Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shaker Lemon Pie, Southern railroad tunes, and gunfights.

Lately, this blogger has been feeling a little old-fashioned. He works out math problems with pen and paper and lectures at the blackboard. He does not "tweet." He likes black corduroys, and wearing white shirts and ties. He does not own an iPhone, or any other smartphone.  He dislikes Kindles and electronic reprints of articles, and he maintains an extensive CD collection. He has also taken to participating in the Monday night bluegrass sessions at Finnegan's excellent public house (Main and 7th, Stillwater, OK) and has learned a number of traditional tunes about outlaws (mostly men) "carrying two guns every day," "killing men on the West Virginia line", and lamenting the loss of their old home places due to the twin evil influences of Girls and Booze. Very old-fashioned.

(On a side note, a story in the Daily Oklahoman recently bore the headline "Man shot dead in Lawton bar room gunfight." A drunken patron, coincidentally the ex-fire chief of the town in question, upon being asked to leave by patrons and bar employees due to excessive intoxication, responded by opening fire on the bar with a gun, only to be shot by the establishment's owner with a shotgun. Old-fashioned is one phrase that comes to mind. Wild West another.)

In any case, another feeling our blogging Swede-Pole has been experiencing lately is a strong craving for key lime pie. It is, in his opinion, the queen of pies, and probably his favorite dessert. His friends have heard him talk extensively about this delicious desert, he has lamented his key lime pie deprived state on facebook, and a number of recipes have been suggested to him. Unfortunately, these last weeks have been very busy, and our blogger has not had the opportunity to set aside the time this wonderful culinary marvel deserves.

Then last weekend a fellow food blogger (who, incidentally, lives with Mr. Pie the cat) suggested the "shaker lemon pie"; a sourish pie that was supposedly very easy to make. A google search for recipes revealed that the aforementioned pie was apparently a specialty of, and named after, the Ohio branch of a religious community known as Shakers. It was also considered a little old-fashioned by a number of food bloggers, and indeed seemed simple enough to produce. Perfect!

2 lemons
2 cups of sugar
1 spoonful of honey

4 eggs

2 cups of flour
1 stick of butter
6 oz. of ice water

We start with the lemony filling. It's so easy. Wash the lemons, then slice them very thinly without removing the rind. (The Shakers were thrifty!) In a bowl, add 2 cups of sugar and a spoonful of honey. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, and let the lemons soak for 2-3 hours or so. Read a book. Or surf the internet on your iPhone.

Next, prepare the pie crust. It is not difficult-use your preferred method or consult any of the recipes online. (I usually can't be bothered to follow recipes very closely, so I used about 2 cups of flour, 1 standard stick of butter (cut up), and about 6 oz. or so of ice water for the crust. First mix butter and flour, then successively add the water and mix until the dough has the right "feel". Then roll it.)

Carefully line a pie form with crust (use about 2/3 of the crust at this stage). Then beat the eggs, and add them to the lemons and mix well. You've got your filling!

Pour the filling into your pie form, and then cover the whole thing with the top crust. Turn on your oven, and bake the pie at 450F for about 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375F. Bake the pie for another  20 minutes or so, check if it's done (insert a fork into it), and then remove it. Let it cool for a few minutes, and you're done.

Serving suggestions: "Smoke ring for my halo" by Kurt Vile on the side, a cup of tea with milk. (I am not familiar with the Shakers' views on brandy and other such pie-friendly alcoholic beverages.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Asparagus in the time of tax returns.

As the readers of this blog may have noticed, our hero, the Oklahoman Swede-Pole, did not spend a lot of time at home during March. Instead, during what me might call the Great Spring Migratory Period, he traveled all across the United States and visited New York (again), Boston (first time, and it was great), Austin (SWSX-a great time), and Denton, TX, (good Indian food) over Spring Break. After a brief two-day stop in Oklahoma, the math guy behind this blog then flew down to Houston to attend the Triannual Ahlfors-Bers conference. His 5 days in Houston were most enjoyable and filled with many exciting math talks (no, really!), delicious BBQ at Goode Co., and almost nightly visits to Hans' Bierhaus with the NY/ WA/TN/OK postdoc/young faculty gang.

This week, post-A/B conference, our blogger had a Swedish friend visit him in Stillwater. (Third visitor so far. Anyone else? Tornado season is approaching...) Cowboy boots were purchased, PBR was sampled, oil derricks were viewed, talk was given, a good time was had.

After this visit, our postdoc was supposed to stay put in OK for a while. But instead, he inexplicably found himself in high demand as a speaker in the western part of the United States, and so will be going to Manhattan, KS, as well as Las Vegas within the next few weeks. This change in travel plans, along with teaching, along with the necessity of filing tax returns (1040NR-EZ? Okla taxes? W2? Etc.) has turned this into a most busy time north of McElroy Rd.

So what does an Oklahoman Swede-Pole do when he is hungry, but also needs to get a lot of things done? Does he go to Chick-Fil-A for a quick meal? Is IHOP getting a visit tonight? Nope. Rather, our blogger cooks all the vegetables in his fridge, in the quickest and easiest way possible.

green onions

olive oil

salt and pepper

Rinse the onions and the asparagus. Peel the carrots. Cut off the top part of the carrots, the bottom part of the asparagus, and the top and bottom parts of the green onions. Turn on the oven, medium heat.

Lay out two sheets of aluminum foil. Pour a little olive oil onto them, sprinkle some salt and pepper on it, and then toss the vegetables in the mix.  Grate a little (hold that thought, I mean a lot of) parmesan on top, and add a little salt and pepper. Wrap the vegetables up in foil and into the oven they go.

Sit back and relax (or read up on IRS tax forms online) for 15 minutes or so. Remove the "package" from the oven and serve this deliciously simple meal immediately, possibly with a slice of bread.

Serving suggestions: "Black Love" by Afghan Whigs on the side, a bottle of Alien Amber Ale from Roswell, NM.