Author Archive

TARDIS Blueberry Scones and How The Doctor Helped Me Beat Cancer

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I have never been a big television person. Friends, The Sopranos, Parks & Recreation, Breaking Bad – I’ve watched all of these televisions shows at some point, but they never stuck. I’d start out loving them, but as the weeks went by, I’d lose interest. I did manage to spend several months following Mad Men, but I think that’s just because of Jon Hamm and his slightly scary penchant for going commando.

not mating with me sunshine

I’d like to pretend that my lack of zeal for most televisions shows is because I am intellectually superior to regular television watchers. That reasoning breaks down when you know that I surf the shit out of the internet, like an 80′s Wallstreeter pursues coke.  I do spend quite a bit of potential TV time reading books. As much as I’d like to pretend that these books are written by authors such as Dostoevsky, they’re much more likely to be about Harry Potter . So yeah – I can’t take the moral high ground here. And I don’t want to.

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I’m actually jealous of people who have their show – the TV show they look forward to watching all week, the show they discuss with hashtags on twitter or the show they used to post rabidly about at the now sadly defunct Television Without Pity. I wanted a show like this. I wanted to have a show where I would watch previous episodes so much, that I got all the inside jokes. But nothing kept my interest, and I thought I’d just be stuck reading about a boy wizard for the 8 millionth time while everyone else thrilled to the latest episode of House of Cards.

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Then I found The Doctor.

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Marcus had been exposed to Doctor Who much earlier than me. He grew up watching old Doctor Who shows on the local PBS station. I’ve never been a Sci Fi kind of girl, and I thought Doctor Who friends were mainly pudgy, glasses wearing nerds who also spent a lot of time playing Dungeons and Dragons. I want to make it clear that I’m not insinuating that my husband was a ginormous nerd.

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I’m telling you he was a ginormous nerd. But adorkable nerds aside, I had no desire to watch an old British Sci Fi show, especially one that was in fuzzy black and white. Then last year happened.

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A little over a year ago,  I got so sick with gastroparesis that I lost 23 pounds in 3.5 weeks. You need to understand something about this. I never get nauseous. Ever. And when I do, I’m still hungry. Marcus and I once got food poisoning at the same time. I would puke, pull my head out of the garbage can, and declare how hungry I was. At one point, Marcus couldn’t take it any longer. “What the hell is wrong with you? How can you be hungry? How can you want food? I never want to see food again, you freak!”

I dealt with the pain and exhaustion of cancer treatment as best as I could, most days only whining a little. But the persistent feeling of nausea was a whole different ball game. At most, I was only getting about 500 calories a day, most of those coming from Cream of Wheat. I was constantly dizzy because my inner ear was so messed up, and horribly depressed.

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My brain was so fuzzy that I would look at a page of text, read it, and realize I hadn’t comprehended any of it, not even any of my beloved Tamora Pierce Books. So, I went down a rabbit hole of Youtube videos. I got hooked on watching TED talks.

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I’m kidding. I didn’t watch a single TED talk. Instead I watched X Factor, but not normal X Factor. The US version of X Factor was for peasants. I only watched the CLASSY versions of X Factor, namely the UK and Australian versions. (Let’s not talk about any other reality shows I may have watched last year, ok?)

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It wasn’t all bad. I found the boy band that I wish I could have worshipped in junior high. I got to be horrified by Cheryl Cole’s butt tattoo. I got to watch the Minogue sisters take passive aggressive digs at each other. I began to understand that Louie really is useless, and why Gary Barlow was crush worthy and seemed to be the only judge with any credibility. (Call me, Gary!)

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But I found myself reading the Mirror UK, trying to find out if Matt Cardle and his dulcet tones were still going out with Sporty Spice. I wanted to know what latest dick move James Arthur had done in his quest to prove himself a giant asshole. I knew I had hit rock bottom when I found myself reading an article that discussed whether the love between Perrie from Little Mix and Zayn from One Direction would endure.

kylie and the doctor  One out of two Minogue sisters recommend The Doctor

Luckily, The Doctor saved me from adding to the revenue stream of the deep V-neck wearing, tangerine colored, manboobed pelt that is Simon Cowell. I’ll always be grateful to The Doctor for that.

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How did my Who obsession start? With this video:

Marcus and I own a rowing machine, and we bribe ourselves by watching certain shows on Netflix while we row. Marcus had run out of Archer episodes, so he started watching the new reboot of Doctor Who. He really enjoyed it. He knew I was bored out of mind and thought I might like the show. He showed me the above video.

