Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Perfect Day?

Should you ever ask my mother, the problem-solving and solution-obsessed Aries (Aries rules the head, therefore dilemmas swirl like hurricanes in their heads until they are conquered), for guidance with a problem, she would eventually challenge you to one of her favorite exercises.  To describe—in vivid and obscene detail—your perfect day.  My mother is painfully and excruciatingly detailed.  That energetic gold-green punctuated by chalky white speckling Granny Smith (named for Maria Ann Smith, hybridized in Australia in 1868) didn’t fall far from the tree with me.  So perhaps that is why it’s so effective.  But basically, you map out a day—when you’ll wake up, how long you’ll stay in bed before rising, etc—no detail is too small. 

Do you suppose this buck knows his crown puts him at risk? Uneasy lies the head...
What this never fails to do is remind you that there is no greater luxury than time.  As you go through your dream day, you don’t say I wake up and check my Rolex for the time and hop into my Range Rover for some bourgeois coffee.  It’s all about time.  And as you say things about what you might do in this dreamy, perfect day, you more or less realize they’re easy things.  Universal things.  Some of us love to spend time in the garden first thing in the morning, or commune a bit with nature and our dog.  These things are about having and making time more than they are about anything else.  My perfect day often includes an early rise, my normal coffee and f-e-t-c-h routine with Barbie, and then shopping for ingredients.  A day that is free needs structure for me.  Cooking is obviously how I prefer to create this. 
At this magical time of year, when everything is so abundant and fresh and you can taste summer in thousands of ways, nothing is more inspiring than the farmers market.  What could be the repulsive piecemeal perfume of sticky peaches--and torn corn silk--and pungent onions too fragile to have the dirt brushed off them--all somehow blends beautifully with the overnotes of fresh tomato.  On my dream days, it’s this time of year. 
Much to my delight, my friend Elizabeth of Frontier Farm needed some help at last week's farmers market. I helped her in
the first busy hour of the market.  I think working an hour at a farmers market now qualifies me as a gentleman farmer, right?

It’s been a very busy, wonderful summer.  I just haven’t had the time for a Saturday like this yet.  So with last Saturday completely untouched, I decided to officially close my schedule for the day and take it off.  This is hard to do when self-employed, but important from time to time.  It was kind of the light at the end of the tunnel for what I expected to be a rough week as my little relationship burned out. And it kind of was.  Not bad, but you know there’s always lots of feelings to sort through.  Especially for me because I am so fucking sensitive.  So as I spent the week luxuriating in the melodramatic decadence of heartache, I delighted in thinking of Saturday. I am full-bore on my real estate classes and almost finished here in Ohio.  I have a very promising prospect in Hilton Head that would involve three properties for one family.  So I’ll be deep in classes and testing over the next two or three months and am very excited.  Well by Friday, I was seeing my own absurdity.  That’s always a good mile marker to reach, in my opinion.  When you can look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re full of shit.  Things are more or less back to normal. 

Then I went out to get the mail.  I was expecting one package but there were two.  Shiiiiiit.  This usually means two nights ago I was typing in my Amazon password with one eye closed and wine mouth.  What could it be?! Except I knew that wasn’t it cause I didn’t have time to drink the week before (I know, tragedy).  It is rare to get a truly unexpected present.  About this time last year, I ordered a gravy boat on eBay.  The next day the seller sent me a refund and said actually it had chipped so she didn’t want to send it.  She relisted it discounted, but I just moved on in my search.  So I come in and kind of nervously open the box to find that gravy boat and a note.  What a pleasant surprise.  This set the tone for the rest of my weekend.  I had a fabulous time.  

So, tell me, what's your perfect day? 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Pyrite and Pie

Oh my god, finally something normal! And time to do it.  This is a lot of new for an old Taurus like me.  How are things?  Things are pretty good.  If one can’t have both, I’m glad things are good professionally. I officially ended my long-held dating embargo. Well god only knows what light was shining on me in June because the floodgays opened and I met not one or two, but several great guys where I saw quite a bit of potential.  But there was really one who stood out when I met him.  This guy was the personification of The List, you know like in Practical Magic.  I thought it’d be so easy, I thought he was so much like me, I was into it.  I’ve been told this is a problem but I really am done dating my opposite.  I’ve done it too many times and am too good at being rigid to be challenged on every fucking thing.  You wanna change soap?! Okay, let’s get a divorce.  You want to go to your mom’s house on Thanksgiving? I’m going to fake my own death.   You put fork tines down in the dishwasher instead of up?  I told you, this is my kitchen you are not even allowed in here.  Is it too much to ask that I find someone who just does everything I say and never disagrees with me?! Wellll, the more I got to know him the more I realized, he was in fact not exactly like me.  We agreed on the big things and nothing else.  But I still really liked him.  Okay, maybe I’ll budge on this and that, I can tweak A and B, etc. 

