Terms, Contact Info, Recipe Index, and link love


Deep Dish Apple Pie for One

  I made a pie.  I made this pie as an ode to messy young love, long lonely days, and a potential cure for a plummet in appetite.

  I never delved much into the pie world, I've made a couple but they were way back when.  It's silly, because pie wins over cake for me almost every time.  We just tend to build it up into this unobtainable, scary thing that must have the perfect crust, cheese on top, the newest idea for a filling, and so on.  Oh, Ladycakes posted a refreshingly adorable, single-serving pie that wasn't obnoxious.  Simple all-butter pastry, keep everything well chilled and you're pretty much golden.

  So I took a day and I made it.  Because I have a lot of days lately, and a lot of thoughts.  Pie has been a challenge for me not because of some intricate technique I can't get down, but because it's full of memories.  Because when I look at pie I don't just see pie, I see a diner and laughing faces.  I hear a voice I've been semi-ignoring complimenting me on my choice of apple, in a very obvious effort to get me to make eye contact.  I see an evening that shouldn't have happened, with some friends and a boy that was only there by my grace.  A boy that loved pie but was never around long enough to try mine.  Grace, man, it got me nowhere good.

  Those memories have cloaked me for months, and for months I lived in denial of them.  Anything remotely to do with that graceless fellow followed me, and that shadow followed me all the way to Arizona.  It's there in the morning, the midday, the evening, and especially at night.  I never write about the shadow, I never document relationship experiences in this space.  I don't because it all just seems too personal, and honestly there's not usually much to tell ha.  But also because we accept new boyfriends/girlfriends and breakups at an alarmingly easy rate.  You put together a couple of young adults and you watch them go through the motions of what we call a dating relationship, and then we watch again as they break up and move on to the next.  I can't deal with the seeming lightheartedness of it, not when I know there's a much deeper level that's never addressed, that never fully heals.  It's sick, to be honest.  Hollywood makes it into a mockery, and we grow up wanting what we see on the screen.  But what we can't/don't see is all the feels behind it.  And they're not all nice, or easy to get over.

  And not only do we totally misconstrue the idea of a relationship, we encourage the process.  Being single is not an esteemed status, and anyone that is so is pitied.  Don't get me wrong, a relationship can be great and I totally encourage the togetherness of it, but I think it's so so important that you learn to be you before joining up with someone else.  I think you need to learn to be lonely, and to learn that it's not always lonely at all.  You need to figure out how you function and what you want before you try to figure out someone else.

  Young love doesn't consider this.  It goes for the deep dish pie, but it pays little heed to what it's filling it up with, until it pulls it from the oven only to watch it cool and deflate because it was all just hot air with a few granules of good intention.  Pie isn't easy, but it's not hard, either.  It just takes a little time and consideration.  It takes good fruit that you wash, peel, and chop.  It takes spices for flavor, sugar for sweetness, a pinch of salt for contrast, and cornstarch to bind it all together.  It takes precision and diligence to keep pie dough cold and not overworked, so the crust comes out flaky and tender.

  In other words, it's not unlike the effort required for a real relationship.  And sometimes that takes a few funky pies to figure out.

  I saw that we had all the sugar and spice needed, but were lacking the fundamentals.  You can't make a pie without flour (unless you're gluten-free, but whatever, you get my point), as bland and disgusting as flour can be on its own.

  That realization validates the decisions I made, but it doesn't make the dealing much easier unfortunately, that's just life and feelings.  But after making this, I feel better.  I turned and looked that shadow in the face and I plopped a pie down in front of it.  And this time, I looked deeper.  I saw the happy days, the quick glances, flirtatious smiles, nights by the lake with the stars, even having the same dreams.  But I also saw the hard days, curled up on the kitchen floor of an empty home, sleepless nights with an iPod blaring, the nightmares, how very quickly he always let go and moved on to the next one.

  So I recognize that shadow.  I admit that it still has a strong pull on me, but I also know that with the light filtering in it can't stick around for much longer.

  This has been a very deep dish post with an impromptu side of life.  Go make yourself a pie, you deserve it.

"The flower doesn't dream of the bee... it blossoms and the bee comes." 

