• chomper

    A few months back, my husband uncovered a nest of turtle eggs at the job site. “What’s with all the ping-pong balls?” he asked. My older son identified them as turtle eggs and brought them home where the younger kids filled a bucket with dirt, put the eggs in and then covered them with more dirt. They parked the bucket in a sunny spot in my flower bed, but after a couple months of nothing happening, I ordered the bucket gone, so they moved it over by the tool shed.

    Last week, my younger son checked on the eggs. “They’re probably all rotten,” my husband said, so my son tore one of the eggs open. And inside was a baby turtle…ALIVE. It was all slimy and still attached to a large yolk sac.

    My son placed it on a damp paper towel in a box, positioned a lamp above, and ever since then he’s been obsessed.

    He wakes early to observe his premature pet, and he spends hours each day researching all things turtle. He’s identified it as a snapping turtle (oh joy) and spews all sorts of turtle-y facts to anyone who will listen. He’s relocated the rest of the eggs to a box of sand and set it under a heat lamp to speed the process (again, oh joy).

    for size comparison, a quarter

    We keep warning him that Chomper (ha) might not make it, but that hasn’t stopped him from building a very large (oh, so hopeful, that child!) home from cardboard, tinfoil, and tape for when Chomper is grown.

    And he’s made a survival chart. He proudly checks off each day the turtle stays alive.

    back when he still thought (hoped) it might be a box turtle

    And rather miraculously enough, it’s still alive! The yolk sac—its only food source for now—is shrinking daily, so I guess it’s getting the nourishment it needs.

    In the beginning, the turtle looked, and acted, mostly dead (every 15-30 seconds it’d take a giant breath and we’d all exhale, too), but now the turtle blinks, wiggles its very long tail, sticks out its head, and creeps about.

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (8.29.16), peach crisp, it all adds up, they’re getting it!, grape parfaits, 2011 stats and notes, roasted tomato sauce, pasta with sauteed peppers and onions.

  • the quotidian (8.28.17)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Cooling.

    Grilled steak sandwiches: anniversary dinner for the husband who didn’t know what day it was.

    Stale bread resurrected.

    From one—ONE—sirloin steak.
    Swoon and feast.
    Those curls!
    Mud making.

    House.

    Drugged, plus the cone of shame: stuck. 
    Opposite corners.
    First day: the college student.

    Solar Eclipse 2017

    This same time, years previous: tomatoes in cream, don’t even get me started, Bezaleel scenes, pasta with lemon-salted grilled zucchini and onions, fresh tomato salad, chocolate malted milk frosting, classic pesto.

  • an unlikely tip for runners: don’t wear deodorant

    One day recently when my husband and I were stretching after our morning run, I marveled out loud at how badly I stank. “I’m even wearing deodorant and I still stink,” I grumbled.

    “Don’t wear deodorant,” my husband said. “You won’t stink as much, and you’ll feel cooler.”

    “Yeah, whatever,” I said. But the next time I ran, I skipped the deodorant and I didn’t stink! (I still felt hot, though.)

    Ever since, I’ve been skipping the deodorant when I run. There’s still odor—and it’s worse on hotter days—but it’s not nearly as rank. I certainly couldn’t get away without without wearing deodorant during the day like my father (he never wears the stuff, and even though he might work outside for hours on end and sweat profusely, he rarely stinks), but for whatever reason, skipping the deodorant when I run keeps me smelling sweet and fresh, or at least more so.

    Has anyone else discovered this? Are my husband and I completely off our rockers? Because it’s possible…

    Oh, and while we’re on the subject of odors and cleanliness: at our last family gathering, my sister-in-law divulged that she’s taken to using soap nuts instead of detergent when she washes her clothes. They look a little like small, unshelled walnuts and smell like absolutely nothing, but she (and the soap nut sellers) claims that a small pouch of them tossed into a load of dirty laundry will get the clothes clean. Has anyone else tried this?

    This same time, years previous: a big deal, on love and leftovers, the quotidian (8.25.14), atop the ruins, 16, tomato jam, basic oatmeal muffins, homemade butter.

  • fresh nectarine galette

    What with my huge pie obsession, I tend to forget about galettes. I’m not sure why, though. Galettes are so super easy. Sexy, too. If pies and galettes were sisters, pie would be the earnest, ethical one, all rosy-cheeked and freckled and wholesome. Galette would be the one with tousled beach hair, dark red lipstick, and ripped jeans. She’d have a throaty laugh, and most days she’d go braless. (The pie sister wears a bra, always—one hundred percent cotton with a sweet trim of lace.)

