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And Now We Have To Move

Until yesterday, I had at least one neighbor who didn’t think I was nuts–one neighbor who wasn’t home the morning I went door to door looking for bourbon.  (It was for a cake, y’all.)  She was a blank slate, and I was going to write all over her with kindness and oatmeal cookies.  I was going to become her best friend.

But yesterday–for a very good reasonI got down on my hands and knees behind her house and tried to rip the insulation out of her basement wall.

I didn’t think she was home.

She was.

This is what I wish I’d told her:

1.  It all started when I was outside supervising Splash Fest 2012.

Splash Fest 2012. Two weeks after I bought a space heater.

2.  I ran inside for a minute, and Thunder walked out of a gate that’s always closed.  (Except, apparently, when it’s not.)

3.  I let out a scream that I usually reserve for full-body waxes and hyena attacks.

4.  We had a tearful reunion in my neighbor’s yard.  I was all “I love you!” and Thunder was all “No, I love you!”  “Meh.”

5.  I noticed insulation foam sticking out of my neighbor’s wall.  I worried that Thunder had nibbled on it because she was licking her chops.

I poked at it, to see if she could have bitten some off.  I sniffed at it, to see if it smelled like food.

And that’s when I heard someone behind me say “hello?”

I froze.  I mean, what was I supposed to say? 

“Don’t mind me!  I’M JUST HERE TO HUFF YOUR INSULATION.”

“Heeeey, we’ll be out of here in a second!  MY DOG IS JUST EATING YOUR HOUSE.”

Or my go-to: “Hi there!  GOT ANY BOURBON?”

None of these seemed like a good option, so I didn’t say anything.  For a really long time.  It felt like long enough for this teeny tiny flower to sprout, bloom, and die.

Eventually Thunder waddled back to her baby pool, got in it, and peed.

It was just the break I needed to say “Well, looks like my work here is done.  TOODLES!”

And that’s why we need to move to another state.

~~~

After this went down, I made some comfort food.  I may give some to my neighbor, who’s probably experiencing a lot of discomfort right now.

It’s homemade apple sauce, or apple butter, depending on how long you cook it.  Mine was somewhere in between.  I left most of it chunky, and I’ve been eating it cold– spooned on top of plain yogurt, or with a dollop of creme fraiche.  You can also serve it warm with pork or chicken, or spoon it on top of vanilla ice cream.

You can puree it, too, and get a real apple sauce thing going on.

I didn't can it. We're not that advanced around here. We just stick things in mason jars.

And with a puff pastry sheet, you can do this:

You should, by the way.  They taste like you and your favorite neighbor jetted to France to hang out in a bakery.

Not that I would know.

For one of them, I threw some cheddar cheese in with the apples.

Homemade Cinnamon Apple Sauce or Apple Butter {Download & Print Recipe}

(Adapted from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook)

Ingredients:

4 large apples (any kind–I used 2 Fuji and 2 Pacific Rose.)

1/3 c. water

3 tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2-3″ fresh ginger root (enough to yield 2 tsp. ginger puree and juice after being put through a garlic press)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Peel and core the apples.  Cut them into sixths.

Peel the ginger root and cut it into chunks small enough to fit in a clean garlic press.  Pass each chunk of ginger through the garlic press, catching the juices and the pressed nibs of ginger in a small bowl, and discarding the ginger remaining in the press each time.

In a large pot with a lid, combine the water, ginger, and sugar.  Stir.  Add the apples and stir once or twice.  Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce to a summer and cook, covered but stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and caramel brown, and the water has nearly evaporated–about an hour.

Add the vanilla and the lemon juice.  [Add lemon even if you used tart apples, as it makes the flavors pop.]  If the apples need more sugar or spices, add them while the apples are still warm.  Serve apple slices or, for an apple sauce consistency, purée.

If you’re going for apple butter, puree it, return it to the pot, and let it simmer slowly, until it thickens to the consistency you like.

~~~

Apple Butter Turnovers {Download & Print Recipe}

(From The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook– the ingredients are as listed in the book but I made the ginger and cardamom optional and the directions are in my own words.)

Ingredients:

1 sheet puff pastry (1/2 of a 17.3-oz. package), thawed

3/4 c. homemade apple butter (see the recipe above, or use store-bought apple butter. I don’t purée mine for this.)

