palms, until the mixture is cool and powdery, and no remaining pieces of butter are visible.  Pinch, redistribute, rub, repeat.  It’s a good time to let your mind wander, if you’re so inclined, since it’ll take a while.

Add the egg and use a fork to break it into the dough. With the fork mix the egg in; once it is mixed and you’ve got big clumps of dough sticking to each other, dump the whole mixture out onto a floured surface.  Knead into a consistent mass, and then flatten into a disc about 1/4-inch thick.

On your well-floured surface, roll out your dough to fill a tart pan.  Place in the tart pan and make sure you’ve got the sides and bottom well-pressed in.  Run your rolling pin across the edges to get off excess dough.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, put together the dry ingredients for your filling.  You can pinch the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers if you want, or use a pastry cutter to crumble the sugar, flour, salt and butter together.  You want a crumbly mixture, with a combination of fine and pebble-sized granules.

In the prepared tart pan, lay your peach slices in overlapping concentric circles.  I sort of ran out of peach slices — okay, I did run out of peach slices — so my interpretation of “overlapping” was a bit generous.  But you want them as tight as possible, and then fill in the middle of the tart pan in any which way you want.  I cut some of the peach slices a bit smaller for the middle, and that worked out well.

Sprinkle the butter mixture over the peaches.  It’ll look like it’s too much, but keep going.  As the butter melts in the oven and combines with the peach juices, it’ll spread out to fill the gaps between the peaches and create a sweet filling.

Once done, bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling up into thick, shiny bubbles over the peach slices.  Let cool, and enjoy!

And don’t forget: it’s not goodbye, and it isn’t even adieu.  It’s looking forward to the next time we’re together again.

-bisoux

Strawberry-Raspberry Cave Pies

SOMETIMES, a cave is exactly where you want to live.

Okay, replace “you” with “I” and that probably becomes a truer statement, but maybe you’re interested in some subterranean, poorly-lit, drip-decorated real estate, too.

In any case, it’s been a rough couple of weeks.  I’ve done what I normally do when I’m feeling claustrophobic in my own skin: I retreat into YA lit.  It used to be that, during exam time in college, I’d hie off to the local public library and stock up on L.M. Montgomery books.  I still do fall back on Anne (though I never quite cottoned to the Emily series), but these days I’m wandering deeper into the world of YA fantasy.

A number of other books aside, I’ve been making my way through Kristin Cashore’s Graceling books.  The nuances of the world she’s created are marvelous and terrifying, and I’ve been absolutely enthralled. She’s chosen not to write three books in direct sequence, but instead explores different aspects of the same world through three very distinct heroines. Each book builds on the ones before it, but stands by itself as an exploration of this world she’s imagined and built.  It puts me in mind of Robin McKinley, and reminds me that YA stories can be contained and fulfilled in one single volume; that attention can be gathered, caught, and satisfied within the covers of a single book; and that story lines don’t have to spin out, punctuated by lurching endings, in order to tell meaningful tales of loss, betrayal, and growth.

Today, shaking out of my Bitterblue-haze (thank you, public library!), I was wondering what sorts of foods fit into caves and into small, cupped hands.  Our fridge has been home to a bowl of sadly ignored strawberries and a handful of almost-forgotten raspberries, and my mother has been complaining about the Betty Crocker pie crust taking up space in her pantry.  Without really having enough fruit for a pie filling, I figured I’d make do and create some mini pies. They’re perfect for wrapping up in wax paper and tucking into the back of satchel, or for warming gingerly over a night fire while watching the moon rise over an unfamiliar landscape.  Something an adventuress might have with her as she rides out from the only home she’s ever known; or perhaps a treat shared among friends coming together after months apart.

I guess these have been called hand pies by other bakers, or two-bite pies.  But I’m calling mine cave pies, because that’s what they are and that’s what I need them to be.  Maybe tomorrow I won’t need or want this cave anymore; but this evening, it’s time to build a blanket fort and read The Blue Sword by flashlight.

[And if you've the time or inclination, send me a few of your fave YA reads; I love recommendations]

Strawberry-Raspberry Cave Pies

  • 2 pie crusts (I’d recommend using Simply Recipe’s pâte brisée recipe, but I cheated this time and used store bought.  I’m blushing as I type this, I am)
  • 2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp bourbon (Don’t want to use bourbon? Vanilla is a good sub here)
  • smattering of orange zest
  • 1/2 cup strawberry-raspberry mix
  • 1 egg, beaten and set aside

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, brown sugar, cornstarch, bourbon, and orange zest.  A stand mixer or hand mixer would be ideal here, but it’s not necessary.  Then mix the fruit in, so that the strawberries and raspberries are mashed but not wholly incorporated into the mixture — you want some heft here, to give your filling texture and weight.

Roll out your pie dough on a floured surface.  With a biscuit cutter or an empty (clean!) jar, cut out a series of circles, around 2 inches in diameter.  Set aside.  Gather up the spare bits of dough; reshape into a ball; roll back out; cut more circles.  You’re going to need an even number of circles, so keep some sort of count.  I’m an absolute tragedy with a rolling pin, so I only managed to make 30 circles in total — which comes out to 15 cave pies.  If I’d rolled my dough thinner or used a smaller jar, I maybe could’ve stretched it out to 20 pies.

I chose to assemble my cave pies on the lined baking sheet, which certainly saved time and clean-up. Spoon half a teaspoon of filling into the center of one of the dough circles.  Brush the edges with the beaten egg, and press one of the other circles on top.  Seal, and use a fork to crimp the edges.  Repeat until you’ve used either all the circles or all your filling (hopefully the circles run out first!).

Brush the tops with egg.  If you have sanding sugar, you can sprinkle some on top.

Bake at 350F for about 20-22 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool for a few moments, sneak them into your cave or den or blanket fort, and enjoy!

-bisoux

Banana Peach Bread

I DON’T WANT to write anything today.  I’m too gutted by the news and by all the hatred to parse through feelings to get to full, coherent sentences.  Instead, I’ll leave you with the words of two people I adore and respect, Sean and Rozina.

I am haunted by Sean’s phrase:

We are never in conversation with others; we are always speaking to others’ fear.

And I am terrified by Rozi’s question:

Are we trying to decide whether or not they are “worthy” victims?

The implication — as another friend of mine brought up — that the attacks could be justified if the victims were different is appalling.  That there could be an argument for any justification, period, guts me.  And so I won’t write, because I have nothing to contribute to this conversation except for disbelief and anger; and Rozina and Sean say it so many, many times better than I could hope to.

Banana Peach Bread (or Comfort in a Plate)

  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled and smashed
  • 1 ripe peach, peeled and smashed
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a loaf pan and lightly flour it.

Mix all of the ingredients together, though it may be useful to mash the bananas and peach separately first.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let it cool, but try to eat it while it is still warm.  For an additional treat, slather a slice with butter or peanut butter, or perhaps your favorite fruit preserve.  It isn’t a terribly sweet bread, but more of a tea-time treat, a pamper-yourself type of bread.

Enjoy, and be soothed.

-bisoux