Friday, September 29, 2006

I've Seen Better Days. . .

Things fall apart. Shit happens. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.

Most days, we do what we can. We try our best to clean up the mess, patch the cracks, console the bereft. Sometimes we just write a check.

But some days there’s nothing you can do but check out. The best decision – for everyone involved – is to take care of yourself first. Put on your oxygen mask. Adjust the straps. Breathe deeply. There, there. You can get back to fixing the rest of the world later.

Now, lest you be concerned with all this abstract doom and gloom, I should assure you that everything’s fine in the royal realm. Perfectly peachy, in fact. But you don’t spend 30-odd years (ahem) on this earth without suffering through your share of rotten days, right?

So let’s talk about comfort.


When one of those days happens, the Queen has a strategy. First, she dresses the part in a uniform that likely consists of a pair of men’s flannel pajama bottoms and a tattered cotton turtleneck. She sports Chinese velvet slippers -- the kind that make a consoling flop-flop as she wanders from room to room -- and her favorite gray “writer’s sweater,” a once-lovely piece of clothing that now hangs baggy and forlorn at her waist. Then, on particularly bad days – when even a stray lock floating about her face is unbearably annoying – she twists her hair into a bun.

It’s a glamorous look, I assure you.

What else? A blazing fire is nice. A good book never hurts. A baseball game that doesn’t involve the Reds losing can be splendid succor.

And then, of course, there’s food.

We’re all familiar with the tired notion of Comfort Food. According to those in the know, it usually involves some combination of pasta, cheese, bread and hot soup. And chocolate, natch.

But the Queen’s not buying that. A gooey grilled cheese and a Snickers might ease a wrinkled brow, but so can a plate of spicy chilaquiles. Homemade pad thai with a squirt of lime can make you feel chipper on the double. Cincinnati-style chili on a nest of noodles can be the poor man’s Paxil.

There’s no single recipe for comfort. A hot bubble bath may calm your cares, but the resulting shriveled digits and smothering steam provide no solace for me. You, Dear Reader, need to figure out your own formula.

For a downtrodden queen, though, dessert is easy. Let me whisper these three words: Egg Custard Pie.


It’s cool. It’s settling. It works wonders on anything from troubled tummies to shattered psyches. Fragrant with nutmeg, utterly smooth and transcendently soothing, it’s the Make It a Double of pies.

Egg Custard Pie

Adapted from the American Pie Council


3 eggs, beaten
¾ c. sugar
pinch of salt
1 t. pure vanilla extract
2 ½ cups milk, scalded

1 unbaked pie crust
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 400. Line a pie plate with the unbaked crust. Brush sides and bottom with beaten egg white.


Mix eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in the scalded milk. Pour mixture into pie shell and sprinkle heavily with nutmeg. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on rack.


At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why, that *does* sound very soothing. We do get gloomy days in Curryville. In fact we can go a month or more without seeing the sun and that takes its toll on our 'tudes.

Your custard pie looks like a very effective anti-depressant -- and one that I am sure has no suicidial side-effects when taken by youngsters. We shall have to give it a go the next time the doldrums descend.

I did want to mention, also, that the photography in this week's installment is delightful. Artistic, evocative, and in its own way comforting. Do you do all of the photography for your blog, or might that be a responsibility of The King? It's very nice.


At 11:49 AM, Anonymous sir markb said...

If one washes down the egg custard pie with a glass of egg nog, is one more likely to croak or cluck?

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One could also add that the act of deliberately scalding milk (the sort of activity which one has likely already done on One of Those Days....) is, in itself, comforting and will tide one over while the pie cools.

Perhaps The Queen would share with her most loyal, yet less experienced, subjects some tips on the rolling-out process? Something brief but encouraging, along the laconic lines of the piecrust recipe.


At 4:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummm... yeah... very similar... egg custard and spam for a travel website. I see the connection. Green eggs and spam. Yeah!

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Spirit said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:46 PM, Blogger The Queen of Tarts said...

Currydude, So glad you like the photography. The King and Queen sometimes work collaboratively but when it comes to lighting, he's a much *flash*ier person.

Sir markb, I'd be too chicken to find out.

QueSeraSera, It's all in the wrist. Actually, it's all in the direction of the rolling. Try to avoid a back and forth motion, which toughens the pastry. Instead, roll outwards from the middle of the pastry, give it a quarter turn, and repeat. Keep your rolling pin heavily floured. And add wine as needed. (Good for alleviating stress if it still doesn't go smoothly.) More details in a future post.


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