1 tbsp. butter, melted

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground ginger (optional)

1/8 tsp. ground cardamom (optional)

1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. sugar

pinch of salt

1  egg, beaten

Directions:

If your puff pastry is frozen, thaw one sheet of it according to the instructions on the package.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the pastry out into a 10-inch square.  Cut the pastry into 4 squares of equal size.

Brush the squares with the melted butter (just on the side facing up).  [Note: if you don't have a pastry brush, you can use your fingers or the back of a spoon.]

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, ginger and cardamom (if desired), 1 tbsp. of the sugar, and the salt.  Sprinkle over the butter.

Spoon about 3 tbsp. of the apples onto the bottom half of each square–not all over the square.  Leave about a 3/4″ border on the bottom and the sides.

Brush the border of the square with the beaten egg and fold the top over to enclose the filling.  If desired, press the back of a fork around the three sides of the turnover that form the seams, to make pretty edges.  [Note: dip the fork in flour between each pressing if it starts to stick].

Transfer the turnovers to the baking sheet.  Brush the tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tsp. sugar.  With a small, sharp knife, make 2 small steam vents in the turnovers.

Bake about 20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.

Yield:

4 pastries.  They’re best the day you make them.

~~~

Two housekeeping items:

1. Thunder is safe now.  Scott fixed the gate so that no man or beast can get in or out.  It makes it almost impossible to have house guests or take out the trash, but whatever.

2. The meatloaf slider recipe should have said 1/4 c. bread crumbs, not 1/2 c.  I noticed I’d messed it up 2 days after I posted, so if you printed the recipe before I fixed it, make a little note.

This series is entitled “Thunder Goes To The Pool.”

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70 Comments Post a comment
  1. LMAO – sorry your post is hilarious and that pup of yours is oh so cute! Have a Great Day:)

    March 21, 2012
    • Why thank you so much (and p.s.– I’m glad I read your latest post about escaping the sitting position. I spent WAY too long writing on my couch today!)

      March 21, 2012
  2. Oh, Thunder! I’m torn between loving the fact that you were caught in mid-sniff and loving the fact that after Thunder got back in the pool, she peed. I don’t know which I love best. Well, probably what I will love best is the delicious, apple-y goodness that you posted about.

    March 21, 2012
    • She pees in it EVERY TIME we get the pool out. She’s smart about it, though. She doesn’t pee at the beginning. Only when the afternoon wears on and she knows it’s about time to come inside. In this particular instance, she was probably like “well this situation is clearly going down hill, so I might as well just go wrap it up.”

      It sounds from your site that you had the best weekend! I’m jealous of that stew in breadbowls. Yum. We can actually get pretty good sourdough at one of the grocery stores near me in Alabama, and whenever we do, I want to put a hearty soup in it.

      March 21, 2012
  3. Sigh. I love you. I love thunder. I love your photos. I love your recipes. I think I love Scott. But I’m worried that saying so might result in another twirling video. I’m working, by the way, on a response video. It will have dancers.

    Sincerely yours,
    movita

    March 21, 2012
    • I love you too, babycakes. We all do, over here. This much–> if I die in a freak accident involving unknown peanut allergies or nunchucks, or if just straight-up perish while dancing around in my pajamas, please come live with Scott. You could bring 2.0. Or maybe you have a guest room Scott can stay in? Also, please merge our two websites and take care of mine. Don’t let Scott change my wordpress password to “bacon”.

      March 21, 2012
      • 2.0 and I have been looking at real estate. From now on, I’ll bear in mind that we might need some extra space for Scott and Thunder. Just last night 2.0 said, “that house we looked at was too big for the two of us.” Well, now I can argue that we should, indeed, buy that house. Because it’s the right thing to do.

        Catch ya later, Bacon!

        xox

        March 22, 2012
  4. Love it! I’d be your neighbor :)

    March 21, 2012
    • It’s a deal. Bella looks like a beautiful, dog, by the way, and I’m jealous of your St. Patty’s day parade. What fun!

      March 21, 2012
  5. Jay #

    When in doubt, ask for bourbon (or moonshine)

    March 21, 2012
