A Retirement Monday

Grandson David had the day off, and we decided to have a short day trip after the car was serviced. Being in Asheville would give us a quick start. The car place didn’t take long, but as we drove away, David was called into work. We knew that might happen. Rain was in the forecast, anyway, so we drove home. It was a lovely drive to nowhere.

John thought perhaps we might do a little gardening, and that’s exactly what I did. He took the garbage to the trash center, while I clipped some over-zealous tendrils that were trying to invade the garage. A light drizzle fell, gradually wetting my back. This was perfect for my first day in the garden this year. Twenty minutes was enough to make me feel quite virtuous. Doing the garbage run took him longer. I enjoyed a fresh cup of mocha coffee on the porch as the drizzle turned into a downpour.

This was as good a day as any to make a Christmas pie. I promised John a Cranberry Mince Pie last December and never made it. Surely this is not as theologically askew as you might think. We wouldn’t have Easter without Christmas, and Christmas would not be celebrated without Easter. John won’t quibble, and David won’t either. Besides, it will all be gone before Palm Sunday.

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In case you are wondering, I will not tag grandson Nathaniel on this. Even for a family-only dish, he would strive for perfection. I should not have dumped all the filling in the shell, because I suspected it would overflow. It did, but the cookie sheet caught it. There wasn’t enough dough to make a proper lattice crust. Nathaniel would have made another batch. I didn’t and went from batch to botch. I won’t bitch about the botch, because almost any Butch would eat it.

It Doesn’t Pay to Hurry

The day before Thanksgiving has always been a cooking/baking day for me. We were a little late getting back from our walk because of an 18-wheeler. The big rig, loaded with slabs of stone, came up the steep hill just after we turned into our road. The little state road begins hopefully enough, but it is barely two lanes wide before it degenerates into dirt and gravel. The semi stopped at the top of the hill, waited a bit, then began backing into a driveway. After several tries, the driver pulled further down the hill and stopped again. Every time he moved, we stopped to watch. The next attempt was halfway down, but that didn’t work, either. John sent him telepathic messages to try the farm. We could no longer see, so we walked on. I wondered if we’d see him stuck at the bottom of the hill, but I forgot to look when we got home.

Seeing the time, I went into high gear. Lise and Chris were going to visit family friends, and if I didn’t hustle, they would not have time to eat the pumpkin muffins I planned for breakfast. I aim for one pumpkin dish a day when Lise is here. Just in case anyone wants to know, I wouldn’t mind chocolate once a day if I stay at your house. I was hurrying, but I also had half my mind on the next cooking project, the cranberry mince pie that defines Thanksgiving for John. I stirred the dry ingredients, dumped the wet ones on top, blended as quickly as I could, and slung the batter into muffin cups. I know just the spoon to use, how much to load it with, and presto! The job was done. Into the oven! Oops! Before the pan got hot, I realized I hadn’t added the oil.

“John!” I yelled. “Can you come help me right now?”

Bless his heart, he came on the run. He scooped the batter back into the bowl while I greased the spare muffin tin. It took only seconds more to blend in the oil and fill the cups again. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. Lise likes limp bread, and I like crispy. I took the tin out of the oven as Lise and Chris came to the table, three minutes shy of the timer ding. The muffins were a little wobbly. Would the centers be gooey? Thank heavens they were acceptable. I felt like a spectator at a sports event, rooting on the team to beat the clock. They were quite late leaving, for which I’ll take responsibility for at least 15 minutes.

Unless I left out the sugar, the cranberry mince pie will be fine.

It was.

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