Thursday, February 28, 2013

On Making Apple Pie

I saw giant piles of apples at the grocery store the other day and I decided that what I wanted more than almost anything was apple pie. Not just a regular pie, but a mile high apple pie.

When I make apple pie, I like to get the apples ready first so they can sit for at least 90 minutes gaining flavor.

Here's what I used:
Lemon Juice (I forgot to buy a lemon. The bottle works well, though.)
Ground Cloves

I used three Lady Alice, three Honeycrisp, and  nine Granny Smiths. The variety of apples was to help vary the texture and sweetness within the pie when it finished cookin.

The contraption is an apple peeler/slicer:

Nothing gets apples prepped for pies faster. Setup, peeling/slicing, and cleanup took about twenty minutes. (You can choose if you want the apple peeled, too. Oh, it's perfect if you're going to dehydrate apples because it takes out the core and all the slices are uniform.)

I like to use a bowl with a lid so I can shake the bejesus out of it.

I used a teaspoon of the nutmeg, a teaspoon of ground cloves, a tablespoon of cinnamon (I like cinnamon in my apples, most recipes don't call for this much.), two tablespoons of flour (this helps thicken the juices the apples are going to let go), two tablespoons of lemon juice (which was too much; one would have been better), and one cup of sugar.

After the shake-up, it's time for the dough for the pie crust:

I use the America's Test Kitchen Foolproof Pie Dough, because I need the foolproof part and it's delicious. I'm not going to write the recipe out because they don't give it away for free. It's worth the price, though,

Also, I forgot to take pictures of the mixing process (I'm new to trying to blog cooking), but here are pictures of the only dishes I dirtied and the dough in balls ready to be put in the fridge for at least an hour:

After at least an hour, I pulled out the larger of the two balls, rolled it out, then put it in a 9-inch pie pan, mine is Pyrex.

After filling the bottom, I rolled out the top, laid it over the pie, trimmed and pinched the edges, and cut some slits in the top to let the steam out.

The pie went into a preheated 425 degree (F) oven on a half-sheet on the bottom rack of the oven. The half-sheet went into the oven as it preheated so it was nice and hot. This is to help the bottom of the pie cook a little bit faster so it won't be soggy when the pie is finished.

It cooked for 45 minutes and came out like this:
Usually, I use some melted butter on the top then sprinkle cinnamon/sugar. This time I used an egg wash and then cinnamon/sugar. It's pretty obvious where the wash was too thick and the cinnamon/sugar was too thin.

Here's the first slice, after it rested for an hour:

The dough was amazing. In the past I've rolled this recipe out several times and it's always come out flaky and tender and delicious. The apple had a great texture, but was a little tart; too much lemon juice added to the apples. I like tart, Granny Smiths are my favorite apples, but others would have liked it to be a more sweet.

Still, it was devoured pretty quickly.

After I put the pie into the oven, I collected the scraps of dough, formed them into a new ball, and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then I rolled the dough out, smeared melted butter all over it, and sprinkled cinnamon/sugar everywhere.

Then I rolled it up into a log and sliced that log into half inch pieces. After the pie came out, the mini-cinnamon rolls went into the oven for 13 minutes. Which was probably two minutes too long. Some got a little too browned, but they all tasted great.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I'm not one for hope. I want everything to turn out well, but I don't really believe that things will turn out well. I'm a pessimist.

I've been trying to get a promotion to an analyst for a long time. Five years now. I interview. I'm told they'll make the decision in two weeks. After four weeks I hear that I didn't get the job or I never hear anything at all.

So, when someone who used to work with me -- someone who knows how hard I work, someone who knows I can learn how to do anything, someone who knows me -- became the head of the personnel department, I let hope in.

She told me that there were going to be several analyst positions coming open in personnel early on. The day before the positions were opened for applications, she called me to tell me to get my application in. After I turned the application in, she e-mailed me to tell me that she got it, but that interviews wouldn't be for a while because she had to get approval to unfreeze the positions.

Great, I thought, at least one of the positions was going to be mine.

Now, there's a bit more to this story. Since so many people are getting laid off, or potentially laid off, they are getting letters to help encourage personnel departments to interview them. And, although I should have gotten one in this most recent round, I fell through the cracks and am once again without a letter.

I know that I have been over looked for at three interviews, two of which were at my current level, because I didn't have a letter. One of the jobs I would have been perfect for because it's what I did while I was in the nursing department.

Still, I had hope. That former co-worker was looking out for me.

Until today.

Today she wrote to me and asked me if I had one of those letters. She can only interview people who have those letters.

