Sunday, November 25, 2012

Easy As Pie

Much like the remains of whatever bird you tore into on Thanksgiving Day my carcass has been lying around since Thursday, accomplishing exactly nothing. So, in a belated effort to be useful, I’m sharing this delicious and easy recipe I made for dessert—my only contribution to the Thanksgiving feast. And while Thanksgiving is over, cranberries are still plentiful and this is a nice, fresh, winter dessert. 
For me, a meal is not complete with something sweet at the end. At the same time I knew the odds on me making pie crust were slim to none. Making two crusts and cutting a lattice and leaf shapes was never going to happen so I was thrilled to find a local bakery (Grand Central Bakery) that provides all kinds of products to make your life easier—including prepared pie dough. If you’re the type who likes a challenge then by all means make whatever pie dough you use for a regular pie. 

The bonus to this galette? It tastes even better the following day. I was concerned that with only three people I would have to throw half of it away but J, my mother, and I each had a piece the following two nights, which is not saying much for my mother and I but J never eats dessert, so it was big deal. Store it in on a rack in a covered container in a cool area. We set it outside, as the fridge was overflowing with leftovers. The extra time gives the lime and ginger a chance to blend and really ups the flavor.


Galette with Cranberries

3T ground nuts
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw and pat dry)
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2” chunks
1/3 C plump dried cranberries
¾ C packed light brown sugar
1 1 ½” piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (we used half that)
Grated zest of one lime
Juice of ½ lime

Preheat oven to 400˚. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Remove prepared dough from fridge (should be chilled). Roll dough into a 1/8” circle 12” in diameter (this is the size most prepared pie dough comes in). Place dough on baking sheet. Sprinkle nuts on dough, leaving a 3” border around edges.  

In medium bowl mix together remaining ingredients and stir until brown sugar has dissolved and berries are coated. Carefully spoon mixture onto pie dough, leaving 3” border. This will mean heaping it in the center but that’s all right. Get a small bowl of water and wetting fingertips fold edges of dough up and around filling. This will create pleats or folds that you can pinch gently together, using the water for a seal until an edge is created around entire pie. Lightly brush edge with water and then sprinkle with 1-2t of sugar.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until crust is golden brown, cranberries have popped, and filling is bubbling. Place baking sheet onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Gently remove galette from baking sheet and let cool on rack.
Recipe by Dorie Greenspan from InStyle, November 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Retail: The Despoiling of Humanity

I finally completed my foray back into the world of retail. It’s been quite a learning experience and, as always, I’m compelled to share some of the finer bits that have come my way, especially as starting tomorrow some of you will jumping into the insanity of holiday shopping. My number one take-away is that nothing will sour your belief in humanity more quickly than retail. For whatever reason, it brings out the craziest, loopiest, most entitled behavior one could imagine. I have looked at any number of customers thinking, “My mother would have beat me for such behavior.” 

  • Compiling a massive stack of books from around the store, sitting on a stool and reading through them for over an hour, then coming to the register with only two, leaving the balance of the stack spread out on the floor. This one offended me so much I did ask the customer, “Do you want the books you left on the floor as well?” Without a trace of shame, middle-aged woman replied, “No, they’re just too heavy to put away.” 
  • Phone call wanting to know exactly what the new cafĂ© would be serving.
  • Sticking an iphone in my face with the website goodreads on it and asking me to look up every book on your want-to-read list because you’re tired of looking.
  • Bringing in your entire family, including pre-verbal toddlers, and letting them wander completely unsupervised while you read a book, which, of course, you do not purchase. This is not a singular experience but instead one I witnessed daily. Families settling into the store for several hours, small children pulling books off shelves and climbing on fixtures with no adults anywhere in sight.
  • Sitting in the newsstand area and reading magazine after magazine, thumbing through the pages, bending the spines back, and then discarding them on the floor when you’re finished. Hours and hours, magazines that have to be discarded no sold and not a single purchase.

I could go on but this is enough ire on a day of thanks. Just a few final thoughts: Sales clerks are not your maids—leaving any store items strewn in fitting rooms or on the floor is offensive and embarrassing (to you), retailers are not known for their generosity and employees seldom earn more than minimum wage and are held to part-time hours so no benefits have to be paid—they  will want to help but expecting them to be psychic regarding a book whose title/author’s name you don’t know and then getting mad because they can’t find it is rude and cruel. The same goes for any product whose name you can’t remember. In addition to being poorly paid they STAND behind a register or customer service desk for hours every day. No sitting is allowed. Try standing for two hours straight in the comfort of your own home and see how good you feel.  

Sometimes all of the above will make a person cranky by the end of a long day so having your payment ready and NOT talking on your cell phone while at the register goes a long way to helping. Yes, you’re tired too and you’re spending your money in their establishment but giving even a moment’s thought to being a good customer and being an active, prepared part of the shopping experience makes it a good one for everyone. And that, dear reader, is all I have to say about that.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Anna Karenina- Keira Knightley

If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere in the U.S. where Anna Karenina will be showing—congratulations! The movie opens in selected theaters on the 16th. The rest of us will just have to wait and hope that it does well enough to expand into smaller markets. 
I’ve read the book in all its glorious tragedy and commend the filmmakers on their choice of Keira Knightley as Anna. Despite what you might think of her acting capabilities there is no one who can do doe-eyed, slender, aristocratic grace like she can. Look what she pulled off in Pride & Prejudice in those dreadful frumpy frocks! How lovely then to see her truly decked out in the grandeur of a wealthy character. 
Here are two of her costumes from the movie, beautifully photographed by Mario Testino for Vogue as well as a still from the picture in Chanel diamonds worth millions. If nothing else, the movie will be a visual extravaganza.
Dress by Joe Wright

Dress by Jacqueline Durran 

Jewelry custom designed by Chanel w/ 693 diamonds
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