    So anyway, I make pies and I make pies and then, suddenly, it hits me—oh, galettes!—and then in my rush to remedy, I overcorrect and end up making an obscene number of galettes. (Though can there be such a thing as too many galettes? Seems doubtful.)

    The other day when I popped in to see my mom, I took along a piece of galette for her to sample. She ate half of it, moaning and sighing all the while, and then, regretfully, she set the other half aside for my father.

    “Good grief,” I said, laughing at her theatrics. “Just eat it. He’ll never know.”

    “Oh, no, I couldn’t do that,” she said. (My mother has always suffered from an overly developed sense of fairness.)

    My father walked in the door just as I was heading out. “Don’t you want to stay to watch him eat it?” my mother called after me. As though me watching him eat would heighten my galette-sharing pleasure, silly mama.

    I served the galette to my writing group, too. They called it “ridiculous,” as in, it’s so good it’s ridiculous. Which is true, if I do say so myself. The first time I made one, I think I ate nearly an entire half. Or maybe it was nearly an entire whole, hmmm? I guess we shall never know….

    A couple things to keep in mind. Because the fruit to pastry ratio in a galette is about one to one, both components are showcased, so it’s crucial that both be utterly delectable. I recently discovered a sour cream pastry that I’ve become quite partial to.

    It’s not that much different from my classic butter pastry, but the sour cream does make the pastry a little softer and more tender. I love it.

    As for the fruit, since the galette requires only several pieces, use the ripest, most delicious fruit you can get your grubby paws on. Nectarines are awesome. (I have two more disks of pastry in and the last of the nectarines banging around in the fridge, awaiting some oven magic.) (Oo, and now I’m back from Costco with a box of plums! How about a nectarine plum galette?!)

    I like to arrange the sliced fruit in a circle, so their curved backs form the outside edge and their soft insides face the very center. This way, the galette ends up looking sort of like a rose. Also, the pastry doesn’t get jabbed and broken by the fruit’s sharp edges, so there is less pastry breakage and subsequent leakage of juices (though that always seems to happen one way or another and shouldn’t be much minded).

    Galettes must be served with whipped cream. About this I am most stern. They are too delicate to withstand the intensity and density of ice cream, and even though an unadorned wedge of galette is quite delicious on its own, when capped with a billow of whipped cream, it gets elevated to a whole new level. Crispy, flaky pastry, jammy fruit, whipped cream, oo-la-la. It’s a perfect trinity of utmost ridiculous deliciousness.

    Fresh Nectarine Galette

    ½ recipe of sour cream pastry (see below)
    3-4 nectarines, pitted and thickly sliced
    3-5 tablespoons sugar
    1-2 tablespoons butter
    1 tablespoon half-and-half
    whipped cream, for serving

    Roll the pastry into a large circle and place it in a sided baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the entire pastry, except for the outer inch.

    Arrange the nectarine slices atop the sugar, starting at the outside and moving inward, until the entire pastry is covered in a single layer of fruit. Sprinkle another 1-2 tablespoons of sugar on top, and dot with butter.

    Fold the edge of the pastry up over the fruit, trying not to tear the pastry. If it looks craggy and imperfect, you’ve done it right. Brush the pastry with the half-and-half and sprinkle with another tablespoon of sugar.

    Bake the galette at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the top of the fruit is just beginning to blacken. Cool to room temperature before slicing in wedges and serving with whipped cream.

    Sour Cream Pastry
    From Simply Recipes.

    2 cups flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons sugar
    2 sticks butter, cubed
    ½ cup sour cream

    Measure the first four ingredients into a food processor and pulse to combine. (The butter should still be slightly chunky.) Add the sour cream and pulse until the mixture begins to come together.

    Dump the pastry out onto the counter, divide in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap with plastic and store in the fridge (or freezer) until ready to use.

    This same time, years previous: family extended, the quotidian (8.24.15), that special date, he got me, summer’s end, fourteen years, so why did I marry him?

