While photographing these wee birds, a neighbor pulled around us in her red car and took off down the hill. Most of the turkeys gave chase! Ridiculous beasts.
Imagine being the first person to decide to eat one of these things. What on earth possessed that person? Now, granted, this is not an omnivore criticism; people must have had these same sorts of first thoughts about artichokes – great thorny beasties, what makes you think they’re edible? – or asparagus – foul-smelling and rather thick grass; are you sure you want that? – but turkeys are as ugly as buzzards (not the British kind, which are just large raptor-hawks. ACTUAL turkey vultures are commonly called turkey buzzards, so called because of their egregiously naked red turkey-like heads), their naked wattles looking like elderly plucked skin, and they have spikes on their foreheads! Imagine – Benjamin Franklin wanted this to be the national bird. One wonders how many times he was struck, playing with that lightning…
This time last year would have been our first show – Christmas at the Musicals, which was always fraught, since inevitably there were storms or high winds or something to make the mostly over-sixty crowd of musical aficionados only come to the matinee showing, leaving the late show virtually empty. Singers this time of year get used to that, and sing anyway. We wish the best to the City of Glasgow Chorus as next weekend is their last show of 2012! We miss you guys, and will think of you and glitter and flashing lights during the intermission. ☺ Meanwhile, we have two programs left here as well – one the 22nd, and one the 24th, and then we’re looking forward to doing a great deal of nothing in particular until a few weeks in January where we’ll be singing The Mass of the Nativity again. While our church choral groups are small and don’t come with massive orchestras, there is something to be said for the intimacy of singing with a string quartet or just a piano, and actually hearing all voices and all parts at all times. We are grateful that it has been a good experience so far.
Experimental foods are on offer every winter, when we have time and inclination to bake, but T’s not often the one getting too involved. This time she jumped in with an easy and quick dessert to take along for chorus potluck this weekend. Critical response ranged from cautious to enthusiastic, and we’re excited to have a willing audience for which to bake and cook again. We also wished we’d remembered to photograph these pies after they were baked, and when they were cut, but it’s a bit hard to do that in a group – “No, wait, don’t eat it! I’m photographing! – so you’ll just have to take our word this time that they were pretty. Next time we’ll maybe use two apples per pie – and we’re looking forward to experimenting with bases and other flavorings.
Apples have long been associated with the rose, because they’re part of the same family. (Surprise!) It’s common enough to see people use peels to create apple roses, but T. decided to use the entire apple to make a very fast rose tart. The only regret she has is forgetting to splash rosewater on the crust and top of the pie post-baking, while the fragrance could be imbued, but she will remember to do so next time…
This easy pie (which should have been a tart, but the tart pan was hiding) begins with homemade cranberry sauce, which is easy enough to make. Here’s our basic recipe: – 1.5 cups of fresh cranberries, a cup of sugar, and two tablespoons of orange juice and orange zest simmered over low heat. Many recipes call for additional water, but we don’t add any until the berries are popped. To enable this sauce to double as pie filling, add a heaped tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved into a half cup of water. (Note that we added this to cold sauce; if you added it to the hot, it will thicken quickly, so be ready for that!) Then add a tablespoon of molasses, 1 tsp. ginger, cloves, and allspice (or 1 tbsp. garam masala spice blend) and a half cup of additional sugar. If the mixture gets too thick, add another half cup of water, but you want the flavor fairly intense, so only add as much as you need.
Next, we assembled pastry crusts – quick cheater crusts from the freezer section of the grocery this time, but homemade, if you have time/inclination, is obviously better. We filled each crust to the halfway point. Our pans are deeper than traditional pie pans, and we’d quadrupled our sauce recipe, so we had plenty of extra. (If you have limited supply, just try for a single pie!) And then came the fun part – the apples.
If you have an old-fashioned corer-peeler as we did (no idea what happened to that, either. It’s with the tart pan), it’s easy enough to crank out thin ribbons of peel and spiraled apples… but unless you have a VERY shallow pie pan, this isn’t really what you want. The wider the peel and apple, the more rose-like your pie will be, so grab a simple cheese-slicer and peel the apple as carefully as possible. Pieces will break – don’t worry about them. Just peel as cleanly and as evenly as possible.
Arranging the apples is subjective, of course – what looks rose-esque to us will look dahlia-like to you. The one trick we can suggest is to be sure to begin each piece of new apple with an overlap of about a quarter inch inside of the previous strip. Also, using the peeled edges up reinforces the flower idea.
We baked the pies for twenty-five minutes at about 350°F/175°C. Don’t go overboard – it’s easy to over bake these, but as they cool, the filling will settle. Have faith in them – apples contain pectin, and together with the cornstarch, they will gel that molten cranberry lava! Serving these pies when they’re slightly overdone is somewhat tricky, as, after cooling the apple peels are difficult, but if you make that tiny mistake, no fear – snipping them with a kitchen scissor first and then cutting along the snip-line worked. Again, a soupçon of rosewater would have made these match in both fragrance and appearance, but that’s for when the pie is served hot.
We did a lot of music this weekend, a lot of baking, a lot of decorating. We broke out the garlands and the old clay crèche. Glitter glue, pine cones, ribbon – all in the spirit of decorating, something which, while wandering the world, we’ve kept at an absolute minimum, or ignored altogether for years upon years. We kept the stereo playing a mix of classical music and the less invasive carols, and we kept outside media to a minimum – with good reason. Sometimes, it’s best to keep the broken world at bay. It’s as T’s friend, Gregory K. wrote this morning on his poetry blog (which we’ve borrowed without his permission, but we don’t think he minds):**
Greg K Pincus © 2012
Sing, dance, quilt, make art
Share the work that’s in your heart
Sculpt, act, paint, and write
Answer dark with waves of light
Last night, we placed a tea light in the secondhand wire angel T. brought home, and turned out the lamps. The lone candle was a pinpoint flicker in a too-large room. But even a small illumination is the difference between blindness and sight.
Hold to the light.
**Please, DO attribute if you use anyone’s poem, including Gregory K’s.