Because it’s usually better to eat brownie batter than it is to shank people.

Brownies.  That’s right.

Do you want to win friends and influence people?  Do you enjoy doing something that’s very easy but people assume is difficult so that they think you’re extra awesome for making the effort?  Do you enjoy making a dessert that involves a batter you can eat by the spoonful and risk salmonella and no one will be the wiser? (Unless you actually get salmonella.  They’ll notice that because of the pooping.  Still worth it, though.)

Brownies are the answer.  And the question.  Brownies are everything.

Here’s one of the best things about this brownie recipe:  a person can be not a big chocolate fan and still love these brownies because they’re not even slightly bitter, as some chocolate desserts tend to be.  I don’t really like chocolate.  Every time I admit this shameful secret, the other party gasps like I’ve just told her that I like to eat my own hair or wear assless chaps to Target.

The Most Interesting Man in the World

I like this recipe because the resulting brownies are sweet but not too sweet, they’re moist, and they have the most delightful crust on top that cracks just so when you cut into them:

Brownies

I took this picture in February 2010 because I was very proud of this batch of brownies. I apparently didn’t have a lot going on in February 2010.

So beautiful.

But, you say, there are no nuts or marshmallows or chocolate chips or yogurt-coated gummi bears in them!  That’s right; there aren’t.  I’m a brownie purist—no extra crap allowed.  I’m even more of a chocolate chip cookie purist. If you tell me that you’re baking me fresh chocolate chip cookies and then add something horrifying to the dough, like oatmeal or nuts or (by the hammer of Thor!) white chocolate chips, I might very well shank you.

So, the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease (or cooking spray, my personal choice because it’s easy and I’m lazy) a light-colored, 9” x 13” cake pan.

1.  Mix 2 sticks softened butter (I use real butter, as per usual) and 2 cups sugar.

2.  Add four large eggs and mix well.

3.  Add 1 cup flour and ½ cup Hershey’s Cocoa and mix very slowly and carefully until dry ingredients have been incorporated into the wet ingredients. (If you don’t start out slowly, you’ll end up looking like a chocolate-coated human pop, and God forbid if there are any PMS-y cannibals just hanging around.)  Then, mix at medium speed until ingredients are thoroughly combined.  A few of my family members who make the same recipe mix the ingredients until they’re only just combined, but I prefer a slightly fluffier brownie, which can be accomplished with more mixing.

Hershey's Cocoa

4.  Scrape batter into the greased pan, smooth and even it out, and you’re ready to go!  And, by ready to go, I mean you’re ready to eat the copious amounts of batter you left for yourself on the sides and bottom of the bowl.  You’re also ready to put the pan in the oven, but that is less important.

5.  Bake the brownies at 350 degrees for anywhere from 22-30 minutes.  The original recipe, many moons ago, called for 20-22 minutes, but mine are NEVER done that quickly.  You’ll just have to experiment with your own pans and oven.  When you stick a fork in them and it comes out clean, they’re done.

This recipe is the very first thing I ever baked on my own.  It’s so easy that a nine-year-old child can make these brownies.  It would not be possible for these brownies to be easier.  Would. Not. Be. Possible.  Now that you know about this recipe, there is no acceptable excuse for you to ever use a brownie mix again.  Never again.  Do you want to be punked by a nine-year-old? Don’t do it.

These are the brownies I make when I have a gathering to attend, like holiday party that I know I’m not going to enjoy because I hate small talk and feeling awkward.  They are instant popularity.  If political candidates would bake these brownies for voters, they’d be the new American heroes.  Instead of elections, we’d hold brownie-offs.

Please note: I believe this recipe was NOT original to our family; it likely came from a cookbook many decades ago, like an old Betty Crocker cookbook, but I cannot find it anywhere.  Nowadays, even the simpler recipes call for extra ingredients, like vanilla (in brownies?) and salt and baking powder.  Because everyone keeps baking powder (not soda) in the house.  (I mean, I do, but I get really irritated and bitch and whine and gnash my teeth if I’m making the odd new cookie recipe that calls for baking powder and find that I don’t have any. I’m supposed to avoid gnashing my teeth; I have TMJ problems.)

So, don’t use any of those recipes.  Use THIS recipe.  It’s the simplest and tastes the best and produces the best raw batter, and, sometimes, we all want to eat several tablespoons of raw chocolate batter so that we feel less like shanking people.  It’s called “anger management.”  You’re welcome.

Because this conversation sums up our relationship so nicely.

And because our son has come down with the flu in September, so I’m behind on the important things in life, like posting real blog entries and showering.

Conversation Between Spouses

I imagine, if one spends as much time pooping as my husband does, one is bound to be introspective on the toilet every once in a while. Statistically speaking.

Don’t worry–he isn’t dying; he’s going to Virginia, which, I’ve heard, is much less dramatic than dying, despite the state slogan: Virginia is for lovers.  Ewwwwwwwwww.  Let’s all just calm down.

For when you want people to keep their juices to themselves.

