May 2009

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This past weekend we watched Taste of Cherry, a splendid Iranian film from director Abbas Kiarostami.  The story follows a man Mr. Badii (masterfully played by Homayon Ershadi) on what may be his last day of life.  He is on a quest to find a man willing to place the final shovelfuls of soil over his body after he commits suicide.

It is a very meditative film with long stretches of time spent with Badii as he drives and drives his Range Rover through the streets of Tehran and the surrounding hillsides, searching for just the right man.  Over the course of the day, he finds men of various ages, nationalities, and beliefs about suicide, and attempts to sway them into his favor.  You need not worry; there is little repetition in this, as the various conversations form a single thoughtful narrative.

As someone who has suffered from suicidal bouts since the fourth grade, I could appreciate the steadiness of Badii’s desire to end his life as well as the longing to meet it with a certain dignity.  Perhaps it is also why, when I asked Gregory if he would do as Badii requested and he said “No,” I already knew, without question, that I would.  I know that pain.  That being said, this, for me, was ultimately an uplifting and hopeful film, for isn’t it marvelous when you can connect with the right person at just the right time?  I think so.

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This is a bloom from the final peony I bought on my grand adventure last summer – the Bartzella!  A delight for the eyes on the eve of my sixteenth wedding anniversary.

Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul to another.

George Eliot

Happy Anniversary – I love you, Buddy!

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There is in each of us so much goodness that if we could see its glow, it would light the world.

Sam Friend

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Hello friends!

I hope everyone has had as wonderful a weekend as I have.  Goodness gracious the weather is lovely, especially for this time of year.  Normally, we’d be experiencing a bit of rain with occasional sunny days, but it looks like we’re being spoiled and quite royally – sun is expected through next weekend.

As we are no fools, we’ve done all we can to take full advantage.  The first photo is of yesterday’s adventure, biking and walking our fair city.  After seeing Portland City Walks recommended on one of my favorite blogs, Posie Gets Cosy, we thought we’d try it, too.  We’ve ventured out on two of the twenty walks (I’ll post photos of the first one later) and have really enjoyed them.  Normally this would not be our thing, as it seems silly to walk around like a tourist in our own city, but the author, Laura O. Foster, writes a lot about local history and has interesting little tidbits and “secrets” unknown to us, even though we’ve lived here for eleven years.  The book also inspires us to venture outside our usual zone of influence, taking the bikes, parking them, and walking less traveled destinations, all good.

These first two photos are of the Rose City Golf Course.  Now I am not a golfer by any stretch of the imagination, but it looks like a nice place to play.  The hill in the second photo is Mount Tabor.  It is nice to have a different perspective of it.

A neat garden structure we encountered along the way.

The view from the stairs descending Alameda Ridge.  We actually stumbled upon these last summer.  “Buddy, look!  It seems like this is a public path between the houses.  Let’s see where it goes!”  It is a marvelous treat to discover.

We’re back on the home turf now.  These are two of the peonies I planted last summer.  I am over the moon at how pretty they are.  This first photo is Coral Charm opening on Sunday.

How she looks today…

Buckeye Belle – apparently she is a bit more shy, as she hasn’t opened all the way.  No matter, she’s still quite lovely!

Another little project out of the way.  Greg put this bench together yesterday evening.  I bought the backless variety so we can have the option of lying prostrate, looking at the little vegetable plot (tomatoes and cucumbers, and a volunteer rose), or the cutting garden.  I love variety!

I’m sitting on the bench looking toward where I sat for the photos on this post.  I know I’ve said this before, but I just love to see clothes hanging on the line.  This peony is doing quite well, too.  I don’t know what its name is, however, as it was inherited from someone else’s garden.

Looking from the bench to the cutting garden.  I love having a new perspective on the yard.

If you’re wondering what the funny looking structure against the house is – here is a close up.  Still funny looking, isn’t it?  This was our final project of the weekend, a house for our bee friends.  I’ve learned that most bees are quite solitary and make their homes either in the ground or in holes made by borers or woodpeckers.  We’ve done the job for them and included our old license plate from Colorado as the roof.  It’s good I kept it in the garage for the last eleven years.  Hey Bridget, sometimes I do hold on to things!

