September 20, 2011



Okay, we’re on.  The New Arcadia Bell Restoration Fund sale/auction that you were beginning to think I had forgotten about GOES LIVE THIS FRIDAY.  MAKE A NOTE.

            And, perhaps, to get you (back) in the mood . . . 

Inspired by the clock that hangs on the wall opposite where I sit, hunched over my computer, at the kitchen table at the mews.



No, not champagne. British cider. Which is to say hard cider. And my favourite teapot, which got broken some years back, had polka dots on it.


I’m trying to remember the last time I made this recipe.  The fine old American tradition of chocolate and peanut butter tends to make the British giggle and look superior.* 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies 

¼ c soft butter.  I did once make these with all peanut butter and mysteriously it wasn’t as successful.  The straight butter brings out the peanut flavour somehow—as well as producing a better crumb—or again it may have been that particular jar/batch of peanut butter.  Peanut butter isn’t as variable as honey, but it’s surprisingly variable nonetheless, especially, I suspect, if you decant it from giant vats at your health food shop, which I used to do, when I had a health food shop with giant peanut-butter vats.  The original recipe called for equal amounts of butter and peanut butter, however, which I don’t approve of either.  This is about the peanut butter.  Well, and the chocolate.**

½ c chunky peanut butter.  This may need adjusting depending on how squidgy your peanut butter is.  But stand by to add more flour if the dough is very soft and goopy.*** 

1 c well tamped down dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract (NOT FLAVOURING.  That hellgoddess obsession:  use REAL VANILLA.)

2 c flour.  I recommend half standard white and half spelt.  They make white spelt now, if you can get hold of it.  When I was still making these you could only get wholemeal spelt, and you could push up the percentage to about ¾ spelt, but you need a little plain white to lighten the texture.  I’d try it with wholemeal and white spelt.  The spelt flavour goes really well with the peanut butter.

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 c chopped dark chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips

I’ve been known to add ½c chopped hazelnuts.  No, not peanuts.  Hazelnuts are more interesting, and to my taste they go with peanut butter better than most of the other standard nuts—almonds, walnuts, cashews.  I bet Macadamias would be good too. 

Cream butter and peanut butter together thoroughly, then brown sugar.  Then beat in egg, finally vanilla.  Beat AND BEAT till fluffy.  Mix the baking powder and soda into the flour(s), stir till all the same colour, then add to the creamed stuff.  Beat till blended but no more.  Stir in chocolate chips last. 

Drop on greased or parchment-paper-lined cookie sheets.  350°F, probably about 12 minutes, till they’re just going brown around the edges.  They’ll be fragile when they come out, so leave them alone till they’re at least half cool.  This is why I use parchment paper:  you can just pull it, cookies still in place, off the sheets.  Of course then you run out of counter space†, but hey.    

 * * *

* Feh. 

** It’s always about the chocolate.  

*** The worst thing that happens if you guess wrong and your cookies are too goopy, is that they run together while they’re baking and you have to cut them up and then eat them carefully because they’ll stay fragile even when they’re cool.  But they’ll taste fine.  That’s the worst thing that happens if your cookie sheets have edges all round.  Let me tell you about how having cookie/baking sheets with edges all the way around is a very good thing.   

† Unexpected Uses of Hellhound Crate Top.

Summer fruit and squishiness


Before I forget:  here’s the definitive photo record of the signing at Forbidden Planet last week from our forum’s CathyR:

She’s also @CambridgeMinor on Twitter, so if anyone wants to ask her for a copy of any of the photos, please tweet or DM.  

Shattered again.  How boring.  Today’s excuse is that I took Peter and me to see Tabitha, my Bowen massage lady, and I always come out of one of these sessions feeling like overcooked oatmeal.*  Happy, peaceful overcooked oatmeal, but still, speaking/blogging in complete sentences and walking upright and all that is a strain, and I keep wanting to subside gently into a nice bowl-shaped piece of furniture.  A hot bath, say.   An American friend said to me dubiously, presumably you feel like a million dollars** the next day or something?  There has to be a reason you keep going back?  No, I just like pain . . . It’s nothing as spectacular as being able to leap tall buildings with a single bound or drive the horses of the sun across the sky***.  It’s more like having fewer pebbles in your shoes or fewer unmitigated morons giving you blood-pressure headaches.   Over the course of the next few days you realise that your shoes are comfy again and most of the morons are only morons and you can ignore them.  It’s subtle enough that I periodically fall out of the habit of going, and it’s not till I rack myself up again and have to go back so she can tease my spine out of its granny knots and level my pelvis till my legs start behaving like they’re more or less the same length again—or the ME starts shoving me back on the sofa—that I remember why I go even when I’m not crippled.

