Beth Howard’s Making Piece Book Club

Having read about Beth Howard’s Making Piece last year in Midwest Living, I knew this was a memoir I wanted to read, one involving the trials and ultimate triumph of a forty-something widow, mother to Team Terrier, and pie baker.  At the time I read the article, the book hadn’t been released yet, so the title ended up being lost in the pile of paperwork on my desk.  Strolling through the nonfiction aisles of the local library this past Sunday, this book cover jutting out from the shelf rang a bell.  Eureka!  I had found the book to pull me out of my reading slump.  Immediately I dived in and was finished in less than 24 hours.  Since the notion of pie plays such a prominent part in this memoir, I was thrilled to discover the addition of recipes in the back.  Bonus! 
For the purposes of book club, each book club member should shop the local Aldi (first introduced to the author in Germany by her husband) to retrieve ingredients for a pie recipe of her/his choosing from those offered in Making Piece.  I did just this today with my squirt and found everything I needed for “Lana Ross’s Better-Than-Sex French Silk Pie”  (305).  Never having attempted a true homemade pie (minus the store-bought pie crust and instant pudding) before, I was looking forward to this bucket list item being wiped from the slate.  

I didn’t think I overworked the dough . . .

Attempting not to overwork the dough as Howard repeated throughout during her piebaking classes, I opted for use of the food processor instead of working the dough with my hands thinking a few pulses would be more efficient and more speedy since the thought of eating a “better-than-sex” pie couldn’t wait.  Instead of allowing the crust to cool completely, I popped it into the fridge while mixing my thick, rich, 70% cacao filling.  Wasting no time, I spread the mixture onto the crust and immediately began whipping the cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla.  I’d now like to say with all earnestness, “So long to store-bought whipped topping forever.”

It’s easy to make whipped cream.  Who knew?

In lieu of waiting the suggested four-hour cooling time, I dove right in.  

Complete with shredded dark chocolate.

Due to my sense of urgency, the filling was a little grainy since I hadn’t allowed time for the butter to come to room temperature in order to cream properly with the sugar.  Who cares!  The crust was, perhaps, a tad tough.  Okay, it was tough as my squirt asked, “What is this hard stuff on the bottom?”  Yet, I ate it with glee knowing this was only my first, but definitely not my last attempt at homemade crust.  Next time I’ll allot more time for proper recipe compliance.  What’s nice to know, though, is that due to this inspirational read, Making Piece, there will be a next time.

Beth Howard

Create in the Central West End

While reading the April 2013 issue of Midwest Living, I came across an article about a boutique in the Central West End where you can concoct your own scents for perfumes, shower gels, and lotions.  Excited to see a local business featured in the magazine, I decided to give it a try with my two girls.  At five and six years of age, they, too, were excited at the prospect of creating their own perfumes.  Across the river we drove to Cassie’s Fragrance Boutique and Scent Bar . . .

A slew of samples were available to sniff.

After much sampling, finally, they were sold on the “brownie” scent, and I was sold on the “almond” mixed with “french vanilla.”  We didn’t want to leave the big guy in our house out, so we opted to surprise him with the “Egyptian musk”  (yes, men’s scents are available, too).

Scents for Mixing

At work on our roll-on perfumes . . .

After hard work on our personal aromas, we had created quite the appetite.  We stepped out of Cassie’s Boutique and Scent Bar only to walk two doors down to the Sub Zero Vodka Bar on Euclid.  We chose not to pursue a vodka sampling (afraid the girls might be carded), and, instead drooled over their Signature Burger Menu.*  The girls split an order of sliders and fries while I prided myself on the healthier choice of the Fresh Pacific Salmon Burger cooked to specification complete with red onion, capers, and dill cream cheese.  Okay, I did choose the deep-fried zucchini- crisp and tender- as my side, but, hey, it still counts as a veggie.

Knowing our creative juices were still flowing, we rounded the corner and entered FroYo on Maryland.  As you can see above, our tastes ran the spectrum from sprinkles and chocolate chips atop low-fat chocolate/vanilla twist to oreos falling down the sides of low-fat cake batter.  Low-fat = eat more = full bellies.  Is my reasoning ideal, or what?  For a further creative outlet, FroYo is sponsoring a t-shirt contest.  See the link above for details if interested.

Above all else, though, I cherished the quality time I was able to spend with my squirts  while taking part in a new adventure. 

*A create-your-own burger option is also available which includes a lengthy list of unique toppings.  Yummo!