Most of you who are a) related to me b) whom I call “friend” c) have read this blog casually since the beginning of time, may or may not know that I have two sisters and the younger one of them works as a pastry chef at a restaurant somewhere in posh London. Although, she’s far from posh (we are a basic people), she makes deceptive pastries and desserts as part of her job. She meringues and quenelles and other French things dessert-eaters give way too much importance to when seeking “the best”. No, I will not stop. She knows it too. #hotjalebi4life…
I don’t usually do this. By “this” I mean write about things that need to be nudged out there a little bit more. I’ve seen many posts with link love status and while I have love for all those links, I generally tend to forget about them. Not because I’m better than anybody else in the world at putting stuff like that together. I suck at it. There is no way I can coax myself to coax you to see the stuff that I actually click on. For example: Side trending bar on facebook. For example, again: Lots and lots of Indian feminist shit. (I use “shit” in a cool way. Perhaps, successfully).
I was reading Food Loves Writing a month ago – maybe more – and I came across this line from Shanna. She called herself and her husband Tim the “least hype-y people on Earth”. “And it’s rare for us to be saying, “You have to do this!” or “This is the best ever,” enough so that sometimes it’s hard for people to know that we’re happy and having a good time.” I probably even left a comment on the post, with a nod to those words. I got it. I’m not as excitable either. Food is the only thing that gets me and even then, I’d rather let you decide if you want your world spun on its head.
But, I’m here and for the first time ever, I’m going to share ideas with you. Before I do, I want to tell you that I’m not reeeeeeeaaaly into them like “OMG you have to see this and you’ll die and/or be missing out if you don’t”. You won’t (be missing out and neither will you die). I like them a lot because at the time, I needed to hear the things they were saying to me. Ten reasons why I’m an introvert (or how to be one if you’re not)? YES. I know. I am. Thank you for the validation that I’m okay and never normal. My mind moves on. There are many other examples that I won’t ever think of again. Here are the ones that I will.
- This beautifully, compassionately made documentary has been on my mind ever since I saw it in 2012. If you’d like to see it, it’s on Netflix. It especially resonated in my mind since her story was in the news this past month. I have no place on this Earth to comment on anybody’s suffering. Though we share similar vessels, we are all very different humans beings. There is nobody who goes through pain the same way and that makes us especially responsible for how we want to deal with it. This takes courage. I will always admire that.
- I’ve been taking my time these past few months reading only female-authored books. Bias? Hardly. These women are intelligent, funny, GENIUS, and brave. I’m especially happy Amy Poehler wrote a book. She also did this Reddit AMA. And she does empowering Ask Amy videos that are something every young girl should mysteriously stumble upon when they shouldn’t be on the Internet. It also begs the question: Why aren’t all idol-like actors doing the same thing?
- I’m getting quite deep here, aren’t I?
- Yuna sounds this way LIVE. What I do like about her most after her talent, is that she’s being herself 100% of the time. I’m so happy for her. I didn’t know how much I missed this song until I heard her sing it again. Incubus forever. Yuna forever, too!
- Matt recently bought the Ghostbusters movie (along with Gremlins and some other stuff that makes him nostalgic. He’s currently listening to Huey Lewis) and it’s one of the many 80s things I’ve never experienced. I don’t feel like I missed out. For one, I wasn’t even born. I do however, remember watching a Extreme Ghostbusters on Cartoon Network when I was in school. It was so cool. My favourite Ghostbuster was obviously Kylie. I know this because hers is the only name I can remember. Anyway, I’m jabbering about the series because of this story. Can you imagine how many lives would change if there was Mindy Kaling in all of this? Of course there is criticism. For that, there’s always Chuck Wending, male ally extraordinaire. His post has all the good stuff plus the annihilation of the line “women aren’t funny”. Bazinga. PS: The comments mustn’t be ignored.
My favourite double-pie crust
While I do have a tub of vegetable shortening in my kitchen, I have never used it to make pie dough. I don’t want to fix something that works well and I do love butter very, very much. So yes, this has butter. Lets be on the same page.
Did I mention we have an apple tree now?
Disclaimer: This recipe is only for pie dough. I used it for apple pie but I wasn’t paying much attention to the filling as much as I was to the crust. Use your favourite filling with this crust. Or use these suggestions: This one, or this. Or I don’t know. Share your favourites!
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 226 gms unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- 5-6 tbsp ice cold water
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together. It works well to cut the butter and then put it back into the fridge so it hardens. The fat needs to be cold at all times for good things to happen. Add the cubes of butter to the flour and break them into the mixture. I make my pie crust completely by hand and though it does take a little more work, I am better able to control how chunky the butter remains. Using your fingertips, break the butter apart roughly into small, almost pea-sized bits. If you miss some pieces of butter, it’s okay. That will add to a more buttery crust.
Once your mixture has a meal-y texture, you’re ready to graduate to the next step. To double-check this step, pinch some of the flour together with your fingers. If it sticks together, it’s good and your butter is mixed well.
