Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sometimes Pecan Pie Needs a Little Kick in the, um, a Little Kick

 When our friends Bob and Angie invited us for Thanksgiving dinner, Angie said she was making a pumpkin pie but that she'd leave the pecan pie to me. Yehaw! Time for my new favorite pie!

Unfortunately, we ate half of the pie before I had time to take a photo. The other half was whisked away for the Feast of Gloria Tubman (Harriet's under-achieving younger sister), traditionally held the day after Thanksgiving and featuring all the leftovers.

Anyway, Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie comes from my new favorite cookbook, The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook (below). How could you NOT love this book? Look at those two - they clearly love their jobs!

And with good reason. I've not yet had the opportunity to visit their bakery in Savannah, but I have tried about 1/4 of the recipes in the book, and every single one totally kicks some bakery butt.

Here's the best part - this pie is SO easy. You don't even have to roll out pie crust - you just press it into the pie plate. 

Below is the recipe. I've made a few small changes.

Bourbon Pecan Pie
Inspired by The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day.

½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1 ½ cups dark corn syrup
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 ½ tsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tb bourbon
1 ½ tsp butter, melted
1 ¾ cups pecan halves
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 recipe Shortcut Piecrust, made with brown sugar, unbaked

  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together both sugars, the corn syrup, salt, flour and eggs, mixing until completely combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, bourbon, and butter until well combined. Fold in the pecans and chocolate chips.
  3. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell.. Bake for 1 hour or until the pie is firm around the edges and just a bit loose in the center.
  4. Remove the pie from the oven and cool for at least 1 hour on a wire rack before slicing. It’s best served the same day, but it can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Shortcut Piecrust
Makes one 9” piecrust.
Cheryl and Griffith say “This pie crust is revolutionary. It’s a press-in crust, with no rolling or chilling required. Plus, it’s buttery and flaky and so easy to prepare.” Alline says "they're not just whistling Dixie!"

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup packed light brown sugar or granulated sugar
½ tsp fine sea salt
11 Tb unsalted butter, melted (1 ¾ sticks)

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Press into a pie plan, trying to keep the dough as evenly thick as you can. Press it up the sides of the pie pan and make it pretty! You can't go wrong - it's kind of like play-dough that actually tastes good.

Friday, November 29, 2013

In Which My Heart Cracks Open, Just a Little Bit More...

This last year has been rough.

Lots and lots of work. Not enough sleep. More money going out than coming in. Some dependable help, some not so. Some amazingly abundant loving experiences, some depressing low points. The stuff of which life is made.

I've also been struggling about a lot of what is going on here at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. Growing pains, wanting to support folks in whom I believe but having a hard time with some of the decisions that have been made. Feeling like a poor communitarian, wondering if we should just pack up and move on, wanting to contribute but unable to with a happy heart.

Knowing that it is all in my attitude, that I make my own reality, that I have little control over what happens but TOTAL control about how I choose to spin it in my head.

But I just couldn't get over that bump. You know, the bump that is placed in front of abundance, kindness, happiness and satisfaction. The bump that I always trip over. I kept getting stuck in the "I hate everything I see" gutter that is right in front of the bump. 

Fortunately, FINALLY, a series of events - too long and convoluted to relay here - coincided with a visit from Kurt's niece Danae, who is pretty much sunshine incarnate, to lift my spirits and help me truly SEE what is around me.

And then this video was posted on Facebook.

I can't stop watching it. I can't stop singing it as I wander around through my life. I love the girls with bouquets of kale at 1:07, the kids at 4:33, the boy in the blue shirt at 4:47 singing so earnestly. I want to invite the man who is singing at 4:35 to dinner.

And keep moving forward and start looking towards your heart

It'll open all the doors and only then you'll start

To hear the world sing in chorus with your mind and heart

Aligned in purpose everything will feel gorgeous

Thank you Nimo Patel and Daniel Nahmod. I am grateful for this song, and the music and heart that you bring into the world.

Grateful: A Love Song to the World

by Nimo Patel and Daniel Nahmod
(emphasis on the parts that I find especially moving today ~Alline)
Written and produced by Nimo Patel and Daniel Nahmod - See more at:

You're my life, you're my breath You're a smile, you're my guest
You're the earth, you're the sun You're the grass, you are love
You're my hands, you're a bug You're my eyes, you're a hug
You're the light in the dark You're the spark, you are fun
You're my mom, you are water You're the stars, you're my daughter
You're my friend till the end You're my dreams, you're my father
You're the ants on the ground The miracles that surround
I'm feelin' it all around the hemisphere and the clouds
You're my pain, you're my sorrow You're my hope for tomorrow
You're the strength when I'm hollow You're the path that I follow
You're the blessings that exist The small things that are bliss

The gift to realize that everything is a gift

All that I am All that I see
All that I've been
And all that I'll ever be
Is a blessing
It's so amazing
And I'm grateful for it all
For it all
Grateful for it all

You're the blessings every time I try to count
You're the lessons that l learn every time I turn around
You're the water when I'm burned every time I think I've found
Everything I'm looking for and the sign sayin' stop to take a bow
And keep moving forward and start looking towards your heart

