General Updates

We’re still sad about our kitty. Sadness comes and goes in waves. 

Since Fidel Castro and Ron Glass passed in the same week, it makes me wonder if there isn’t something brewing in the universe. At least I can always remember what year our furry friend passed. 

If our kitties each had a superpower, Fletcher’s would be his friendly, chilled-out attitude towards everything and Mojo’s would have been his love of cuddling and getting petted. He aggressively sought kitty strokes. He’d even meow at us to sit down and pet him. 

Dave reminded me that twelve years ago I never would have claimed that Mojo liked to cuddle. He changed a lot over the years (so did I). We’ll continue to miss his cuddle especially as we get back into our everyday routine after the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Awesome friends sent us an Edible Arrangements bouquet in honor of Mojo. It was a super nice surprise and helped improve the overall mood at home.

Our other cat is taking it all okay. He didn’t mind one bit that Fidel Castro died. I think he’d have liked Ron Glass though. And he seems down about losing his buddy Mojo. 

Normally the kitties go through playful times. There’s lots of pouncing and chasing each other (and imaginary critters) as they tear around the living room. But Fletcher hasn’t done that in a few days, so I think it sunk in that his friend isn’t coming back. 

Fletcher is getting lots of extra kitty strokes and cuddling and treats and hugs. Hopefully, we’re helping him cope as he’s helping us cope. Mojo was our friend and his for over 16 years.

Between vet trips and mini-Thanksgiving trips and unexpected crying, last week was a busy one. I think I accidentally missed a day for NaBloPoMo and didn’t write anything for NaNoWriMo for a few of the days. Just when I’d expected to have some extra time for writing. Poof! I could not keep my eyes open. Gah. But life happens. 

I had a few technical issues with posting from mobile devices. A few posts I thought I’d posted before midnight showed up as after midnight (so had the next day’s date). That may have happened when I made edits. And I think at least once, my mobile device wasn’t connecting so it saved a post locally but didn’t post it live when I though it did.

I’ll try for an extra post or two today and tomorrow.

I have no idea how many total words I have for NaNoWriMo. I’ve been writing on different devices, so I need to consolidate and add it all up (then feed it into the machine to make it official). I definitely won’t be at 50,000 words, but that’s okay. I still wrote lots of days. I know I did better than last year. And I made some progress with the story. So that’s good.

I had a mini-cleaning frenzy in my kitchen. I think that’s a good thing.

Thanksgiving foods were all extra yummy, and it was nice to spend time with family and relax some too. No matter what else, we still had a lot to be thankful for this week. And I’m enjoying the leftovers.

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Thanksgiving 

On this day of eating lots of food with friends and / or family, I wish everyone much good food and plentiful friends and loving family. May we all have much to be thankful for today and all year. And may we have the wherewithal to give thanks. 

We ate food at my mom’s. The five of us ate food until we felt like we would burst. My stepdad usually cooks the turkey in an old, plain white T-shirt to retain juices. It sounds weird, but always tastes delicious as does the stuffing and giblet gravy (which weren’t cooked in a T-shirt). The sweet potato casserole was dotted with marshmallows and just enough seasoning (brown sugar and vanilla extract) to be super yummy. We made the green bean casserole — our favorite variation with diced water chestnuts. 

Then, when we felt like we could hardly eat another bite, we had pumpkin pie.

While we’re sad about the recent loss of our kitty, we had much to be thankful for. Earlier in the day I did some cleaning and even wrote some words for NaNoWriMo. It was good. 

Fixing Pie (saving an undercooked pie)

This year’s Thanksgiving pumpkin pie came out less than ideally cooked, and we were able to save it from a runny fate by rebaking it. Here’s what happened. 

It was one of the frozen pies my mom purchased from my daughter as a fundraiser for the the school’s music department. Last year we thought these pies were actually quite yummy, so we looked forward to enjoying them again.

The instructions on the box said to bake the pie at a temperature 50 degrees lower if baking in a convection oven. So my mom thought this would be a good time to try out the convection feature of her new oven. Needless to say it resulted in an undercooked pie even though she let it bake for a few extra minutes. Those 50 degrees made a huge difference.

Perhaps it was somewhat the result of unfamiliarity with a new oven, but I don’t think convection instructions are always correct when they tell you to bake at a lower temperature. Why is this anyway? I thought a convection oven was supposed to cook quicker. That doesn’t happen when baking at a lower temperature.

Anyway, come time that any of us felt like squeezing another morse of food into our stomaches after stuffing ourselves with turkey, gravy, sweet potato casserole, and stuffing, we took our bites of pie and hesitated. Parts of the crust were doughy and the pie was runny in the center even though it had throughly cooled in the fridge.

We ate our pieces anyway because … pie. The flavor was still very good, but overall that poor little pie really needed more heat.

So we re-baked it.

We’d already cut a couple of pieces out of the pie so now there was a gaping hole left behind where those pieces had been. We needed a way to keep the filling from running into the crevasse when it got hot and even runnier as it re-liquified.

So we formed a sort of placeholder out of greased aluminum foil. A slices-of-pie shape cup was fashioned to sit where the eaten pieces had been. Then we filled that foil cup with some water to weigh it down, and keep it stable. This prevented the pie filling from oozing too much as it reheated. It also helped to stabilize the temperature.