    • Respect. You all need to move down here!

      March 21, 2012
  6. Gorgeous shots and hysterical story, i can just see you head down sniffing your neighbours walls.. that is just too funny! least said the better, you can always move out here, we have room for a good sniffer! c

    March 21, 2012
    • Celia, I love your flowering pear tree! Many thanks for the comment. Thunder would love it if we moved to your place so she could play with all the animals.

      March 21, 2012
  7. You’re in Alabama where weird is the norm, so your neighbor’s cool with the insulation thing. She was expecting it. I think she was probably feeling left out that you hadn’t asked her for bourbon. I live in Alabama too, so I know from whence I speak.

    Thunder, Thunder, Thunder. I think this may have been payback for the St Patrick’s dress-up?

    March 21, 2012
    • You’re probably right. She can’t be worried about the insulation thing. I mean, I wouldn’t be. It’s not like whenever I see strange people snooping around my house, the first thing I think is “OMG. WHAT IF THEY’RE HERE FOR THE INSULATION?”

      March 22, 2012
  8. Ha! Dogs do that kind of stuff on purpose just to make us look silly.

    March 21, 2012
    • I agree with you. Sometimes I think Thunder wakes up with a new plan every day to make me look ridiculous.

      Also–I just read about titanium oxide in macaroons on your site. Wow. That’s nuts.

      March 22, 2012
      • Yes it is! And for a minute there I was contemplating it….crazy.

        March 22, 2012
  9. April was in CT now CA #

    The house two doors over is for rent and after a quick jaunt to CA you’ll be settled in no time. We don’t have any insulation sticking out so you’ll be all set.

    Love applesauce. Love apple butter. Love apple turnovers WITH CHEDDAR. (enough to yell about it). Scrumptious!!

    March 21, 2012
    • Perfect. Since I am just ROLLING in MONEY from this blog, we’ll be able to keep the house here in Alabama, too, and just fly back and forth. Manicures in L.A. in a month? Pencil it in, girl.

      March 22, 2012
  10. Just so you know, I was reading your blog on my phone in a very quiet waiting room today, and this made me laugh out loud like an idiot. And then my laughing with everyone looking at me made me laugh even more. I absolutely loved this one! The story, the photos, and the recipes. Thanks for making me look stupid today. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    March 21, 2012
    • Mandy, thanks for this–it made me smile.

      Quiet waiting rooms make me nervous. I went to the doctor the other day for a check-up on my sprained chest– at a real office, not at the urgent clinic. The waiting room weirded me out a little and when the nurse came to get me, I started making small talk about my boots and where I got them and how long I’d had them and why I liked them.

      And then I realized that she had never asked me anything about them, or said anything at all except “Ms. Monahan? This way, please.”

      Whoops.

      March 22, 2012
  11. I love your posts. I would gladly let you be my neighbor. And I would gladly give you a handle of bourbon for some of those delectable hand pies.

    March 21, 2012
    • Would you be so kind as to wrap the bourbon in a vinyl carrying case for me, since you’re so handy with fabric over there? That’d be lovely.

      March 22, 2012
  12. You could have claimed you were from the Environmental Protection Agency, and you were looking into the effects of polyvinyl something or other.

    Or, you could have simply pretended you were surprised to “wake up”…outside…again. Sleepwalking is real, yo.

    Also, if France has those apple-y thingies, I’m going.

    March 21, 2012
    • You know, Jen, this just reminds me that I should probably make Thunder a little cape that says EPA on it. She’s always sniffing at stuff, and if I had the cape handy I could get out of a lot of awkward situations in my neighborhood. I could say things like “Stand back, everyone. Official EPA dog coming through– checking for lead and polyvinyls. Everything’s going to be fine.”

      March 22, 2012
      • You’re a genius!

        And because I think you’re a genius, I’ve passed this blogger award on to you!

        http://jcocina.com/?p=779

        Don’t feel like you have to pass it along. It’s just me passing my foodie love to you! <3

        March 24, 2012
  13. And I thought having a pet (I don’t have a pet) was supposed to help smooth interactions with people outside your house…

    This serves to prove one of the theories I have been polishing: Neighbors are the most awkward relationships in one’s life.

    March 21, 2012