            I’ve off and on tried to persuade Peter to go to Tabitha too but he belongs to the Stoic No Fuss category of British male—but I got him while his defenses were down a few months ago after that bad fall he had.  For a while I took him along oftener than I needed to go, and lately we’ve settled into a nice monthly double act.  The last two appointments I’ve brought hellhounds too and we are exploring a fresh new piece of Hampshire countryside I’ve previously only driven through while Peter is on Tabitha’s table.  And then if she’s running late I knit.  Mmm.  What a pity this only happens once a month. 

Meanwhile it’s high summer, and the fabulous, paradisal, dizzying glut of high-summer fruit is upon us.  I’m eating handfuls of cherries, nectarines and peaches for breakfast every day and it makes getting out of bed WORTH it.  Which is saying a lot.  I mean, caffeine is crucial, but the joy it occasions is a rather grim, real-world variety.  Summer sweet cherries . . . convince me that the Elysian Fields and Valhalla and so on do exist.  Nothing to do with swords and willing virgins though—but it’s a lot about food.  Some of you may or may not remember that when I first started posting recipes I said that this was going to be a good opportunity to dust off old once-loved recipes of things I can no longer eat . . . but in fact I almost never do post any of these because as I’m leafing through my books and notebooks I get all cranky and resentful about my limitations.  Also, summer fruit is so amazing fresh off the tree or the bush or the wings of the angel that it’s mostly criminal or at least superfluous to mess with it.  But I did use occasionally to make cherry ice cream and I’m feeling so mellow after a dose of Tabitha that I thought I’d post the recipe.†

Cherry (Almond) Ice Cream

2/3 c milk

1 egg plus one extra yolk

½ c granulated sugar

¼ tsp vanilla

1 lb sweet cherries

1 ounce slivered almonds

2/3 c whipping cream

Scald milk, set aside to cool.  Mix the egg and the yolk in the top of a double boiler/bain marie with the sugar and beat like mad, till it turns pale and ribbons off the spoon.  (Your electric mixer is your friend.)    Pour on the slightly cooled milk;  place over gently simmering water and stir till thick.  Stir in the vanilla and leave to cool.

            Stone your cherries.  Ugh.  This is the worst bit.  You will need more than a pound, of course, because you’ll eat some of them to sustain morale.  I’m not sure how to allow for this, since the original weight includes the stones, which you are discarding.  Make your best guess.  The original recipe tells you to put the stoned bits in a food processor and buzz them to puree, but I think this is unsporting.  I just kind of rip them up some in the stoning process.  You do want enough pulp to turn your ice cream red, but I don’t think you can avoid this with dark expoding-sweet high-summer cherries.  Stir them, in whatever form, into the custard.  Whip the cream till it forms soft peaks.  Fold into the cherry mixture.  Pour the lot into your ice cream maker and do what it tells you to do to produce ice cream.

            While your custard is becoming ice cream, toast your almonds.  The original recipe tells you to fold them into the finished ice cream, but unless you’re going to eat it all in one go, I wouldn’t;  the almonds will go soft.  I sprinkle them on per serving.  This will, I admit, probably mean that you need more almonds, but hey. 

* * *

* She looked back in her big fat McKinley folder today and we realised I’ve been coming to see her for ten years.  Intellectually I know this;  someone had recommended her as a straightforward physical massage therapist when I was having repetitive-strain trouble with my hands as a result of the ME.^  But—ten years!  I know there are people who live their entire lives within a few miles of where they were born, but I’m a Navy brat and my reincarnation as a middle-aged stay-at-home still regularly amazes me.  And I’m coming up on my twenty year anniversary here—with Peter as of 26th of this month, with England the end of October—and our 20th wedding anniversary is the 3rd of January.  I actually do love looking out at the same landscape year after year—groundedness, what a concept, I like it—but it’s one more thing that makes me feel that my life before the age of 38 happened to someone else.  