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After he explained a little bit about Doctor Who and who River Song was, I watched a few more YouTube videos. Then I realized I really liked this show. I really did.

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And I was done. The conversion to Whovian was complete.

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I watched a couple of season seven episodes online at a site that is totally and completely legal. Thank god for Netflix. I started at the beginning and got sucked in.

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Before I go any further, let me answer some questions for those of you who already watch Doctor Who:

  • How can you consider yourself a Who fan if you haven’t watched Classic Who? I’m a fraud. Now run along and play Magic: The Gathering.
  • Who’s my Doctor? The Eleventh, but I like all of them.
  • Who’s my favorite companion? Donna Noble. Forever.
  • Which character would I most like to have sex with? Captain Jack, of course. And Paul McGann’s doctor from The Night of the Doctor. Preferably at the same time.
  • Do you ship Ten and Rose? I’d like to kill that shipping with fire. And then kill it again, just to make sure it doesn’t pull a Rory and come back.
  • My favorite episode? This is always changing, but right now it’s Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead.
  • How much do you hate Stephen Moffat? Sometimes I feel like I’m the only Moffat fan out there, but most of my favorite stories have been written by him.

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I love that I’ve actually signed up at an online forum that discusses the show. And I love that when I told my husband I had not only signed up, but chosen a very Whovian username, he looked at me and said “It’s like I don’t even know you anymore. By the way, did anyone there read/watch the leaked episodes? Did they like them?” WONDER NERD POWERS, ACTIVATE! Form of a sonic screwdriver! Shape of a fez!

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I love that people discuss the merits of each Doctor. I love that the fellow Whovians among my friends rejoiced when Rose & The Tenth Doctor’s budding love was dashed, but still cried when they were separated. I love that most of them think Donna is the best companion ever, and that Amy is only at her best when Rory is traveling with her.

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I love the the statue in my garden now scares me a bit. I love that there is Doctor Who nail art. I love that we have a crack in our plaster and that Marcus and I are pretty sure it’s a crack in time and space. I love that I’ve started a Doctor Who Pinterest board. I love that this summer, Marcus and I rewatched all of the episodes so we could be ready for the premier of The Twelfth Doctor.

cake crack in time and space

I love the debate over whether or not the New Doctor, Peter Capaldi, will be any good. In my opinion, any man who’s been in Dangerous Liaisons and can swear as brilliantly as Malcolm Tucker is going to be fantastic.

So what will I be doing tonight? I’ll be at the movie theatre, watching the premier for the new season of Doctor Who. I will not be wearing a bowtie or sonicing the popcorn machine with my screwdriver. If I had a fez or Jammy dodgers, I’d bring them. But I will be bringing scones.

I hope the TARDIS is ready.

team tardis

When I was trying to figure out what I could make to celebrate Doctor Who, I had several options (This tumblr full of ideas is amazing!). I could have made homemade Jammie Dodgers. I could have made anything with a banana in it. I could have made fish fingers and custard. There are even Doctor Who cake pops! Bless. Instead, I decided on scones. Blueberry scones to be exact. Tardis blueberry scones to be even more exact.

Notes: These make scones that are on the more biscuity side of scones. I prefer these rather than dryer scones, but keep that in mind. If you’d like them dryer, use less fresh fruit and cook a bit longer. I think the amount of sugar is fine for plain scones, but if you want to add a glaze or sprinkle them with sugar before baking, use only 1/2 cups of sugar. I don’t have A/C in my kitchen, so in order to keep these from being a sloppy mess, I put my butter in the freezer for a couple of hours, and use chilled bowls when mixing.

Tardis Blueberry Scones
Loosely adapted from Epicurious
Yields 12 scones

3 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (which is 1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
1 cup blueberries
1/4 – 1/2 cup dried blueberries
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon heavy cream (not vital, but good)
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind

Make sure the oven rack is in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 400 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a whisk, mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add to large bowl of food processor.

Mix buttermilk, vanilla, cream and lemon rind in a small bowl. Place in fridge.

Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Place in food processor. Pulse just until the flour and the butter are in pieces about the size of small peas. Pour mixture into a large chilled bowl. Add fresh and dried blueberries and toss to coat.

Make three wells in dough. Pour the buttermilk mixture into each well. Stir just until the dough begins to form. That means some of the flour will not be incorporated into the dough. That’s ok.

Flour your work surface and transfer your dough there. Knead about 8 turns. Divide ball of dough into half. Re-flour your work surface and form each dough half into a disk about one inch high. Cut each disk into six wedges.