  • it’s what’s for supper

    When the woman from the butcher shop called to tell us our meat was ready, she said, “Don’t forget to bring coolers,” which made me chuckle. What kind of family would have enough coolers to haul two steers-worth of beef? It seemed unlikely that they would just hand over two steers in loose, frozen packages. Still, to be on the safe side, we put a couple large coolers in the van, along with some big boxes.

    It’s good we did, too, because the meat was loose! The workers rolled it out in wire-mesh baskets, handed us some pairs of gloves (thank goodness!), and then let us get on with it. We filled the coolers and all the boxes, and then we opened the under-the-floor compartments, spread out an old blanket, and piled in the frozen packs of meat. When we finally hopped in the van, we cranked up the AC, and, giggling maniacally, lit out for home. Whenever we went around a turn, the loose packs of meat slid from one side of the car to the other, which just made us laugh all the harder.

    The kids met us with gloves, bags, and notebooks and pens for tallying the meat. We worked fast, loading the three freezers, counting and sorting, arguing constantly.

    Terrified the freezers might not work properly, we placed buckets of paint on top of the chest freezers to keep the lids from popping open, and in front of the upright freezer, we wedged a bucket of spackle.

    381 pounds of ground beef, plus some steaks

    steaks, roasts, briskets, short ribs
    soup bones, cube steaks, minute steaks, liver, stew meat, beef fat 
    (and there is a little more meat in another freezer, too)

    By the time we were done, I was a sweaty mess and everyone was grumpy, mostly because my stressed-out husband had been so dang nasty-bossy. Back in the kitchen, I leveled him with a scorching glare and then followed it up with a stern lecture on teamwork and productive parenting. The meat-packing stress gone, he immediately turned contrite. “I’d do a much better job in a communist society,” he explained, “where everyone has to listen to me and no one is allowed to think.” Dream on, buddy.

    As for me, I’m still dreaming … about meat. Yesterday morning I woke up in the middle of creating some sort of ground beef paprikash recipe. And last night I dreamed about packs of hamburger (I don’t remember the specifics). I’m reading about beef constantly (this book is excellent), and making notes for things we will do differently next time. Like, request they let the beef hang for three weeks instead of two, and make sure we get the oxtail.

    The first thing I made with the meat was sloppy joes, four whole pounds of the stuff. It tasted fabulous, and I let the kids eat as much as they wanted.

    The next night we had minute steaks.

    I wanted some super-thin strips of meat for carne asada, the grilled beef served from street corners all over Central America, but the butcher wasn’t familiar with it, so we settled on minute steaks, cut small.

    My younger son, for some unknown reason, became obsessed with this particular cut, so I tasked him with the job of researching how to prepare them. He then helped me pound them out (they were so tender, it was like rolling butter), dredge them in flour, and fry them up.

    I made a pan gravy with the drippings, and we ate them with rice. Two whole packs, in one sitting.

    Up next, steak sandwiches: flash-grilled minute steaks stuffed into crusty baguettes. Also, I’m eager to pan-fry a sirloin steak (or maybe a NY strip or a ribeye), and I can’t wait to grill up a bunch of thick, juicy burgers.

    And to think, that’s barely the tip of the beef iceberg! It’s all so exciting I can barely contain myself! (Anyone who stops by our house can attest to this—they’ve all been forced to undergo a beef freezer tour.)

    PS. For those interested in numbers: our steers weighed about 1100 pounds, and their hanging weights were 679 and 683 pounds.

    PPS. Beef isn’t always what’s for supper. Last night we had chef salads and the night before was popcorn. Tonight we’re supping at our friends’ place. But my menu planning is definitely going to undergo a seismic overhaul. Beef everything, here we come!

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (8.23.16), sundried tomato and basil pesto torte, stewed greens with tomato and chili, grape jelly, whole wheat buttermilk waffles, sweet freedom.

  • the quotidian (8.21.17)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace



    A BLT, with C.

    Brown rice and bean bowl.

    A little here, a little there: it all adds up.

    The tomato-based kitchen.

    Salsa: more than fifty—FIFTY!—quarts.
    Risky.
    Will someone feed us, please? Anyone? Anyone??
    Bubbles.

    Snap-POP.
    He wants to wire the clubhouse.

    Searching for the ever-elusive outlet: a writing group tradition.
    At a PA family gathering, the in-ground pool (with deep end!) made for some very happy Murchlings.

    They loaded the car with food, lawnchairs, and a sawdust toilet and traveled to TN to see the eclipse.

