Archive for January, 2013

Woot! Spontaneous pie!

Today, January 23, is National Pie Day. Says who? Says the American Pie Council. (I know, right? American Pie Council??) I learned this from the morning newspaper. (Yep, a few of us still read the paper. On paper.)

This is not to be confused with National Cherry Pie Day. (February 20)

Or National Banana Cream Pie Day. (March 2)

Or National Blueberry Pie Day. (April 28 – also, the birthday of our Irish Setter when I was a kid )

Or Pi Day. (March 14 – duh)

Today is a day to celebrate all pie, rather than to discriminate for or against a particular flavor. I’m not even a huge fan of pie – I mean, I like good pie, don’t get me wrong. But I would usually default to a really good cookie or piece of cake versus pie. However, seeing as I am completely susceptible to Jedi and American Pie Council mind tricks, as soon as I saw it was National Pie Day, I knew I had to have some.  (I don’t know why the Jedi want me to eat pie, they just do.)

While I could give you a list of places to find outstanding cookies, and some very good cupcakes, I am not aware of any really awesome local options for pie. Please, someone, anyone, enlighten me if I’m missing out. (If coconut is mentioned in your response you will be automatically disqualified, so answer carefully.)  So this means I was craving pie, with no pie to be had. Clearly, the only logical solution was….make one. Woo hoo, spontaneous pie!

I don’t always have a well-stocked pantry in terms of throwing together a meal, but when baking is the name of the game I usually have the basics, and today was no exception. A quick Google search for some simple options led me to a butterscotch recipe and the only thing I needed was milk, which I was already planning on picking up on my way home from lunch out. Perfecto.  And as long as I had to get milk, I also got a half-pint of whipping cream to top it off.

The recipe origin is Paula Deen, and she annoys the crap out of me, but she’s less irritating on paper than she is on tv. And it didn’t call for lard, so I was willing to give it a go.  It called for a pastry shell, however,  and I prefer graham crackers crusts both to eat (with the appropriate filling) and to make, so I modified. It was also the only way it was sneaking into my day – no time for full-blown pie crust.

Graham cracker crusts are super easy. It can be fun to smash the hell out of the crackers, but today I had a container of crumbs on hand from some prior baking adventure.

Graham Cracker Crust (thank you allrecipes.com)
1-1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter

Mix everything together. Press mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate. I read a little trick today to use the back of a spoon to press the crumbs into the pie plate, and that worked nicely. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes. Cool.

pie crust

Butterscotch pie
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie crust
Whipped cream

Paula mixes butterscotch chips into her whipped cream, and sprinkles more on top. That seemed unnecessary to me (although I did have some in the pantry) so I ignored that part.

In a large saucepan combine sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. This is boring, and it takes a while. But keep stirring, otherwise it might get lumpy or scorch on the bottom. Be patient, this is what makes your pie luscious. I would suggest that you download Ruzzle onto your phone and challenge me to a game while you’re stirring, but I found it hard to focus on the game and maintain good stirring motion. 😉  It took maybe 10-15 minutes for it to thicken. And you will just know – oh, look, it’s thickening! When it happens, it happens quickly. I turned the heat very low at this point so I didn’t have to worry about neglecting it for the next minute or two. In a separate bowl temper your 2 egg yolks by whisking in a small amount (a few spoons full) of the hot mixture. Stir in the eggs, butter and vanilla, and allow to cook over low heat for a few minutes. At this point, Paula recommends pouring into a dish and cooling in the fridge. My crust had cooled, so I poured the filling straight into the pie plate. The whole thing is in the fridge now, chillin’ like a villain.

Should you want to make whipped cream to top it:
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
Using a hand mixer, whip together the heavy cream and sugar until light and fluffy
(seriously, whipped cream is the easiest thing to make ever)

Um yeah….I’m gonna need to go eat some of that now….the verdict is in….yum!


Happy Pie Day!!



measuring cup


In case you missed it….

Oh where, oh where has my measuring cup gone?

I am so confused. So very confused.

I cannot find my 1-cup measuring cup. I have a set of four nesting cups and I even keep them on the stupid annoying ring so they all stay together. And I just went to put away the 1-cup cup that I used earlier when I was preparing dinner, and I noticed as I put it back on the stupid annoying ring that it was actually the ½-cup cup. Which makes no sense, because I haven’t used the measuring cups in days and there is nothing else in the dish drainer or the dishwasher and I have no clue where it is.

It also means that in my haste this afternoon, when I was throwing ingredients into the crockpot, I only used one cup of something instead of two.


Dinner….let’s figure that out first. I think if I throw in the other cup now, it’ll be ok. It’s still got at least an hour to go and instinct says it’s ok for this particular recipe. (Instinct. Ha! This is the first time I’ve ever made this, so we may be ordering pizza later. I already told Klondike we don’t have to eat it.)


Now. Where is the freakin’ cup?

I have no idea. I have looked in every logical place and some illogical ones.

Here’s what’s super annoying and weird.

I bought these measuring cups because I had a set I really, really liked, except after I moved into my house, I couldn’t find……


And to this day, I still haven’t found it.

I think maybe my ex kept it.

(I don’t really think that. But where the fuck is it?)

And now, another cup grows feet and takes a hike and AGAIN IT’S THE 1-CUP CUP?????