I married a handsome man.  Even though he’s obsessed about losing his hair (which is odd, since he hasn’t actually lost any, yet)  and whitening his teeth (he could have made an extra house payment by now with the money he’s spent on sham . . . er, effective teeth whitening treatments), the fact remains that he is, objectively, a handsome man.  He’s so handsome, in fact, that women tend to flock to him, even despite the pre-Andy Rooney state of his eyebrows and the fact that he grows black hairs on his earlobes.  They just don’t care.

He has gleaming, straight, white (obviously) teeth, jet-black, wavy hair, and super-broad shoulders.  He can carry couches around on his head all by himself.  He’s always willing to go buy candy for me at 11 p.m. when I am working late and cursing/scowling at my computer screen—AND HE DOESN’T COMPLAIN ABOUT IT.  (If someone asked ME to go out and get candy at 11 p.m., I’d be like, “Bitch, please.”) He can fry potatoes perfectly. (That is, frankly, all I care about.)  He is, in a word, dreamy.

Sometimes, he’s movie-star handsome.

Super-Handsome Husband

Super-Handsome Husband

Other times, he’s homeless movie star handsome.

Homeless Movie Star

Homeless Movie Star

He’s super handsome, but he’s also extroverted and naturally gracious and kind, which means that, frequently, women who meet him fall in love with him.  Sometimes, these women are normal women who appreciate his kind personality, and, other times, the women are slovenly sales clerks with giant teeth, usually from Ohio.

Sh*t Just Got Real

Don’t hate the playa; hate the game, yo.

So what could possibly be the downside of marrying such a handsome man, you might be wondering?  Surely, since such beauty resides here, the house is covered with glittering fairy dust, and angels feed me Twinkies while I work sitting atop a goose down mattress, swaddled in the silkiest of mink stoles.  That is EXACTLY how it is at our house, except that I actually work atop a couch cushion that has a giant rip in it where our son worked on a tiny snag with his fingers and then stuck his entire foot through it.  He has done this twice, so I can’t switch cushions. I am living. the. dream.

However, in marrying a handsome man, I’ve learned an important life lesson:  handsome men and ugly men have equally disgusting bathroom habits.  Whether it’s the dirty underwear left in the clean sink or the used dental floss left in the shower, my husband’s handsome visage doesn’t prevent him from acting like a hygiene-challenged, brown-toothed troll.  He doesn’t use washcloths when he showers . . . HOW DOES HE WASH HIS JUNK? WHERE DOES THAT BAR OF SOAP FIND ITSELF?

And, thus, pretty men will never be intimidating to me again.  That super-handsome man you’ve always admired from afar takes 45 minutes to poop and likes to read in the bathroom.  It’s not the stuff stalker-infatuation dreams are made of.

By far, the most disturbing habit of my husband’s disturbing bathroom habits is his tendency to USE MY TOWEL.  Now, in the summer, I typically wash bath towels after a single use because the air in the house isn’t dry enough to allow used towels to air-dry quickly, and damp towels freak me out.  However, in the winter, when the air in the house is so dry that I wake up every morning looking this this:

Troll Hair

Dry Air Hair

the towels air-dry VERY quickly, so I like to use them more than once. What I don’t enjoy is when other people use my already-used towel and get their body juices all over it.  So. Gross.  Why don’t you just use my toothbrush?  Or wear my socks?  Or (and this is the worst sin any partner could ever commit) SLEEP ON MY PILLOW?  (He would.  He totally would and wouldn’t think a thing about it.  Keep your head juices to yourself, sir. Blech.)

So, how do I comfort myself under these dire circumstances?  How do I ever enjoy a shower or a hot bath after a workout?  How can I ever look at our bathroom sink in the eye again after seeing it defiled by a man’s dirty underwear?

I’ll tell you how:  thick, heavy, fluffy, super-absorbent towels.  As I’ve clarified before, I’m not a fancy-pants; however, there are two types of products that I’m willing to spend money on to help guarantee a quality consumer experience—sheets and towels.  I usually buy sheet sets from Overstock.com or SmartBargains.com and, thus, can purchase 600-thread-count sateen sheets for around $50-60, which isn’t a bad price at all for a thread count that isn’t bad at all.  So that’s what I do.

Towels have been more hit-and-miss, but, a few years ago, I finally found towels that I love almost more than I love my child, and I found them at JCPenney.  They were pricey at full price, but JCP frequently put them on sale and offered additional coupon codes for the online store.  They recently discontinued my original favorite towels but replaced them with an equally impressive and almost-exactly-the-same choice: the Supima® Cotton 6-pc. Bath Towel Set.

Supima Cotton 6-pc. Bath Towel Set

Supima Cotton 6-pc. Bath Towel Set

I like buying sets of bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths.  I want to buy two or three sets when they’re on sale and be done with the process.  (Have I mentioned that I’m lazy?)

I. Love. These. Towels.  The bath towels are a couple inches longer than a typical bath towel, which is a small luxury that I quickly got used to, and the hand towels are a little bigger, too.  They look fresh and extra full when I hang a clean one for people to use after washing their hands.  The bath towels have a HEFT to them that most towels, even really expensive towels, don’t have.  They are heavy, soft, and absorbent on tender, freshly-washed skin.  They are, in a word, beautiful.

