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Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Taste of The Oscars

Moms were out in force tonight.

I didn't count the number of times that Oscar winner thanked their Moms, but I did count the times they mentioned their Dads. Once. And it wasn't even a thank-you. Someone--I didn't note who--said hello to his 83-year-old Dad.

Dozens of Oscar winners thanked their Moms. Philip Seymour went on and on about his. I'm sure she deserved it. Wonder what happened to Dad?

His Dad, like most, are unsung heroes to their kids and most of the world. Agreed, some are shits. But wouldn't you think that out of all of those winners, a few had Dads worth mentioning? Moms always get the credit. Ever see an NFL player mouth "thank you Dad' into the Monday Night Football camera?

That's where my head was at during the Oscars. Unsung heroes. Dads just became the most obvious. I dwelled on the people who weren't getting awards. Here we had 40 million people watching hundreds bestow awards on dozens for doing make believe. I'm not criticizing those were nominated nor those who won. It was a ceremony to celebrate one--albiet a visibile one--of the professions that men and women undertake to put food on the table.

And that's what you and I do every day. We trade our time and our skills for money that we use to satisfy Maslov's hierarchy of needs and buy beer. But what we do is less than heroic. Admit it. One awardee--again, I didn't write his name down--nodded toward all those people who"take risks with no cameras rolling." But he was talking in global terms about things like human rights, starvation, global warming and free speech. Things you and I don't get to be heroes about. We're barely getting Maslov fed and the cameras aren't rolling while we do it.

No microphones get thrust in our face when we find the right words to make fractions come alive to our grade schooler, or when we nail it in a memo recommending a new marketing strategy to the boss, or when we get ready to harvest the first crop of tomatoes from our backyard garden.

Life is unsung for you and me. That's not bad. It just is. But why do I feel pangs of resentment for those people who garner fame and money for doing their job as well as I do mine. Jealously? Probably. Did I pick the wrong job? Maybe. Am I measuring success by the wrong metric? Surely.

I have a wife who loves me, kids ask for my opinion, and grandkids who light up when they see me. Probably a better metric than saving pagan babies.

Reese Witherspoon, in her acceptance speech for best actress, quoted June Carter's philosopy as being "just try to matter." I think we should go one step furhter. my philosophy is " make this a better place than you found it"...even if the cameras aren't rolling.

And since this is primarily a recipe blog, let me finish with a recipe of my Mom's. It's for her apple pie. I'd love to do one of my Dad's but he was old school and wouldn't set foot in the kitchen. But I still owe him thanks. And he loved Mom's apple pie.

Mom’s Apple Pie: The Recipe
Makes one, two crust pie

For the crust
2 cups flour
2/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water
Ice cold.

For the filling
6-7 apples
A firm fleshed apple like a Golden Delicious or a Granny Smith, although a Granny Smith is slightly more bitter and may need more sugar, depending on your taste buds.
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour
¾ cup sugar
One egg white, beaten with a tablespoon of water.
Three, 2”x12” strips of aluminum foil to cover the edge of the crust for part of the time.


First: Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Using a pastry cutter, blend the flour, salt and shortening until the mixture is the consistency of small peas.
Second: Slowly incorporate the three tablespoons of cold water until the dough gathers up into a ball. Avoid overworking the dough or you’ll end up with a tough crust.
Third: Split the dough into two equal portions; cover the unused half with plastic wrap to keep moist; and using a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll out the other half into a large circle on a floured, smooth dishtowel. Hold a nine-inch pie plate upside down over the circle to ensure that it’s about two-inches in diameter wider than the pan. Lift up the dishtowel and flip the dough into the pan, gently pushing the dough into the corners.
Fourth: Core and peel the apples, slicing them into bite-sized pieces. Pile them onto the pie pan; sprinkle with cinnamon, flour and sugar.
Fifth: Roll out the other piece of dough to about the same size as the first. Use the towel to gently lift it and place it on top of the apple-filled pie pan. Trim the overhanging dough, leaving a ¼ inch all around.
Sixth: Crimp the top and bottom crusts together using your thumbs and index fingers to form little ridges, or press the tines of a fork around the edge to seal. Trim off any excess dough. Using a knife cut four, one-inch slits into the top of the pie to vent the steam.
Seventh: With your fingers or a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg white and water onto the crust. Crimp the aluminum foil strips around the outer edge of the crust to cover.
And finally: Bake in the 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350°F, remove the aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes more.

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