--Mark Nepo

Deep Dish Apple Pie for One
Yield: one 4-inch pie

Ingredients for the crust:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice cold water

Ingredients for the filling:
  • 4-6 teaspoons granulated sugar (depending on your sweetness preference)
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
  • One medium apple, peeled and chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice, optional
  • Milk or a beaten egg, for the top crust
  • More granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Lightly grease a 4-inch deep dish tart pan or ramekin, or a Le Creuset Mini Cocotte; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the butter, using a pastry cutter or two knives or quick fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger chunks.  Add two tablespoons of the ice water and mix until a smooth dough forms.  If the dough feels a little dry, add a bit more water.  Knead the dough just until it comes together in a disc then wrap with plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the filling, stir together the sugar (I did the full 6 teaspoons), cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add the apples and lemon juice; toss to coat and set aside.  Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour.  Roll the dough into a circle about 1/4″ thick.  Fit to prepared pan, making sure it’s pressed into the bottom and well against the edges.  Roll a rolling pin over the top of the pan and remove the excess dough.  Fill with apples.  Roll the remaining dough scraps to create your top crust and place on top of the apples, pinching to seal the crusts together.  Cut four slits on the top of your crust.  Place the completed pie in the freezer to rest for about 10 minutes. 

Brush with a bit of milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes (If you notice the crust starting to brown too much, put a piece of tin foil over it after about 25 minutes, although I didn't have an issue). Let cool for 10 minutes then serve. Can be refrigerated in an air tight container for up to two days.

If you’d prefer to assemble the pie and save it for later, remove the pie from the freezer when ready to bake and let it thaw for about 20 minutes.  Follow baking instructions above.  Unbaked pie will keep frozen for up to 6 weeks in an air tight, freezer proof container.

Sources: adapted from Oh, Ladycakes


Ice Cream with Coffee Grounds (Gelato con Fondi di Caffè)

  I did this thing.  I went out and bought really expensive Italian roast coffee, even though I don't drink coffee, and then I got some good ol' Vanilla Swiss Almond Häagen-Dazs.  I sprinkled these pricey Italian grounds on a few generous scoops of ice cream and called it lunch.  Why did I do this?

  I did this because I tried it for the first time a couple weeks ago when my aunt and I had dinner with our middle-aged Italian neighbor.  Francesco makes killer spaghetti, is the nicest guy, speaks sassy broken English, and bikes to and from his job in 100 degree weather.  He also told me I'm too quiet and kept my wine glass pretty full.

  I like Francesco because he challenges me without meaning to.  In my years of homeschooling I took some sparse Italian, and being in close contact with somebody that is in fact Italian is something new.  You have to learn to communicate with hand gestures, and be patient while he pulls out a translator once in awhile to look up a certain word in English.  Also, I'm a little bit proud that this dinner mostly happened because of me.  

  I made mangoes and sticky rice for the first time recently, and glancing out the window I saw Francesco on his patio smoking a pipe and listening to Andrea Bocelli.  I stared down at the heaping mass of sticky rice before me, more than ample for just two people.  I chewed on my lip for awhile before loading up a paper plate and taking the dogs for a little walk to Francesco's patio.  We exchanged broken English, in which I failed miserably at describing whatever it was I was handing him, and hurried away red-faced hoping he didn't think I was completely crazy.

  The next evening, walking the dogs again, Francesco stopped my aunt and I and thanked me "for the very nice thing you did last night, and maybe I make spaghetti sometime?"  We eagerly accepted and set a date, and I gave myself a little pat on the back for sharing that dang sticky rice.

  So I sat and ate my fill of imported Grana Padano, corrected my aunt's pronunciation of "amaretto" so Francesco could understand it, loaded up on spaghetti with his mother's homemade sauce recipe, and sat back picking at fruit while he and my aunt hashed out politics.  But, being me, dessert is always what sticks to my mind the most.  It's the end of the meal, everyone's pretty decently full and a little wine happy, but still lingering at the table just enjoying each other's presence.  After refusing ice cream 2-3 times, I finally let him scoop some for me in a little white coffee cup.  You simply don't say 'no' at the dinner table of an Italian.  I watched him sprinkle the coffee grounds on top, and I'll admit to being skeptical, especially since I don't like coffee.  But one spoonful was enough to convince me, and I found myself being handed seconds.

  It was the perfect accent to a lovely meal.  What really did it for me was when he was rinsing dishes at the sink and my aunt had gone to the bathroom.  After handing me my second cup of ice cream, he asked me, "So you have friends here?"  I blushed a little, I found it difficult to find the basic English words to explain my situation in life.  I had moved here without the intention of going back to college, wasn't too interested in culinary school, and didn't even have any kind of specific job opportunity I was pursuing.  I'm just here, exploring, wandering, trying to get some work.  I didn't know how to say that without sounding like a complete moron.  But after I replied in the negative to his friend inquiry, he simply smiled and said, "Well, now you have one Italian."  I smiled back, and ate my ice cream.