The original version was offered in white instead of ivory, and that’s the color I bought so that I could bleach them as needed, like when a juice-excreting man has been using my bath towel.  I’ve had my sets for three years now—three years!   That’s CRAZY impressive.  They’ve been washed, bleached, oxygen-brightened, and dried COUNTLESS times, and they have no snags or loose threads. If they ever start looking dingy (as all white laundry can and does), I just bleach them again.

I take towels very seriously, and this is my towel recommendation.  I have a handsome husband, but, more importantly, I have handsome towels.  Vanity is gross, but desiring a luxurious bath towel?  Well, that’s just good sense.

For when you want to eat your feelings, along with cherry pie.

As I may have mentioned previously, I’ve become a bit of a pie fanatic in the last almost-four years.  I found and have used over and over again three pie recipes that are SO easy and are major crowd pleasers–blueberry pie, cherry pie, and a no-cook chocolate pie.  Today, we address that most cheerful of pies, the cherry pie.  What makes a cherry pie so cheerful, you ask?  Why, it’s red! It’s often associated with cheerful holidays, like the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.  Warrant sang a song about it and named an album after it, kind of. Most importantly, it doesn’t contribute to global warming, like so many other pies do.

Why so much emphasis on pie, you might ask.  I say, what would you rather focus on in life–the idiots on 24-hour news stations who refuse to shut up or pie? The gas mileage of your car or pie?  Your upcoming colonoscopy or pie? The weird toenail on your left foot or pie?

Pie.

This morning, I got on one of those weird Internet kicks where I was clicking links that would take me to other links and then other links, and I was like, “Hey, there’s what’s-her-face from That’s Incredible!  A woman who eats her own hair?  How does that even work?  What is a SoulPancake? What’s Rainn Wilson up to these days?  Oh, he’s up to SoulPancake.  Ohmygod, I’ve got to have one of those mops.  iPhone 5s?  When? Where does Ellen get her jeans?  I need new shoes.  What’s the special value on QVC today?” And, eventually, that led to me watching a video on YouTube of Steve Carell on Ellen, and they were talking about Christmas, and then he said he was excited that year because he wanted to make a pie.  And I was like, “Hells, yes!  I’ve got a pie for you, Steve Carell!”

This development ties in nicely with my recent obsession with re-watching all nine seasons of The Office on Hulu Plus.  So here we are.

Please note:  The pictures I’m using for this post are those that I took the very first Thanksgiving I became pie-obsessed in 2008.  For some reason, I decided to document my pie journey that year, which works out nicely for me almost five years later, as I have no cherries with which to make a fresh pie today.  It’s fine, though, as you’ll be able to see how I was able to make the pies so easily on my very first try.  Although I AM awesome, in general, the pies are also very easy.

Grandma’s Easy Cherry Pie (not MY grandma . . . some random Internet grandma who makes kick-ass pies)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Filling ingredients:

3 cans of Oregon red tart cherries in water (NOT syrup!)

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons of minute tapioca (I use 2 1/2 tablespoons of corn starch, instead, because who keeps minute tapioca in the house? It’s a 1:1 substitution ratio.)

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted (I use real butter for everything I bake. It just smells and tastes better.)

Crust ingredients:

As I’ve mentioned previously, I use a crust recipe that my Grandma Oleson used to use, and it is SO EASY.  It is SO much easier than a traditional roll-out crust and is delicious.

Bottom crust: 1 stick salted butter, 1 cup flour, and a dash of salt

Top crust:  1 stick slightly softened salted butter, 1 cup flour, and 1/2 cup sugar

And, now, the process!

First, melt a stick of butter in the pie pan.  I use glass pans, so I can melt the butter in the pan in the microwave; it takes about 1.5 minutes.  If you use metal tins, you can melt the butter in the tin on the range.

Once the butter is melted, add the flour and the salt.

Once the butter is melted, add the flour and the salt.

Once the butter is melted, add the flour and the salt.

Mix together with fork until ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.

Mix together with fork until ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.

Mix together with fork until ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.

Then, pat it out so that it covers the bottom and sides of the pie pan.

Then, pat it out so that it covers the bottom and sides of the pie pan.

Then, pat it out so that it covers the bottom and sides of the pie pan.

As you can tell if you compare this bottom crust with the one I made for the blueberry pie, the bottom crust will vary in texture and moisture content, as it depends on the brand of butter you use, the brand of flour you use, etc. Don’t be alarmed–it will bake up fine, regardless.  Unless you’ve been a bad person lately.  Then it will suck, as you no doubt deserve.  Pie karma.

Drain the three cans of cherries thoroughly, either by dumping them out into a colander or, after opening the cans, by squishing the can lids down and flipping the cans upside down (holding the cherries in the can with the squished-down lid) in the sink.  I prefer the second method, as it makes me feel like a real chef.  I also hate washing colanders.  Please, don’t dump the cherries into the sink.  It’s not where they belong.

In a large bowl, dump in the cherries and the rest of the filling ingredients and mix them all together, gently but thoroughly, with a large spoon.