    Not wavy like I thought, but full-on curly! 

    This same time, years previous: miracle cat, the quotidian (8.19.13), photo shoot, the quotidian (8.20.12), undecided, red raspberry ice cream, cold curried corn soup.

  • the Peru post

    A guest post, by my older son.

    ….Aaand I’m back!!

    After my first two weeks with the choir, I spent the next five weeks traveling around Peru by myself. I returned home full of stories and hungry for homemade apple pie.

    Trip Outline
    Cusco, two days:
    The first thing I did after the choir left was rent a motorcycle and spend my two days motorcycling around Cusco.

    I went far and yon and almost crashed into a cop who was driving another motorcycle. All he did was shout something at me as I wildly swerved around him.

    Puerto Maldonado, two weeks:
    While living in the Amazon jungle with a family of twenty kids (two biological, the rest adopted), I hoed, planted watermelon, built fence, wrote in my journal, ate only two meals a day (not my choice—it was the family’s custom), and did a bunch of other “around the farm” chores.

    On the weekends, I relaxed in the hammock and read.

    The kids from the jungle had really good aim. I found that out the hard way when I challenged them to a clementine throwing match. I thought I could hold my own against a six and nine year old. I was wrong.

    Puno, four days:
    I arrived at dawn on the outskirts of Puno on a blisteringly cold winter morning. Well, blisteringly cold for my clothing; a sweatshirt, jeans, and thin gloves. My first day in Puno I walked all over the city and then spent the night in a hotel room that could have been used as the set for a horror movie: yellowed walls and stained bed sheets. The next night I stayed in a five-star hotel where I lay around all day and night eating expensive food and watching movies.

    My third night in Puno I stayed on a reed island, called an uro, out on Lake Titicaca.

    There are about 100 uros on the lake. Most of them are built for a family of about ten, but there are also uros for schools, churches, and a market. Nine feet thick, these uros are made of reeds and roots that are stacked and bundled together until they are about 70 feet x 70 feet. The uros float just one foot above the water, and would float about the lake if they were not anchored.

    There were seven other travelers spending the night with me on the uro. It was the first, and only, time during my trip that I met other travelers that I was able to really talk with. It was as if we were old friends.

    The young couple that lived on this island made our meals, gave us tours and history lessons, entertained us with live music, and placed hot water bottles at the foot of our beds.

    frost on my bedroom window

    Nazca, two days:
    Nazca is home to the mysterious Nazca lines and Cerro Blanco, the world’s tallest sand dune. The first day I was there I got to fly over the Nazca lines in a six-seater plane.

    The view was awesome!

    I also got to take a dune buggy tour to see an ancient spring and some old ruins.

    Human remains!

    I jumped into a tomb when no one was looking. 

    The next morning I woke up at 3 am to hike up, and then sandboard down, Cerro Blanco. Unfortunately, my 18-year-old guide forgot to bring along wax for our sandboards, so I wasn’t able to actually sandboard down.

    Oh well.

    Pisco, two days:
    At the end of my three days in Nazca it wasn’t quite time for me to head back up to Cusco, so I flipped through my little Peru mapbook and decided to go to the beach. I never did make it to the beach because on my bus ride up the coast, I noticed the water didn’t look very clean. Also, it’s boring to swim by oneself. Also, I was feeling lazy. But I did make it to Pisco and score a nice hotel room for cheap! 

    Cusco, eight days:
    My final leg of the journey was spent with the Calders, a Peruvian family that only spoke Spanish.

    The family, minus the baby. 

    Ada, the mother, was incredibly kind and generous, and she had superhuman patience. The father, Daniel, was also pleasant tempered. One evening he took me by bus to the center of Cusco just to give me a tour.

    The two younger sons, ages two and four, were the wildest kids I had ever met. The youngest liked to grab things and then drop or throw them. The second youngest constantly ran around hollering for attention. Ada would merely laugh and scold them lightly. The oldest son was thirteen and very shy. Everytime I said something to him, he would turn bright red and grin.

    ***

    Trip Takeaways 
    *It’s a bad idea to lead a small group of fellow choristers up a mountain and not tell anyone. Especially when the rest of the group is about to sit down to a special meal of fried fish.

    (The view was amazing, though.)

    *When the girl next to you eats some exotic pepper and now has tears streaming down her face, don’t eat the same pepper just to prove she’s being a wimp. She’s not.

