Ah, Bucket

I don’t read Maggie Mason. Do you hear that, Universe? Here is a crafty, educated, independent, liberal woman who DOESN’T READ MIGHTY GIRL. I have nothing against Maggie, it’s just that, in an ever-increasing world of Well-Written Blogs, I can’t read everyone. And, since I don’t have a 2-year-old or live in San Francisco, Mighty Girl is not always relevant to my life.

Why the preamble? Because I only stumbled upon Maggie’s list of 100 Things To Do a freaking year after she’d written it. And I thought about making a list for myself, but Item Number One would have to be “Make list of 100 things to do before I die” and I’d probably never get around to crossing that one off. Besides, I’ve already been feeling a bit “what’s my point” lately, so I’ve decided to come about this from the opposite direction:

25 Things I Would Already Have Crossed Off My List If I’d Bothered With A List In The First Place (in no particular order, other than the order I remembered them in, and some of them happened more by chance than desire, but we can’t always pick our good fortune.)

1. Live in NYC
2. Get tattooed
3. Visit Europe (I can now cross through that three times, and I promise I’m not done)
4. Pick up and move halfway (actually, more) across the country with no friends, family, or job waiting for me
5. Buy a new car, like NEW new, not new-to-me new
6a. Go to art school
6b. Actually make my living at it
7. Own a computer, and a COLOR monitor (I am old enough for this to have been, at one time, pure science fiction)
8. Fly in a Cessna
9. Eat a crêpe in Paris
10. Watch the sun set at Cape May
11. Visit the Statue of Liberty
12. Go to the observation deck at the World Trade Center
13. Learn to play an instrument (I never claimed to play it well)
14. Stand underneath the Eiffel Tower
15. Drink a beer at a sidewalk cafe in Amsterdam
16. Take a Duck tour through Boston
17. Buy Sky Sox season tickets
18. Make a decent pie crust from scratch
19. Watch the vintage car races at Lime Rock
20. Zoom through Harriman State Park in a Mercedes 190SL with the top down (bonus points to the cop who pulled us over for NOT ticketing us, although we were very much speeding, and the FAIRLY EXPENSIVE car was not registered in either of our names)
21. Dip my toes in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans
22. Shop at Harrod’s
23. Tour a real castle (I’ve done this a few times, actually)
24. Eat a slice of Black Forest cake IN the Black Forest
25. Watch a ballgame at Fenway Park

In keeping with the theme of the anti-meme, you are hereby not allowed to post your own list. Ha! But I encourage everyone to think about all the things you’ve accomplished that other people may only dream of.

Bulbs and Rhizomes

My daffodils (early Spring) and tulips (mid Spring) have poked their leafy greens out of the ground. In fact, the daffodils have gone so far as to bud, but my little flower bed gets slightly less sun than my next door neighbors’ does, so I’m a bit behind. For bulbs that seem to be surviving without struggle every year, I am surprised at their complete lack of naturalizing themselves. Split! Spread! TAKE OVER THAT TINY PATCH! The Siberian irises (late Spring) will, I’m sure, not fail to disappoint me once again. If they come up at all.

The lone hyacinth that a helpful squirrel planted a few years ago is once again coming up through my gravel walk, because I once again forgot to relocate it.

On the front stoop, one pot of dwarf lilies has reawakened nicely, but the pot that faltered last year seems now to have died out entirely. It joins its dead bigger brother, the lavender pot. I have never, ever been able to keep a pot of lavender or rosemary alive for more than a few weeks. My plan now is to transfer the living lilies to the bigger pot that USED to hold the lavender, and try something else in the smaller, matching pots. What will climb nicely, and quickly, around the posts? Clematis? Some kind of morning glory? I have to go to the post office today (to ship lovely items to people who won my ebay auctions; hooray people who bought stuff!) which will take me right past the neighborhood nursery. Maybe I’ll stop in and talk with the ladies there about that, as well as what I can do to help out my patch of bulbs.

As Summer rounds the bend, I’d like to try tomatoes again, now that the neighbor kids are a bit older and less likely to steal the fruits of my labors to use as slingshot ammo. The EarthBox that VivaMaryFoley graciously gave me is still sitting, unused, in my back yard. I know that I have a TopsyTurvy planter somewhere, probably in the basement. And a big ol’ hook near my front door. I just might get the 8-10 hours of full sun that tomatoes require.

And all of this Spring-iness is written with the full knowledge that every year, we get hit with a dump of a snowfall as soon as my fruit tree is in full bloom, and I can’t really plant anything until then. So, aside from a trip to the nursery for talking and maybe fertilizing purposes, today will actually be about shipping packages and attempting a bacon-apple pie. Or perhaps it’s an apple-bacon pie. We shall see…

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It may be a bit late in the season (Marge) but I know that last summer (Marge) I had mentioned that I would be holding on to the old windows I had replaced (or maybe Fruitlady) in case anyone wanted to build a cold frame or something. (They’re single-pane glass, so salvage yards won’t take them.) They’re still in my back yard, free for the taking. All I require of you is enough of a heads up that I can put on the tea kettle. And bulldoze all the stalled craftyness from the dining room table.

Another pie.

If you weren’t aware: Friday was National Pie Day. Yeah, I know, you probably had to go to the office anyway. It’s not FEDERAL HOLIDAY Pie Day.

Anyway, me being me and all, I figured that I’d better make a pie.

Someone I follow on Twitter wished that it was INTERnational Pie Day, so I thought it would be a good time to attempt the cà phê sữa đá pie that I’ve been kicking around in my head. Cà phê sữa đá is a Vietnamese espresso drink, made with condensed milk and served over ice.

Sweetened, condensed milk. Mmmmmmm. Doesn’t that just beg to be a pie?

The recipe was easy to figure out. The crust had me baffled for a bit, until I decided to go with a chocolate cookie crumb. Sort of a mocha sữa đá. 🙂

Okay, preheat the oven to 425° while I mix up the pie filling. Fill the pie crust, and pop it in the oven. 20 minutes in, decide that it’s smelling awfully near-done-ishy, and check my notes for my planned cook time. No, 40 minutes. Hmmm. 30 minutes in, decide that it’s really smelling done, and then realize that I’ve heated the oven to 425°. Yeah, that’s exactly what I set it to. 425°. Except, that’s not my PIE temperature, that’s my Puffy Pancake temperature! I bake PIE at 350°! Yikes! I pull the coffee-colored pie from the oven, but it’s a coffee-friggin’-pie in the first place, so I really have no idea how browned it is or isn’t. I whip up the merigue, top the pie, and put it back in the oven (at 350°) to finish it off.

Verdict: It’s not burned, but it is very caramelized. There is a LOT of sugar in condensed milk (44%) so this is now a sticky pie. Not corn syrup sticky, but sticky toffee pudding sticky. The flavor is pretty darn good, though. A pleasant espresso top note which quickly fades to the caramelized bottom end, but the caramel tastes neither burned nor “too” sweet. I couldn’t taste the chocolate cookie crust at all. When this one is polished off, I’ll try again, with the proper temperature. I think the recipe shows great promise!

Amy asked for pie photos, but here’s the deal. Most of my pies lately have been topped with meringue, so they all look the same. Here’s a random photo of one of my pies, and you can pretend it’s a photo of whichever one you wanted to see:

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(Yeah, yeah, I know. I still need to redo the Creamsicle pie, too. I haven’t forgotten.)