Friday, January 12, 2007

The Capture of Thing 1 and Thing 2

An Official Statement from The Palace:

The intruders have been caught. The Kingdom has been secured. Residents of the realm are no longer in jeopardy.

Tuesday night I returned from watching a young prince swim in a high school meet (he’s a fine breaststroker, in case you’re interested) and venturing upstairs, I heard a noise. Although I’ve become accustomed to rodent-related reverberations, this particular sound seemed more aggressive than usual.

The noise was coming from a large cedar closet near my studio. Descriptively known as “The Dress Up Closet, ” it houses evening gowns that (ahem) seem to have shrunk; garments with sentimental attachment (the dress I wore on my first date with the King); and almost two decades worth of children’s Halloween costumes(many reincarnations of Dracula). I consider it an archaeological repository for the family’s fashions.

For the past two weeks, it’s also held a Havahart trap baited with peanut butter.

The noise seemed to be growing more insistent. I summoned the King. We (er, He) opened the door to the closet and there it was:


A flying squirrel. You might even say it was sort of cute, in a rodent kind of way. While hanging out in the closet it had managed to grab onto a blue silk sash and a pair of striped leg warmers (circa 1984) and pulled them into the cage with it. I might have found that sweet, I guess, except that I also happened to like those leg warmers.

After donning gloves, the King and the younger prince took the prisoner to a nearby field. They popped open the cage and the squirrel immediately ran up a chain link fence that surrounded a tennis court. Advantage, Rodent.

All was well.

Well, that is, until the King put the trap – and more peanut butter -- back into the closet. “We might have a problem,” he soon informed me. “I think there’s more.”

At 3 a.m. we had proof when the trap was once again sprung.


Although no one but the King heard it, he claims that the squirrel made so much noise that it had to be temporarily relocated to the basement until morning. And then, another visit to the field so that the two rodents (christened Agnes and Charles) could be reunited.

And there you have it: A Happy Ending. (Although we’ve reset the trap, just in case.)

You probably didn’t imagine when you started reading this blog – an innocuous little treatise on pie and pastry – that you would soon find yourself immersed in rodent management. What’s next, you ask? Techniques for predicting the spread on football games? Lessons in geothermal dynamics? An evaluation of Kantian ethics?

Or maybe we should just stick to pie. Although it seems a bit anticlimactic, the Queen takes her responsibilities most seriously. Regrettably, I am unable to make any sort of graceful transition to this week’s featured recipe except to report that I can actually take a slice of it up to my studio to nibble on without fear that some critter will leap out from behind the bookcase and attack it.


And I consider it worthy of attack. With a consistency akin to a fluffy cheesecake, Ricotta Tart with Rum-Soaked Golden Raisins is damned irresistible.


Soft, rummy raisins tucked into a puffed, citrus-scented filling . . . Okay, okay, I surrender. Served with a cup of tea, the tart is a lovely way to end a meal: calm, soothing, and perfectly serene. Just like a house sans rodent.

About time, I’d say.

Ricotta Tart with Rum-Soaked Golden Raisins
Adapted from The Art of The Tart


Although the recipe stated that this would produce one tart, I found that there was enough filling to make two, especially when you add extra rum-drenched raisins (as I did and as the recipe now reads).

Pastry for 2 unbaked 9-inch tart shells
4 T. dark rum
2/3 c. golden raisins
2 c. ricotta cheese
5 eggs, separated
3 T. potato flour (I found this in a health food market)
6 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla
grated zest from 1 orange or 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375. Put pastry into tart tins; line with parchment and beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes; remove beans and bake 5 minutes more.

Combine rum and raisins in small saucepan and heat gently until raisins absorb liquor. Put ricotta in a bowl and add one whole egg and four egg yolks. Mix well. Add potato flour, sugar, and vanilla. Gently stir in raisins and zest. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until stiff. Stir a tablespoon of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture until blended, then lightly fold in the rest. Divide mixture among two tart shells.

Bake 45-50 minutes. Tarts will deflate slightly after being removed from the oven. Serve at room temperature or chilled.



At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I lived on the east coast, somewhere at the northern reaches of The South, one very sinful delight to which I was introduced was peanut butter pie.

It appeared in the company cafeteria on occasion. An eight-inch pie that was cut into at least sixteen pieces. Each was a veritable sliver. I initially balked at the thought of paying the same price as I would for at least eight times the volume in apple pie for a skinny little tidbit of dessert. Even at subsidized cafeteria prices.

Then one day I succumbed. Oh... my... gosh... BTS. It was like eating a slice of heaven. Delicate chocolate swirls graced the top, and the most decadent, creamy peanut butter overwhelmed the palate. And I quickly understood why it was presented in such miniscule portions. Not just because a finger-width slice was *worth* the same or more as a plateful of apple pie, but it was just so darned *rich* that if the slice were any bigger, it would probably induce a coma.

Perhaps in honor of the lowly goo (that, legend has it, was invented as food for inmates at insane asylums) that lured Thing 1 and Thing 2 into their little moving van, you could dig up a recipe for Southern style peanut butter pie.

Then I'll have to find fifteen friends with whom to share it.

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there any thoughts out there that the poor, innocent, cute (though a little pink eyed) squirrel may have ended up in one of the Queens, oh so innocent looking pies? One of Jethro's favorite dishes from Granny. Hale to the King and his "Have a Heart Trap"!

At 1:16 PM, Blogger bakerymaiden said...

I'm not sure you went far enough from YOUR home when releasing the cute little varmits. Or, should I say far enough from mine...

At 11:40 PM, Blogger Jennifer Palmer said...

I almost had to stop reading, but I kept going and was rewarded with the words "havahart trap". That was very kind of you, I have a hard time with the inhumane (?spelling?) traps. I love your blog, your pies are beautiful, as is your sense of humor. Thank you

At 11:57 AM, Blogger The Queen of Tarts said...

anonymous 1, Challenge accepted. Such pressure, though. Is anything ever as good as memory?

anonymous 2, Not even the Clampetts would be tempted by the contents of the Havahart, thank heavens. Signed, Elly Mae.

bakerymaiden, I've since read that we should have gone at least 3 miles to release. I fear we're both doomed. . .

jennifer, Thanks for the kind words!

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just one question - how did they get in? i ask this only in the spirit of protecting you and the other members of the Realm...

At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Who's the Hottie sampling one of your creations 1/19/2007 photo? I am not sure if it's appropriate to ask; but I will anyway.My question is: are all the ingredients in your concoctions legal substances? The appearance of some humans sampling would suggest that perhaps they may be under the influence of mind altering ingredients.

Respectifully submitted by your Quality assurance manager


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