In a large bowl, dump in the cherries and the rest of the filling ingredients and mix them all together, gently but thoroughly, with a large spoon.

In a large bowl, dump in the cherries and the rest of the filling ingredients and mix them all together, gently but thoroughly, with a large spoon.

Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust.

Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust.

Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust.

Now it’s time for the top crust!  To start, blend the flour and sugar together in a bowl.  Cut up slightly softened salted butter into the mixture and then blend, using a pastry blender, until crumbly.

(I have to recycle the blueberry pie top crust mixture picture . . . 2008 Missy was apparently too lazy to take a picture of that part of the process.)

To start, blend the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Cut up slightly softened salted butter into the mixture and then blend, using a pastry blender.

To start, blend the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Cut up slightly softened salted butter into the mixture and then blend, using a pastry blender, until crumbly.

Then, sprinkle crumble crust over the cherries, covering thoroughly.

Then, sprinkle crumble crust over the berries, covering thoroughly.

Then, sprinkle crumble crust over the berries, covering thoroughly.

When you’ve covered the cherries thoroughly with the top crust crumbles, put the pie in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  When it’s done, it will look something like this:

When it’s done, it will look something like this.

When it’s done, it will look something like this.

Or this:

Cherry Pie

Delicious Cherry Pie. You’re welcome.

I apologize for the poor quality of the “after” pics, as it’s usually about 2 a.m. when I finish the pies the night before Thanksgiving.  Because I procrastinate horribly. (For example, I was supposed to post this review last week.)

And that’s it–it’s that easy!  Although baking anything for the very first time isn’t terribly efficient, it’s possible to get one (or two) of these cherries pies completed and baked in just over an hour, especially after you’ve done it a time or two.  So, for that reason alone, they’re perfect for unexpected company or for any summer or holiday evening when you want warm cherry pie topped with cold vanilla ice cream.  It’s an on-a-whim pie, and how many pies can you say that about?  (Besides the blueberry pie, I mean.)  So, go bake one right now!  Right now!

Addendum, re: gluten-free pies:  It is not only possible but easy to modify this recipe so that it’s gluten-free.  It’s easiest to buy the gluten-free pie shells (for the bottom crust) at Whole Foods and then to make the top crumble crust using the King Arthur gluten-free multi-purpose flour instead of regular flour.  Told you it was easy.

For when monsoon season fails to meet your expectations for fun.

The aforementioned Angie and I might have been a bit affected by weather developments recently. Yesterday:

Alcohol Poisoning and Chocolate

It’s never inappropriate to work in a Sodom and Gomorrah reference when there’s a lull in conversation. A tip from me to you.

Musket Balls and Obamacare

Angie really knows her way around a musket. Also, I’m really good with resumes. And politics.

Fortunately, the sun is out today, which means that Angie and I can get back to our usual conversation topics of goat illnesses and the lack of decent summer TV programming.  We are . . . quite worldly.

For when you want to exercise without falling off the toilet.

Lately, I’ve been a little hard on myself regarding what I want to do on a daily basis and what I actually get done.  A week or two ago, I actually caught myself thinking, “Why didn’t I put that load of clothes in the dryer last night?  I’m so stupid.”  And then I immediately thought, “NO. NOOOOOOOO—I will not be that woman, especially over laundry” (which is the bane of human existence, second only to canned apples). So I signed up for my second-half marathon at the end of September, which is forcing me to train 3-4 times per week, which automatically makes me feel better on a daily basis because I don’t have that lurking guilt in the back of my head regarding my lack of exercise.  That sort of structure helps me to feel better, in general, and more accepting of the things I don’t always get done during the course of a day.  Like brushing my hair.

“Tomorrow, I will buy wrinkle-releaser and an eyeliner sharpener and new shoes! I will straighten my hair!  I will shower!  I will buy new shampoo!  I will polish my toenails instead of waiting six months for my current polish to wear off!  I will wear pants with waistbands every day and won’t wait until noon to put them on!  I will buy new underwear that doesn’t have holes!  I will find all of my missing socks!

I will get my shit together!

I had all of these thoughts Tuesday in quick succession as I got off the treadmill to take a potty break. (I am aware that I just used the phrase “potty break,” but, if you imagine that I said it in a British accent, it will sound more sophisticated, like a princess is saying it while sitting on the toilet.)  I get to feeling very aggressive and endorphin-y when I’m running/walking on the treadmill, probably because it tricks my body into thinking that I’m running away and won’t have to deal with this:

Impressive Pile of Clean Laundry

Ignore the three-legged cat and focus, instead, on the impressive pile of clean laundry.

You thought I was exaggerating, didn’t you?  Never overstate laundry-related problems because laundry doesn’t need any help being a royal pain in our collective ass.

(By the way, our collective ass looks great in these jeans today.  High five!)

So, I was feeling aggressive and productive and, perhaps, a bit invincible, as I considered all of the ways in which I’d improve myself in the coming days.  I was going to do it!  I was going to be my best self!

And then I fell off the toilet.

