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Betsy Block


Pie in the Sky

Pie in the Sky
To learn about the issues surrounding the 2007 Farm Bill, go here. (Hint: It's costing us a lot and making us fatter at the same time - nice going, USDA!)

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To send a letter to the Secretary of the USDA asking for changes in the Farm Bill, go here. (USDA says comments on the 2007 Farm Bill are "closed." I say, it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.)

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Yes, this is another rerun. Very, very busy right now with sick children and etc.

New post up every Wednesday. Thanks for stopping by.

Mother's Day started off well enough. I had a clichd yet lovely little breakfast brought to me in bed, along with a colorful bouquet - of socks. (That crazy BD.) But I could have received a bouquet of used tissues and been happy because next thing I knew, he'd swept both kids out the door and told me they'd all be back in a few hours, whereupon I promptly fell back asleep. Ten years into motherhood, aren't I'm supposed to be well-rested? Well, I'm not.

Next up: our semi-annual photo portrait. I have mixed feelings about these things in the first place, but everyone tells me we'll be glad to have them later, so I do what I'm told. However, while people say they'll remind us of happy times, the photo shoots themselves have become these hellish little pockets of family strife, because P, who turns five today, has never liked to have her picture taken, never mind in a roomful of strangers in a strange place. She absolutely would not look at the camera the entire, endless 40-minute shoot. We cajoled, we joked, we sang - we even tried a bait-and-switch where we pretended we didn't care if she looked. Finally, desperate for our damn family photo, we idiotically backed ourselves into a corner by trying to bribe her, whispering clandestinely in her ear: Psst, cooperate and we'll make it worth your while with a treat. This caught her interest - "What kind of treat?" - but soon enough we lost her again, this time for good.

Once it was all over, P asked for her treat. When told she didn't get one ("You didn't meet our terms, kid"), 10-year-old E started in: It's not fair, he cooperated, he should get something, we are so mean... And there we were, on Mother's Day, in an all-family fight totally of our own making, all in the service of capturing this special time in our lives.

Fortunately, we'd invited my dear friend R and her family over for dinner. By the time they arrived we had all cheered up considerably and were having a great time - laughing, sharing stories about our day and our photo shoots, when R got up to examine the portraits on our walls from the past few years. "Wow," she said in surprise, "we've all changed a lot in just a few years!"

"I have, but Betsy hasn't," BD loyally piped up.

To which R, obviously one of my closest friends, replied, "Sorry BD, but yes, she has."

It was just that kind of day: It's true we've all changed (including me), and no, P won't fake it for the camera. Instead she's scrunched down in BD's lap, her unsmiling face half-hidden in her arm, for all eternity. This photo will indeed help me remember this time of our life as it really is. And in the end, I wouldn't have it any other way.

We had a biscuits-n-ham thing for dinner, so while the kids were upstairs taking a state- mandated break before our friends came over, I made this pie. It is so fast and easy, yet looks and tastes so good, that it completely cheered me up. And by the time dessert rolled around, we had all recovered from our Not So Happy Mother's Day - enough that E, who doesn't even like pie, told me this one was so good I should include the recipe on my website. And so I am.

Family Harmony Chocolate Pecan Pie
Adapted from Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking (Times Books, 1987)

One frozen 9-inch pie shell
3 ounces (squares) unsweetened chocolate, grated (I used 3 ounces)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup light corn syrup
cup sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, plus whole ones to place decoratively on top if you feel like it

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the chocolate and butter together. Set aside.

Combine the corn syrup and sugar in a small pan and bring to a boil; cook for 2 minutes.

Put the beaten eggs in a mixing bowl. Combine the corn syrup and chocolate mixtures and pour it all over the eggs, stirring constantly. (The goal here is to incorporate everything without inadvertently cooking the eggs. I do this by cooling the hot mixtures slightly, and also by adding the hot liquids into the eggs very slowly, in a stream, while beating fast the whole time.)

Stir in the vanilla and pecans. Pour into the pie crust (no need to thaw it first). Decorate with whole pecans if you want.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the pie is puffy on top.

POSTSCRIPT: This year, no family photo shoot. We'll just have to rely on our hazy, imperfect memories.