Adventures in Pi(e)-Making

Tomorrow is Pi(e) Day, and so I must do my nerdly patriotic duty and make pie. (Don’t tell anyone, but I also bought a pie because strawberry rhubarb pie is one of my weaknesses and that one feels out of my league at the moment.)

A link for a coconut custard pie crossed my path recently. Looked simple enough, so I googled other recipes for variations and found a few I could mix and match. I figured I’d bake two because I like to share.

It looked simple:

  1. Blind-bake the crust. Done. (I used pre-made crust – saves me time.)
  2. Toast the coconut flakes. Easy.
  3. Mix the filling. No problem!
  4. Pour it into the pie crusts. Well…

I mean, that’s not hard, but I had more filling than will fit into two 9-inch crusts, and this is where things started to get (literally) sticky. I did NOT overfill them. I feel like I need to say that up front, considering what happened next. One of the recipes I found recommended baking the pies on preheated cookie sheets, and I am SO glad I followed that advice. Advice I could have used: pour the filling into the pie crusts as close to the oven as you can possibly get to avoid carrying a pie full of liquid across the entire kitchen. I had the oven open, the rack out (mistake #2, although it was the lower rack and I don’t know what else I could have done), and I had banished Jack to the pantry. I didn’t drip any filling onto the kitchen floor, but lowering myself down to the level of the lower rack in the oven was not so successful. Yeah, that’s pie filling on the window in the oven door. Yes, that’s pie filling on the cookie sheet the pie is going to sit on. And no, the rack did not slide smoothly back into the oven, so yes, I lost even more pie filling to the cookie sheet as it jolted back into place. The second pie, going to the top rack, lost less filling. I got the oven closed.

THEN, as always happens with my cookie sheets in the oven, I heard a loud metal sound because my cookie sheets bend in the heat, and of COURSE they’re going to do it today. I turned the light on and looked through the cloudy pie-filling-covered oven window. The pie still had all of its filling, but it’s tilted dangerously to the back and super uneven now in the crust.

They’re both baking now, and what could have been a lovely smell of warm coconut is drowned out by the smell of burnt milk and eggs.

Update: out of the oven, they look okay, and the smell up close is much nicer.

Here’s the not-quite-as-filled one, with burnt filling all around.

Here’s the lopsided one.

Happy Pi(e) Day!

It’s still wrong

Farmhouse Table Guy came through! Or at least, he didn’t steal our money. He made us a new table, we gave him back the bad table, and we are very happy. It is exactly 32 inches high (not 34, which was way too high to eat at with normal chairs), but the width is still wrong.

(It’s hard to believe.)

It’s 44 inches wide instead of 42 inches wide, but that is something I can live with. Tablecloths might fit a little funny, but the whole point of this table is that we don’t have to protect it like we were our formal table. We probably won’t use tablecloths very often.

The point of this lovely rustic table that we did not pay an exorbitant amount for is that it can take a beating and we won’t wince. Much. Or freak out. Excessively. I’ll post pictures once we get it in place, in the next day or two. Apparently dude’s workshop is not heated, so we want to give the stain a little more time to dry.

Giving myself tedious (fun!) work to do

I have a system for noting where I hear of a book or who recommended it, and it is breaking down.

Hang on – maybe not. No, I mean, my system is NOT perfect, but it worked for the book I had in mind that was the reason behind this post. It does NOT work for the book I just gave up on the other day. I have no idea where I heard of that book. Still, maybe I want to make this a tag going forward…

Speaking of broken systems, this post makes no sense. My half-system for noting where I hear of a book is the comments feature on an Amazon wishlist. When I add a book there, which I do with probably 85-90% of the books I want to read, I usually add a comment about where I heard about it: “Tor.com review”, “Jo Walton recommends”, “Sarah Gailey recommends”, “Twitter friends”, and so on. If there’s no comment, it likely means I read about it on Tor.com. (I get a LOT of my book list from Tor.com.) If I buy the book through Amazon, after it was on my list, the comment is still available.

This does NOT work if I get the book from the library. This does NOT work if I buy a book from an actual store. But since I post all of the books I read here, I should really be making those notes here. Le sigh. More clean-up to be done on existing posts.

Will we see him again?

Update on the farmhouse table. The Facebook guy who was building us a farmhouse table delivered it to us Sunday afternoon, and it’s not exactly right. We got it in the house, put it in place in the dining room, looked at it, looked at each other, and reached for the tape measure.

Dude got some of the dimensions mixed up, I think. It was supposed to be six feet long (it is, close enough), 32 inches high (it’s closer to 34, which is really not gonna work, but is something we could fix ourselves), and 42 inches wide. It is NOT 42 inches wide. It is only 32 inches wide, which is not going to work and is not something we can fix ourselves.

John raced back outside to catch the guy before he left. From John’s account, the guy was cool about it and said he’d make us a new one this week and come to swap them out. I texted him right after that, nicely, with the exact dimensions again.

He didn’t respond. We spent the rest of yesterday wondering if we’ll ever see him again or if we’re stuck with a table 10 inches narrower than we wanted. This is what we get for buying something sight-unseen, or at least for not checking the dimensions before handing over the money.

He still hadn’t responded as of this morning, so I pasted the same message in our Facebook chat, and (WHEW) he responded with an apology about the mix-up, saying he’s working on the new table right now, and he’ll text me when it’s done in a few days.

I feel better about that, I guess, but I’m not completely confident round two will be right. Stay tuned for an update.

I did check Facebook, and YES, I can confirm that I gave him the right numbers to start with. Good to have it writing somewhere, even if it is Facebook.