^ Not only am I extremely relieved that my ME has turned out to be the negotiable-with variety but I’m very glad not to have to go through that early learning-to-negotiate phase again.  A lot of you, unfortunately, will know what I’m talking about:  that first really harsh running-into-a-wall experience.  I went from being someone who ran 25-30 miles a week, rode horses, hurtled hounds, rang bells, and dug up old tree stumps in order to put more rose-beds in, to someone who couldn’t get off the godsblasted sofa.  Dear heavens.  The shock and bewilderment are almost as bad as the fact.  And with the zero energy comes a whole lorryload of other nonsense, which in my case included aching hands.

** That would be £631,592.12, which doesn’t quite have the ring to it.  But then a million dollars doesn’t really have the ring to it any more either.  A trillion dollars.  £631,592,128.80:  Feel like six hundred thirty-one million, five hundred ninety-two thousand, one hundred twenty-eight pounds and eighty pence. . . . No, it’ll never catch on. 

*** I have hellhounds.  I’d do a better job than that vainglorious wuss Phaethon.  

† I have a chocolate cherry ice cream recipe somewhere.  Although it may not be suitable for a family blog.

Happy New Year*


Roll on 2011.  I like the look of ‘2011’.  A very nice collection of numbers nicely arranged.   May it be a Year of Multifaceted Wonderfulness.**

            I think we need a sticky celebratory pudding.  A little late for tonight, but it’ll be excellent tomorrow too.  If you’re not too the-day-after-the-night-before-ish for getting your eyes to focus on a recipe.

Spicy cranberry gingerbread pudding 

The original recipe wants you to make eight individual puddings.  You must be frelling joking.  You’re already going to have to make the sauce as well as the pudding.  Life is way too short to spend that much time buttering pudding basins, not to mention cleaning the suckers afterward, since in my experience putting them through the dishwasher is pretty futile.  I don’t know, are there Miniature Pudding Basin Liners like there are paper muffin cups? The latter entirely revolutionised my baking half a million years ago when I discovered them, or someone started making them, which I think is what happened—some muffin-eating industrialist’s wife told him that paper muffin cup liners would not only mean he could have fresh muffins every day but that they would thereby be made wealthy***.

            Anyway.  In the absence of miniature pudding basin liners, you can make it in an 8” square pan, although a 6-cup Bundt is ideal because it looks pretty without being nearly so much work.† 

1 ¾ c all-purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp (ground) ginger

¼ tsp allspice

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

2 medium/large eggs, room temp

5 T soft butter

¼ c blackstrap molasses

¼ c dark brown sugar.  If you’re a wimp you can use white sugar

1 heaped teaspoon freshly grated ginger root

4 oz preserved ginger in syrup, finely chopped, with its syrup

about 1 c water

Sift the dry stuff together.  Squash the butter and sugar together thoroughly, then add molasses, then eggs.  Beat well.  Then start adding flour alternately with water, and mixing each time, starting with flour:  half the flour, then half the water, then half the flour . . . then stop.  At this point add the two gingers (the ground went in with the spices in the dry), so you can judge how much water you’re going to need to make a good batter.  I have found I need slightly less than the full 1c.  Beat well again.  If you are an electric-mixer person, use it.  The batter should get very homogenous and very slightly paler.

            Pour in your chosen WELL BUTTERED pan, and bake about half an hour at 350°F/moderate.  It should look done like a cake looks done.  Use a toothpick if you’re nervous.  If it’s a Bundt, you’ll want to let it cool a bit and then turn it out;  if it’s in a boring old brownie pan, you can just serve it from there.

