I’ve been outta town…

…so I didn’t bake at all this weekend. I tried to gather my thoughts last night and recall every pie-related (or maybe just food-related) incident over the past 5 days so we can catch up. Here goes nothing:

First things first, I got a pie bird! Only $3.95 at Sur La Table! Looks like a blackbird.

I also got a sign at this wacky store in Walnut Creek called “Calypso Twist.” My aunt said the place made her happy. I was a little skeptical…but it was indeed a happy place. And now the sign hangs in my kitchen…

I had to look at RVs with my parents at the Solano County Fairgrounds (“Deals on Wheels”; “No reasonable offer refused!”) and then we decided to drive to Lodi to look at even more RVs. (I opted out for downtown Lodi…) This inspired my mother to sing the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic, “Stuck in Lodi Again” in the backseat of my aunt and uncle’s monstrous SUV. I was a *little* grumpy until we stopped off at food stand along the way. It’s a little blurry in the photo above, but they had a pie club (“Buy 7, get the 8th free!”)…as well as baby pigs for sale for $50. (This would sort of be a good time to bring up Hampton, my uncle’s barber’s son’s pig who really likes women with high-pitched voices, but I fear if I delve into that, I’ll never get back on track and we do have a lot of ground to cover over the past few days).

On our last night, we ate at Chez Panisse…where I tried cardoons and smoked duck. This probably goes without saying, but it was really, really good. I didn’t even know what cardoons were before that. Afterward, I was curious whether or not FreshDirect carries cardoons. They don’t. They look like celery…but our waiter said they’re in the artichoke family.

On the plane back, I finally finished “Julie and Julia” (I read too much of it on the way back from Alaska and had to take a break). I don’t remember the *exact* passage, but there was something in it about chopping nuts that reminded me of making Sex in a Pan (don’t worry – that pudding dessert, my lovelies) with my very first roommate in New York. I could only find walnuts in the shell…and didn’t have a nutcracker, so my roommate and I attempted to crack the nuts with hammers…but that was really loud and there was a baby upstairs (it was at night), so we ended up hunkered down in my closet cracking the walnuts on phone books (to muffle the sound) with hammers. You’d think something like that would bond you for life, huh? Sadly, this was not the case. But, that’s neither here nor there, as a former editor would say.

I also started reading “My Life in France” (the latest Julia Child book) and was stunned to discover that Julia learned to cook (at least the fancy French stuff) at 37. This means I literally have TONS of time to find my calling and that it IS still possible for my life to have direction, purpose and meaning. And that it’s okay if maybe I’m stumbling a bit. And that it’s important to remember that Rome was not built in a day. And all that stuff. (There was actually a sign at Calypso Twist that said something like that. It’s not the one that’s hanging in my kitchen though. The one in my kitchen specifically mentions “pie.”)

Before I left, my mother sent me a recipe for Elvis’ pound cake…and it seems like I’ve been seeing a lot about pound cake since then. I have to spend some time gathering my thoughts before executing an actual blog entry about it – she said something about a pound of flour and a pound of butter and that’s how it got its name?

My Saveur subscription lapsed, but I had to buy a copy at the airport ($5!!) because there was a great big ol’ coconut cream pie on the cover. (I haven’t actually read the article on the Massachusetts diner, so we’ll leave it at that for now…) There was also an Emile Henry ad for their fancy-pants pie pans…but I like Pyrex a lot. Guess it would be worth experimenting to see if it’s worth paying the extra bucks for an Emile Henry pan. I’m ashamed to admit there was a time when I didn’t think I needed to waste money on a pastry blender either…

Saveur also has a calendar of events of sorts…that includes the Interstate Mullet Toss April 27 through 29. I also didn’t read what Saveur had to say about it, but I definitely remember my classmates talking about the Flora-Bama Mullet Toss when I lived in Mississippi. However, I have yet to witness the spectacle…

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