Place six wedges onto each prepared baking sheet. Put one baking sheet in the fridge until first batch is done baking. Bake scones until they’re golden brown and toothpick inserted into the middle is clean. This takes around 15-20 minutes.

IMG_2274  This is what the flour mixture should look like after pulsing. Enjoy!

Bourbon, Boobs, Cancer and Dates You’d Rather Forget

There are lots of ways cancer survivors mark the time that passes after their diagnosis and/or treatment for cancer. I know one lady who gets a tattoo on her leg every year. They’re all moths, and the effect is stunning. Another woman I know gets a boudoir shot done every year on her diagnosis date. I think showing a little tits and ass on the anniversary of being diagnosed with breast cancer is a pretty badass way to celebrate the occasion.

I’ve always been a big proponent of letting cancer survivors do whatever they need to do to make it through treatment and the fear that they’ll carry with them the rest of their lives. Whatever gets us through the day, as long as the day doesn’t end in the ER with a diagnosis of alcohol poisoning.

How am I getting through the day today? It’s a snoozefest, and I’m pretty psyched about that. Personally, I have no desire to celebrate the yearly anniversary of the day I was told that I had cancer. I remember my cancer diagnosis and treatment way too much as it is, and any part of it that I can keep to a blur is fine by me.

Therein lies the reason why I’m pissed that I got my cancer diagnosis on a holiday. I have no idea what the actual date was when I got the phone call telling me my biopsy was positive (Unfortunately, the date is seared in my husband’s brain). I don’t remember the day of any of my surgeries or when radiation started. I do remember when I finished radiation, but that’s only because it was two days before our wedding anniversary. The day of our anniversary started with another cancer scare, but the evening ended with bourbon and friends, so I’ll remember it as a good night.

I could figure out the date out if I looked at a 2013 calendar, but beyond burning a copy of one, I’ve stayed far away. What I can’t escape is the fact that I got the phone call on Good Friday. It’s a very long story best told another time, but Good Friday marks the day when my little sister who was in neonatal intensive care started to turn the corner. As solemn a day as Good Friday is, it’s always had a good connotation for me. That kind of got screwed up last year.

Last year, I spent the afternoon at my parents’ house waiting for the call. The entire day was nerve-wracking for my loved ones, but not so much for me. I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, but I already knew I had cancer. I wasn’t trying to be fatalistic, but when I got the first letter telling me I needed to get another mammogram, I knew. I don’t remember anything but the call, my mom and husband crying, and texting and calling my friends. Facebook seemed like a horrible and inappropriate way to give my loved ones the news. “I just had the yummiest dinner. Oh, and I have cancer”.

What am I doing this year? At first, I had no plans. Then I decided that sitting around my house was probably not the best option for my mental health. I do too much of that as it is. When I get overwhelmed, I go to ground. I turn into a hermit and tend to shut as many things as I can out of my life. Since I’m not feeling well (yay for kidney stones!), it becomes even easier. Not really the best way to process or deal with any of the things that happened last year, but it’s the truth. I didn’t want to spend today in my cave, talking to my cats.

So what am I doing today? I got up late and made myself a healthy breakfast. Then I ate 3/4 of a carton of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. I needed the calcium. I decided greasy hair was not a good look for me, so I took a shower. People of Knoxville? You’re welcome.

I’m went outside and tried to figure out how to wrest my vegetable garden from the jungle that’s supposed to be a backyard. Nothing was done to it last year, and the Bermuda grass and privet are currently eating it. It’s a hot mess. I didn’t actually do anything about it, but looking at it and assessing it made me feel like I accomplished something. Now I can procrastinate pulling out my machete and hacking through it for another few days.

I’m sitting here at our local coffee shop, ingesting more coffee than is kind to my neighbors sitting around me. As soon as it opens, I plan on parking myself at my favorite watering hole with a book and my computer. I’m going to get a bourbon, edit this post and chill. I’ve got a friend and my brother joining me later. My husband will join us when he leaves work.

At some point today, I’ll watch Dr Who. I got hooked on it when I was stuck in bed so much last year. I am now a full on Whovian, and It’s one of the fantastic things that came out of last year (sorry – I couldn’t post this without one Doctor Who reference).

I’ll eat some bacon because any excuse to eat bacon is a good one.

I wanted to write something about today, so you all get to read this post which is boring as shit and not profound at all. I love that. In a few years, I might decide to mark this day in a different way. I might find some profound meaning to this date. But the fact that today isn’t exciting or “special” seems so appropriate and wonderful to me.

I’m raising a glass. Bourbon & bacon toasts to you all.