Sweet Cranberry-Cider Sauce 

1 lb cranberries

16 fluid oz British cider.  Which is to say, alcoholic.  If you can get British/hard cider, use whatever kind you like to drink, which is to say this is not the time to go cheap.  If you can’t get hard cider, use about 1 ½ c ordinary cider and ½ c port, Madeira, sherry, or whatever of that kind of thing you have around.  You ought to have something of this sort because it’s great for enlivening dull food.  You could certainly use Calvados or some such but I think that’s getting on for apple overkill myself.

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp (ground) cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg

about ¼ c, somewhat depending on how dry your cider/etc is and how sweet you like your sauce, dark brown sugar

2 oz preserved ginger in syrup, finely chopped, with its syrup 

Put the cider in a pan with everything else except the preserved ginger.  Bring to boil, boil gently till cranberries pop.  Take off the heat, add the ginger.  Let cool.  Reheat just to warm to serve.  You can warm the pudding too.  I generally don’t, but you don’t want it cold from the refrigerator.

It’s five minutes to midnight as I write this.  Tick . . . tick . . . tick. . . . †† 

* * *

* We had ringing practise tonight.  How sad is that?  New Year’s Eve and we’re all in the bell tower making horrible crashing noises.^  There were even enough of us tonight to make a wide variety of horrible crashing noises.  But I think possibly some of us had got a head start on celebrating.^^ 

^ Niall did suggest that if anyone wanted to ring in the New Year it could probably be arranged . . . but not by him. 

^^ Which is to say that my Cambridge was perhaps more accurate than some others of those present. 

** In the immediate future however . . . I have had a long detailed email from a professional photo geek, who says in essence:

(a)    Yes, the Canons are too slow.

(b)   Yes, the Panasonics’ jpeg handling isn’t good enough. 

At present my choices seem to be:

(a)    Learn photo editing after all and shoot in RAW mode.

(b)   Give up on the compact idea and go for a full DSLR.

(c)    Learn to draw.

How’s progress on cloning coming?  I need two of me, whatever I decide.  I need hours for photo editing and I need hours to write more books to pay for my renovated, upgraded and expanded camera habit.  Or I need hours with my sketchbook.   Hours and hours and hours and HOURS AND HOURS.  And possibly a gene-splice from JMW Turner or James Whistler or  John Everett Millais or Edward Burne-Jones. 

*** And she could hire someone to make muffins while she got on with writing her great novel.  He probably wanted a bigger car or a string of polo ponies or a castle in Spain.  Men.^

^ Although I’ve always wanted my castle in Scotland which is manifestly insane.  Winter?  Darkness?  Rising damp?  Cold?  I think the top ten most uncomfortable places on earth must include at least one paradigmatic Scottish castle.

† Although they don’t go too effectively through the dishwasher either.  Butter it really well.  

†† And I’m listening to Handel’s MESSIAH.  Well, it’s festive.  They’ve got the last night of the Proms running on Radio Three and I cannot take the blurky self-congratulation.  It’s stickier than the above pudding, which is not appropriate on the radio.  Get a grip, guys.

SUNSHINE contest II winners


Ajlr writes: 

After a truly amazing outpouring of culinary talent and ideas over this last week, the winners – yes, two winners* –  of a signed copy of the new and beautiful golden edition of SUNSHINE is cgbookcat1 for Chocolate Basilisk Balls with Kiss of Life sauce and  DrRo for Berry Crumble Butter Cake.  I can imagine happily eating the products from any cafe run by either of these forum members.**

If the winner(s) will PM me on the forum – soon*** – with the details of where their copy should be posted to, then all will be arranged. Many congratulations to both of them.

Now, where’s my mixing bowl…

Meanwhile . . . I was just explaining in a footnote† that one winner wasn’t enough.  Well, clearly two isn’t either.   So just as this contest is an addendum to the previous one, we are going to have an Addendum to the Addendum, to wit, a third winner of a signed shiny gold SUNSHINE is going to be chosen by popular vote, out of the recipes already posted for this contest.

            I, of course, who can just about call up a new game of Fingerzilla††, have no idea how to run a vote on the blog.  But ajlr seems to think it can be done.  Since I kind of sprang the idea on her about twenty minutes ago she and her fellow mods haven’t quite worked out the details yet.  But they will.  And then I’ll post them here.  So to get yourselves in the mood, here are our first two winners’ recipes.  Then you can go cruise the Playing With Your Food SUNSHINE contest thread and think hard about who you will vote for.  It will not be an easy choice.  And when you go to bed tonight visions of sugar-plums (and chocolate) will dance in your head.  Mmmmmm.


