Friday, May 1, 2009

Come, let's go a-Maying*

I'd love to, Mr. Herrick, but it's still a-raining. I love dreary weather, but this is getting to be a bit much. No maypole dancing today. However, I doubt there's a place for maypole dancing in Wichita even if it weren't raining. Perhaps it's for the best. According to Henry Burton's Divine Tragedy, anyone who has fun catches the plague and dies. Or falls through the ice and dies. Or gets pregnant. And dies.**

While we're on the subject of things of which Mr. Burton is bound to disapprove, here's my recipe for Kentucky Derby Bourbon Pecan Pie. Paul was dying for pecan pie and the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow, so it seemed natural. I did some internet research and didn't really find the recipe that was what I was looking for, so I cobbled a few together and made my own. My biggest problem with pecan pie is that the filling is usually sickly-sweet, but the whiskey does a good job of cutting the sweetness and giving the filling more depth of flavor.

I started with the Martha Stewart short crust recipe, but I made it in a bowl with my hands and a fork and skipped the aggravating clean-up associated with a food processor. This pie only needs half a recipe, so I froze the rest for later. The crust is blind baked (20 minutes at 375 with docking and pie weights) and then cooled. For the filling:

1/2 c. unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 c. light corn syrup
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t fine-grained salt
3 T Bourbon whiskey (I used Maker's Mark)
1 1/4 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat then remove from the heat and let cool. Add the remaining ingredients except the pecans and whisk until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the pecans and then pour filling into the cooled pie shell. Bake for around 50 to 60 minutes, or until the tip of a knife comes out relatively clean from the center of the pie. If needed, cover the edge of the pie with tin foil to keep the crust from burning. Be sure to cool the pie completely so the filling will set up.

n.b.: Don't be lazy like I was and neglect to chill the formed crust before blind baking it. That's how I lost my fluting. :-(

In other cooking news, I'm announcing a new project! Beginning this month, I'm going to be adapting traditional British recipes and posting my results. If you feel like making any of the recipes, I'd love to know how everything turned out (and I'd like to see pictures, if possible). I know British food has a bad reputation and isn't very popular, but a lot of the recipes I've been researching sound really appetizing. I'm looking forward to adapting them and cooking them for the blog.

While we're on the subject of things British, I have to share a recent awesome estate sale find: a Brown Betty teapot. It was only $11 because we went on the half-price day.

I also got all these cloth napkins for $3, which means that I won't have to sew any. Paul and I are trying to drastically reduce our trash output. We already recycle and try to reuse things, but now we're starting a compost heap and trying to only buy things that either (a) have no packaging or (b) have recyclable packaging. It's going to be quite a challenge!

by Robert Herrick

ET up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air :
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept and bow'd toward the east
Above an hour since : yet you not dress'd ;
Nay ! not so much as out of bed?
When all the birds have matins said
And sung their thankful hymns, 'tis sin,
Nay, profanation to keep in,
Whereas a thousand virgins on this day
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.

Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,
And sweet as Flora. Take no care
For jewels for your gown or hair :
Fear not ; the leaves will strew
Gems in abundance upon you :
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept ;
Come and receive them while the light
Hangs on the dew-locks of the night :
And Titan on the eastern hill
Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying :
Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.

Come, my Corinna, come ; and, coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
Made green and trimm'd with trees : see how
Devotion gives each house a bough
Or branch : each porch, each door ere this
An ark, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove ;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
Can such delights be in the street
And open fields and we not see't ?
Come, we'll abroad ; and let's obey
The proclamation made for May :
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying ;
But, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.

There's not a budding boy or girl this day
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
A deal of youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
Some have despatch'd their cakes and cream
Before that we have left to dream :
And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth :
Many a green-gown has been given ;
Many a kiss, both odd and even :
Many a glance too has been sent
From out the eye, love's firmament ;
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks pick'd, yet we're not a-Maying.

Come, let us go while we are in our prime ;
And take the harmless folly of the time.
We shall grow old apace, and die
Before we know our liberty.
Our life is short, and our days run
As fast away as does the sun ;
And, as a vapour or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne'er be found again,
So when or you or I are made
A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
All love, all liking, all delight
Lies drowned with us in endless night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying. (published 1648, check out this Robert Herrick site.)

**This took locating my notes from
HIST 4973: Revolutionary Britain 1640-1660, which have now moved with me twice. And yet, I can't find my purse. Burton's indignant Puritan response to Charles I's Declaration of Sports, which encouraged fun on Sunday, is worth reading just for the sheer amusement. It reminds me of the sex-ed scene in Mean Girls: "Don't have sex, because you will get pregnant. And die."

Robert Herrick was a great supporter of the monarchy and many of his poems extol the glory of country amusements.

1 comment:

  1. The pie looks awesome! Having fun on May Day can apparently have dire consequences. Good thing I didn't have much fun then, huh? Mika and I spent all afternoon looking at sales tax issues! Rain, rain go away...


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