It has been an absolute frelling ratbag sod of a day. A lot of the most emotionally oppressive garbage is inherently unbloggable.* But I’ll tell you I’ve had a second friend in I think two months diagnosed with cancer; they got the news for sure yesterday, it’s just a question of how bad it is and what they do next. Friend number one has come through surgery with flying colours but . . . who needs to have cancer, you know? There are so many better things to be doing with your time.
And Daisy and Roy are giving up on Mike: long phonecalls from both of them today. And I’ve said I’ll find a new home for him. Yes, I am nuts. And your point would be—? I look at my hellhounds—four little shiny eyes immediately staring back at me, hoping I will make an Interesting Gesture: a toy? Another piece of chicken?** A move toward the sofa, a picking-up of the TV remote? A step toward the door?***–If you’re a critter person, how can you live without your critters?† But I want to say something utterly naive and puerile here about how can you love a critter and not put in the basic time to train it, if it’s the kind that needs training?†† It doesn’t have to be top in its agility class or able to do canter pirouettes, but it has to know its place and what’s expected of it. And basic companion-animal training just isn’t that hard. You just have to do it. And there’s nothing wrong with Mike but its lack.
Moan moan moan moan moan. But I’m pretty depressed. Oh yes, and Pegasus the Cow has just taken another dive into the ravine†††, although that may be a result of all the other stuff that’s going on. MOAN.
Comfort food. I need comfort food.
This is my variation on a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks, whose name and notoriety have been seen on these virtual pages before: All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed No Holds Barred Baking Book by Judy Rosenberg. The title says it all.
Lemon Raisin Pie
1 pie crust bottom: there is no top crust to this pie.‡ Having said that, I recommend you make it in a deep pan and build the edge up a bit, so you may need more than a half-recipe of a two-crust pie. Half-bake it: about 10 minutes at 400°F, just till it’s beginning to show faint colour. Cool.
1 ½ c golden raisins, or mixture of any kind of raisins you happen to have on hand. All golden is very pretty, and probably looks most like you thought ahead and got your ingredients organised, but I rather like the speckled effect of golden with ordinary black, and maybe a few currants thrown in for make weight. I’ve also made this with part cranberries, but I’m a big cranberry fan.‡‡ The clever boys and girls of the food industry have figured out a way to dry cranberries so they’re sweeter than fresh ones, but you may still need to adjust your sugar.
1 T grated lemon zest (I don’t have to remind you not to grate the white, do I?)
½ c lemon juice
¾ c chopped almonds or hazelnuts or a mixture. I suggest you toast them first too.
1 stick lightly salted butter at room temp
½ c granulated sugar
¼ c dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 large eggs at room temp
Preheat oven to 350°F
Soak raisins and lemon zest in the lemon juice for at least 15 minutes. If you’re going to make the pie this afternoon, you could put them in in the morning. Add the nuts at the last minute, just as you’re putting the rest of the pie together.
Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. It’s easier if you use an electric mixer. Throw the cinnamon in at some point. Add the eggs one at a time—remember to scrape the sides of the bowl a lot—mixing thoroughly but no more than that. Mixture will look curdled.
Stir in the raisin mixture and pour into the crust.‡‡‡
Bake 40-45 minutes. The centre should be just set, but it’ll be paler than the edges. It’ll still be soft though. It’ll set better as it cools. Let cool THOROUGHLY before you try to cut it.
Warning: this is seriously rich.
* * *
* Insert standard rant here about the gob-smackingly indiscreet things people have been known to put in their blogs and then they get all upset when the people they’ve been writing about get upset. Can you say ‘clueless clodpole’? You can choose some other phrase of opprobrium as suits you, but I like the euphony, even if no one has said ‘clodpole’ since Mark Twain.
** I have fallen into the reprehensible habit of giving them a bit of neat chicken each after supper, supposing they eat supper. This is in theory to inspire them to eat more supper . . . I doubt it does anything of the kind, but they’re bright enough to have figured out that they don’t get the chicken if they haven’t (nearly) finished their proper food, with all that lumpy brown kibble stuff. I think what it does is give me, for about five seconds about three nights out of four, the illusion of having real dogs, you know, the kind that think food is terrific, the kind you can clicker-train because they respond to treats. It does my little heart good to see them surge out of the dog bed and slap their butts to the floor to get their scraps of chicken. And no, since chicken is the only thing that makes them eat at all, I am not going to push it by trying to use it as a training treat.
*** It’s the middle of the night. It’s dark out there. We are not going for another hurtle.^
^ We might run into something. Trees. Telephone poles. Vampires.
† Dogs, cats, horses, giraffes, poison dart frogs, whatever
†† I think poison dart frogs generally just hang out in their terrariums.
††† Speaking of basic training for your critters. Novels are feral.
‡ Can’t remember if I’ve posted my pie crust recipe. One of these days I’ll go check.
‡‡ I’m from Maine. I didn’t need any frelling British cooking maven to tell me about cranberries.
‡‡‡ I always start my pies off with tin foil around the crimped edge, to prevent it browning too soon and being wrecked by the time the filling is cooked through. Take it off, if you use it, about halfway through.
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