For the previous contest I said I would make “Chocolate Basilisk Balls with Kiss of Life sauce,” so I figured I’d better invent the recipe. These were inspired by the Indian dessert Gulab Jamun, although they are really nothing alike except that both feature spheres in sauces. The Basilisk Balls (basilisk eyes) are dark chocolate truffles, and the Kiss of Life sauce is a Cardamom Creme Anglaise. The truffle recipe is modified from Cooking for Engineers, and the sauce is modified from Epicurious.

The goal is to petrify the guests at the first bite, and slowly bring them back to life with murmurs of intense appreciation.

for the Basilisk Balls,

1 pound dark chocolate, cut into small pieces (not unsweetened — Ghirardelli dark chips are good)
1 cup heavy cream
about 3 Tbsp of a really good cognac (I used Hennessy)
unsweetened cocoa powder to coat

Heat cream in a saucepan until just boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and cognac until your ganache mixture is shiny and smooth. Refrigerate until stiff.

Scoop truffles into small balls using a melon baller or tablespoon measure, and roll until smooth with your hands (this is a messy process). Place in refrigerator to harden for a few minutes. When solid, lightly coat with cocoa powder.* Eat a truffle to check quality control at this point.†††

for the Kiss of Life Sauce,

4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided into halves
scrapings from 1/2 vanilla bean
1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds

Lightly whisk egg yolks and half of the sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, vanilla, cardamom, and the rest of the sugar and heat on medium until almost boiling. You should stir almost constantly (and scrape the bottom of the saucepan) for the duration of the heating process. When the cream mixture is hot, reduce heat dramatically and slowly pour the egg mixture into the cream, stirring as you do so. Increase heat again to medium and stir until the mixture becomes a custard. You will know this has occurred when you can run your finger across the back of the spoon and the track will remain. The mixture will also look very slightly grainy. Remove from heat, cool, and put through a fine strainer to remove unwanted bits of egg.

To serve, place two basilisk balls on a small plate and cover with sauce to taste. The sauce also makes an excellent ice cream if there is any left over.

* The cocoa powder will make the sauce run down the sides of the truffle without properly sticking. This can be solved in two ways — leave off the coating and use just the ganache, or keep adding sauce until it looks right. I prefer the second method, because you get to eat more chocolate that way.


Ok, I admit I just joined so that I could enter the competition‡‡… plus Robin said something about needing more forum members who bake [smiley omitted because WordPress turns them into squiggles] ‡‡‡  Plus I’m rereading Sunshine, AGAIN… and it always makes me want to bake things.

This is an entirely original recipe in that the cake base probably originated from a golden Wattle cook book sometime in the 195/60s… my mum baked a lot of cakes (6 kids can eat a cake like locusts on a pea plant – gone in seconds) so I learnt it from her – using wooden spoon measurements – as in, 2 spoonfuls of butter! I’m trying to convert back to real weights. The rest came from one of those happy accidents of wanting to use something up and not knowing what to do.

Berry Crumble Butter Cake

Heat oven to 180 deg (C)

185g butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups self raising flour
~1/4 cup of milk

Berry mixture
Any combination of ~ 3cups of stewed berries. It works really well with stewed apricots or apples as well. The key to this is that the majority of the liquid is removed. Do this by sitting in a fine-ish sieve for several hours, or by sitting a heavy ladle in the mixture, and spooning out the fluid as it fills. The final mixture should be almost thick enough hold its shape when a spoon is drawn through the middle.

Crumble mix

2 eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 cups dessicated coconut


Cream eggs and sugar, beat in eggs, then flour and finally mix in milk. Should be a nice smooth creamy batter consistency. Put mixture into a buttered and papered 23cm round tin (or about a 20 cm square one). Top with berry mixture.

Mix together crumble ingredients and strew over cake.

