about bliss

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

twd: bittersweet brownies


Coming back to the ritual of TWD baking in the last weeks of the journey...

The last few golden leaves shimmying and clinging to near-bare branches...

Friends close yet distant...

A semester two-thirds completed...

Saying goodbye to friends who are embarking on new, exciting paths...


Like most of life, sadness and happiness intertwined. Longing and fulfillment coexisting.

My favorite kind of chocolate, and my favorite kind of brownie.

Leslie from Lethally Delicious selected this week's recipe, which I had made before, but made again on Sunday. While I'm still partially to the fudginess of cocoa brownies, I love the depth and richness and, yes, of course, the bittersweetness of these brownies, not to mention the ease of preparation (one bowl, one baking pan).

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

twd: depths-of-fall butternut squash pie

As of last Friday, I'm on a facebook hiatus. I had several low days last week, and I realized that part of my blues (besides the encroaching winter and shortened daylight hours) was at once a disconnect from the ones--and hobbies--I so love, and a sense of hyper-connection. That's to say that my time connected to virtual worlds seemed to be taking me away from the pleasures and slower pace of real life. And so, I posted a semi-dramatic status to announce my intent, and logged out. 

Since then, my days have been a bit more reflective and contemplative, with a greater appreciation for sustained thought and activity. I believe the studies that show how technology, with its clickability and fast pace of ever changing stimuli, is changing the way we think. I know it has worked its (evil) magic on my brain. And, so, I'm retraining my brain--with long novels (reading and writing) and projects to be started and completed in one continuous unit of time. 

Activities like baking, especially for Tuesdays with Dorie, the baking group I joined years ago, and abandoned this summer, called to me. My mom is a faithful reader of other TWD bloggers and she told me the group was poised to finish the book at the end of the year. I clicked over to the TWD website and decided to start baking along, again. 

This week, I selected the Depths-of-Fall Butternut Squash Pie chosen by Valerie of Une Gamine dans la Cuisine based on my ingredients at hand--frozen roasted squash, one organic pear, dried cranberries, and the remains of last year's Alabama pecans found in the depths of my mom's freezer.

I used a Martha Stewart pâte briseé recipe, which rolled out beautifully.

I diced (pear) and chopped (butternut squash); I infused (cranberries in bourbon) and roasted (pecans). I sprinkled (cinnamon) and grated (nutmeg) and zested (orange). And the filling looked like a fine stuffing or culinary confetti. 

I spooned the filling into my diminutive pie tin. 

I draped the top crust on, crimped the edges, brushed the top with water, and sprinkled with my favorite hot pink sanding sugar.

With mugs of black vanilla tea in hand, Gregg and I sampled the pie. 

Interesting, different, and texturally unique, the pie intrigues me. I'm not a fan of pumpkin pie, so I was concerned about this pie, but the various fillings and cinnamon-centric spicing keep it from veering too heavily into pumpkin territory. The orange flavor (from zest + juice) was a bit too pronounced for my taste, and I would have liked a touch more sweetness. However, the pie ages and mellows well, and I enjoyed my second piece, eaten two days later, even more than the first. 

Mostly, I enjoyed the mindful creation of the pie, and the expanse of time on a long Sunday afternoon, free of digital distractions, to refocus on myself and my favorite pastimes.