We then popped pie in the pre-heated oven at the higher (non-convection) temperature and 35 minutes later — voila. Fixed pie.

The crust was now a lovely golden brown instead of the pale doughy impostor it had been, and the filling was now able to stand up on it’s own without wandering about the pie plate.

This process may not work with every pie. But it saved this particular doughy, undercooked excuse of (delicious) pumpkin pie goo and made it into a real, stand-up, yummy pumpkin pie.


(This post is also for NaBloPoMo.)

Adding a footnote since this is a popular topic on Thanksgiving 2018. I hope this helps save few a pies from a runny fate this turkey day. Thank you for visiting and feel free to leave feedback in the comments.

The temperature should be as high as the original temperature, at least 350 degrees. Use a thermometer to be sure. If you think your oven is running cool, but you have no thermometer you might want to crank it up to 375 or more. Check the pie regularly to make sure it’s not burning to a crisp.

If I was going to do the same again, I’d cover the edges of the crust. There were some slightly burned areas after the rebake. Make a ring of foil around just the edges. Remove it the last 10 minutes to make sure the crust is golden and flaky.

Also adding that since some pumpkin pie contains raw eggs, it’s probably not a great idea to eat the pie raw or undercooked. Heating completely through should take care of any nasties. But if the pie sat out at room temperature semi-raw for days or if there’s any evidence of a foul taste or smell, then probably best to toss it.

Also, this rebake method should work with many other pies that suffered from too little heat and ended up doughy or runny. Just be careful about burning the crust on the rebake. May not be quite as good as getting it right the first time, but better than tossing the whole pie. A rebaked pie is better than no pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Earlier in the day I caught a pot-holder on fire while checking on a pie. There were flames and everything. 

It was quickly extinguished, but the the whole kitchen smelled funny for a while. The pot-holder is still good. It’s just a little stinky. The pie turned out nicely.

Right now my tummy is still stuffed full of yummy food. This Thanksgiving was our first at my mom and stepdad’s new home. It has a great kitchen for cooking, but perhaps allows too many cooks working simultaneously. That can be a minor issue, but gets trickier when none of them know quite where to find things. It all worked out, and there’s much to be thankful for.

Wishing you and yours a lovely day and weekend!
   
   
  

Advance Warning

Earlier this Thanksgiving Day I burped. With all the food eaten and beverages consumed today I’m thinkin’ I’m not the only one. I hadn’t even eaten our Thanksgiving meal yet. It was a soda burp.

In my case, it lead to a discussion on whether or not people have advance warning before they burp (or fart for that matter), so that they can close their mouth or even excuse themselves to another room before cutting loose.

Years ago I had this same discussion with a co-worker, and dear friend, who complained that her husband (now ex) farted right there in their living room in front of her. On the couch even!

She’d tell him that he should go to the restroom. He’d argue that he had no advance warning, and therefore had no choice but to fart wherever he was at the time. She was somewhat offended by this. Her thinking was that he was just being lazy about where he dispensed his farts, and the claim of “no advance warning” was his unbelievable excuse.

In comes me. I was a little nervous about defending my friend’s husband as she seemed pretty certain that farting in front of others was uncouth. And really, her husband was a little uncouth sometimes in general, so it wasn’t a great stretch of the imagination to take his actions that way.

But no matter his other social manners I had to defend him because I hated to see him being unfairly accused. I wouldn’t want to be unfairly accused either. I too get very little advance warning that I might burp or “break wind” (if we want to be a little more polite here). So I told her that I rarely know ahead of time.

It was a surprise to her that anybody else would make this claim. While to me it was a surprise that other people get advance warning most of the time like my friend apparently did. It’s like some kind of magical fart-burp-ESP. Not me.

I almost never get a building of pressure to give me warning. Just, “frrrrp!” I’m sorry! I might shift my weight. Stand up. Sit down. And frrrrpppp! 

Today’s burp was the same, I was breathing in, breathing out, just like all the other times I breath, everyday, day after day.

Today, instead of the normal exhale that comes 99.9999% of the time, out came, “BRRRRURPPP!” I said “excuse me.” And, because I have the sense of humor of a five-year-old, I laughed.

I think I tend to laugh louder when I have zero warning. It surprises me. It feels like aliens have momentarily taken control of my body causing the burp. It tickles a little as it comes out. Then the aliens leave, and I once again have control of my body. Except for the laughter. (I can’t always control that either.)

I’m pretty sure the giggling kind of nullifies the “excuse me.” And it doesn’t help my argument that I had no advance warning. But I didn’t. Really!

My only advance warning was that I drank soda pop earlier, and that I was breathing. I didn’t feel it ahead of time at all (and don’t most of the time). And for those rare times I do feel it ahead of time, I try to be polite, but I don’t feel like I have time to go to another room. 

I briefly might know I’m going to burp. Then I burp. The End.

I’m probably not a very good role model for my daughter in this way. But I do believe her when she claims she didn’t know it was coming (except after the third time in a row I get suspicious).

Happy Thanksgiving Folks!

(This post was also for NaBloPoMo.)