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Green Shamrock Shaped Guinness Infused Potato Irish Cheddar Bread Corned Beef Sandwiches with Orange Mayonnaise & My Love for All Things Pinterest

Green Shamrock Shaped Guinness Infused Potato Irish Cheddar Bread Corned Beef Sandwiches with Orange Mayonnaise

Pinterest is full of amazing things: ways to decorate your spare pool house, crafts you can make out of used condoms, vintage pictures of Liza Minnelli. It’s great!

Pinterest is also full of foods of all sorts. Vegan ham sandwiches, liver cupcakes, fifty ways to use Vienna Sausages, it’s all there. Not only can you find these recipes, you can find a recipe to celebrate any season, holiday or event.

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The perfect shade of green

I have noticed that some bloggers get a bit, well, exuberant when it comes to holidays. One look at Pinterest tells you exactly which holiday or event is coming up. See pictures of ‘Chili Cheese Dog Chicken Wing Nachos’? The Superbowl is coming up. If a glimpse of ‘Chicken and Lamb Wrapped Hard Boiled Eggs with Duck Sauce’ catches your eye, you know Easter will soon be upon us.

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Delicious Irish mix-ins

Sometimes I come up with really great ideas when I have a little bourbon in me. This is not one of those ideas.

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Adding deliciousness that’s the color of the Irish flag

Now I’m a sucker for an Irish Drunken Cake. Give me a recipe for Colcannon, and I’m happy. I’ll eat a green colored cupcake with orange sprinkles on top with a happy heart. But I wanted to push the green colored, shamrock shaped envelope. I wanted to see if I could top such dishes as ‘Green & Orange Frosted Lucky Charm Rice Krispies Treats’. Or ‘Irish Whiskey Frosted Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Cream Cupcakes Stuffed with an Actual Irish Car Bomb So You Can Eat Sweets and Be Culturally Insensitive As Well’.  I wanted to see how many Irish foods I could put into an actual recipe. I wanted a recipe that would capture the quintessential St. Patrick’s Day spirit that causes college students to drink green beer.

The following recipe is the ultimate of St. Patrick’s Day awesomeness. I have put every ounce of my Irish heart and soul into it. Get ready to have your shamrock socks blown off.

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More kneading

Green Shamrock Shaped Guinness Infused Potato Irish Cheddar Bread Corned Beef Sandwiches with Orange Mayonnaise.

Note: This recipe is a very fluid process. No knead bread is a simple thing, and I’m not going to give you complicated lists of ingredients. Just follow along, and you too can un-canonize the man who drove the nonexistent snakes out of Ireland.

Fun with dough

Fun with dough

Ingredients and Directions:
The key to any good recipe is using the finest ingredients. If you want this recipe to work out, you need to use the finest Irish cheddar you can find. Guinness is also mandatory. I realize that you may prefer Murphy’s Irish Stout, but tradition stops for no one.

Measure out 3 cups of all purpose flour into a large bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon yeast and 1 teaspoon salt to the bowl. Mix well.

Making your shamrock

Making your shamrock

Open the Guinness and start to measure out 1/4 cup beer into the bowl. Stop. Look at that beer. Do you really want to waste it on bread? Run back down to the store and pick up a six pack of the noblest of beers, American made Pabst Blue Ribbon. Pour 1/4 cup PBR into the mixture while wearing skinny jeans and thick framed glasses. Put on your favorite album by a Bonnaroo artist. Make sure it’s on vinyl. Open the Guinness. Drink.

"Shamrock" risen bread!

Looks just like a shamrock!

Pour 1 cup water into the bowl. Stir the beejeezus out of it. Cover your bowl and let sit for 12-24 hours.

Wake up in the morning. Take a deep breath and prepare yourself for the task at hand. Get up and procrastinate making the bread for a few hours. Decide you will feel no shame and put on your finest green colored clothes. Look and don’t find your shamrock earrings. Put your pink handcuff ones on instead. Get ready to dive into Irishness.

Gorgeous finished product!

Gorgeous finished product!

Look at your bread dough. Experience it. Now add a few drops of blue and yellow food coloring. Be reminded of the time your mom sobbed over the cake she made for your eighth birthday because the grass on the cake came out diarrhea green. Smile at this fond memory. Pour a glass of Irish whiskey.

Food styling!

Food styling!

Stir and knead to distribute the coloring evenly in the dough. It will be a very wet dough. Color correct if needed.

Cook 3 medium red potatoes until they’re almost done. Dice up into 1/2 inch pieces. Eat some underdone potato. Why? Because it’s potato, and potatoes rule.

