On Living In A Small Town
The trick to living in a small town, I’ve learned, is never to read the “events” section of the local paper.
If you do, you’ll be reminded that your options for exciting activities are. . . limited. On any given weekend, you’ll get:
- a high school production of The Wizard of Oz;
- a pancake breakfast to benefit the rescue squad;
- some kind of sports game at a stadium that may or may not sell hot dogs; and
- a lawn care seminar at the public library.
And sometimes not even that.
You know how the salesperson at the grocery store often asks if you want to donate a dollar to charity? Well, you can donate a dollar at my local Belk this weekend. I know because it’s listed as an EVENT. The other EVENT is that you’re allowed to walk your dog in the Botanical Garden tomorrow as long as you pick up its poop.
At first the smallness of this town bothered me, but now I don’t mind. It’s so much easier to spend time with people when there aren’t a million things competing for their attention. Sure, we don’t have a restaurant here that makes a good banana cream pie, but I have the time to go to my friend’s house for dinner and make one with her.
So when people ask if I miss Manhattan, I say–truthfully–not really. I miss the friends I have there, and I miss watching strangers on my walks and subway rides, and sometimes I even miss my crazy law job. But I don’t miss the strain that so much busyness–so many EVENTS EVENTS EVENTS!– put on my relationships, on my sleep patterns, on whatever it is I think of as my soul.This small town is teaching me that one-off events don’t matter to me as much as I thought they did. Concerts and new restaurants and gallery openings are fun. Very fun. But they come and they go for me. What’s starting to matter more is preserving time for doing even the smallest things with good people.
Put another way, this Walt Whitman quote is starting to make a whole lot of sense:
“We were together. I forget the rest.”
To your weekend, my friends! May you spend it with good people, wherever you are.
I used to love the banana pudding at the famous Magnolia Bakery in the West Village of New York City. No banana pudding I’ve made or tasted has come close to it. So I was stunned when I tried this banana cream pie. It’s better. It’s even better! You can substitute ginger cookies if you can’t get your hands on the Biscoff variety, but decrease the butter in the crust by one tablespoon. (And do try for the Biscoff–they make such a tender crust.) I made a full-fat version and a reduced fat version with 1/3 fat cream cheese and fat-free Greek yogurt, and both were delicious. If you love cheese cakes, increase the cream cheese to 1 1/2 c. to increase the presence of its texture and flavor. I haven’t tried to leave out the rum, but the original recipe makes it optional, so I don’t see why you couldn’t leave it out.
2 1/4 c. finely crumbled Biscoff cookies (this is a little more than 1 sleeve Biscoff cookies)
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4-5 medium ripe bananas, divided
1 1/4 c. cream cheese (this is a little more than 1 8-oz. package of cream cheese. You can use 1/3 fat cream cheese if you want.)
1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt (you can use 0% fat Greek yogurt if you want.)
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar (plus more for sweetening the whipped cream)
3 Tbsp. rum (this is one airplane bottle)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Put Biscoff cookies in a food processor and process until you have 2 1/4 c. of really fine crumbs. In a medium bowl, combine the crumbs with the melted butter and the cinnamon. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour the crumbs into a pie tin and press them in, building up thick sides with a neat edge. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In an electric mixer, beat TWO of the bananas with the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the Greek yogurt, powdered sugar, rum and vanilla until smooth. Increase the speed to medium-high to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed and there are no lumps. Taste it. Depending on how ripe your bananas are, you might want to add a little more powdered sugar–you don’t want the mixture to be at all bitter. Pour the banana cream mixture into the cooled crust and even out the top.
Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight so that it sets. An hour or less before serving time (but no sooner, or the banana slices might discolor), whip the cream with a whisk or in an electric mixer until medium peaks form. If you like, beat in a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar until it’s sweet enough for your liking.
You can either put slice the bananas and arrange them on top of the pie and then spread the whipped cream on top, or vice versa. If you anticipate having left-overs, I’d put the banana on first and then the whipped cream, so that when you go to eat the left-overs the bananas (which will have browned a little but will still taste delicious) are concealed. Serve!