Pie 9.0

Pie 9.0

It was a hot, steamy day in early-July. Not your typical chicken pot pie day. My kitchen (and my body) were balmy. Halloween is our traditional chicken pot pie day. I make a nice sour cream crust. I use canned veggies and cook up some quick chicken breast chunks, then mix it all with a can of cream-of-whatever soup and chuck it in the oven, all while answering the doorbell to hand out chocolate to little goblins and princesses. Today’s Pie 9.0 took quadruple the time and effort.

My most famous CPP, about five years ago on October 31, had a suspicious hard lump in the bottom, and upon slicing we found the spoon I’d used to mix it. Baked right in. No soggy bottom, but a bit o’stainless steel for flavor. That didn’t happen with Pie 9.0.

Of the nine pies so far from Sugar Butter Flour, this was my first attempt at a savory pie. I learned “savory” from Mary Berry, so be sure to hear it in your head as you read with only two syllables, as I refuse to move my lips as the word escapes.

My stupid market challenges were something called Jerk spice and boneless chicken thighs. Really. Guess what I did? I asked for help twice! The nice lady loading styrofoam meat trays knew just where the awful-looking chicken thighs were hiding. The nice stock boy stopped whistling his weird tune to show me where the Jerk spice was hiding (after Google completely failed) with the Mexican food and not with the rest of the spices. And he gave me a tip: If I actually look at the items on the shelves as I pass through the aisles, I might have noticed the very cheap spice rack of a BADIA brand (not with the McCormick and other spices). Now I have a giant jar of cheap Jerk seasoning. (Spoiler alert: I’ll NEVER use it again.)

As I started Pie 9.0, I made a mental list of what to worry about. Number 1: Soggy Bottom. The pie crust was not to be half-baked or pre-baked or whatever Mary B. would call it, so I wisely spent a glob of worry-energy to ensure success. Then I read the very weird recipe and saw Pie 9.0 would only have a top crust. Cool! No soggy bottom. (See? Worrying works great!)

Instead of berries and chocolate, the ingredient list said onion and pepper and peas and potatoes. The crust needed butter, of course.

The crust mixed up quite wet and easy to work with. It got to nap in my fridge like all of its ancestors.

The recipe suggested turning on the oven to 400F quite early, when it seemed to me there were a thousand more steps to  span hours, so I delayed adding more heat to my sweltering inferno. I chopped. I stirred. Things were smelling nice. In the other room, DH was watching Sea Biscuit, so I cheered for Spiderman on a lame horse in between my tasks–kept things lively.

The gravy was simple: measure, mix, heat, stir. Then the chicken and rice and veggies and peas and gravy were mixed and simmered while I rolled out the crust.

[I have deleted the pictures of the raw and cooking chicken. They looked a little vulgar. You are welcome.]

In the end, there was so much filling! It had to be at least 8 cups of denseness. There was NO WAY it would fit in my little pie pan, deep-dish or not. But then it did. Volume can be finicky that way.

The crust rolled easily. I flipped it on top of the mush, pushed it down, trimmed and forked the edges, made a broken heart like the picture in the cookbook, and slashed some knife marks to let the steam out. The whole enchilada got an egg wash. Don’t fret–sometime around when Sea Biscuit (aka Pops) broke his leg, I remembered to turn on the oven.

Enough a do. Here he is in all his glory: Pie 9.0, My Husband’s a Jerk Chicken Pot Pie.

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My husband is not a jerk, but he loved this pie. I might be a jerk, but I did not like this pie. Call me if you want the rest of the Jerk seasoning. Free.

Pie 9.0 was served by scooping with a spoon, per the unspoken advice gleaned from a picture in the cookbook. Slicing is not an option without a bottom crust. Add some salt and have a glass of water handy–the Jerk seasoning can sneak up on you.

I am done with savory. Give me sugar. It’s time to go find that raspberry pie recipe, the pretty one. The sweet one.

 

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All the things he cannot do

He just learned to speak the language a few years ago. He doesn’t have a job. He has no money or skills. He can’t drive or cook. He isn’t good at math or reading. He isn’t registered to vote and doesn’t pay attention to the news. He isn’t registered for military service and isn’t qualified for college. He never pays rent or taxes or any bills.

He says please and thank you (insincerely) when reminded, and sometimes I’m sorry when required.

He’d rather play games than listen to politics. He’d rather laugh than argue. He awakes too early and stays up too late. He asks for help constantly. He debates fine details about fairness and will smack a smaller person if no one is looking. He wastes food; he loves ice cream but not peas. He even needs help rinsing the shampoo from his hair and remembering to bathe.

You must be nice to him. Care for his needs. Feed him. Teach him. Help him grow. He’ll get better at all of those things in time.

Love him. He’s just a five-year-old child.

Cover reveal: INFINITY LINE

front cover Infinity Line

In 2072,

in a once vibrant metropolis on the eastern coast of what used to be America,

biochemist Dr. Lorelei Fletcher hunts men.

In a world gone insane with hatred, somebody has to do it.

Lorelei stalks them until they catch her.

She doses them with a molecular cocktail

(silently, painlessly, with a needle, to the neck)

to tame them.

Part of an improbable plan for peace,

Lorelei works to drive humanity toward a future that’s female.

Exclusively female.