Ice Cream with Coffee Grounds (Gelato con Fondi di Caffè)
Note: This isn't so much a recipe as it is a suggestion.  Use whatever ice cream and coffee grounds you prefer, this is simply what I used in my attempt to mimic whatever Francesco had on hand.  You can, of course, be more ambitious and make your own ice cream.  I do highly recommend that it has some kind of chocolate-covered almond action going on and is vanilla-based.  Buon appetito!

  • Vanilla Swiss Almond Häagen-Dazs, or whatever ice cream you prefer
  • Fine coffee grounds, I used Mokk-a's Cafe Italia blend

Scoop your ice cream into desired serving dish and sprinkle with coffee grounds.  Serve immediately.

Sources: Francesco's dinner table



Blueberry Brie Scones with Lemon Curd

  This week I had dinner with our Italian neighbor, experienced some spectacular Arizona sunsets, got rejected from two jobs, filled out so many applications I could probably recite every detail of my work history, watched a lot of Netflix, made grilled cheese with brie and good cheddar, skyped my sister through making my Nutella cookies, and found that being sunburned in 108 degree F weather is not fun.

  Oh, also, I made some killer scones the afternoon we got hit by a mini monsoon.  For real, trees were down, streets flash flooding.  You'd never know, because a good 24 hours of the sun and all evidence of water is pretty much gone.  And it was terrific.  It felt like home.

  Rainy day baking is the best kind of baking.  It inspired me to make a little mixtape about it, cuz that's just how I do.  I bake with music mostly, and I like sharing it, and hearing about what other people listen to.  Tape.ly is awesome like that.

  Can we talk about scones?  I like scones, I named a blog after scones.  And it's been way too long since I've dabbled in that department.  I saw this brie concept on Completely Delicious ages ago, and after raiding Trader Joe's this week and coming out with blueberries and a chunk of double cream French brie, I knew exactly what to do.

  Now, I do indeed have a favorite scone recipe, but when it's this hot and lazy-inducing outside and I'm working in a new-ish space, I'm going to stick to simpler techniques.  But provided you keep everything consistently cold, these scones turn out just as flaky and butter-y as their competition.  It's a win win.

  The chunks of brie create little melty pockets throughout the scone, and it works.  It really just works.  I threw almonds on top because I like a little texture, and they just make everything real perty.

  And because I've been binging on my British/Scottish TV shows (just how I do) and there's been an excess of lemons sitting in the fridge, curd it is.  There is something magical about brie, blueberries, and lemon curd.  Trust me.  Makes you feel super fancy (because you are super fancy).

  However, I might add that with rainy days comes the formidable amount of humidity.  And being me, I decided I should take these pictures outside on the little back patio where there's a super cute rustic outdoor table.  So any neighbors looking out their windows in this tight-packed condominium would've seen a red-faced big-haired girl standing on her patio table taking rapid pictures of a plate of scones, then progressing to shovel one down before the lemon curd got it too soggy.  This is punctuated by her frequently snapping fingers and yelling "no" at the sliding glass door, where if you look closely you see two little dogs yipping.

  Hey, Arizona, nice to meet you.  I'm a little different, but I made you scones!  Let's be friends! (pretty pretty please)

Blueberry Brie Scones with Lemon Curd
Yield: 8 scones

Ingredients for the lemon curd:
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter

Ingredients for the scones:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, cold
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces brie cheese, broken into pieces
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Buttermilk or a lightly beaten egg, for wash
  • Chopped almonds, for topping, if desired

To make the curd, set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl. In a medium pot, whisk together lemon juice, granulated sugar, eggs, yolks, and pinch of salt. Place the pot over a medium-low heat and add butter, stirring with a whisk. Cook the curd until the butter is melted, and the mixture is the thickness of warm hot fudge. The whisk will begin to leave a trail of whisk marks and will be able to coat the back of a spoon. Try to avoid boiling it. Remove from the heat and immediately pour into the fine mesh strainer over the medium bowl. Press through the strainer, leaving any cooked egg bits in the strainer. Place curd in a jar, with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly over the curd. Place in the fridge until completely cold.

To make the scones, preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the butter and using a pastry cutter or quick, clean fingers, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is roughly the size of small peas.  Add the buttermilk and egg and stir with a fork just until a sticky dough is formed.  Gently fold in the blueberries and brie pieces.  Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and give it a couple of gentle kneads to bring it together.  Pat into a circle about 1-inch in thickness and slice into 8 triangles.  Place the triangles onto the baking sheet and stick them in the freezer for 10 minutes to rest.