You know those women who complain about how they have to work out for an hour at the most intense level before they break out into any kind of sweat?  I’m not one of those women.  My body responds enthusiastically to exercise of any kind, so I get very athletic-looking and slick when I’m on the treadmill. And that includes my forearms and my calves.  And my butt.

How does one’s butt get so slippery that she falls off the toilet, you ask?  ‘Tis the wonder of modern workout wear, which does not absorb moisture but, instead, sort of wicks sweat off one’s skin but also sort of keeps it on one’s skin for cooling purposes.  I don’t know how it works; I only know that it usually involves polyester.

Last spring, when I was training for my first half-marathon, it took me a few tries to find “active” shirts that didn’t have any Spandex in them.  I feel like I need to clarify this following point for the entire world but also, specifically, for the neighbors across the street:  unless you have a perfect body, your shirts should not contain Spandex. Ever.  Don’t do it.  Because, one day, after you finish your workout, you’ll sit down on the floor to stretch and then make the mistake of looking down at your stomach while you’re trying to reach your toes, and it will look like a sausage packed into a bright blue casing.

Because I like a deal, I always check 6pm.com (the Zappos overstock site) for activewear and shoes first, and I happened to discover the Adidas Women’s Ultimate Short Sleeve V-Neck Tee, which is mostly polyester but also a little bit of cotton—and no Spandex!

Adidas Women’s Ultimate Short Sleeve V-Neck Tee

Adidas Women’s Ultimate Short Sleeve V-Neck Tee

Adidas Women’s Ultimate Short Sleeve V-Neck Tee

Adidas Women’s Ultimate Short Sleeve V-Neck Tee, worn by normal woman

Adidas Women’s Ultimate Short Sleeve V-Neck Tee

Adidas Women’s Ultimate Short Sleeve V-Neck Tee, worn by woman who thinks she’s going to a nightclub

These shirts are SO FANTASTIC.  The tiny bit of cotton helps them to actually feel like cotton instead of weird, shiny polyester, and the fit is slightly relaxed, which I greatly prefer.  If I wanted to enter a muffin top contest, I would bake actual muffin tops.  Nobody needs to be exposed to my weird, post-baby, post-weight loss spare tire/extra skin.  It’s impressive and delicious-looking (highly prized by cannibals, which is why I distract them with pie), but it’s not beautiful.

My Adidas Ultimate tees are, by far, my favorite pieces of workout wear.  I now own three of them. Even though they contain cotton, they don’t absorb perspiration, which means they do a good job of keeping me cool.  LOVE.  I love them.

Missy, wearing Adidas Ultimate Tee

Giving Teddy a hug, post-13.1 miles, wearing my very first Adidas Ultimate Tee

I also found my now-beloved Moving Comfort Strider Short with 7” inseam at 6pm.com.

Moving Comfort Strider Shorts

Moving Comfort Strider Shorts. These aren’t my legs. I don’t have bulging calf muscles.

The 7” inseam is important because I’m almost six feet tall and have an extremely short waist, which means that it’s way too easy for me to wear shorts that showcase my vagina.  I’m not usually in the mood to show off my vagina in public; it doesn’t have a special haircut, and it isn’t bedazzled. It’s not a stand-up comedian vagina; it’s a librarian vagina.

I can’t tell you how much I love these shorts—they have deep pockets (handy for carrying cell phones and lip gloss and anything else you might need while exercising outside of the home), a soft elastic waist with inner drawstring (necessary for keeping one’s shorts up while running, at least when one has a 1:1 hip-to-waist ratio), and, most importantly, no weird, sewn-in brief.  Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want anything making its way up my butt at any point, really, but especially while I’m on the treadmill.

Unfortunately, the Strider shorts don’t appear to be available at many places this year, but they are offering an updated Work It Short.

Moving Comfort Work It Shorts

Moving Comfort Work It Shorts

Same inseam, same pockets . . . but they have the liner brief.  Meh. None of the reviewers mention the brief being annoying, though, so maybe I’ll be willing to try them.  If only they came with some sort of butt armor.

Regardless of your exercise goals or laundry goals or work goals or showering goals, I hope that you, too, figure out a way to help yourself feel more positive on a daily basis. The whole point of “technical” clothing is to keep one’s skin slick during exercise, as it aids greatly in staying cool, but please remember to love yourself as you are today, no matter what your goals or perceived shortcomings, to be safe when working out, and to always protect your butt.

"That's what he said!"

For when crotch shots are synonymous with the Fourth of July.

My friend, Angie, sent me a celebratory text a bit earlier this evening, in the form of a picture of her crotch.

Waylon, wishing us all a happy 4th from Angie's crotch.

Waylon, wishing us all a happy 4th from Angie’s crotch.

It was actually supposed to be a picture of the kitten, Waylon, who was hiding under her laptop and attacking her from his strategic position. She then apparently felt bad about texting me a picture of her crotch, so she texted me again, apologizing for texting me a picture of her crotch.

Angie's Text

Keepin’ it real for the U.S. of A., y’all.

