I've been thinking about this journey that I have taken with the blog. As well as "where should the journey be going now?" What began as documentation in 2007 turned into stories and the grandest part - evolved into friendships with bloggers. Some whom I have met - and some that I feel I have (met).
I garden a lot. In 2007, I kept plants alive. But in 2014, I garden. I've been grappling with a number for 2 years. The number is 60 - and what does that mean? (Aside from cheaper meals at places I don't usually go to.) I bird watch. Is that what 60 means - you morph into a bird-watching gardener? Do I find binoculars and a safari hat?
I'll be transplanting these babies next spring. To make room for more shrub roses. See - that's gardening. How did this city gal from Queens, NYC become someone who plans for next spring's garden? I grew up with a cement backyard! (Have the photos to prove it.)
After 4 years, we finally harvested more than three blueberries. And I was out there at sunrise, picking them, eating them and beating the early birds to their berries! Claudia "theatre person who would go to work in the eves" is out between 5:30-6 a.m. Is that what 60 is?
The raspberries are on steroids. Which is good - because the beetles seem to like them. I have been at war with the beetles for two years and quite frankly - they're winning. In addition to being a bird-nerd, gardener, and early riser - I am now a beetle warrior. (Or I've been reading to much of Game of Thrones and it has affected how I see myself.)
The thing about 60 - is Weight Watchers doesn't work anymore. I took off 28 pounds before going to Italy and never did finish the last 12.
So this winter Paul and I resorted to the apocalypse of dieting when you're Italian - low carb. Yes - little-to-no pasta, risotto, breads, polenta, dolci ... no wonder I haven't blogged! I have thrown my frustrations into plays - where I have detailed Italian food scenes.
Everything's food. Ever notice that? Even Saint's have feast days. We feast. All the time. Then we gain weight and get criticized -
I don't gain weight.
No. You don't. There's something unnatural about that. You clearly are adopted.
I actually eat all organic and watch the intake of carbs.
How can you be Italian and watch your intake of carbs? We grew up with carbs in every shape and form. Stuffed carbs. Sauced carbs. Sauteed carbs! Braised carbs! Carbs with
vegetables. Carbs made from semolina wheat. Carbs made from potatoes! And that's just the pasta! Don't get me started on the risotto! We celebrate with pasta. We mourn
with pasta! We nourish, deal with stress, and end the day with carbs. We are genetically programmed to be carbed to death! No wonder I resemble a stuffed manicotti!
Don’t forget the polenta!
I did! How could I forget the polenta! And the breads!
The cruelty of low-carbs - it works. Slowly - but it works. I am down 10 of the last 12 pounds and of course Paul is down twice that amount (because weight loss is sexist).
And I've taken to baking pies. If I can't eat the carbs, I can dig my hands into them.
Bird-watcher, gardener, early riser, beetle battler and pie baker.
The sixties are starting to scare me.
I barely eat the pies (that carb thing). But I am compelled to bake them. Some wind up in the garbage when I'm mad at the crust (while family says, "I'll eat them"). I have a nice family.
So, I've been baking pies for two years grappling with 60. I long-ago came to terms that my inner ballerina will stay inner. And I won't be going to the Olympics except as a spectator. But I thought - I know! I could bake pies! (In 60+ years, this is the extent of my problem-solving ability - bake pies?)
You do a lot of thinking when you bake pies. I highly recommend it. And this is easy (more and more I look at ease.... nah.... I always did - there's a slug inside of me).
Blueberry Hand-Held Pies - makes about 12 in a muffin tin
From Handheld Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Rachel Wharton
Flaky Butter Crust
1 cup cold, unsalted butter
2 cups flour (little more for dusting)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
3-5 tablespoons ice water
3 cups (340 g) fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, do not thaw)
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Pinch of fresh nutmeg (optional - Ive done with and without and the nutmeg seemed to get lost)
Flaky Butter Crust (Double if you are doing a double-crust pie as I did)
1. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and freeze them while you measure the dry ingredients.
2. Combine flour, sugar and salt in food processor. Pulse briefly to mix. Take butter from freezer and scatter over dry ingredients. Pulse until mixture forms pea-like clumps. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse to mix - add just enough water for the dough to come together. When it does - you've added enough! (When it's humid here - I need less water. I have added to much and the crust just fell apart during baking. That's when I want to throw it out!)
3. Turn the dough onto a clean, floured work surface. Knead it a few times to smooth it out. Divide in half and press each half into a circle, square or rectangle - depending on how you will use it - I put mine in muffin tins so I form two disks - but you could also make them in the shape of pop tarts.)
4. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
In a bowl, combine all ingredients and gently mix. Use immediately.
1. Roll out dough on lightly-floured work surface. Flour top of dough lightly. Roll into a circle - about 1/8 icy thick (mine were thicker). Using a round biscuit cutter or glass, cut out as many 4-5 inch circles as possible.
2. Gently life circles and press into muffin tin leaving an 1/8-1/4 overhang. Gather scraps and cut out more circles! You should have 12-14 circles.
3. Put 3-4 tablespoons of blueberry mixture into prepared muffin tin.
If doing a double crust (and you can lattice it if you like), gently lift circle and place on top of filled pies. Crimp the edges (you had an overhang) together. If doing a single crust - just crimp your overhang. You could brush with a whisked egg and sprinkle with sugar. Slash some little holes in the top of the crust.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Bake for about 20-25 minutes - until the tops are browned.
Let cool on a baking rack for one hour before serving. (The pop out pretty easily - run a knife or a soup spoon under the pies after they've cooled for a little bit.)
You can go the whipped cream or ice cream route on top - but they're awfully good with a schmear of mascarpone!
My plays are taking me to more places. La Bella Cinderella
was one of three plays honored by the Unpublished Play Reading Project at the American Alliance for Theatre Education. So Paul and I followed it to Denver and then took a road trip out west. So "sixty" may not be as nerdy as I think.
Your sixties. If your lucky, it'll happen. And things are different. I write differently. I explore darkness (even with youth plays) and who-in-the-world would have guessed that "Claudia-who-is-allergic-to science" would be writing plays using physics as a portal? I visit worlds that are a touch more complicated than they used to be in my plays - with an eye to coming to grips with the time we have here on Carl Sagan's "little blue dot."