    • I got Thunder three months before leaving New York and in those three months I met more people than I had met in the preceding four years. She’d go up to incredibly attractive men and women on the street–even famous ones–and try to get them to pet her. This supports your first theory– that pets smooth interactions with people outside your house.

      Then she started getting high of people’s insulation and it’s gone downhill from there. (Theory number 2, in full effect.)

      March 22, 2012
  14. There is nothing wrong with asking your neighbors for bourbon.

    And Thunder needs her own TV show.

    March 21, 2012
    • Maybe we could just start with a webcam–I’m thinking a streaming video where I drink bourbon while conducting fake interviews of people who aren’t there, and she sits on my lap looking cute.

      Gold.

      March 22, 2012
  15. a #

    I would have just sighed and said “You don’t even want to know.” Then maybe I would have introduced myself. Then again, it’s probably easier to just move. Your dog is hilarious though.

    This sounds like a delicious recipe. I just can’t effectively operate puff pastry…but I have only tried once. And then I made little chicken/cream/mushroom tarts (in my cupcake pan) with all the messed up puff pastry pieces that were left over. That was much better than the banana turnovers…

    March 21, 2012
    • I love putting puff pastry in muffin tins– I agree that it’s the easiest way to go, and it’s so pretty.
      I noticed that the puff pastry was easiest to fold over into the turnovers when it wasn’t too melty–otherwise it got a little stuck to the board I rolled it out on, even though I floured it. I guess thawing it but not leaving it out for too long, rolling it out quickly and not too much would help that.

      Have a good weekend!

      March 22, 2012
  16. Why can’t your life be a movie? Why?

    March 21, 2012
    • Linda, because then I’d have to wear a bra. Right? No thank you.

      Kidding. Kind of kidding.

      March 22, 2012
      • Well I just love your take on everything, maybe it’s due to bralessness (not to be confused with lawlessness or maybe it is to be confused with it sometimes . . . )

        March 22, 2012
  17. Your posts always crack me up. I’m quite sure that your neighbors are happy to have you around. Life was probably so dull before.

    March 22, 2012
    • I take this as quite a compliment, coming from a woman who has a passel of children. You, more than most, must know the difference between “dull” and “not dull.” I imagine most of your time is spent in the latter category, eh? ps – I love your recipes!

      March 22, 2012
      • It’s true, actually, I’m an expert on this topic. And in fact, if your neighbor ever seems to tire of Thunder’s antics in her yard, you can just reminder her she’s lucky not to live next door to us. Although I do bake for my neighbors pretty often to make it up to them….I think you were on the right track with those oatmeal cookies. :)

        March 23, 2012
  18. I love your crazy dog. Your posts make me feel like I can actually cook something rad. Not like Martha Stewart – every time I read something of hers, I feel really dirty afterwards. Like I’m not clean enough to know what she knows.

    That totally makes sense, right?

    March 22, 2012
    • Amanda, I know what you mean. I feel completely incompetent when I read certain websites. I saw something recently that said “If you happen to have some gelatin sheets and a couple of N22 cartridges lying around, you too can make Madison Park’s butternut squash-filled cannoli!”

      I was like, “OR I could put my head in an oven because now I feel like crap.”

      March 22, 2012
  19. Great post, they always give me a good laugh!!

    Your pup is seriously adorable!!!

    March 22, 2012
    • Thank you so much! Very kind of you to say.

      March 22, 2012
  20. I added insulation huffing to my bucket list, near the “get arrested” entry.

    March 22, 2012
  21. I added “Get a bottle of wine and compare bucket lists with Mad Queen Linda” to MY bucket list.

    March 22, 2012
  22. Your blog posts are hilarious! They make me feel like my crazy life at least has a crazy counter-point somewhere out there in the blogosphere. Those apple pastries look fourteen kinds of delicious! I will have to try them. :)

    March 22, 2012
    • Dana, Thank you! I have the same feeling when I read your blog, too. I just love it. I saw a couple references to Sylvia Plath that made me want to find my copy of her diaries and tell you some of my favorite entries of hers. I’ll post them in your comments soon.

      Cheers!

      March 25, 2012
  23. Hilarious! Way to own it though! Let us know how your Neighbor (BFF) responds when you deliver her the yummy treats!