It'll open all the doors and only then you'll start

To hear the world sing in chorus with your mind and heart

Aligned in purpose everything will feel gorgeous

All that I am All that I see
All that I've been
And all that I'll ever be
Is a blessing
It's so amazing
And I'm grateful for it all
For it all

Every day I sit and pray 'cause what I have is
More than I deserve or could ever imagine
How do I give back to all of this magic
And spread the love so everybody can have it
Doesn't matter if I'm rich or poor If I got a family or if I'm all alone
Bad things happen I can just complain and moan

But there's a million things that I can be grateful for

So I lift up
My hands now
And I open my heart
And my gratitude
Goes out
To everything
Near and far 

All that I am
Everything I am - All that I see
All that I've been
And all that I'll ever be
Is a blessing
It's so amazing
And I'm grateful
For it all
All that I am
All that I see
All that I've been
And all that I'll ever be
Is a blessing
It's so amazing
And I'm grateful
For it all For it all
For it all
For it all
Grateful for it all
For it all
For it all
You're the blessings that exist
The small things that are bliss
The gift to realize that everything is a gift

Thanks for reading. Sending love and gratitude to you this Thanksgiving weekend, and always.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Just Say "No" to Black Friday and "Yes" to Relaxing!

I spent my formative years working in retail. From the age of 16 - 28 I worked in several different department stores, and then spent another 12 working in retail headquarters in one capacity or another (advertising and Visual Merchandising).

By the age of 21 I pretty much hated Christmas. I even despised holiday music, which used to be my favorite part of the season - something about having it thrumming in the background for two months was more than I could bear. And that was back in the days when "Christmas" didn't start until the middle of November.

"Oooooooohhhh! Let's get up early so that we can push and shove for cheap crap made in China!" she says, just a bit sarcastically...

The day we all hated the most was the day after Thanksgiving, that hallowed day that retailers lust and drool after. Even when I no longer worked in a store but worked at corporate headquarters I was still required to spend the morning of Black Friday in whichever store was closest. Ugh. I'd get up at 6:00 a.m., put on respectable business attire (instead of the elastic-waist sweatpants that were infinitely more appealing!) and haul my bad-attitude self off to the mall to sling junk at sales prices.

No more.

Now that I have my own store, I get to do things my way. The Milkweed Mercantile is closed on "Black Friday" (ewww - I abhor that name!), and I refuse to send out emails and newsletters promoting sales before Thanksgiving. While it may not be the most prudent way to make zillions of dollars, it feels better. I don't go shopping, either.

I encourage you to do the same! Or at least relax on Friday. The Center for a New American Dream has lots of ways to help. Their Simplify the Holidays program is a great place to start!

Some of the things I might be doing on Friday (instead of buying or selling stuff):
  • Staying home.
  • Relaxing.
  • Putting my feet up and reading a good book, or even a bad book. Heck, maybe even a naughty book!
  • Challenge Kurt to a game of cards, pente, or parcheesi. Or invite a group of friends over to do join us.
  • Put together that list for my mp3 that I've been composing in my head.And learn how to load the music onto that thing (note to self: find a 12-year old to help me).
  • Go for a walk. Perhaps I'll take a cute dog for company.
Miss Moneypenny Carleton, who is always available for adventuring!

  • Bake some cookies, and bring a few to a neighbor.
  • Practice singing the harmony part to "Close Your Eyes" (James Taylor/Carly Simon version)
  • Begin to crochet a scarf and pretend that I'll finish it in time to give as a Christmas gift.
  • Make a sandwich using every single part of Thursdays meal in between two pieces of bread and Hellman's mayo - including the stuffing and the cranberry sauce. Perhaps I'll get fancy and run them through  with little plastic swords.
Thanks to Will Cook For Smiles for the use of the photo.

  • Watch Season 1 of Nurse Jackie that just arrived in the mail while I sit on the couch in front of a blazing fire with the cat.
  • Check out what the local kids are up to. The last couple of days it's been looking at all of the cool ice formations everywhere, and checking out the cool things frozen into the pond ice.
  • Call my 84-year old Aunt Melba and tell her that I'm thankful for her.
  • Think up new ideas for Kurt's annual Gift Certificates (see below).

And lets talk about gifts for just a minute. It's really easy to get sucked into the scarcity brainwashing that permeates advertising at this time of year. It's also tremendously easy to get guilted into spending money you don't have on things that people don't really need. Don't buy into it, literally or figuratively.

Some of my favorite Christmas gifts arrived in a big fat tube the year that my three nieces and I exchanged art. I made them quilted pillows in their choice of colors, and they sent me art that they had made. Those pictures make me smile, big time, every time I walk by them.

I also really enjoy giving (and receiving!) gift certificates for service and food. They don't even have to be fancy. I tried to take a photo of some of the ones that I gave to Kurt last Christmas (see below) but the cat decided that the middle of the stack was the perfect place to lounge. Sigh. Anyway, as you can see, they're just scrap paper and scribbling, but were made (and received) with love. Things like "one favorite dinner whenever you want (24 hours notice appreciated)," "one foot rub (15 minutes on each foot)" and "I'll do your firewood chores for one day" come in handy when Kurt feels like pampering himself.

Fionn MacCool - destroyer of all things orderly.

That's it for now. I wish you a happy, calm holiday. Eat good stuff, but not too much. Be kind to yourself. 

Thanks for reading!