Starting the day off wrong

I scheduled a grocery pick-up from Stop & Shop for this morning at 8am. This is not unusual. After I finish working for the morning, I get dressed, John gets Jack dressed, and Jack comes along for the ride to pick up the groceries while John starts work. We pick up coffee on the way home.

Right before I left the house, I got the email they always send that says what parts of your order they had to substitute or leave out altogether. I had a couple of substitution ideas for the items they left out (for instance, they didn’t substitute another honey for the one I picked, and I REALLY don’t care what kind of honey we get, so let’s just pick any other honey, okay?), so I called from the car.

“Um, we don’t have an order for you.” “But I got the confirmation email not 10 minutes ago.” “Are you sure it’s for this location?” “How could it not be for this location?” I pulled over and checked my email. “Oh no….” For reasons that I think cannot be understood, my order for grocery pickup at a Narragansett location was sent to Glen Burnie. Which is in MARYLAND, people. It’s a good thing I had already pulled over because I hung up the phone, and I cried.

It’s been a rough week. Work has been super-busy, and Jack hasn’t napped in two full weeks. In order to get the work done, I have to either lose sleep (early or late) or neglect Jack for hours at a time. John’s work week has been insane, so he hasn’t been able to help.

We’re not going to go hungry. It didn’t affect any of today’s meals or even tomorrow’s. It was just too much for me this morning. So I cried. And there was Jack, in his car seat in the back, “Mommy, you sad?” “Yes, sweetie, I’m sad, but I’m okay.” Then I heard the sound of him blowing me a kiss. “Mommy, you feel better now?” “Yes, sweetie, thank you. I’m starting to feel better.”

So we went to Starbucks and came home without the groceries. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Call me old-fashioned

I am not a big fan of doing business on Facebook. I mean, I barely use Facebook. I don’t like Facebook. I wasn’t planning on using Facebook for this.

A couple of months ago, John and I decided we wanted to get a new dining room table. We still love the one we have, but it was expensive and we’re paranoid about messing it up, and all of a sudden we have a two-year-old who likes to drive his trucks, race cars, and boats all over it.

We decided to look for a used farmhouse table, and after a complete lack of response from our neighboring custom furniture business, I tried Facebook Marketplace. I didn’t even know that was a thing until one of my mom friends mentioned that she finds some cool toys there.

How old do I sound right now? Oh, sonny, have you heard about this here BookFace Supermarket?

Anyway, I found a guy who makes basic farmhouse tables who will make us one, stain it dark, give it an extra coat or two of polyurethane as more toddler protection, and deliver it to us for less than a third of what we paid for our beautiful formal table. And he’ll have it done in less than a week.

That works for me. But here’s the thing: this all happened over Facebook Messenger. He’s going to contact me when he’s done. I don’t know where his workshop or store is, if he has one. He doesn’t know where to deliver it yet. I’ll pay him on delivery and he didn’t ask for any part of it up front, so for all he knows, I could back out. I suppose he could still sell the table to someone else once it’s done. But it’s weird not to sign any kind of agreement. This is not how I’m used to buying things. Even though nearly EVERYTHING I buy nowadays is online.

Being neighborly

Our senior citizen neighbors (no, not those senior citizen neighbors, the other ones – the ones we met just last summer after living next door for nearly two years) called for help shoveling the driveway and sidewalk yesterday. John helped the last time it snowed, in December, I think, but since there’s no such thing as a snow day anymore, work does not go on hold when the weather gets bad, and it’s hard to squeeze in shoveling at home AND shoveling for the neighbors. Luckily, it hasn’t snowed much this winter.

So the other day, David left a voicemail for John, requesting help. First, he shouldn’t have to call – we’ll be better about that. It’s not like we didn’t see the snow. Second, David is trying to find college students or someone to help him out, but he’s striking out. Third, that day was not a good day for John to walk away from work for a couple of hours. He could keep half an eye on Jack, though, so we brought some toys and the tablet upstairs, and I went to shovel some snow.

I don’t think shoveling is fun, and I don’t want to have to do it every day, but it felt pretty good to be out there. It was hard (the overnight rain had packed the snow down so it was heavy and slushy), but it was good exercise. We started in his driveway, and by the time we reached the sidewalk in front of his house, I was so warm I took off my coat. We cleared his entire driveway, including the snow-plow slush at the street, and then cleared his entire sidewalk, all in about an hour. David was out there with me, so it was nice to catch up with him, and it felt good to be helping him out.

And then he tried to pay me! I refused, of course, but accepted the present he had for Jack. I can’t remember if I’ve said this before, but David spent his entire career designing and building toys, and he has the neatest stuff. His present to Jack was the most recent version of toddler power tools, the first versions of which were his idea and his design. How cool is that?

He’s an interesting guy, and I’m looking forward to nicer weather so we can hang out in the yard and talk.

Sleepyhead

I never nap when Jack naps. During the week, that’s prime work time. During the weekend, I usually get some uninterrupted reading time. Regardless, I don’t sleep, and it’s not a problem. Usually.

Today was the sixth day in a row with no nap for Jack, and I’ve noticed a confusing trend. When Jack doesn’t nap, I’m the one who feels sleepy in the afternoon. Yesterday my eyes were actually watering from the effort of keeping them open.

I don’t have this problem on days he naps. Apparently, it’s super exhausting for me to watch him not nap. He doesn’t even give me a hard time about it anymore – there’s no crying or yelling. He just doesn’t nap, and eventually I give up. And THEN the sleepiness rolls in, which makes it extra hard to try to work while he plays (when he’s not tugging at my arm or stealing my mouse).

Anyway, I’m going to bed.