    March 22, 2012
    • Hee hee. Scott ATE THEM ALL before I could bring them over! I need to start marking things “DO NOT EAT” in these situations.

      March 25, 2012
  24. Don’t worry Katherine, I had on a couple of occasions decided I needed to move to a new country because clearly I had used up the old one and the embarrassment would be too great to risk staying….
    Thunder needs to come visit me – we have a pool and none of our dogs will ever go in it – they are terrified of having a bd hair day or something – Thunder could show them how it is done!

    March 22, 2012
    • Well, Shelley– I just hope that our needs to move to a foreign country coincide so that we can move to the same one, split ourselves a pool, and let our dogs entertain themselves for a change.

      March 25, 2012
  25. loveboston #

    Oh my goodness…I can barely type I am laughing so hard. I don’t know how you do it, pure genius once again.

    The very first photo of Thunder made me jump out of my seat. LOVE the pink wading pool, it fits her perfectly!

    And by the way, that is a recipe I will be making ASAP, love apples and love those Beekman Boys. Thanks for posting!

    -Bonnie

    March 22, 2012
    • Bonnie, thank you! This post was really fun to write (once I got over my fear that she’d eaten something that was bad for her.)

      I was so excited to get the Beekman cookbook after I saw a write-up about them in Food & Wine magazine. I haven’t seen the reality show about their farm– have you? Is it good?

      Cheers and thanks again for the kinds words, Bonnie.

      March 25, 2012
      • loveboston #

        Have not seen the Beekman reality show, can only imagine what goes on there! Saw them together on Martha Stewart and that was hysterical! Very cool dudes, loved the soaps they made!

        Keep it rockin Katherine, great stuff!

        March 30, 2012
  26. I don’t think your days of winning a friend with kindness and oatmeal cookies are completely at an end. But if your neighbor rejects them, there’s always a translocated Aussie living in Wisconsin that loves oatmeal cookies and will be pretty much befriend anybody for the right cookie price!

    March 23, 2012
    • Good. I like the sound of this. We could sit around eating oatmeal cookies and cheese. Or is that something you get sick of? Do you get a lot of visitors who want to just sit around your house and eat cheddar? If so, I’m happy to eat it all really fast and then go see the other sights.

      March 25, 2012
    • Visitors usually consume at least quadruple the recommended daily allowance of dairy, but I’m doing my bit for stronger bones and validated cows.

      Bring Thunder and wear your stretchy pants!

      March 26, 2012
      • Now I want to start a band called Katherine And The Validated Cows. But I’m also okay being one of the back-up singers (a cow), in which case it could be Someone Else And The Validated Cows.

        March 26, 2012
  27. Funny post! I’m sure your neighbour will love you if you bring her sweet treats :)

    March 23, 2012
    • I do hope so! By the by, your spatzle post was awesome. I love that stuff and have only had it a few times.

      March 25, 2012
  28. I may be feeling discomforted as well, so you should just go ahead and send some of that apple butter/sauce my way! It looks delicious! I’m new to the blog, but I’m excited to see what other adventures come your way! Thanks for the recipe!

    March 25, 2012
    • Jeff! Hey! “Welcome,” as it were. And thanks for the kind words. Cheers.

      March 25, 2012
  29. Once again, funny story, you make me laugh at every post!
    Also, awesome pictures, really looking good.

    March 25, 2012
    • Thanks, Bryan. I need Scott to go out of town so I can make myself some of that lobster you’ve got going on. He doesn’t eat it because– I don’t know– he had some bad childhood experience with a crustacean or something.

      March 25, 2012
  30. I recently started reading your blog and its hilarious! And your dog is adorable! And the food looks and sounds fantastic. I can practically smell it. I live in a dorm right now and its not feasible to make your recipes, so I’m keeping a list in the back of my mind that just keeps getting longer! They all look so good that I’m thinking more fondly of the kitchen I’ll have access to next year than the room I’ll have to myself!

    March 28, 2012
  31. Come move next to me! I have 3 different types of bourbon at my house and I will never judge your insulation huffing habit! (also, love your blog, come visit mine sometimes, we can be friends!)

    April 27, 2012

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