    *Don’t swat an insect that is half the size of your hand.

    *When walking down the dirt path to the outdoor family showers in the jungle and hollering Spanglish to make sure they are empty, understand that no response does not mean unoccupied. (And it was not a same gender shower, folks!)

    *Think twice before you tell people that you know how to cook. First, assess your cooking materials and consider the limited kitchen supplies first.

    Otherwise, making homemade pizza for a family of 22 will go something like this:

    1) Make the dough with the wrong flour, which is not your fault because they accidentally gave you corn flour instead of wheat flour.
    2) Make the dough again.
    3) Burn the vegetables you’re sauteing for the tomato sauce.
    4) Flies really like sugar. By the time you figure that out, they will have consumed a surprising portion of your two tablespoons.
    5) Suddenly realize you only put two teaspoons of yeast in the flour instead of two tablespoons. AHHH!!
    6) Eventually manage to get the pizzas in their appropriate pans, cover them in tomato sauce and cheese, and stick them in the oven.
    7) The first pizza will be undercooked and the second burned, but the other four will come out quite nicely. The family will love them. 

    *Don’t fret about transportation. You get there when you get there. End of story. Period.

    *Never underestimate the power of altitude pressure. When traveling from sea level to 12000 feet, the bottle of mango juice in your backpack will burst. You will not know this until 2 am when you reach into your bag to discover that everything—books, tickets, battery charger, and other such valuables—is a sticky mess.

    ***

    A Brief Story

    When I was in the jungle, I noticed that my little toe was swelling and turning red. I decided it probably wasn’t anything to be concerned about. Besides, I wasn’t about to tell the jungle toughened Peruvians that my little toe hurt. After about a week, I noticed a little white dot at the tip of my toe, which by that time had swollen so much that it made wearing my boots quite difficult and painful. One of the older kids noticed I was limping and asked if one of my toes was bothering me.

    Me: Yeah.
    Her: Let me look at it.
    Me: OK.
    Her: Oh hey! You have a Piki.
    Me: Oh. Should I be concerned?
    Her: No, it’s just a parasite. But if you leave it there, it will eventually make your toe fall off. We’ll just take you to our operating room and extract it.
    Me: Um … are you joking?

    In the operating room (the mess hall), she got an almost-empty bottle of alcohol-based antiseptic with a yellowed lid and then pulled out a surgical needle that would not have looked out of place in a medieval torture chamber (though there was a chance it was just a normal sewing needle) and began to poke at the swollen skin. Her goal was to remove the skin around the little white dot and extract the larva in one piece. After five minutes of digging, muttering under her breath, and causing me intense agony, she finally got it out. And in one piece, too. Yay!

    Unfortunately, the saga continued. Three days later I noticed another telltale white dot, this time on my big toe. An older daughter took a turn at performing the invasive surgery. She was a little more experienced and got it out faster.

    And then, a week after I left the jungle, I saw The White Dot once more. This one was in the same hole as the first. It wasn’t hurting too bad, so I just left it go, but a week later, I decided I needed to take some action. I found a needle, a bottle of alcohol, and did some serious self operation.

    It was messy. The sac ruptured, so I had to scrape out all the little bits of white larva with the needle.

    *** 

    To Sum Up
    I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived home.

    Would I have culture shock? Would I find it hard to slip back into my normal life? Would I feel drastically changed? Turns out none of that went down. I had no culture shock, which may have been because I was only gone for seven weeks and I was already somewhat familiar with the Hispanic culture. I was also able to get back to my normal lifestyle—listening to my parents, fighting with the sibs, and needing to coordinate my schedule with others again—without much problem.

    While the trip didn’t drastically change me, I now feel more responsible, more capable, and more aware of my surroundings. In Peru, I had to constantly be on my guard and I had no one bossing me around, cough-cough, Mum. I was totally in charge of myself. There was no one other than me to make the decisions. It was exhilarating, and it showed me I am capable of living on my own.

    When I lived in Guatemala with my family for ten months in 2013, I was thirteen years old and I didn’t pay much attention to the surrounding culture. Now, at seventeen, I observed, and absorbed, much more. It made me realize how fortunate I am. I have a home with all the luxuries of family, friends, and possessions. I don’t have to worry about getting sick from the food or water. I don’t need to wear the same clothes every day. I can just climb in a car and go places without any hassle (other than negotiating with me mum). I have a network to rely on. So many people in Peru—and here, for that matter—do not have all those things.