Bake for 1 to 1.5 hrs, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. If the topping starts to over-brown, cover with alfoil


* * *

* Yes.  Well.  There were so many amazing recipes, one winner hardly seemed enough.  Is clearly not enough.  And then Ajlr had the bright idea that since the Basilisk Balls do not, in fact, involve any baking^, maybe there should be a second drawing for something that involves baking.  I’m not sure what we would have done if the second recipe didn’t have any baking in it either.  Kept drawing possibly.  Fortunately the second one did include some actual oven time.

            But, speaking of extra winners . . . well, keep reading.

 ^ Although they are clearly something Sunshine would be all for.  Maybe in the Sequel That Does Not Exist Paulie starts making truffles as a manifestation of his individuality.  In which case he would certainly make not only these but also Magpie’s Cloud 9 white chocolate truffles. 

** Okay, guys, I want to hear that you’re together at the negotiating table having a meaningful dialogue.  Or the start-up counter at the bank.^ 

^ Don’t bother me with geography.  Geography is boring.+ 

+ Except on Google Earth. 

*** Let me put it this way:  Fiona^ comes on Tuesday.  If the books don’t go out Tuesday . . . gods know when they’ll go out. 

               PS:  When you PM ajlr, be sure to include if you want them signed to anyone, or just my generic scrawl.

 ^ Fiona, who is not afraid of the post office and, furthermore, has not desired to murder any of our local postpersons this week.+ 

+ I say nothing about her attitude toward her own local postpersons. 

† You do read the footnotes as they happen, right?  You don’t just read them all in a lump at the end of the post and then have no idea what they refer to? 

†† I have just bought an upgrade.  Yes, to Fingerzilla.  Six more levels.  More stuff to blow up.  Stay tuned. 

††† Absolutely.  Eat it slowly and thoughtfully, right?  I can do this.

‡  Good attitude.  Excellent attitude.   An attitude that manifests the true spirit of this blog. 

‡‡ Yaay!

‡‡‡ Yaaaaay! 

Dei/dea ex machina


It’s tipping it down out there.  It’s like the weather gods are saying, right, you really wanted the snow to go away?  Okay.  Try this instead.   I didn’t even get hellhounds walked today–not what we call walked–we went out for about half an hour’s swim this morning, and none of us had a good time.  I dislike being hellgoddess in these circumstances most extremely:  when the weather is frelling awful and I have two beady-eyed acolytes staring holes of accusation through me.  I believe other gods have had similar experiences when natural phenomena exhausted the patience of their worshippers.* 

            It’s also been hanging around about two-thirds of a degree above freezing–just enough to keep the rain rain, I’m trying to be grateful here–so if the sheer weight of the stuff falling doesn’t drive you to your knees you will eventually go numb and fall over because you can’t feel your legs any more.  I brought hellhounds home, dried them off, and started looking for their coats.  I bought coats for them a year ago** after Chaos was so scarily ill in December, and he wore his***, and I bought a second one for Darkness just in case, which has never been out of its packaging.  Until today.  I stuffed them into their coats and tried to take them for another walk . . . which was a dismal failure.  We lasted maybe twenty minutes second time with the hellhounds muttering, Barbados!  Oahu!  Algarve!  Phuket!  Baja!  And I gave up and dragged them home again.  And dried them off again.  Feh.† 

            And I should have gone bell ringing tonight–it’s the once a month practise at the village next door.  And I’m the one did the phoning round this weekend reminding people it was happening in the hopes that they’d come.  And I told myself, as I lay on the sofa covered with damp hellhounds††, that I should have lots of extra energy because of all the walking I hadn’t done today.  It didn’t work.

            So I watched WAITRESS instead.†††  And I decided we needed a pie.  Specifically we need one of those pies that I can’t eat any more–the opening credits of WAITRESS nearly did me in–and I was even thinking of this one when I pulled my Bad for You Recipes notebook out of the cupboard and lo! it fell open to this page.  I believe every American woman of a Certain Age has this recipe, I don’t know how widespread it is in the population at, ahem, large.  But I absolutely adored this in my depraved youth. 