Fancy bread

Fancy bread

Dice up 3 ounces of Irish Cheddar. Grab a block of store brand cheddar out of your refrigerator because there’s no way in hell you’re going to waste expensive Irish cheddar in this recipe. Dice the store brand cheddar into 1/2 inch cubes. Happily nibble the Irish cheddar in between sips of your whiskey. Say to yourself “What the Hell!” and finish off the rest of the PBRs. Take a quick ride on your single speed bike. Come back home and cleanse your palate with more Irish cheddar.

Sawing your shamrock

Sawing your shamrock

Stir the potato and cheese cubes into your dough. Make sure to distribute them evenly throughout. Smirk at all the people who shorten St. Patrick’s Day to St. Patty’s Day. Everyone knows it’s St. Patrick’s Day. St. Paddy’s Day if you’re nasty.

Shaping the dough takes skill and concentration. This is not something to take lightly. Shape the dough into something resembling a shamrock. Realize you should never attempt challah.

Look at the cheesy, potatoey goodness!

Look at the cheesy, potatoey goodness!

Transfer your shamrock onto a piece of parchment paper placed on a sheet pan. Dampen a kitchen towel and place over your shamrock. Put in a warm place. Go relax for a bit. Sober up because you’re going to be dealing with hot things. Safety is paramount.

After you’ve let the dough rise for two hours, remove the kitchen towel from the risen dough and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

After the oven has pre-heated, bake your dough for 40 minutes. Pull the bread out of the oven and behold it’s glory. Let cool.

Check out that vibrant color!

Check out that vibrant color!

Realize that you haven’t started braising your corned beef. Think about heading down to the grocery store on your single speed bike. Realize this probably isn’t a good idea. Grab some ham out of the fridge instead.

Pull out your food coloring again and dye your mayonnaise orange. Realize there is no way to cut your shamrock into slices, but making buns out of this bread should be easy. Pull the petioles off your stem and slice into lengthwise. Try to remember if this is the right term from sophomore biology, decide you don’t care and spread orange mayonnaise on both pieces of your shamrock. Pile the corned beef(or ham) onto your breast (that was a typo but it sounds like more fun than bread) and throw some cabbage on it. Put the two sides together.

Condiments are fun!

Condiments are fun!

Make a McLynchburg Lemonade or drink a beer, eat your sandwich and revel in your glorious Irish heritage. Attempt to write a blog post about this sandwich and convince yourself that spelling and grammar errors are part of the creative process. Listen to your husband remark that he’s never been so glad to be gluten free. Let St. Patrick’s day spirit infuse your body, for everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

Beg everyone you know to pin this recipe on Pinterest.

The making of the sandwich

The making of the sandwich

Note: The pretend holiday foods I listed above are ones I made up. They were not based on any real recipes I found, so if you have those particular recipes on your blog, I am not making fun of you.

Who am I kidding? I am making fun of you. Shamrock Bailey Irish Cream filled Soda Bread Sandwiches with Corned Beef for everyone!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone! Just say no to green beer!

Eat up, y'all!

Eat up, y’all!

Unrealistic Expectations and Why Pies are Assholes

“You have pretty high expectations of yourself, don’t you?”

We were at a dinner party, and a man I had just met asked me this question. Let’s call this man, Bob.

It was hard to answer Bob, especially because Marcus spent the next five minutes making strangling & choking noises, not at all dissimilar to the sounds a pug would make straining against its collar. I turned to my husband, looked at him lovingly and whispered “Fuck off!” Some of you may think that’s a horrible way to talk to your spouse, but it’s our love language.

I stammered out a reply. I don’t remember how I answered this question, but I do remember Marcus mentioning the time I got a 95 on a paper for a college horticulture class. I was upset because it wasn’t an 100.

My husband reminded me of this conversation Wednesday night when he came home to find me, hysterically crying over a pie.

I had come up with a brilliant idea. The success of my marmalade had blown up my ego and given me the notion that I, too, could be a recipe developer. Pioneer Woman posting your link on her site makes you feel like you made it as a food blogger. The only thing that makes your feel more accomplished is Williams Sonoma publishing your recipe for Early Spring Pea Pesto. (I think recipe developers are amazing. My comments are made in jest. I’m posting this because I still have people strangely upset over my “hate” for baking twine.)

My idea for a pie was brilliant. I’m not going to write about it here. Food bloggers are sneaky bastards, and someone will steal my original idea that is probably posted on 100 blogs already.

Instead, I fucking created a buttermilk chess pie.

