Thanks, Gramma!

My grandmother was a baker. Her cinnamon rolls were famous. She lived alone in Superior, WI, but stayed for a few weeks of the year with each of her daughters. She would never move in with any of them because she didn’t “want to be a burden”.

She taught my mom how to make pasties and my mom passed that on to me. (Finnish miners in copper country ate pasties, not just Cornish miners.) She tried to teach my mom to make cinnamon rolls, but measurements involved hands (handfuls, pinches) and seeing how the dough looked and felt. My mom, not a baker, had trouble with that, so the recipe died with gramma.

I didn’t start baking in earnest until after she died. In my 20s, I lived with two others and we baked bread every Saturday – sometimes as a group project, sometimes one or the other of us, but we always baked. One day we went for a walk to let the bread cool. We left a pound of butter on the table to warm up a bit. When we got home we found Weezee (one of the dogs) under the table with the pound of butter between her paws and one half-eaten loaf next to her. I’m not sure if she spread the butter on the bread or just alternated bites.

While I didn’t get gramma’s recipes, I did get her bread bowl. Being retired, I decided it was time for that bowl to get some work, so today it held the dough for a couple of loaves. (Yes, I know it’s “grandma” to most but that’s not how I ever pronounced it.)

Gramma’s bowl behind a still-hot loaf.

I tested it with a bit of butter and orange blossom honey. It passed.

Pumpkin Spice

I used pumpkin spice the way it is meant to be used. I went out to the farm and picked a pumpkin, cut it in half and removed the innards, washed and roasted the seeds.

I baked the pumpkin, cut-sides down, let it cool, then pureed it in the blender until smooth. I added cinnamon, freshly-grated nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt, sugar, evaporated milk, and eggs.

Meanwhile, I cut butter into flour with a bit of salt and sugar. I mixed in ice water until I could work the dough into a ball that would barely stay together, flattened it into a disc, and put it in the refrigerator to rest for a few hours before rolling it out and par-baking it. I poured in the pumpkin mixture, baked it, let it cool to room temperature on the kitchen table, then put it on the back porch to chill.

I whipped cream with some powdered sugar and vanilla. Slicing the pie, I added a dollop of cream and ate it for breakfast with a shot of espresso. That’s where the espresso belongs – alongside the breakfast pie, not mixed into a soft drink that lacks only carbonation to make it spicy pop. A 12 oz Starbucks pumpkin spice latte contains the same amount of sugar as a 12 oz Coca-Cola (per their respective websites).

But remember – pie, like beer, ain’t just for breakfast anymore. Now to read the paper and wait for the sunrise.

Pumpkin Spice – where it belongs

Elites

It is fashionable among right-wing candidates to call out “the elites”, usually meaning people who don’t agree with them. Jonah Goldberg, the thinking person’s conservative (no, that is not an oxymoron), posted an interesting analysis today (October 20).

He quotes J.D. Vance (Republican Senate candidate in Ohio), who said “The elites plunder this country and then blame us for it in the process” and Blake Masters (Republican Senate candidate in Arizona), who said a liberal cabal runs “newspapers, and television and schools and universities – and you better believe they control Big Tech, too”. He quotes Masters as saying that progressives hate America and “the very idea of a sovereign nation”. By the way, Vance has a net worth estimated at $7 million, and Masters $18 million. I don’t know about you, but in my world that seems pretty elite.

Goldberg goes on to point out that both have a major financial patron in Peter Thiel, a billionaire tech entrepreneur, co-founder of PayPal, venture capitalist, and holder of passports from three countries, in the process of buying a fourth (passport, not country). Goldberg also refers to him as a proponent of “seasteading”, the plan to build artificial islands in international waters so you are bound by no country’s laws. Thiel donated $1.25 million to djt’s 2016 presidential campaign, was a member of the transition team, and has spent over $28 million so far in this election cycle, including donations to candidates who supported the January 6 coup attempt.

Vance has called upon the US government to “‘seize the assets’ of ideological enemies that lawfully exploit tax laws to amass wealth”. Thiel has a Roth IRA into which he put $1700 – his investment of that IRA in the company that became PayPal increased its value to $5 billion, according to ProPublica. If he holds the IRA until 2027, that money will be his tax-free.

So these guys who rail against the elites and Big Tech are bankrolled by a Big Tech elitist (can you get much more elite than being a billionaire, holding multiple passports, and building your own island so you can be a sovereign nation unto yourself?). They proclaim their “patriotism” while in league with someone who is prepping to leave the country behind.

As Goldberg concludes, “If you clear away the bull of Vance and Masters’ rhetoric – bring a shovel – the basic argument is that ‘elites’ are a monolithic bloc of overlords. Never mind that both Masters (who has a law degree from Stanford) and Vance (a law degree from Yale) – are elites and that Thiel is a member of the Olympian elite. What these politicians really mean is that they want to be the elites running things.”