I cannot be interviewed.


And so, I continue to be stuck where I am. Never to be promoted. Never to see my pay increase. Never to get anywhere near my abilities in my work.

If I thought I was at all a useful human being I'd probably quit my job. Too bad I'm not useful. Too bad past experience has shown me that I can't be hired anywhere.

Too bad...

Thursday, February 07, 2013


Earlier today, my supervisor walked into the office to invite me and
my co-worker out to lunch tomorrow as some Chinese place. I wanted to
look at my co-worker with eyes asking, "What the hell is going on
here? Is this a trick?" I didn't look over, though. I looked straight
ahead and for a solid thirty seconds the room was silent.

Finally my co-worker said she'd go and then I said okay.

We still don't know what this lunch is about. We don't know if she's
treating us and we each plan on having cash because we figure she
won't be paying. We also don't know if she'll expect us to make up the
time used for lunch at the end of the day.

I think we'll have to stay late. On a Friday. Joy.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Maybe Again

I have an hour left at work and my supervisor has, as of last week,
returned the interblurbs to me. What to do, eh?

I'm just doing this through Gmail. I don't know how much this place of
employment tracks internet usage. I'm not afraid of them seeing that
I'm using my personal e-mail, but I'd rather they didn't know I was
using Blogger. I suppose that this level of computer paranoia isn't
normal at other work places, is it? I hope not.


A couple of weeks ago, NPR's Morning Edition did a series on early
thirty-somethings/late twenty-somethings and how that segment of
society is becoming less religious. Most of them still consider
themselves spiritual, but they aren't affiliated with any religious
sect. (They called the series "Losing Our Religion" because alluding
to R.E.M. is totally the way to nail this cross section of the US.)

The whole thing was fascinating. It seemed to me that the young-ish
people they spoke with were all once upon a time religious, but ended
up leaving it for various reasons and now they're all spiritually
adrift. Some were agnostic. I don't remember any atheists in the
group. Many of them, though, seemed to still believe in something
more, but didn't have a way to practice it. (I don't think I phrased
that correctly.)

The whole thing kept me thinking about my own religiousness. I wasn't
raised religious. My parents' had me and my brothers say an altered
version of the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep prayer each night, but it
was so different that I was shocked when I learned the real words. For
a while my parents took us to a Unity Church, but they stopped going
once the (pastor? preacher?) woman who led the service moved on to a
different community and the Sunday school wasn't about worship; I
mostly remember coloring pictures and walking around the duck pond. I
went with a friend to the Catholic Church a couple of times and one of
my brothers had some close friends who were Mormons, but we never
joined a religion.

For a long time, though, I never discounted joining a religion. I
found the idea of rebirth fascinating. Reincarnation was sort of scary
because you became something or someone other than who you were before
you died, but your essence went on living and learning from all the
experiences in the past and maybe, just maybe, there could come a
point when you become aware of all the yous that you have been and
embrace the greater universe. When I was little Heaven seemed like the
best choice. You were you forever in a place that was nice where
people were nice and everything was good. The thing that appealed most
to me was that I'd remain who I was. Which is funny because ultimately
it was a discussion about Heaven that turned me off from religion.

I was in my first year of college and had no friends except for the
one who had been my friend in high school. He was, and is, pretty
Christian. Not in your face about it, but he believes in Christ and
all that comes with that belief (except for a lot of the hate, his
belief in Christ encourages love and trust). I'd eat many meals with
him so I wasn't always alone, but on Fridays he had his prayer group.
15 or 20 people would go to dinner the head off to read and discuss
all the things they'd just read. To not be alone, I sat with all of

One day, before dinner, one of the guys, he lived in my building and
was a good person, asked me if I'd like to join their group. I said no
and we started talking. He questioned and I answered but didn't always
have an answer. I questioned and he answered and always had an answer.
Eventually, we started to discuss Heaven and he explained what it was
like and how I would always be happy in part because the bad people
would be left out. I asked how if someone I cared about was not in
Heaven for being a non-believer I could ever be happy there. He said
it wouldn't matter to me because I'd be so happy bathed in God's light
that I would never even notice people missing. And this appalled me. I
would be so happy that I wouldn't notice a loved one missing?

I asked him if Heaven was like a drug that created such bliss that
nothing except that feeling was all I craved.

He didn't have an answer. I told him that I wouldn't want to be in a
place where I would lose myself like that and didn't go to dinner with
my friend that night.

That was the moment that I knew I'd never be a "true" Christian and
started me on the path of not wanting to become religious.