Next add the water. First start with 4 tbsp of it and use it to bring together all the flour in one cohesive mass. If you feel the dough is not staying together (i.e, it could be crumbly and break apart easily when your try and work with it), add a little bit more water, never exceeding 6 tbsp. 5 tbsp did it for me. Don’t worry if it’s not smooth on the surface. If I used 6 tbsp of water, I’m sure it would have made the dough too soggy. Once you’re confident about the consistency of the pie dough, divide it into two and flatten it into discs. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to up to a day.
When you’re ready to use the dough: Let it sit wrapped on the kitchen counter, until it’s soft enough to roll but still cold enough to stay in one piece. If it’s been in the fridge for a day, you might need to let it sit outside the fridge for slightly longer. You can also freeze the dough (plastic wrap, then foil) if you’re not using it immediately. Thaw before using.
To use in a double-crusted pie, lightly flour a working surface and roll out one of the discs of the pie dough. You can do this in between two sheets of parchment paper as well. While rolling the dough, make sure you roll out all sides equally. When you place the pie dish over the rolled-out dough and there’s extra dough on the sides, you know it will be a good fit for the bottom layer of the crust. Roll the dough around your rolling pin and comfortably roll it over the pie dish. Quickly but gently press down the dough to cover the bottom of the pie dish. Pop the pie dish back into the fridge for about 15 minutes. The trick is to always let the dough be cold. Pull it out of the fridge and fill with your prepared pie filling. Put it back in the fridge and roll out the top crust for the pie in the same way.
Cover the top of the pie in the dish, press the edges together, cut out any extra dough on the sides and then crimp the edges, if you’re into that. Brush the top with milk and sprinkle with the larger grain sugar. Cut slits on top of the crust for steam to escape. I usually put the whole pie back in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking. Cold fat (in this case, butter) = magic.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F and bake for 45-50-55 minutes. If you find the crust getting too dark, cover the areas up with foil and continue baking until you feel it’s ready.
“The shore is visible beyond the window. And you can hear the sound of waves, and someome’s voice. There’s a hint of the sea in the breeze. Small white clouds are etched against the azure sky. And it’s summer. Always it’s summer”
On this magnificent day with blinding sunlight, I am feeling so many feelings about it not being ceiling fan weather anymore. Summer has taken its time sticking around this year and for that, I am eternally grateful. My blood runs warm and the slightest change outside makes me want to call a strike and stay home consuming warm beverages and noodles. Last week I crossed an amazing think off my list of things I’ve dreamed about experiencing: I went to a Dave Matthews Band concert in one of the most beautiful concert venues I’ve ever seen. Sitting right on the ground, surrounded by the Columbia River Valley, listening to the voice of my teenage years. It was perfect.
My walks home from work have given me a little extra time to think about all the things that I push aside when the days get too much. So far, house life has been a series of decisions on all the things we need to replace and disagreeing 1000 times about the importance of it all. For me, things are meaningless. Yet, here we are in a new house we convinced ourselves we needed. It’s beautiful in here and yet it has just enough to leave me wanting to escape from it. I think that’s a good thing. There’s an apple tree in the front and I know exactly how to find my way back. As for filling this place up with stuff, it’s going to take a while. I keep telling myself that it’s okay that there still is chaos. We aren’t robots. We have to go to work. In the middle of it all, we need to rest, watch pointless television and walk the dogs. For those of us struggling to make sense of the ease in which people summer, we have cake.
And this cake is my celebration of a summer of firsts and a summer I’m letting go off as the leaves turn. It’s okay that I haven’t had time for many many many things. I’ve done my best and deep down in my veins, it’s always summer, just like Murakami wrote.
This cake has no icing for a reason: We eat it for breakfast, after lunch and with tea. It’s almost like zucchini bread except it’s a lot more celebratory. We’ve needed some of that around this place. If you’re like me, still buying every last bit of squash I lay eyes on, make this up for yourself! I didn’t refrigerate this cake because I didn’t want it to dry out. Instead I plastic wrapped it and set it in the corner of the kitchen. It stayed perfect for the 3-day period it lasted in the house. If you feel feelings about leaving things in the open, follow your heart. 🙂
- 260 gms (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground pumpkin spice OR 1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1 tsp ginger powder + 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs (160 gms), at room temperature
- 187 gms (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable oil if you want a milder flavour)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups grated zucchini
- 1 cup chopped almonds
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a cake pan or a 10-inch cast iron skillet and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and dust with flour. You can also use a cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside
Break the eggs in a large bowl and pour in the sugar and oil. Beat the ingredients using a hand mixer on medium speed for about 4 minutes. Once the sugar blends in, the mixture will start to look fluffy. Add vanilla extract to the blend. Pour in the flour mixture. Beat the flour in with the egg-oil mixture until it all combines (less than a minute). Be careful not to over mix.
Stir in the zucchini using a hand whisk or a spoon. About 4-5 big stirs should ensure that the zucchini is mixed in well. Add the chopped almonds the same way.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake pan/skillet and place into the over for 45-50 minutes. The cake is ready when you insert a toothpick into the middle and it comes out clean. Once it’s done, let it cool completely before slicing into it. Or you know, don’t.