Robert B Parker – Mortal Stakes

Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.
—Robert Frost

Looking at a ball game is like looking through a stereopticon.  Everything seems heightened.

The grass is greener.  The uniform whites are brighter than they should be.  Maybe it’s the containment.

The narrowing of focus.  On the other hand, maybe it’s the tendency to drink six or eight beers in the early innings.

Quirk shook his head.  “Get out of this, Spenser.  You’re in with people that will waste you like a popsicle on a warm day.”

“Wally Hog will kill anyone Doerr tells him to.  He doesn’t like it or not like it.  Slow or fast, one or a hundred, whatever.

Doerr points him and he goes bang.  He’s a piece with feet.”

Katie Ruggle – Hold Your Breath

“You been annoying anyone lately?”

“Besides you?”

“Yes.”

”Nope.” Rubbing her forehead with the heel of her hand, she shrugged.  “No one that I know of, at least.  I might be ignorantly aggravating random people, though. I wouldn’t put it past me.”

Thea Harrison – Oracle’s Moon

How could she ever justify this later to anyone else, much less herself? It was late, she had poor impulse control, and he was interesting. That sentence probably encapsulated every mistake every female had made throughout the history of relationships.

Barbara Hambly – Bride of the Rat God

The music had ceased. Alec walked over to the gramophone, wound it again, and put on more blues, a woman singing this time, gay and sad at once, like a stranded angel who had traded holiness for humanity but remembered what it used to be like to know God.

Susan Mallery – Christmas on Fourth Street

“Are you mad about the trees? You’ve been really great to me and I don’t want to make you do something you don’t want to do.”

“I said I’d help.”

“I know that, but I need you to help from a place of joy.”

He turned back to face the front window, folded his arms across the steering wheel, then rested his head on them. He murmured something that sounded a lot like “Kill me now”, but she wasn’t exactly sure that was it.

“Gabriel?”

“A place of joy?” His voice was incredulous.

Pie Crust Perfected

PEACH PIE! And strawberry-rhubarb. We’re in pie-making mode thanks to a new pie crust method.

The official pie crust in my house has always been from a recipe in an early edition of  The Joy of Cooking, my very first cookbook, purchased when I was sixteen and a brand-new freshman at a small community college in West Texas, 1,000 miles from home.

Joy of Cooking was the textbook for a home economics class which I hated and which was the only college class I ever dropped. The funny part is that ten years later I ended up with a bachelor of science degree in food and nutrition, from WSU’s College of Home Economics.

That recipe has been replaced, thanks to Cooks Illustrated and Inspired Taste. The new method makes a pie crust that’s flaky and delicious EVERY TIME. I highly recommend it.

Inspiration

Recipes

Pie crust

2.5 cups white flour, separated
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut in 1 tbsp slices
6 tablespoons ice water

Combine 1.5 cups flour and salt in food processor. Top with cold butter, process for about 15 seconds until it almost forms paste. Add last cup of flour and pulse 3 or 4 times until it’s combined. Put it in a bowl and sprinkle with 6 tablespoons of water, pressing the dough together as you sprinkle. If it doesn’t form a dough, add a little more water.

Split in half, form into disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes to an hour.

Peach filling

7 cups peach slices (thawed if frozen)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup minute tapioca
1/4 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp lemon juice
pinch salt

1 tbsp butter in small bits

egg wash, coarse sugar

Stir together filling (first eight ingredients), let macerate half an hour. Build pie as usual: put butter on top of filling, add top crust, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 1 hour 425 degrees.

Strawberry rhubarb pie

Strawberry-Rhubarb filling

2 cups rhubarb cut in one-inch pieces
3 cups strawberries, cut in half
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp minute tapioca
pinch salt

1 tbsp butter cut in small bits

egg wash, coarse sugar

Stir together filling (first five ingredients), let macerate half an hour. Build pie as usual: put butter on top of filling, add top crust, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 15 minutes at 425, lower heat to 350 and bake an additional 40-50 minutes.

 

Strawberry rhubarb pie with vanilla bean ice cream