Sunday, March 4, 2007

attempting to focus. . . .

so, instead of giving one sentence on a zillion books i'm nose deep in, i'm going to try to focus on only one or two (ok, maybe three) that i'm intimately involved in. I'm going to attempt to focus.

food for thought? no pun intended.

i recently blew through Stephen Lawhead's Silver Hand, the 2nd book in his Song of Albion trilogy. Can i still love Lawhead, and not love ever page of this book? The beginning and the end were brutal, exquisitve, unremorseful and painfully human. the middle. . . not so much. Tegid's conveinent "inner sight" started to get gimmicky for me. Tegid's a great character, and i'm happy we fleshed him out more, but a)he started to get on my nerves after a while, and b) i haven't got past the Llew/ Simon thing, and want to get back to that, like right now. there is a great interview with Lawhead at the end, where he's asked how he feels about writing about good vs evil, and he says it's fine, but he's not writing about good vs evil, he's writing about the nature of sovereignty. nice. i just got the 3rd book, The Endless Knot from the library, and hopefully that gets back to Llew & Simon. i'll let you know.

also on the book pile is China Mieville's King Rat. I think this was his first break out novel? or maybe his first young adult novel? it is definately YA, and offers a dirtier, grittier look at the classic "young man finds out he is of royal blood, and has to win his kingdom back from the usurpers" plot line. for a YA book, this sure has lots of swear words! i must be really old fashioned. if i get a book from the young adult or kids section at the library, i'm shocked (just shocked i tell you!!) everytime i run into shit or fuck. and i trust the library, so i must just be old fashioned. King Rat is a lot of fun, especially since i've read newer Mieville stuff, i'm seeing where it all got started. You read any Mieville? what do you think of him?

over at Havenland, we're getting started on our March/April book club book: The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. so head over there and join the fray, cuz i don't want to type all that stuff twice.

did i do an OK job focusing on just a coupla books? cuz i got way more from the library. more than any normal person should ever read in 3 weeks, not to mention a handful of manga.

mmmm..... pie. somewhere on this page, i gave a recipe for apple pie filling, but i didn't tell you how to make the pie crust. if you don't want to know how much fatty butter goes into a divine pie crust, quit reading right now. if you're just looking for an excuse to screw your diet, read on dear reader, read on.

this makes two pie crusts, or a top and bottom for a covered pie. you'll need:

a really big bowl
plastic wrap
a spatula
a pastry knife. a pastry knife is one of the best $8 investments you can make. seriously. it's 8 bucks. go buy one.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks very cold butter. keep it in the fridge until you're ready to use it. it really does make a difference, as i learned the hard way, last night.
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
some ice water. yes, put water in a bowl, and put some ice cubes in there to keep the water super cold.

the trick to an awesome pie crust is to have your butter super cold, and your water super cold, but neither one should be frozen, or have any ice crystals. i don't know the science behind why this works, but trust me, it works. i'm sure Alton Brown has done a show on it.

mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. cut the butter into pieces, and blend it into the flour with the pastry knife. keep cutting the fat with the pastry knife till all the big peices are gone, takes 5-10 minutes. some of your dough should be the size of a small pebble, but most of it should be the consistency of corn meal. dribble about 1/3cup ice water on top of the dough, and cut the water in using the sharp side of the spatula, till the dough forms small balls. if this doesn't happen, add maybe a tbsp more ice water. keep blending it, and the small balls should be able to stick when you press them together. the dough should still look pretty rough, and it shouldn't be overly greasy.

divide it into two parts, press them into a disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

now you got to roll it out. have a cup or so of flour ready at the table. keep your surface floured well, or the dough will stick, and that's just a disaster. as you roll it out, set your pie plate on top, so you know when it's big enough. you don't want to roll it to thin. once you get it rolled out, form it into the pie tin, and put that in the fridge for a few hours. roll out the second disk, this is the top of your pie. once you get that rolled out, it can sit on a cookie sheet in the fridge.

after the crusts have "rested" for a few hours, fill the bottom with whatever you're filling it with, lay the top on (cut vents!!!! cut vents!!!), seal it with cold water, pinch, and trim, and you're ready for the oven! oven temp and time depends on what's in the pie, and if it's pre cooked or not. good luck!


Abscessednix said...

Mmmm... pie crust. Then again, if I started putting that filling in crust, I wouldn't be able to consume it through a beer bong anymore. Oh well, the price we must pay for getting to consume that much butter.

Also I'd like to point but that if you reading three books qualifies as "cutting back and focusing" with you, then I must firmly state my desire to eat your brain in hope of absorbing it's power.

sciffy kitchen elf said...

mmmmm. . . brains.... so yummy. . .. so powerful. . . .

i so have got to quit my day job, so i can read more. working sucks ass!