“But Kristina – chess pies are awesome!” I can hear you all saying that now. Yes. Yes, they are. There is only one problem: I did not mean to make a buttermilk chess pie. I can’t pretend I’m awesome and post it on my blog, telling you all that I meant to do this. Why? Because I already have a buttermilk chess pie on my blog, and I already have enough Joe Biden references in my posts.

I pulled that pie out of the oven, noticing that it did not appear to be what I wanted it to be. My pie crust also looked like shit, but that’s to be expected. I let it cool, cut a piece and tasted it. Then, I burst into tears. This is when Marcus came home and found me weeping.

I will not deny that I am prone to histrionics. I will not deny that Marcus has to live with a lot of these moments. He usually manages not to laugh at me or roll his eyes while he’s consoling me. I’ve tried fighting this part of me and have never been successful. I’m left trying to mute that tendency as best I can. I’m pretty successful, especially when it comes to checking my anger. I’ll throw a hissy over some overly pretentious thing that someone says or wrote in a blog post, but when it comes to the ones I love, I’ve learned to bite my tongue.

I’m usually not so ridiculous that I let a pie break me. But I wanted that pie to work. This week was going to be the week that I POSTED TWO RECIPES IN A WEEK ON MY BLOG!!! It’s also Pi day. I know some other bloggers try to make Pie Day happen on another, lesser day, but Pie Day is Pi Day. Period. It’s in the Bible.

I went to bed, making a plan to cram a frantic pie session into today. It’s not that I’m overly busy. I’m not. I’m a bit of a housewife right now, except without the wrapping myself in saran wrap part and meeting Marcus at the door with a cocktail. I think it’s because I usually drink the cocktail.

But I’m done. I am so done.

I’m not sleeping. I’m exhausted. I’m so anxious that I’m crawling out of my skin. My brain feels like I’m thinking through quicksand. I’m dealing with ongoing nausea that sent me to the doctor on Tuesday crying, asking them to do anything to fix it.There’s a myriad of health issues that I’m not listing that are making me miserable.

I’m trying to manage as best as I can. I’m taking medication to counter some of the above (I want to gay marry Zofran). It’s not enough. I can’t take pride in a day where my main source of accomplishment is taking a shower and doing two loads of dishes.

Marcus tries to tell me that it’s OK not to be at the top of my game. I always point out that I’m not just screwing up the top of my game; I’m wallowing in the bottom. He tells me that I’ll get “me” back, that it’s just going to take time. Sometimes I believe him.

I cry and rage at everything. I’m crying right now. My emotions are a tidal wave, and I’m drowning. I know this is normal. My brain was concerned with dealing with the physical problems I had, not the emotional ones. These emotions randomly hit me now. I do not like this.

Part of the problem is that I never feel that I am enough. I felt like that before I was diagnosed with cancer. I feel like that now. There are so many things that I want to do. There are so many projects I want to take on. There are so many ways I want to make a difference in this world. There are so many ways I want to show people how awesome I can be. These rarely happen.

I know I’m not alone.. We are an elite bunch. We spend hours creating something. People tell us how awesome it is, and we know we could have made it better. That’s preferable to our other option: trying to create something and quitting out of frustration because it’s not good enough. We chain ourselves to the limitations that only exist in our brains.The dialog in our heads is full of self-loathing. We even loathe ourselves for loathing ourselves. It’s not a fun way to live.

I’d love to finish this post with some amazingly, insightful answer. I don’t have one. If I did, I wouldn’t be struggling.

I’m also not posting this, so you can all feel sorry for me. I was too overwhelmed last year by pain and exhaustion to post about most of my “Fun trip with cancer” journey, so posting this is a self-centered thing to do. When someone comments or emails me telling me that one of my blog posts helped them, that critical part of my brain shuts up and lets me feel happy and useful.

The best answer I can come up for me right now? I am not going to make a pie today. I’m going to get up and take a shower. I may even get fancy and put some lipgloss on. I’m going to try to not spend the day loathing myself for something I can’t control. I have no control over how tired I am. I do have control over the shade I throw myself. I will feel proud of myself for getting a post up. I may get some laundry done. I may even go crazy and get one of my garden beds weeded. This may be the day I succeed at taking a nap. Or it might not. .

I ate a piece of my pie this morning. It was delicious.

If your day would be incomplete without a pie recipe, this is the link to the chess pie that is supposed to be a chess pie. Also Joe Biden! This is a recipe for the worst pie I ever made on one of the worst days I ever had. This is a pie recipe for something that you could easily turn into a pie. Happy Pi Day, everyone!