Our conversation continued, but it quickly moved to Facebook and devolved into an irritable conversation about Big Brother (the show, not a government exercising complete control over citizens’ lives) and, in a FB chat, the coccodia parasite, which is one of the most delightful parasites. On another positive note, Angie’s crotch looks so slim in this picture.

To sum up, Waylon is cute, England can suck it, the only thing worse than Big Brother is coccidia, and you need to text a crotch shot to your best friend immediately on this, the 237th anniversary of our great country’s independence.

Happy July 4th!

Because, sometimes, you want to eat a container of whipped cream in peace.

A few weeks ago, my husband walked through our family room/office to find me hugging a large container of Cool Whip to my chest, eating out of it with a giant spoon.  I said, “Nothing to see here.  Move along.”  And he did–because he understands that getting between a hormonal woman and her Cool Whip is likely to result in a tetanus shot, gnashing of teeth, and general unpleasantness.

Cool Whip has its place in the world–it’s relatively inexpensive and is also freaking delicious, despite its rather long list of weird ingredients.  I wouldn’t let my son eat it, but, as a child of the 70s and 80s, I’ve been filling my body with preservatives and additives for decades.  If it can’t tolerate a little more Cool Whip, then it doesn’t deserve to eat at all.

However, as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, the way to win friends and influence people is to make them delicious foods that they have no desire to make themselves.  There’s nothing wrong with bribing people to tolerate your less appealing qualities (as if any of you have less appealing qualities, but I have less appealing qualities, like a tendency to talk about poop–and here and here) for a few more years.  Eventually, if you continue bribing them with food every so often, you’ll all be dead, and you then can take up other hobbies, like making homemade jewelry/accessories for God.  (I hear he likes Swarovski iPhone cases, which makes sense because who doesn’t?)

Who among you makes homemade whipped cream on a regular basis?  Of course you don’t.  You may not even realize that you CAN do it so easily.  But, if you’re going to make a blueberry pie or anything else that can only be enhanced by real whipped cream, you’ve got to make it yourself.  Several years ago, when I began my pie quest, I looked for a quick and easy whipped cream recipe at the same time (in one of the five minutes it took me to find the four recipes I was looking for).  I had no idea that making whipped cream, no matter what the recipe, is so easy!  Actually, allow me to clarify–it’s easy if one has an electric mixer.  If you have to whip it by hand, you’ll need to have an orthopedic surgeon on stand-by.

Here’s the recipe I found and used:  Amaze-Balls (my word for it) Homemade Whipped Cream Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

I usually double or even triple the recipe if more than one or two people will be partaking because it disappears FAST.  However, keep in mind that, because it’s real whipped cream, it will fall and separate in  day or two, so you don’t want to make a lot more than you’ll need.  It doesn’t contain any chemistry-experiment ingredients; thus, it will not keep.

Gluten-free note:  I use a gluten- and corn syrup-free vanilla (you’d be surprised at how many vanillas contain unnecessary and disgusting ingredients), which ensures that the whipped cream will be gluten-free, so this whipped cream can be enjoyed by people on a gluten-free diet AND can be substituted in recipes that call for Cool Whip.

I’ve made this recipe using generic store brands of the ingredients when I’ve felt poor and have used fancy-pants, organic brands when I’ve felt not quite as poor.  Either way, as long as you use pure ingredients, the end result will be fantastic.  (It’s, perhaps, a little more fantastic when you use the fancy-pants brands.)

My favorite brands to use for this recipe are as follows:

Horizon Organic Heavy Whipping Cream

Horizon Organic Heavy Whipping Cream

Horizon Organic Heavy Whipping Cream

Singing Dog Vanilla Flavor (Alcohol-free, because I hate the taste and smell of alcohol in non-alcoholic foods and beverages–they do offer a regular, pure vanilla extract, as well)

Singing Dog Vanilla

Singing Dog Vanilla

Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sugar (Love, love, LOVE this sugar for all baking!)

This is what it looks like in the bag:

Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sugar

Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sugar

And this is what it looks like, naked:

Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sugar

Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sugar

You’ll notice that it’s not white, which means it’s not been processed to death.  It makes for some GOOD bakin’!

And, now, the process!

First, as per the recipe instructions, whip (using a mixer, I use a medium-high to high speed) only the heavy whipping cream until it’s almost stiff, which means that, while you can see it thickening up, it hasn’t formed peaks, yet, as it’s being whipped.

Whip only the heavy whipping cream until it's almost stiff.

Whip only the heavy whipping cream until it’s almost stiff.

Then, add the sugar and vanilla and whip it again (on medium-high to high speed) until it stiffens and forms peaks.  (I didn’t know exactly what that meant, either, so I just whipped it until it looked thick enough to dollop onto pies.)

Then, add the sugar and vanilla and whip it again (on medium-high to high speed) until it stiffens and forms peaks.

Then, add the sugar and vanilla and whip it again (on medium-high to high speed) until it stiffens and forms peaks.

Then, you’re done!

Whipped Cream

Gently spoon the creamy and delicious whipped cream into a container for storage (or use immediately on top of your favorite dessert).

