Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Happy St. Patrick's Day and Happy Pi Day (A Little Late)

Combining two events 'cause I can. It's a wonder that anything is happening when it should with all the upheaval caused by the coronavirus around the world. It's been fascinating to watch the changes to everyday life that have happened, like a slow moving storm, over the last few weeks. Where I live we have been told to shelter in place (tonight) and events are being cancelled every day, stores, restaurants, bars, and public spaces are closed and mostly deserted, there are fewer cars on the roads and fewer people, reportedly, riding buses and trains and planes. Plans get cancelled all the time, even for things weeks and months from now. I've cancelled a trip to the East coast and one to Mendocino, plus our daughter canceled a trip up here to visit us, plus a trip to Europe. My youngest sister had to cancel her trip to Europe and her granddaughter had to cancel her college trip to Poland. Those are just the ones I know about.

We won't even talk about the stock market panic. Already looking into how to help hourly workers who have no pay. Just in sports and entertainment there are thousands and thousands of them. Work is drying up for hairdressers and barbers and others at small businesses. People aren't going to the gym, aren't eating out. The list goes on. Fewer than 10 people should gather. Six feet between people is 'social distancing' and recommended for those less than 10 people. Many, many folks are working from home and many, many schools have closed...some for the rest of the school year.

Sweetie and I have been self-quarantined since last Friday, along with our adorable dog Pi. Starting at midnight tonight everyone in our county is asked to shelter in place until April 7th. But we need to celebrate! Sweetie has also reached a milestone birthday. Since he loves pie, I made him his requested Banana Cream Pie. It's also for Pi day (3 days ago), which we celebrate because we love Pi (and pie). As you might imagine, this was an unusual celebration with no neighbors or friends from our area. We brought our daughter and her sweetie and a friend visiting them into the celebration via FaceTime when it was time to blow out the candle and cut the pie. Haven't figured out how to get a piece of pie to them over the internet, but I'm hoping that eventually we'll have a variation of 'Beam me up, Scottie' like Star Trek to handle stuff like that. Amazon will surely figure something out. I think that Skype and FaceTime will become very popular as the virus continues to change every day life.

This is a wonderful pie and pretty easy if you can make pudding. The vanilla pastry cream is also flavored with a bit of rum...goes so well with bananas...and the pie crust is ready-made Pillsbury from a box in the refrigerated section of your favorite market. Make sure that the bananas are ripe (you'll need three large ones) and that you allow enough time for the pie to set (3 hours is perfect). Add some whipped cream for decorations to be really decadent, but it really isn't necessary. The great thing about this is that you can make it any time of year as long as your store has bananas in stock. Since I haven't been in a market since Thursday it's possible that all the bananas left at the same time as the toilet paper I've been hearing so much about. If that's the case, substitute a cup or so of shredded coconut and you'll have a great coconut pie!

No green in this recipe, but St. Patrick would probably still enjoy a slice, if he were here. Now if only he would return and rid the world of the coronavirus as he did the snakes in Ireland, we could celebrate together with hugs. Also, because it is spring around here, let's celebrate the coming of light and flowers with photos of sheep in our yard giving Sweetie less to mow, and flowers from my garden, brightening up the house these cloudy days.

Banana Cream Pie
serves 8

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (7 grams)
1/4 cup cold water (60 ml)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (130 grams)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (70 grams)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
2 1/4 cups full fat milk or 1/2 & 1/2 (I used soy creamer)(562 ml)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon rum
slices from three large or 4 medium bananas
1 9-inch blind baked tart or pie crust, cooled to room temperature (I used 9-inch pie pan and Pillsbury ReadyCrust pre-made pastry dough rounds)
whipped cream for garnish, if desired

Soak the gelatin in the 1/4 cup cold water

Put the sugar, flour and salt into a saucepan and stir together with a whisk. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk.

Place the pan over low heat and, stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the  gelatin and stir until thoroughly combined and gelatin is dissolved. Pour into a mixing bowl.

Stir in the vanilla and rum. Set the mixing bowl in cold water and stir until the cream mixture is cool.

Place a layer of sliced bananas over the bottom of the tart or pie crust. Pour in enough of the filling to just cover the bananas.

Smooth the filling with an offset spatula, then put another layer of bananas over the filling and then pour in the rest of the filling and smooth the top and spread evenly.

Garnish with more banana slices if desired. Chill until set, about 3 hours. Garnish with whipped cream rosettes, if desired. Serve at or close to room temperature for the best flavor.

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