    Not to say all those people weren’t happy! Here it’s very easy to get caught up in consumerism and social media. Our culture is about power, money, and who has the coolest stuff. In Peru, there was very little of that. What they value most is friendships and family. Some of them have almost nothing, yet they gladly opened their homes to me and provided me with the best they could offer.

    I’m glad I went to Peru. It was really cool, but traveling by myself was also sometimes lonesome. If I ever do something like this again, I’ll probably travel with someone.

    Here’s a short video, a movie trailer, that I made of the trip. Enjoy!

    This same time, years previous: in progress, the quotidian (8.18.14), starfruit smoothie, the beach, garlicky spaghetti sauce, this is what crazy looks like, how to get your refrigerator clean in two hours, canned tomatoes, oven-roasted roma tomatoes.

  • bourbon and brown sugar peach pie

    Good news, people! I finally found the peach pie I was looking for, hip-hip, yay, whoo-hoo, etc, etc.

    Here’s how it happened…

    The more peach pies I made, the more I realized that it was the chunks of fruit I didn’t like. Because see, it is my firm belief that in a pie, the fruit should cook down, losing its shape and intensifying in flavor until it’s a burbling, joyful mass of juicy, fruity goodness. But peaches don’t do that! No matter how long I baked the pies, the peaches remained distinct, each piece slippery-solid and slightly acidic. Blech, meh, yuck, etc, etc.

    So I got creative.

    I roughly mashed a couple peaches, and the rest I sliced thin, almost like stocky matchsticks. I put all the fruit in a bowl and tossed it with tapioca, brown sugar, bourbon, and vanilla. The mixture was soupy and smelled (and tasted) absolutely heavenly. Like a cocktail from the deep South.

    To top the pie, a pastry lid would be nice, or a lattice, but I used crumbs. Not the oatmeal-(and sometimes nut)-based crumbs I’d been using—against the soft peaches, the oats seemed abrasively sturdy, and the nuts were a crunchy distraction—but a barely-spiced, sandy-soft rubble of flour, sugar, and butter that turned craggy and caramely in the oven’s heat.

    Foreshadowing: this is over-filled.
    Told you.

    The pie was still slightly warm when we cut into it, so the filling ran all over the place. But even totally cool, I’m pretty sure the filling would still be soft. This is good, though! Saucy pies are meant to be paired with vanilla ice cream.

    Which I did not have, canyoubelieveit.

    ***

    And now, in an abrupt turn of events (though not really—you’ll see): in light of the domestic terrorism that happened just over the mountain in Charlottesville, a quote from* this past Sunday’s sermon:

    People who believe that what they have is limited and can be ripped away from them are not joyful people.  

    We’re seeing a surge of white supremacists because they are scared. The more terrified they get, the more they try to spread terror. They are defending the boundaries of their power because they believe it is scarce. They think that if brown, black, gay, Muslim, disabled, or female people get a share of the pie, there will be less pie for those who’ve always had a big slice. 

    But we are kingdom people. We are Mennonites. We believe in unlimited pie!

    So eat up, people! There’s more than enough love, and pie, to go around.

    Bourbon and Brown Sugar Peach Pie

    If you prefer a more solid filling, feel free to add another half tablespoon of tapioca.

    ½ recipe butter pastry
    2 ½ pounds fresh peaches, peeled and pitted
    2 tablespoons granulated tapioca
    2/3 cup brown sugar
    2 teaspoons bourbon
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 recipe crumb topping (see below)

    Roll out pastry and line a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges. Set in the refrigerator.

    Roughly mash two of the peaches. The rest, slice thinly and then chop fine so that they resemble matchsticks. (You should have four to five cups of fruit, total.) Combine the peaches, brown sugar, tapioca, bourbon, and vanilla.

    Pour the fruit into the pie pan and sprinkle with crumbs.

    Bake the pie at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, on the lowest oven rack. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake another 20-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling madly. If the fruit starts to spill over, place the pie pan on a foil-lined, sided baking sheet. If the crumbs darken too quickly, place a round of foil on top.

    Cool completely before slicing. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

    Crumb Topping
    Adapted from Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond.

    About ¾ of the crumbs is enough for one 9-inch pie. Any leftover crumbs can be frozen.