It takes literally just a few minutes (3-4, tops) if you use an electric mixer.  Gently spoon the creamy and delicious whipped cream into a container for storage (or use immediately on top of your favorite dessert), clean up your minimal mess, and go watch an episode of Real Housewives.  That’s what we all do, right?  Right?

Yeah, me, neither.

Because store-bought pies are disgusting mounds of crap.

It is time for my first recipe review!  I’m very excited about this entry because I love to bake.  Many people like to bake because they like to see their families and friends eating and enjoying their delicious, homemade treats and because crafting something particularly tasty and/or attractive can be very rewarding.  It’s a hands-on hobby. I love baking for all of those reasons and also because I use my baked goods to make people love me.

Consider the following scenario:  you and your friends decide to take a covered wagon West to settle in the last frontier.  You’re just lousy with Manifest Destiny.  But, alas, you get stuck on top of a mountain in a weeks-long blizzard, and, slowly, you all start to starve to death.  The only food you have left to share amongst you is flour, sugar, butter, and some dried fruit. You consider murdering and eating each other because why not?  Who are you going to spare–the idiot who can sew or the lovable, brilliant, and unappetizing-looking baker?

We all know the answer to that question.  I can tell you this:  none of my friends have ever been sorry to see me enter a room when I’m carrying a tin of homemade brownies, not even the ones who find me mildly irritating.  So, obviously, it’s important that we all learn to bake.

So, to begin, I found the world’s best blueberry pie recipe several years ago, when I decided to become a Thanksgiving meal pie expert because pies are, by far, the most important and time-consuming aspect of any Thanksgiving meal.  (If you sense derision on my part regarding non-dessert foods, you would be correct.  I eat the corn and the turkey so that I can eat the pie–and so that I can not die a violent death of vitamin deficiency.  If mild vitamin deficiency can cause violent death. At the very least, it can cause funky fingernails, which I personally would like to avoid.) BUT, I wanted to make a variety of from-scratch pies without having to expend a huge amount of time or effort.  Look, there’s no way of getting out of the work of an apple pie.  Canned apples are a disgusting bane of human existence, so one must always, ALWAYS use fresh, peeled, cored, and sliced apples.  Period.  However, other pies should not have to be so time-consuming, which is why I went on a hunt for the best and easiest blueberry, cherry, and chocolate pie recipes.  My hunt took approximately five minutes on Google (I’m kind of lazy), but I’m still using the same three recipes today that I discovered four years ago.  Obviously, then, the recipes are not mine, and I have no desire to claim them as mine.  They are entirely the creations of other people; I’ve only tweaked them as necessary for my purposes.  So thank you, pie recipe people!  We all thank you.

Today, we address the blueberry pie recipe, which I found on a website, PickYourOwn.org, that is designed to help users find pick-your-own (fruit) farms near them.  They literally call the recipe the world’s best blueberry pie recipe, so I took the name to heart.  Also, it looked incredibly easy, which is why I chose it (because I’m lazy).  I’ve made this pie countless times now, usually for my husband (Terry) on random days throughout the year because it’s become his favorite food, but also for Thanksgiving.  Terry has requested pie and commented on it on Facebook so many times that one of his friends said two years ago on Facebook, “Y’all sure do have a lot of pie up in there.”   You are correct, Jeremy.  You are correct.

The World’s Best Blueberry Pie Recipe

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Filling ingredients:

3-4 cups of blueberries.  If you use fresh, rinse them well.  If you use frozen (I usually do–the frozen wild blueberries are divine), also rinse them well because the pie filling “juice” will be too runny if you don’t.  I have to be honest–I think I use more than 3-4 cups, but I have big pie pans.  It really depends on your pie pan and your pie filling thickness preference.

7 tablespoons corn starch–I just use not quite a 1/2 cup.  Who wants to measure out seven separate tablespoons of corn starch, the most irritating ingredient known to man?

2/3 cup sugar (organic works beautifully)

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons lemon juice.  If you don’t want to use lemon juice, just substitute more water for it.  Use less liquid, in general, if you want a tighter filling or if your berries seem overly juicy.  You will need to tweak and experiment, as it all depends on your filling preferences, your altitude, your berries, and, of course, karma.

I don’t use any spices, but you can use 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and/or 1/4 tsp. allspice if you so desire. (In blueberry pie?  Gross, but I am a flavor purist.)

Crust ingredients:

I use a crust recipe that my Grandma Oleson used to use, and it is SO EASY.  I cannot stress to you how much easier it is than the traditional roll-out crust.  Now, the traditional crust is delicious, no doubt about it, but, again, I am lazy.  And butter is delicious.  And a traditional crust is a bitch, a finicky little bitch. (My Grandma Carr was, quite frankly, queen of all pie makers, but she had a much stronger baking/work ethic than I do, as she always used roll-out crusts.)

Bottom crust: 1 stick salted butter, 1 cup flour, and a dash of salt

Top crust:  1 stick slightly softened salted butter, 1 cup flour, and 1/2 cup sugar (organic works beautifully)

And now . . . the process.

First, melt a stick of butter in the pie pan.  I use glass pans, so I can melt the butter in the pan in the microwave; it takes about 1.5 minutes.  If you use metal tins, you can melt the butter in the tin on the range.

