Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ten Best Pies and Cobblers(IMHO)

I can resist most desserts. Ice Cream, even homemade vanilla with peaches doesn't make my knees week. Chocolate, I can do without. I can skip all manner of puddings, parfaits and bon bons. What I cannot pass by however is a well-made pie.

By "well-made" I mean one that has a crisp, flaky crust and some manner of fruit inside it. I'm partial to fruit, although there is one non-fruit entry in my list and only one woman in the world who can make it. The list herewith is personal and by no means exhaustive. I've made no attempt to rank my favorite pies in order of goodness. Instead I have included only pies which would be the best in the world at the time I happen to be in the mood for just that one special pie.

The List:

Marie Callendar Razzleberry Pie - This is one of the few store bought pies I include on this list. I include it because it is so danged good. It's a combination of blackberry, raspberry and apples. I can't always find it down at the grocery store, but when I spot one, I grab it along with a tub of Bluebell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream - the only proper ice cream for eating with pie (unless you hand crank up my grandmother's special recipe vanilla ice cream).

Sam's/Wal-Mart's giant bakery lattice apple pie - Wal-Mart makes a huge lattice top apple pie that rivals anybody's anywhere. You can get them at Sam's almost any time and for the price you can't beat it. It's not too sweet and the filling is more fruity than most store-bought pies. It can take days to eat one, they're so huge.

Mama's Homemade Peach Cobbler - Okay it's not exactly a pie. It's better. The recipe is superb, it's more peachy. She goes easy on the spices so that great flavor comes through and the pie filling isn't so juicy that you forget there's peaches in there. This is the way a proper cobbler is made in the south.  Just follow that recipe and you'll be unhappy with any other peach pie or cobbler you ever eat again.  I promise. 

Aunt Sheila's Homemade Chocolate Meringue Pie - This pie can only be made from scratch. The recipe starts from cocoa and is all about timing. My Sweet Baboo doesn't like meringue most of the time, but for this pie, she makes an exception. It's also good with Cool Whip or Whip Cream on it, but it's absolutely magnificent with meringue. This thing is hard to resist and I don't even like chocolate pie!

Uncle Tom's Lemon Meringue Pie - This isn't one of those fancy lemon cream pies or icebox lemon pies. Those things are way too sweet.  This lemon pie is a simple Jello Lemon Pudding and Pie filling pie. The secret is Mrs. King's pie crust which I cannot now duplicate and despair of ever being able to reproduce. I'm working on the recipe and will include a link later if you want to give it a try. I love this kind of pie.  I get one of these for my birthday every year instead of a cake (another dessert I can easily resist).

Tart Cherry Pie - Most cherry pies are far too sweet and syrupy. I like mine fruity and with a lot less sugar than most folk use. I like a cherry pie that contrasts with the ice cream, not one that overpowers it. With this one, I like a little evaporated milk instead of ice cream so I can taste the cherries properly. I've never eaten a store-made cherry pie that quite makes the grade.

Wild Blackberry Cobbler -  A proper wild blackberry cobbler is one where you went out and gathered the blackberries yourself. This recipe can also be made as a pie or a nice lattice cobbler. Either way it's tart, not too sweet and a perfect framework for a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. It's not nearly as good if you bought the berries. To fully enjoy this you have to be picking thorns out of your fingers as you eat it.
Quick Peach Cobbler - This unique little recipe is one of my guiltier pleasures and, in my opinion, the only thing cake mix is truly useful for. It's made by mixing up cake batter, pouring it into a casserole disk with a thick layer of melted butter in the bottom and then pouring in some peaches. The cake batter crisps on the bottom and side from the hot butter and wraps itself around the peaches to make a nice buttery/peachy cobbler that you can whip up in a few minutes. This recipe offers a from-scratch cake batter, but you can use the kind in the box quite as well. The trick is to make the outside of the crust crispy so you get the nice contrast between the butter and the peaches.

Pumpkin Pie - I love pumpkin pie because it is the only proper pie to serve for breakfast. It's much better after it's spent the night in the fridge and you take it out and eat it chilled with maybe a little whipped cream. It really needs nothing. The kind you make with canned pumpkin is just fine. The only thing is not to overdue the spices. The spices should set off the flavor of the pumpkin, not overwhelm it.  This is a nice recipe. Just adjust the spice to suit your taste.

Southern Pecan Pie -  Pecan pies are rather sweeter than any of the other pies I've included in this list, but, made properly, they absolutely make my favorite pie list. Pecan pie is all about the crust and the nuts. The crust has to be flaky and delicious to offset the sweet filling. I like my pecan pies long on the pecans and short on the filling. I find that 99% of store-bought pecan pie is only faux pecan pie. They put some pecans on top with some cracker filling around them so it looks like more pecans than there are.  In the south, we just drive around till we find a pecan tree hanging over the grader ditch, knock enough off for a couple of pies and take 'em home to shell. There is no excuse for skimping on a pecan pie in the south except that you just don't have any self-respect. If you don't have enough for a proper top coat of pecans on your pie, make brownies instead. I mean really people.....