Grapefruit, Pomegranate & Bathtub Gin Marmalade, or Why I Haven’t Snorted Coke with a Young Drew Barrymore

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I would have made the perfect Annie.

If I had to name my top ten favorite movies, I’d spend at least a couple of hours finalizing my list, picking through the films I love and figuring out which ones were worthy of being included (Showgirls!). One movie that would make it without a second thought would be Annie. I love that freaking movie.

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I used to park myself in front of the stereo on Sunday afternoons when my parents were “taking a nap”. I was 25 years old before I realized what they were really doing. I’m grateful I never figured that out in my teens. Sitting there with my ginormous headphones on, I’d tune the strange knobs on my Dad’s equalizers, enjoying how I could manipulate the sounds and colors on the stereo. The records that I wore grooves in were by bands like The Moody Blues, Abba, Chicago and an album known as “Annie – the Soundtrack”.

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I love my mom, but I’m still bitter about missing my chance to be a star in that movie. They held auditions in our city, and I desperately wanted to go and try out. My mom nixed the idea, wisely deciding that if I ever were to become a child star, I’d end up at Studio 54, snorting lines of coke with Drew Barrymore.

I would have made a spectacular Annie. I would have made an amazing Molly. In retrospect, I probably would have made a better Pepper, but please don’t tell my 7-yr-old self that. And getting the part of Annie would have proven that I could have red hair every bit as cute as my stupid little brother’s curly, red hair.

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Feel free to blame my parents now for not being organized and not knowing where the pictures of me dressed as Annie for Halloween are. Those pics are gold. Instead, enjoy this picture of me in an Elmo hat. It’s the closest thing I’ve got.

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Be afraid, little children. Be afraid

I still know every line in in every song from that movie. Give me the name of a song and let me loose. I’ll do the best rendition of ‘Dumb Dog’ that you ever heard. Some people brag about knowing every song that the Grateful Dead ever sang or being able to sing all the words in “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”. I mean – I can do that too, but belting out “Tomorrow” is so much cooler.

I’m pretty much past my Annie prime. I still could be a spunky ragamuffin that could charm a lonely, gruff mega millionaire’s heart. But that would be kind of creepy. Not the charming a mega millionaire’s heart. The part about having to dress and look like a 12 year old.

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But one part I know I could still play to perfection? Miss. Hannigan. Miss Hannigan is the shit. The main reason? Two words – Carol Burnett.

Other reasons include her fabulous taste in fashion. Feather boas, slinky negligees, tasteful multiple strands of cheap necklaces – Miss Hannigan put the sass and ass in class. She danced like a goddess and knew the best way to clean house was not to get your fingers dirty. She was also a good person! She didn’t let her brother kill Annie!

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The most kickass thing about Miss Hannigan? She wasn’t going to let a little thing like Prohibition get in the way of an after dinner drink. Or a before breakfast, after breakfast, before lunch, after lunch, before dinner, midnight snack drink. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and if a bathtub had to be sacrificed to the gin gods, so be it.

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My uncle lives in Texas and sent my family these gorgeous grapefruit. Since I’m such a generous soul, I took most of them and have been eating them and turning them into cocktails. They were so amazing that I wanted to do something special with them. I made marmalade. You know how people stick a bird on it? I stick gin on it.

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Marmalade is a strange thing. No matter how many steps or voodoo magic you try to work, it will always have a bitter component to it. I like it; it keeps the sugary fruit from being too cloying. My husband hates grapefruit almost as much as he hates coconut. That’s a lot of hate. He shivers when I eat one. He likes this marmalade. Screw the Oscars. I’ve got enough validation right here in my own home.

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Enjoy! If you don’t have a bathtub, feel free to use gin out of a bottle.

General Canning Notes: If I can avoid it, I don’t use any kind of commercial pectin in my canning unless it’s Pomona pectin. When I use regular pectin, 95% of the time it gets rubbery enough that it can be used in regulation racquetball competition.

Recipe Notes: This is not an exact recipe. You’ll need to at least use the amount of sugar I listed in the recipe, but if it doesn’t taste sweet enough, add more. I cooked this marmalade at a simmer until close to the end. You can keep yours at medium if you’re watching closely and stirring frequently. Back the heat off if it starts to foam up and boil over.

Scary “Oh my God, is it going to gel” Notes: Answer? Yes. I used to rely on the saucer in the freezer tip, and it made me feel like a moron. A candy thermometer is my best friend. 220 degrees is the holy number.