 

INFINITY LINE, my second novel, will be available in August 2018. As an independent author, editor, and publisher, with my very own company called LMNO Press, I write fiction from deep within my aching heart. The pain and struggles, frustrations and horrors, and relationships between characters in this story were born of my fear for humanity, and my certain doubt that we can survive on our spiraling path.

Unlike the humorous and tragic love story of OR NOT TO BE, this second novel defies any attempt to brand me as an author of a specific genre. Indeed, my next books may be children’s stories. Imagination cannot be caged.

Advance Reader Copies (printed and electronic) are available for preview and review. Please email lauralanni2014@gmail.com for your first edition copy.

 

Pie 8.0

Pie 8.0

One week back from a grandchildren-time-warp. Last night I slept ten hours, still in the wrong time zone. Ten days in Colorado, more laughing than I did the entire previous ten months, I came home happy and sad. But enough about my emotional state–let’s focus on baking. There’s no crying in baking.

Previously I predicted Pies 8.0 and 9.0 would be baked with my grandchildren. During my ten-day visit, we baked banana bread (with 3 eggs instead of 2 so everyone could crack one) and purple birthday cupcakes (with special food coloring that’s still under my thumbnail), but no pies. Instead we played soccer, hiked, read dozens of books, learned to swing, sit up, and wave. We changed diapers, gave baths, braided hair, wrapped mermaids, had a birthday, did science (sodium bicarbonate and acetic acid), installed a swamp cooler, built a porch, listened to songs, rocked the baby, cooked eggs, swept the floor, played games, sang songs, applied band aids, got and gave hundreds of hugs, and laughed my little head right off. We can’t even blame the baby for the lack of pies because obviously he is the best baby in the whole world.

Now back in my real time zone, I cracked open my abandoned Sugar Butter Flour cookbook and located an adorable peach pie on page 35 called “Life’s Just Peachy-Keen Polka-Dot Peach Pie.” She seemed simple to make so she took over the 8.0 spot.

I made the double crust on Friday evening, letting it rest in the fridge while I rested in my bed.

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I found my old pie crust recipe in the spice rack. This is the recipe I have used for 25 years. My old stand by. Sorry, buddy.

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On Saturday morning I donned my hairnet and red apron, poured some coffee and got to it. The bottom crust was rolled out, formed in the pan, and needed another cat nap in my fridge. The top crust required some fancy cut outs of little and less-little circles. I used an icing tip, and an old plastic scoop from a drink mix that was lurking in the back of the spoon drawer. The top crust and the circles got a rest in my fridge.

The peach filling was easy, except for peeling, pitting, and slicing the peaches. This task is nothing like peeling apples. The slime and juice went everywhere. And “six” peaches did NOT yield FOUR CUPS. I added three more peaches.

The recipe called for arrowroot starch, but said I could use cornstarch “in a pinch.” Since I spent my nickels on the special sugar for the top crust sprinkle, I went for the pinch, and used regular old cornstarch and it worked fine.

I carefully put the top crust in place. The recipe said nothing about how to attach it, so I just pinched it down a bit. The result was a small gap around the baked edge, but it looked good and the peaches didn’t leak out as I feared. I decorated the top by gluing down the dots with an egg wash. The whole thing got another rest in my fridge, then a full egg wash, a sprinkle of the special sugar and then a 70-minute bake.

After the bake, the crust looked gorgeous. If I ever need a quick pie, I could make this one again, likely much faster the second time.

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I served this beauty with vanilla ice cream after a fireworks boat ride to friends and neighbors, and it was a hit. I’ve never eaten peach pie before and I embarrassed myself oohing and yumming over my own bake.

While I plan Pie 9.0, I’ll think of my grandbabies. I do miss those kids.

impatient impatiens

My finger is swollen because I went out to the front porch, barefoot, to water my flowers.

The tag on these pink impatiens claim they can tolerate sun. However, sun in June in the South is brutal. If those dramatic girls have to go two days without water they lay down and play dead. This morning after I watered them, I dragged the heavy pot to the other side of the porch to keep them more shaded. Nice of me, eh?

Well, the ancient ceramic pot cracked and spewed 20 pounds of dirt onto the porch (and my bare feet). Across the porch, the exposed wiggly worms and yucky larvae who lived under the pot were horrified at the scorch of sun. Can’t please everyone.

I assessed the situation and retreated into the cool house to

  1. find shoes,
  2. put up my hair,
  3. get the broom and shovel,
  4. and prepare to sweat.

I shoveled the dirt onto the top of a trash can and dumped it on a nearby flower bed. I dragged the broken pieces of crumbling pot in two trips to the other side of the garage. I swept a little, and realized the whole porch needed to be sprayed clean, so I dragged the hose (the closer one, the one without wheels that seemed quite full of water) around to the front of the house and sprayed down the porch. I also sprayed the shovel clean because it’s the one we use when we scoop up our neighbor’s dog’s poop and deliver it back to his yard. Multitasking at its best.

I should ease your worry about the flowers–they were in an inner pot propped on top of the 20 pounds of topsoil in the broken pot. They laughed at me through the whole fiasco. Mike’s face appeared at the window. He walked away shaking his head.

Then I put everything away. And while I unhooked the hose to drag it back around the house, wondering why I was wearing a white t-shirt for this work and how I got so sweaty in just 15 minutes, a very angry ant sunk his fangs into my finger.

Ahh, summer.