The secret to a good pie is the crust. Any decent cook will tell you that. Everybody has their own way of doing it.  My wife's recipe is the best I've seen.  I'll add the link as soon as I torture her to get the recipe.
Dang! Now I'm gonna have to go make a pie. And my diet was coming along so well.

Tom King

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Top 12 Famous People with Bad Hair

Kim Jong Un, the modern dean of bad hair days. I didn't include
him in the list because I dislike him intensely.

For some reason, there are a lot of famous people who do not care what their hair looks like
.  Well, today is National Bad Hair Day and to celebrate we present this rogues of famous people with bad hair. These are in no particular order of badness. They all have bad hair in their own way.  Some are loveable. Some dispicable. There's no accounting for who has bad hair.

Albert Einstein - Einstein wild and wooly mane of white hair set the trend for fashionable physicists for the rest of the 20th century. His singular hairstyle is now known to my barber as "Einstein hair" and apparently I've got it. Oh, well you could look like someone much worse. 

Abraham Lincoln -  Honest Abe honestly had a most unruly head of hair. It looked much of the time as though Mary Todd put a bowl on his head and went after the loose ends with a hatchet. Still under that ragged hair of his beat the heart of a wise and gentle man.  Lincoln actually made bad hair look good.

Carrot Top - Carrot Top, with his arresting shock of wild red hair has been making people laugh for close to three decades with a sense of humor as wild and unruly as that head of hair. Bad hair can be funny and profitable as Mr. Top has proved.
Daniel Webster - Nineteenth century American politician Daniel Webster was known for his gift as a speech-maker.  Legend has it that he could out negotiate the devil and given some of the characters in the US Senate with which he had to wrangle, he probably could have.  The hair must have been a little intimidating. Later pictures of him show an increasingly angry head of hair framing his face. Knowing Daniel he fixed it that way on purpose to mess with people's heads.

Don King - The wrestling promoter that gave us so many fights of the century that he ran out of century had hair that looked like it was something alive sitting on top of his head.  People didn't like to stand too close. There were rumors that his hair would bite off your fingers if you got too close. People always stood back when they were negotiating with Don. His hair struck fear into the hearts of sportscasters, boxers and arena owners.

Donald Trump - What can we say about the Trumpster?  The man is the king of the ugly comb-over. For someone with enough money to buy the Hair Club for Men, a man who could have all the beautiful women he wanted even if he were absolutely bald, the man who is the financial wunderkind of New York City is somehow absolutely clueless about how bad his hair looks. Go figure!

Adolph Hitler - This guy was so scary that no one dared tell him he wasn't fooling anyone with the comb-over, nor that the moustache looked like overgrown nose hair. 
Mark Twain - American humorist Mark Twain was the champion of the witty remark. His gifts as a writer and speech-maker very likely gave rise to the idea that people with weird hair were highly intelligent, something Albert Einstein would go on to reinforce.

John Adams - Our second president had the dual problem of massive frontal hair loss and massive crown of wild hair in the back. Adams really wanted the office of president to have more regal trappings but George Washington set the precedent for a less ostentatious presentation for later chief executives.  Adams could have used a crown, though, to cover the bald forehead and mash down all that hair.

Colonel Muamar Ghaddafi (or however you spell it) was the very nasty dictator of Libya. Nobody could figure out how to really spell his name. We're not even sure he knew how it was spelled. The Colonel as he was known to his friends and everyone he terrorized during his heyday in the late 70s and early 80s was in danger of becoming as wild and crazy as his hair until Ronald Reagan blew up his house to get his attention. After that he was much calmer, though he did try to develop nukes until George Bush invaded Iraq and hung his buddy, Saddam Hussein. Took a little more of the fluff out of his hair, that did.

Henry David Thoreau - Nineteenth century essayist, poet, hermit and general intellectual guy was author of "On Walden Pond" (not the movie with Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda - the long dull essay they make you read in high school lit class).  Apparently weird hair was deemed sexy, at least by the languid Mr. Thoreau.

Martin Van Buren - Last, but not least, the dull as a post US president with the flamboyant hairdo, Martin Van Buren made whiskers fashionable again. Not a wild success as president, but given the hairdo, one suspects he really didn't give a hoot.

Me - I figure if this collection of guys can get away with having hair that looks like they slept with their heads in a Cuisinart, why do I ever want to spend $15 on a barber? What's the use when you can do the Einstein hair and look smarter to boot. 

I tease therefore I am....

© 2013 by Tom King