Refrigerator Lemon Pie 

15-oz can or 1 1/3 c sweetened condensed milk

½ c lemon juice

1 tsp grated lemon rind

¼ tsp lemon essence or ½ tsp lemon extract

2 eggs, separated

4 T sugar 

9″ graham cracker crust‡ which you have made long enough ago for it to have solidified in the refrigerator 

Put milk, lemon juice, rind, essence, and yolks into bowl;  stir briskly till it’s a thick homogenous gloop.  Pour whites into separate bowl;  beat till half stiff, then add sugar gradually, beating till fully stiff, and then stop before what the books call ‘dry’ and I would call ‘friable’ but I’m an English major.  Fold whites gently into the lemon mixture.  Pour into chilled crust.  Chill pie at least six hours and overnight is better. 

* * *

* I’m having STAR TREK flashbacks.  Remember The Paradise Syndrome, when Kirk shacks up with a really embarrassing comic book version of a Native American girlie?  You knew she was Marked for Death as soon as she got pregnant, but she gets offed by her own people when Kirk the deus ex machina fails to save them from the return of the–meteor, wasn’t it?  Only the size of a small planet, and the real machina which is supposed to take care of these little galactic mishaps has gone phut.  And Spock is up there on the ENTERPRISE crunching logic not quite fast enough to save Minnehaha from her ersatz Dakotas and their lousy aim. 

** They wore coats when it was cold their first winter, when they were still little puppies.  They hated them.  They hung on the ends of leads and moaned, especially Darkness, who rarely feels the cold anyway, which meant that Chaos was not going to cheer up and lark about and let the side down.  You could see him working up to it and then Darkness would start moaning again and Chaos would instantly sober down:  oh.  Right.  Solidarity.  No larking.  But they wore their coats.  Mike^ got one of those old puppy coats about a month ago.  Toooo cute.  Every now and then Never Throwing Anything Out is a good thing. 

^ Daisy’s Cocker puppy:  see various previous entries 

*** To begin with he was too frail to argue and then he got used to it.  Chaos, in general the waaaaaay more problematic dog, doesn’t really do outrage that much.  Despair, yes.  Outrage, no.  Darkness does outrage. 

† The temperature is now rising steeply.  It’s trying to persuade me to leave the flowering fruit trees, the tender camellia, and the rose hedge outdoors over night, as well as the geranium out front unwrapped.  If I do, no doubt the temperature will plunge again, equally steeply. 

            I should probably go walk hellhounds.  At this time of night?  Are you kiddingI don’t think it’s even raining.  Whimper.  It’ll be 32.5° and sheeting again tomorrow morning, I guarantee it.  The meteorological guys say it’s going to take our recently insane weather several weeks to settle down again!  Several weeks!  

†† Very practical.  They steam your jeans dry as they steam themselves dry. 

††† About which I have mixed feelings.  It is very sweet and funny and charming and it has real roles for women, I mean, you know, more than one, the heroine has friends, and some great dialogue.  But I write fantasy, and this makes me extremely literal-minded.^  I’m also not very clever about where the lines run in what you might call real-life fantasy.  I’m willing to go with the Andy Griffith character, who is flagged as the deus ex machina from the first scene;  with the particular, uh, quality of our heroine meeting cute with Dr Thingummy, although for myself having an affair with my obs/gyn guy is very, very high on my creepiness scale;  and with our heroine’s Road to Damascus revelation on first holding her baby in her arms.  Oh yes and I’m another of these sad mid-Atlantic types who go all soppy for a Southern USA accent.  The thing that got on my nerves is the leisurely way that restaurant was run.  I’ve never seen anything so laconic as the way our supposed national champion pie queen ran her spoon around her mixing bowl.   Is this irony, and I’m missing it?   And I’m just a little uneasy that the two main guys are both total jerks, although Doc Thingummy is cuter.^^ 

^ I’ve done this rant, haven’t I?  That fantasy has to be even more grounded in reality than reality does to make it work because it’s, you know, fantasy? 

^^Note that I think Nathan Fillion looks like he needs to get more sleep. 

‡ You can’t get graham crackers over here, except in specialist American shops.  Digestive biscuits work fine, however, once you’re over the name.  Only the Brits would name a sweet cookie something that makes it sound like it’s going to taste like Milk of Magnesia.

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