    1 cup flour
    ½ cup each brown sugar and white sugar
    1 stick butter
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    2 (small) dashes each cinnamon and nutmeg

    Measure all ingredients into a bowl and, using your fingers (or a food processor), combine until the mixture resembles chunky sand.

    *Guest speaker (and friend): Alisha Huber.

    This same time, years previous: a new room, easy French bread, summer visitor, lately, our life, peach cornmeal cobbler, thoughts on nursing.

  • the quotidian (8.14.17)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    A bulk purchase.

    To put in jars: prep work.
    Celebration apple pies: because he requested them.

    Peach pie: it’s what’s for dinner (and lunch and snack).

    Always a fave.

     Puff and pudding (blueberries, too).

    Awaiting the choppers.

    Grocery store baguette, bologna, and cheese: leagues better than fast food.

    My attempt at keeping down the travel costs: car breakfast.

    Gnarly.

    Reading up: he’s decided he wants to know as much as his papa.

    When a homemade bow snaps.

    It’s a cankle! (Thanks to that bee sting.)
    Shelling out the big bucks for a high-end lesson: her first with Velvet since Leslie died.

    When there is no lunch box, an empty cereal box works just fine.

    Us.
    Photo credit: the beloved childhood babysitter.

  • fresh peach pie

    Along with beef (update: one of the promised freezers is a dud, PANIC), these days I’ve also been consumed with all things peach. More specifically, peach pie. You see, I’ve never landed upon a peach pie recipe that I like. Oh, I’ve eaten lots of peach pies, and I’ve made peach pies, and they’re all fine, I suppose, in a pallid, insipid, and uninspired way…*

    So no, not fine. Not fine at all.

    Maybe peaches just don’t belong in pie? But I can’t quite believe that, because everyone loves peach pie (or so they say). I want to like peach pie, too!

    So I’ve been on a quest (I actually think I may have found one I like, but I’m not for sure since it’s still cooling) (**), which I mentioned to my mom and she was like, Why don’t you just make fresh peach pie? 

    Because, I explained, that feels like cheating—all fresh fruit pies are guaranteed winners. And I want to make a baked peach pie, a golden-crusted, burbling, lightly-spiced affair. Something to serve with vanilla ice cream and swoon, okay?

    But then I made a fresh peach pie anyway, because I don’t think I’d ever really made one and I had two bushels of peaches spread out on tables in the downstairs bedroom. It was delicious, of course. Everyone said so. Repeatedly.

    In fact, my family keeps talking about that pie. Probably because I keep shoving pieces of baked peach pie in their faces? Dutifully—diligently—they chew and swallow, and then, invariably, they say, “Whatever happened to that pie you made the other night? What was wrong with that one?”

    So now I’ve inadvertently upped the stakes on myself: this baked peach pie has to be as good as, or better than, a fresh peach pie.

    Way to go, Jennifer. 

    Fresh Peach Pie
    Based on measurements my mother gave me via email.

    This pie does not cut neatly—it’s more of a spoonable affair. This deters no one.

    1 recipe no-shrink tart crust (9-inch), prebaked
    5-6 cups peaches, peeled and chopped
    ¾ cup sugar
    5 tablespoons thermflo, or cornstarch
    ¾ cup water
    a couple drops of red food coloring
    2-3 cups whipped cream

    Measure the sugar and thermflo into a saucepan and whisk in the water. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thick and bubbly. (It will look horribly wrong, like a thick glue, but don’t worry. It’s all good.) Whisk in the red food coloring and remove from heat.

    Add the chopped peaches, just a little at a time, making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. This will prevent you from ending up with chunks of sugar glue and lots of naked peaches.

    Put the fruit into the pie shell and top with billows of whipped cream. Chill in the fridge until ready to eat.

    *Oh dear, now no one will ever serve me a peach pie again! Not that many people have ever served me a peach pie—the peach pies I eat are mostly the ones I make myself, and I’m much harder on my own baking than I am on others. So please, go right ahead and make me a peach pie. I’ll be thrilled, promise. (See me awkwardly trying to dig myself out of my hole?)
    **Nope.

    This same time, years previous: tomato bread pudding with caramelized onions and sausage, the quotidian (8.11.14), best banana bread, goodbye, getting my halo on, there’s that, a bout of snarky, sweet pickles,