Kristina Writes the Longest, Damn Recipes in the World Notes: Yes. Yes, I do. The majority of the recipe instructions below have nothing to do with the recipe. I’m still wiped out from cancer last year, so I’ll admit I took a nap afterwards, but y’all will have no trouble making this. It’s not a complicated recipe. You will feel like you’ve properly stocked your family for the end of the world. You’ll feel like a badass and a little bit like Glenn Beck. Sorry about the last part. Buy gold.

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GRAPEFRUIT POMEGRANATE & BATHTUB GIN MARMALADE
Makes: 2-3 pints and a little extra that will get stuck in your hair (I canned the marmalade in a combination of 1/4 & 1/2 pint jars)

3 large grapefruit (mine were gorgeous, beautiful monsters. All together, they weighed 3 pounds) plus 1 more grapefruit (last grapefruit is optional).
Rinds from 2-3 of these grapefruit.
1 lemon, medium size (snag a lime while you’re at it, but it’s optional)
1 cup pomegranate juice (I used POM brand)
3.5 or more cups of sugar
1/2 cup gin

1) Juice the first grapefruit. Juice a lime. Make a simple syrup (I use 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Simmer to combine). Pour 2 ounces gin in a cocktail shaker (mainly because this makes me feel like Tom Cruise in Cocktail) and add grapefruit juice, lime juice and simple syrup to taste. Make this mixture a little bit strong. Shake and pour over ice in a highball glass. Or ladle some gin out of your bathtub into a flask and tell your liver that you’re very sorry.

2) Remove the rind from two or three of the grapefruit. I used a vegetable peeler. Do not include the white pith. Remove the rind of one grapefruit this way. Think to yourself that this is fucking ridiculous and be a lot less careful removing the rind from another one. Some pith here and there will not kill you.

3) Put your grapefruit on a cutting board in a shallow pan with edges. This makes your kitchen the slightest bit less sticky when you’re done. Understand that you will still get marmalade in your hair at some point, and if you have kids, they’ll end up sticking to the fridge like they’ve just used superglue. Laugh at them and continue on with the recipe. Cut the grapefruit in half and cut out the sections (the little areas between the wagon spoke shaped membrane) as best as you can with a knife. If you’re a badass and have a grapefruit spoon, use that and feel superior to the rest of us.

3) After realizing that you now know where every single cut on your hand is located, dump all of these grapefruit sections as you cut them into a large saucepan. Squeeze the pitiful looking grapefruit remains over the saucepan to extract the most juice that you can. I ended up with almost 4 cups of fruit and juice.

4) Put the pieces of rind in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Dump the rind into a strainer and let all the water drain out. Add those to pan with the grapefruits and their juice. Add the pomegranate juice. Stir.

5) Add the 3.5 cups of sugar to the pan. Mix in well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and reduce to a vigorous simmer. I cooked mine a little higher than the low setting on my stove. Skim up any foam that collects. Do not drive yourself crazy trying to remove every bubble of foam. If you feel the need to do that, make another drink.

6) Put your candy thermometer in the pan. Do not let the thermometer part touch the bottom of the pan. Mine is encased in metal, so it can’t touch. This is very handy, especially after you’ve had the two drinks.

6) Time to start tasting to see if you used the right amount of sugar for your taste. A warning – jam, jellies & marmalade turn into plasma. Countries use it as a chemical weapon. Let that spoon cool down. Taste. If you want it sweeter, add more sugar.

7) Once the thermometer gets up to 210 degrees, add the gin. You will be very heartbroken to see the thermometer plummet. Have faith, young grasshopper.

8) You are watching a boiling pot. Time will bend, so a chair and another drink is really helpful right now.

9) The temperature will hit 220 degrees. Wait a few minutes to make sure you’re not imagining it. Do a little dance, makes a little love, and pour into containers. Store in the fridge or freezer. I got hardcore and canned it. Marisa has an amazing set of instructions for boiling water canning. She is the Yoda of all things preserved & pickled. This marmalade needs to process for 10 minutes. Marmalade will continue to set up over the course of a week.

10) Wait to hear the plinking sound the jars make when they seal and yell “Fuck yeah! I’m Laura Ingalls, bitches”. Revel in your awesomeness. Make another drink if that helps. The next morning, put any unsealed jars in the fridge.

11) Go take a shower. You’re sticky, and your hairstyle is approaching Something about Mary grossness. You’re disgusting.

12) Understand that you’re perfectly justified in feeling annoyed that I tried to be clever in the instructions of this recipe and leave a comment on this post telling me to STFU and just post the damn recipe next time.

Happy canning and boozing!!!!

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Other great canning links:
Hedonia (He can also make a mean cocktail)
Local Kitchen
Food In Jars

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