At this point, only bake as many scones as you need.  Any others you can wrap in plastic wrap and place in a Ziploc in the freezer to be baked straight from frozen when you need them, as scones don't keep very well and are best fresh.

Be sure the scones are arranged at least 1-2 inches apart.  Brush the tops with buttermilk and top with almonds, if desired.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes.  Let rest on the pan for 5-ish minutes then serve immediately with chilled lemon curd.

Sources: scones adapted from Completely Delicious, lemon curd from Joy the Baker 


Fresh Fig Breakfast Cake and a Road Trip

  If you wish to test the quality of your friendship/relationship with someone, I've figured out that there are two specific ways to do this.  One is to go on a 3-hour tubing route on a river in rural Wisconsin.  No phones, no bathrooms, no stops.  Just you, the other person, two floating tubes tied together with baling twine, and whatever passersby you happen upon.  It works, and it's pretty great when done with the right person.

  The other way is to take a road trip almost across the country in a two-door Cavalier crammed with most of your life's belongings, and only stopping for one night.  That's real.

  Oh, by the way, I'm in Arizona.  That's weird.  There's fresh figs here, some odd trees, cacti, lizards, and a whole lot of heat.  A whole lot.  But I made it, and it's been almost a week since we pulled in and I promptly hit the makeshift bed on the floor and fell asleep.

  This trip was made possible by a good ol' American atlas, lots of Snapple with chia seeds, one-too-many cheeseburgers, short shorts, too much gasoline, Spotify Premium, and some danged majestic landscapes.

  What can't be pictured is the sore backs, prolific amount of humidity, frustrated driving, the mini panic attacks of making such a big move, and the overwhelming sense of solitude that you can only find in the backseat of a car with your earbuds blaring.

  We waved goodbye to Wisconsin and passed through Iowa, stopped for a bite in Missouri, were practically blown across an incredibly humid Kansas, stopped for the night in Oklahoma, tipped our hats to Texas, gawked through the entirety of New Mexico, and finally FINALLY made it to Arizona.

  I'm still sort of in denial.  I sent my dad back home on Saturday, and today I finally got a chance to sit down and breathe.  The none-too-subtle "Now what?" was echoing off the walls of this empty apartment, and my email inbox remained empty as the five applications for part-time work I've submitted are still pending.  Sigh.

  It's all so new I can barely wrap my head around it.

  So today I got lost looking for Target, ended up running to the nearest grocery store (Which is incredibly close and has way more variety than the Piggly Wiggly in Evansville, WI) and raided the baking aisle.  I browsed unfamiliar brands of butter, bought cheese made in California, was asked twice what part of Wisconsin I'm from, and spent way too much money on food.

  But at the end of the day I had a cute little skillet breakfast cake (controversial, I know, but this cake is good at any time) topped with fresh figs that my Aunt had stolen found hanging over the sidewalk.  They were sun-warmed and sweet, and unlike any fruit I've eaten.  Vaguely reminiscent of kiwis, but such a different texture and a bit more bitter.

  The cake is a simple, not-too-sweet buttermilk concoction.  It's incredibly fluffy and moist, and kind of reminds me of a sturdier pancake in flavor.  It's a solid base for almost any chopped fruit, and a cinch to put together with just a whisk and a couple of bowls.  I downsized from Joy the Baker's 10-inch skillet because there's only two of us and the little doggies here, but feel free to double it and make it bigger as you wish.

  So, yeah.  Here we sit.  Gonna see what's what and buy baby bananas, and try really hard not to think too much in all this downtime.  Here's to making friends reallll soon, maybe with the help of some cake.

Fresh Fig Breakfast Cake
Yield: one 6-inch cake

Ingredients for the cake:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ingredients for the topping:
  • 5-6 fresh figs (depending on the size), sliced in half
  • Sliced almonds
  • Turbinado, coarse, or granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease and flour a 6-inch cast-iron skillet.  You can also use a 6-inch cake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and granulated sugar.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla.  

Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the dry mixture.  Stir until just combined and no lumps remain.  Spoon batter into prepared pan.  Top batter with fresh figs, gently pressing them part-way into the batter.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and a generous amount of preferred sugar.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool to room temperature before dusting with powdered sugar and serving.  Cake will last in the fridge, well wrapped, for up to 3 days.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker

Follow my blog with Bloglovin