And I have to say, I was feeling pretty happy to accommodate.  I suppose this speaks to the chemical nature of love.  But then something in the energy changed.  I have been asked quite a lot What changed? And the answer is I don’t really know.  I have a few ideas, but chasing leads like that can get messy quickly.  But something did.  Well a week of that was too much for me.  I asked, got a vague answer, asked again, got a different vague answer.  As we all know, once a seed of doubt has been sown, it grows quickly and chokes out things that belong in its place.  So I sweetly but directly ended it.  Ten years ago, I would have thrived on the intrigue of finding out all the sordid details but the SAJ of today does not care for those.  My mantra let go or be dragged was once again of importance.  I asked myself all the times I was glad to have listened to my intuition and all the times I wish I hadn’t.  One list was much, much longer than the other.  Just as well, this is not the time for distractions for either of us anyway. 
The big news is that I don’t regret it.  I mean, I kiiinda regret it, but not immensely.  It was kind of a revelation that I could meet someone, like him, and see a path for the whole thing.  I’d say three steps forward, one step back.  I still feel I came out ahead from where I was, which considering the pace of 2017 for other people, is pretty damn good. 
If only I could learn to write about the thing I set out to write about.  Clearly this was all headed to a discussion on key lime pie.  As we know thanks to FF, we are most definitely in the season of Leo.  This also means the season of key lime pie.  My lifelong best friend is also a Leonine attorney like FF and throughout the years I have made her key lime pies on her birthday more years than not. 
Key lime pie is special to me because it is the first thing I ever mastered from scratch.  For a fat ten year old with a lot of feelings, this was quite the boon.  Looking back, I am less impressed because it’s really fucking easy.  Oh well.  Easy is good, especially for summer desserts.  Issue #1, do I use key limes? Fuuuuuck no.  By the time they make it to Ohio—if they ever make it to Ohio--they are petrified ghosts of fruit and completely useless.  Some people like to be annoying and scoff that it’s not key lime pie if it’s made with regular lime juice.  Okay, then don’t fucking eat it.  I really want it for breakfast tomorrow anyway, asshole.  Issue #2, yes I just use canned condensed milk.  Now I’ve moved away from evaporated milk in my pumpkin pies, so I’m tempted to try alternatives in key lime.  But it’s so easy and so beloved just like this, I think this is one time where my Taurian love for nostalgia and tradition must trump my Taurian pursuit for the absolute best ingredients.  Mix it in, get the embarrassing cans out of the kitchen and into the recycling and think about something else. 

Swamp Rose Mallow, an astonishingly beautiful wildflower in the Hibiscus family

Do those serving pieces in the raspberries look familiar?! They are from Ellie's shop! But I didn't buy them!
Dani did! I jokingly told her she stole them from me because I had planned to buy them.
A little while later she incredibly kindly said she was tidying up her drawers and looked at them and wanted me to have them. I tried to persuade her to keep them but she was resolute! I love them sooo much! Thanks again, Dani! 

Key Lime Pie
Adapted from an ancient Emeril Lagasse recipe that aired on Emeril Live!

Preheat oven to 350F, convection if you have it
3 sleeves (1 whole box) honey graham crackers, ground
2 sticks butter, melted
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon whiskey optional
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine and press into greased pie plate. This crust does not bake at all before filled. Make a nice thick crust, we don’t skimp here.  You might have a little left over that you just can’t fit in—about 1/3 cup.  Much more than that is incorrect and you need to have a drink and let your hair down and try again. 

2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 large eggs

Mix and pour into pie crust. Bake about 15-20 minutes at 350, convection if you have the option. You want a slight wiggle but for the top to remain smooth. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate at least four hours, I prefer overnight. 

I go back and forth on if I like any topping with it.  Some days we are in the mood to gild lilies and some days we are not.  When I do, I like a lime whipped cream.  It’s more lime-y than sweet. 

2 cups heavy cream
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
Dash salt

Whip cream and sugar together in chilled mixing bowl until almost set.  Then add lime juice, zest, and salt and finish whipping.