Field Notes 8.7.2022
including a new twist on my peanut butter pie
Hello, there. It is hot. Again. What else is new this summer? I’ve so many thoughts I want to share but can’t find the right order to put them in. My mind is heavy with grief fog this weekend, it being 11 years since Mikey died, today, Sunday the 7th depending on which day you’re reading this. Every year, for the last 11, I’ve found the day before to be harder than the actual day. Those last 24 hours play over in my mind, searching for a way to hit pause.
There’s no going back, though, only forward except that direction has a different path in grief. Sometimes forward is a corn maze, searching for the way out, the exit changing every time the grief cycle is triggered.
Oftentimes grief is the same combination of ingredients taking shape in a different form. I thought about this while making Mikey’s peanut butter pie Saturday morning. I decided to put a twist on the recipe this year. The preparation is mostly the same except today I used a long, vintage European loaf tin to make it and instead of chilling it in the fridge for it to set, I froze it to make a peanut butter pie ice cream loaf.
Same ingredients, different end game. That sums up grief. It doesn’t get easier, and you don’t get used to it or ever feel okay about it. As your journey progresses you add ingredients to your emotional pantry to help guide you to where you want to be. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. One thing I know for sure after these last 11 years is not to expect the same result every time. Expect the unexpected.
Should you decide to make the pie as I did, you should know my tin was longer than standard American tins, about 15 inches long, so you’ll probably need two 8-inch loaf tins, or you can just halve the recipe to make one. What’s really nice about the loaf shape is you can choose to cut off thin slices for just a tiny piece or be generous according to your craving. I find cutting thin slices from round pies always results in a shaky sliver that inevitably collapses before making it to the plate.
Here’s a list of some things I’ve been cooking, watching, reading and listening to for the last few weeks, in some cases months. Admittedly, the reading list is quite short, in stark contrast to the pile of books by my bedside. I keep promising myself less technology time but am caught in a loop at the moment. Maybe this weekend will be a good opportunity to unplug a little and curl up with some words on paper instead of on a screen.
I hope the weekend brings you pockets of peace, and you manage to stay cool if you’re in an area affected by this heatwave. Be well and remember to be kind. –xo, j.
What I’m Cooking
Zucchini Cheddar Tarts are the next recipe up (I think!), and I’ve been enjoying them all week, heating the leftover tarts in a 350º oven for 5 to 10 minutes. I’ve got quite a few recipes waiting their turn to be shared here, and I’m torn between these tarts and a Burnt Basque Cheesecake. Feel free to chime in with your vote in the comments (but the zucchini tarts definitely feel more on point for the season to me).
Speaking of zucchini, I have a few extra sitting in the fridge waiting to be turned into this Zucchini Walnut Bread. It has been a family favorite for a long time, and a recipe that is similar to the muffins in my cookbook Homemade With Love.
My homemade limonata from the last post has been on repeat this week. I’ve also been using it to make elderflower cocktails with some homemade elderflower liquer I made a couple of years ago. You can substitute St. Germain to make it yourself. I don’t have a set recipe but use any glass you like, and fill it ¼ of the way with limonata syrup, a splash or two of elderflower liquer, then add lots of ice cubes and top off with seltzer. Recipe for limonata syrup is here.
Homemade Mozzarella I don’t have a recipe to share here but do have a video on Instagram for those of you who enjoy watching reels. They are quite controversial these days, with many people complaining about the way the app favors video over still images. My background started in video (my university degree is a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism), so maybe that’s why I don’t mind making reels? They’re certainly an extra lift in terms of work. I’m not one for the frenetic, loud reels you often see, and have embraced making them on my own terms. You can watch the mozzarella making one here, and I also have a reel for making that homemade limonata soda. Oh, and people really seemed to love this tip for making parchment liners for any size muffin tin!
What I’m Watching
Russian Doll (Netflix) I’m usually a season or three behind in watching new shows. I think it took me four years to start watching GBBO! Russian Doll was no different but after watching the first episode I was hooked, quickly plowed through Season One and am now onto episode three of Season Two. Think GroundHog Day, only darker but with enough comic relief to keep you wanting more.
Only Murders in the Building (Hulu) I’m not fully sold on the second season. I’ll leave it at that as to not spoil it for anyone else. Please return the favor and don’t leave any spoilers in the comments–thank you!
The Great American Recipe (PBS) A longtime acquaintance is the host of this cooking-show which has big British cooking show vibes, in that the hosts and contestants are all so nice to each other. There was a long stretch in the U.S. of cooking shows being catty and mean, and I always found it off-putting. This show is really sweet and refreshing, and I’m rooting for Silvia, Foo and Robin (I can’t possibly choose only one of them so Alejandra can’t we just choose three winners?). I’m an episode or two behind so no spoilers, please & thank you!
What I’m Reading
Consider the Oyster by M.F.K Fisher I found a vintage copy at Tim’s Used Books in Provincetown earlier this summer and am slowly working my way through. Admittedly, reading has mostly been relegated to the newspaper these days.
Toast by Nigel Slater I’ve been flitting in and out this book for the better of a year (maybe two!), and not because it isn’t captivating. Slater’s book is a series of vignettes about his childhood. The snippets are easily digestible, and amenable to long stretches between putting the book down and picking it up again. Toast is the cozy wool sweater of books that I tend to pick up when I need to hit pause on the world around me.
What I’m Listening To
Nothing Compares 2 U by Prince
The Only Living Boy in New York by Simon & Garkunkel
Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwoʻole
Summer Wind by Frank Sinatra
Looking for You (Was I) By Patti Smith
As It Was by Harry Style
Did you find a typo? Thanks for your eagle-eye! I’m a one-woman business here, so sometimes typos and editing errors slip through regardless of how many times I proofread recipes and posts. Feel free to leave a comment and I will correct it as soon as possible.
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