As soon as I’m finished with this post, I’m joining the cats.  They’ve got the right idea…

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I love that song by The Presidents of the U.S.A.  I also considered Blame it on Peaches as a title, a nod to the the movie Blame It On Rio.  I’ve only seen bits of it with a very young Demi Moore in a bikini and Michael Caine sporting what looks like a tight perm.  What is it with the 80′s and perms anyway?  I’m not judging, as I had my fair share of them (done at home with neon pink and blue rollers).  I’m just wondering why we thought this was a good idea.

As you can see by the photos, this post is not about music, the 80′s, or perming one’s hair.  It’s about PIE, and to be precise, peach meringue pie, the hubster’s favorite that I make.  I like it, too.  I wish I could remember where I first saw a description of a pie like this, but I can’t.  I do remember being excited to go home and make my own, however.  Now you can, too.  Here’s how it goes:

Peach Meringue Pie

Crust

Buy or make your favorite pie crust, enough to line a tart pan or a 9″ pie plate.  I’m rather partial to Martha Stewart’s recipe from her classic book Pies and Tarts.  I love a buttery crust.   Cut a piece of parchment large enough to fit the pan with a bit of overhang then fill with pie weights or dry beans (I keep a container of them expressly for this purpose).  Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes.  Remove the parchment and beans as carefully as you can – the paper will likely brown and turn very brittle, like mine did.  As well, and as you can see, it will be hard to get everything out without spilling the beans, tee hee!  Bake an additional 5-6 minutes, or until golden.  Cool.

1-2 tablespoons chocolate chips

Melt the chocolate chips.  I put them in a metal measuring cup over low heat on the stove top.  It goes pretty quickly.  Brush the melted chocolate over the pie crust, though not on the exposed edge.  This helps prevent the custard from softening the crust.  Don’t worry, you won’t be able to taste the chocolate.  Though, if this worries you, white chocolate chips are certainly an option.

Filling (make while the crust bakes)

2 tablespoons corn starch

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups milk

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon butter

Mix the corn starch, sugar, and milk together in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to thicken and bubble.  Cook another two minutes and remove from heat.  Mix 3/4 of a cup of the hot milk into the egg yolks.  Pour back into the pan, mix well, and return to the heat, stirring until it bubbles again.  Cook another two minutes, remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla and butter.  Sometimes I like to add a little powdered ginger here.  It is a wonderful complement to peaches.  Allow to cool.

Meringue

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 egg whites

6 tablespoons sugar

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla together until the mixture starts to form mounds.  Add a tablespoon or two of sugar at a time, thoroughly incorporating it before adding more.  If you add too much too soon, it will be runny and unusable.  When you are finished, it will be thick and glossy beautiful!

2 -3 peaches, sliced

Though I used some left over compote this time, I usually line the crust with fresh peaches.  Top with the cooled pudding then the meringue, making sure you get it to the edge, so it won’t shrink while baking.

Bake at 350 for fifteen minutes or until golden brown.  Though it will be very tempting, allow to cool before serving.  Enjoy!

Now to address my little problem or the emperor’s new clothes, so to speak, me and this durn sugar addiction.  I’ve eaten it twice this week!  Once for Bunco – I made a delicious buttermilk bundt cake with a praline glaze and peach compote (hence the left overs) and this pie.  I can’t invite people over without giving them sweets, thus requiring me to buy ingredients and bake a cake.  Since I had the leftover flour, sugar, and compote, hate being wasteful, and know how much the hubster loves this pie, I could think of no other logical conclusion but to make it and eat one slice.  Would Spock be proud or look at me in wild wonder?  Gosh, I don’t know, but I’ll bet he’d enjoy a slice of pie or cake while we discuss it.  Alas, I’ll take it day by day.  There is always tomorrow.

Oh yes, I can’t forget to say – Happy Birthday Sarah and Becky!  Happy Anniversary Bridget and Eric!  You’re all wonderful people who bring the best kind of sweetness into my life…

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