I know. I can use what I have to achieve one cup. But it’s kind of annoying to have TWO SETS BOTH MISSING THE SAME STUPID CUP!

I will keep looking. And I will buy another set if I have to, because I use the 1-cup cup a lot.

Wherever they are, I hope the missing ones are together, having some sort of party or something.

Because seriously. WTF????

Paleo Schmaleo

I will shove processed carbs down the throat of the next person who says “paleo” around me.

omg. dude. that made me laugh so hard i almost peed.


Ok, seriously. Can we please give it a rest with the over-sharing of food choices, dietary restrictions, fad diets, gastro-intestinal issues, food allergies, all of it?

I support healthy living, even though I don’t always act upon it myself. I am all for learning about food and nutrition and taking an active role in your own well being. I am sorry you are allergic to nuts or are lactose intolerant or have celiac disease. I am glad you have discovered that eliminating carbs from your diet does whatever you wanted it to do. I support your choice to be a vegetarian. But sweet fancy Moses, do we have to listen to you talk about it all the fucking time?

(And by “talk” I mean Facebook, but also the real world.)

Let’s keep whether or not it’s boring out of it. I find it so obnoxious when people go on and on about whatever life-altering change they’ve made in a manner that suggests we should all make the same change immediately. We are all different, and what’s good for you might not be good for me. We all have different needs and different bodies and different tastes. And quite frankly, one person raving about how she is now eating nothing but dirt and we should all immediately start eating nothing but dirt starts to feel a little bit like someone suggesting her church is the one we should all join.  Please stop proselytizing your food. I am begging you.

Because also, it gets kind of boring after a while.


And ps, my dad hasn’t eaten meat in something like 35 years, and many in  my family have some kind of health-driven dietary restrictions, so I know it’s possible to not talk about it all the time, because we don’t.


My mom is the Rain Man of the grocery store

Mom, aka Rain Man


Klondike says this will be our million dollar idea: the “ask Fran” grocery app.

Sometimes I am an idiot and sometimes I get it right.

In 2011, Mumford and Sons and The Avett Brothers and Bob Dylan all performed together at the Grammys. It was amazing. (Except for Bob Dylan, because he is really not amazing at all, ever.) It was the first time I’d heard Mumford & Sons (and probably the first for The Avett Brothers) and they knocked my socks off. The whole performance was killer, but I focused on Mumford. And I still love them. Yes. Muchly. My point, however, is that I did not fall in love with the Avett Brothers that night. I was too blown away by Mumford.  And sons.

I have several friends who like The Avett Brothers. They’re generally people who have respectable taste in music, but I never ventured into Avett territory to give it a listen. For some reason, however, I decided I should go see them when they come to town next month. The Avett Brothers, that is, not my friends. Although I’m not opposed to seeing my friends. In fact, I quite like some of them.

This scenario is peculiar, because I don’t usually to go to a concert when I really have no familiarity with the music. Not completely unheard of, however; 3Names convinced me to go see the Zac Brown Band with him a few years ago, even though I’d never heard of them, by paying for half my ticket, and he was right, it was a fun show. I do like to support things here in town, especially when they are uncommon, special, not your usual past-their-prime or not-yet-famous acts that pass through these parts. A few years back Ben Folds performed with the philharmonic and even though I dig him, I dig the Phil, and it definitely fell into that atypical for Fort Wayne category, I didn’t go. (This is the part where I am an idiot.) I had some legitimate reasons for not going, but mostly they were just stupid life things that I should have worked around. Everyone who went absolutely raved about how amazing it was. And I missed it. I could kick myself, still today. This is one of my biggest concert regrets in life, second only to missing Florence & the Machine open for U2. That was something I actually WENT TO, I just didn’t allow adequate time to get there. In my defense, East Lansing does not know how to move traffic. Jesus, people. It’s not like you have football games there all fall. Oh wait, it’s EXACTLY LIKE THAT. Learn how to move the freakin’ cars!

Anyway, I am determined not to have the same kind of concert regret again, and somehow I got it in my head that the Avett Brothers show would be something not to miss. I don’t know why exactly I thought that. But I bounced it off Klondike and he was game, and the tickets weren’t outrageous by today’s concert standards, so ok, let’s go. And the concert is Valentine’s Day. Klondike, act surprised by your present of concert tickets. 😀

So then I decided perhaps I should check them out ahead of time. By good fortune, Santa just gave me an iTunes gift card (I know, I’m Jewish, but iTunes! – who am I to say no?) so I downloaded “I and Love and You”. Oh, sweet Jesus, what took me so damn long?? I can’t remember the last time I loved a CD this much (even though it’s not a CD, it’s a collection of digital files, but I don’t know how to deal with that; I’m in the digital age, but reluctantly). Album. That might be the right word. Of course, that conjures up an image of a vinyl record. Whatever. Call it what you like, I’m in love.

I get to see them in concert in six weeks? Oh hells yeah. I’ll report back, but I fully expect it to be awesome.

This is the part where I get it right.

Oh yeah, and I just downloaded “The Carpenter”. Might as well keep going.  🙂

P.S. I tried to find the amazing Grammy performance for you, but no such luck, unless you want to watch a shitty video of someone watching it on TV. Seriously WHY do people shoot videos of their TV screen and post them on the internet?