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May Update: Digging Ditches

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Hello readers!
It’s been a wild May. It was a busy month, but like many times where I’ve got my head down working, it feels like I’m running in place.
I’m still working on Everyday Drabbles and the associated ebook, as well as not progressing as much as I’d like on my other fiction writing, and made my goal of releasing two Nostalgia Pilots episodes this month. So while I’m not super pumped about my progress, I’m still taking steps to reach my goals, and that’s the important thing. I’m still working on the first Everyday Drabbles ebook, but I feel like the cover is missing something. Please let me know what you think.
I did participate in this year’s Sky Ride, and it was a beautiful day, for the most part. I did a lovely ten-mile route over Route 5 with the view of the lake and grain elevators before winding back through Canalside and La Salle park. I feel like I hadn’t really trained as much as I should have, but didn’t do too badly. I’m looking forward to a long season of riding ahead of me.
On the baking front, I was busy this month. I made lemon lavender cutouts and strawberry sandwich cookies for Mother’s Day and gingersnaps and matcha shortbread for Memorial Day, and was happy with all of them. I also made another try at blueberry pie, which turned out much better this time.
May’s a difficult month because even though I got a lot done, it was all incremental. It didn’t help that I skipped Balticon again this year. The Maryland convention has been harder for me to attend since it moved to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and this is the second one I’ve missed. On the one hand, it was nice to have a quiet Memorial Day weekend baking, cleaning, and grilling with friends, but there is a lot of validation that comes from seeing my podcast family that I sorely need these days.
June’s goals promise to be much of the same, with more head-down writing and practice time and the real start of summer weather. See you then!

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In which Hugh bakes some pies

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It’s the end of January!
And I realized that I haven’t just done a blog post in a really long time. I mainly fill this space with reviews, podcast reposts, publication announcements, and the odd bit of fiction, but I should probably be doing more to actually connect as a person and not a collection of projects and opinions.
So here goes:
This year, I had to extra goals beyond the usual: I wanted to bake more, and have more adventures. And while the dead of winter isn’t so great for the later, it is the perfect time for the former.
This month, I dipped my toe into making pies, and I made one that was successful, and one that was tasty, but also a disaster. Since I work at home, my baking tends to cluster around gatherings: parties, poker nights, etc. And the one with the easiest timing for me is my Monday night table-top gaming group. The only trouble is, one of the players is super lactose intolerant, so lots of things that I cold bake, he can’t eat. But I was going to make a pie, that he could eat, and it was going to be delicious, dammit!
Experiment one: Dutch apple pie

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Since I knew I was dealing with a dietary requirement, and because I didn’t want to do absolutely everything, I went out and bought ready-made vegan pie crusts. They came frozen in a pack of two, and were five-ingredients, so I was pretty sure I picked a winner. I also picked up apples and spices. The recipe I picked called for your typical pie apples, but Wegmans was out, so I ended up going with Ginger Gold apples. I wasn’t sure how they would do, and I was nervous.
They turned out to be great! They were sweet and juicy, and they stayed together well. They were also really tasty as slices, because I cut way too much. The recipe I used also called for a topping, but it was a piddly thing, just spots of brown sugar over bare apples. This would not do, not a bit. So I looked up a crumb topping recipe, made a few adjustments, and got it to come together! The pie turned out beautifully, but the weather turned against us, and my husband and I were forced to eat the pie ourselves. Tragic.
Experiment two: Blueberry pie

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But I was left with a second pie shell. Later in the month, we went to a brunch serving waffles, and we were encouraged to bring toppings. So, I tried my hand at blueberry compote, and tried turning the leftovers into pie.
The compote turned out well, but didn’t thicken up as much as I thought it should. This might have been because it was another vegan recipe, or it could’ve been because I went by the exact times in the recipe, and not by eye. But they were great on waffles, at least.
The next day, I baked the remaining pie shell, and added the leftover filling. Again, the filling was very wet, but I didn’t think anything of it, and put the finished pie in the fridge, wrapped in plastic.
It ended up not getting any thicker, a right soup of a pie. Worse, the bag leaked in my car. The latest arctic storm has caused me to turtle up, so I haven’t seen the damage in the light of day yet. Next time, I’ll have to make sure the pie sets properly, and take extra precautions while traveling.
So that was my adventure for the month, One good, and one bad, pie completed. Next month I’m going to be doing more shortbreads, and possibly something special for Smoky Writers at the end of the month. If you want to keep up with my baking in real time, I follow me on Instagram!

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