Once the butter is melted, add the flour and the salt.

Melted butter with flour and salt added.

Melted butter with flour and salt added.

Mix together with fork until ingredients are thoroughly mixed together. Then, pat it out so that it covers the bottom and sides of the pie pan.

Pat out melted butter, flour, and salt so that it covers the bottom and sides of pie pan.

Pat out melted butter, flour, and salt so that it covers the bottom and sides of pie pan.

Then, pour the plain blueberries into the pie pan.  As you can likely see from the following photograph, I was too lazy to rinse my frozen berries, but I DO recommend that you rinse them so as to end up with a tighter pie filling when it’s baked.

Pour the plain blueberries into the pie pan.

Pour the plain blueberries into the pie pan.

In a separate container, mix the corn starch and the sugar together with a fork and then add the water and (if you like) the lemon juice.  Mix with fork.

In a separate container, mix the corn starch and the sugar together with a fork and then add the water and (if you like) the lemon juice.  Mix with fork.

In a separate container, mix the corn starch and the sugar together with a fork and then add the water and (if you like) the lemon juice. Mix with fork.

Pour the corn starch/sugar/water/lemon juice mixture over the blueberries.

Pour the corn starch/sugar/water/lemon juice mixture over the blueberries.

Pour the corn starch/sugar/water/lemon juice mixture over the blueberries.

Now it’s time for the top crust!  To start, blend the flour and sugar together in a bowl.  Cut up slightly softened salted butter into the mixture and then blend, using a pastry blender, until crumbly.

To start, blend the flour and sugar together in a bowl.  Cut up slightly softened salted butter into the mixture and then blend, using a pastry blender, until crumbly.

To start, blend the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Cut up slightly softened salted butter into the mixture and then blend, using a pastry blender, until crumbly.

Then, sprinkle crumble crust over the berries, covering thoroughly.

Then, sprinkle crumble crust over the berries, covering thoroughly.

Then, sprinkle crumble crust over the berries, covering thoroughly.

When the pie is thoroughly crusted, slide that puppy into the 375-degree oven and bake for 55-60 minutes.  When it’s done, it will look something like this:

Completed Blueberry Pie!

Completed Blueberry Pie!

Now, for some reason, my top crust sometimes sinks into the filling, as you see in the picture above.  I don’t know why.  It does it even when I’ve rinsed the berries sometimes.  It doesn’t really matter, as the buttery and sugary deliciousness is still there, somewhere, but it doesn’t look quite as pretty.  I get no complaints from the pie-eaters, though, so I don’t worry too much about it.

And there you have it–the world’s most delicious blueberry pie!  This recipe has brought our family much joy in the last several years, so I hope you enjoy it, as well.  May you enjoy many pie blessings as you embark on your own pie-baking journeys–godspeed, pie lovers!  And may your friends never become cannibals, or, if they do, may they decide not to eat you but simply to make you their pie slave, instead.

Addendum, re: gluten-free pies:  In the last couple of years, I’ve experimented here and there with gluten-free baking for my friend, Angie, whose intestines will explode if she eats gluten (or something like that–I’m not a doctor).  As I am a person with a raging sweet (and carb) tooth, I am horrified by the gluten-free diet.  It’s horrifying.  It’s almost worse than giving up sugar.  However, it is not only possible but easy to modify this recipe so that it’s gluten-free.  It’s easiest to buy the gluten-free pie shells (for the bottom crust) at Whole Foods and then to make the top crumble crust using the King Arthur gluten-free multi-purpose flour instead of regular flour.  It doesn’t bake up quite the same, but it tastes just as good (so I’m told).

Because, sometimes, PMS should ruin everyone’s night.

Tonight, my husband went to the movies by himself to see World War Z, which is totally cool, as it’s more of a rental for me, seeing as how I find zombies incredibly irritating.  They’re just not logical, people.  They are not scary.

I know I have PMS because I desperately want to eat chocolate chip cookie dough and then weep silently because I feel fat.  Also, while I don’t care if my husband goes to see a movie without me, I REALLY DO CARE.  But not really.  But kind of.

Not really.

Text Ennui

I don’t think he’s sorry.

Aforementioned-cat:

Bo the Kitten

I never should have dewormed him. Now he has energy.

Bo the Kitten's Paws

Those claws will f*%k you up.

May you and yours have a lovely Saturday evening.  And, please, for the love of God, stay far away from me.  Because I’m irritable.  But I love you.

I Miss You When I Blink

and other classics

Gator Patriot and Proud of It

Just another WordPress.com site

worldofbeautytips

A complete World of Beauty, Skin Care, Fashion and Style, Body Care, Makeup and much more

Joanna's "King"-dom

The Musings of a Ginger

Lisa R. Petty

Writer, Educator, Animal Lover

Regretsy

Where DIY Meets WTF

The Simple Dude

A Simple Dude in a Complex World

The Suburban Jungle

Jenny from the Blog is like comedy crack, but more addictive and less wack.

Little Big

Bless This Mess

%d bloggers like this: