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2023 Brings Covid, Quarantine, a Salamander to Smyth Family Farm and a Dutch Apple Pie Recipe

2023 Brings Covid, Quarantine, a Salamander to Smyth Family Farm and a Dutch Apple Pie Recipe

I’m sitting in bed writing because I am still in quarantine. I finally tested positive for Covid 19 for the first time in almost three years. I have been feeling crummy. Scratchy throat, fever, night sweats, achy all over, deep horrible sounding cough are all the symptoms I’ve had since Monday last week. I was able to get a prescription of Paxlovid after thoroughly working rigorously through the Kaiser system for two days. In other words, I don’t give up. I don’t like the words, “you don’t meet the criteria.” It’s true. I don’t have any of the comorbidities that qualify a patient for Paxlovid. Yet, I am well read on Sars Covid-19 and listen to podcasts from virologists who “study the science” and know the treatments. I was more eager to take Paxlovid when I heard patients are more likely to NOT get Long Covid if they take Paxlovid. I really don’t want Long Covid.

So as of last night, I have been taking Paxlovid (which works by stopping the virus from replicating in the body and limiting its spread) and I seem to feel better already. My lungs feel less heavy, I am not feverish and definitely feel less achy. I really don’t want my husband to get sick, so he has been spending more time away from me and the house than usual. I’m sleeping like a champ and hope to be better soon so I can get out and about again.

There are side effects that come along with any drug, and Paxlovid is no different. I have had a metallic taste called “dysgeusia” in my mouth since starting the drug. I’ve been sucking on Mentos candies and candy canes to help. Another symptom I’m having occasionally is dysentery, which in itself is never fun. So I’m imagining the Covid leaving my body and that helps. It can increase blood pressure, but I don’t have any issues with that. Anyone who suffers from liver problems shouldn’t take Paxlovid either.

According to the CDC, roughly 6,500 people in United States hospitals have tested positive for Covid-19, more than double the number from one month ago. More than 10,000 people have died from Covid in the last month, which is the highest four week total since the summer. The world Health Organization claims the new Covid variant XBB.1.5 is the most transmissible subvariant yet. It may be more contagious and it is evading immunity more than other omicron variants. I’ve been vaccinated and twice boosted and still got sick. At least the vaccinations can reduce my risk of serious illness, hospitalization or even death.

In other news, California has been experiencing a #BombCyclone #AtmosphericRiver weather pattern the past week and it will continue until mid January. These storms have caused significant impact to travel and infrastructure due to the heavy rain, heavy mountain snow and damaging gusts of high winds. We need the rain, so we aren’t complaining. The rains are filling our reservoirs, thank goodness, yet they have been causing catastrophic flooding, power outages and mudslides. It’s a very good time to be inside reading a book or doing a puzzle.

My chickens seem to be managing the rain, mud and cold weather okay. I keep them busy with frozen corn, whole pumpkins, greens, rice straw and worms from the compost. When it’s a sunny day, I let them roam free in the entire garden to eat bugs and explore. They love it. Only Mary Kate has been laying eggs the past two months. The other three girls are freeloading and holding back this winter. It’s a full time job keeping them safe from predators and I spend plenty of time worrying about them. I haven’t been handling them since I’ve been sick. Goodness knows, I wouldn’t want them to get what I have. In February, it will have been a year since I lost four of them to a bobcat. I’d love to get more, but it’s a huge time commitment, so we will see. I have to resort to buying eggs for the first time in months and the prices have gotten outrageous. 

I’m thankful to my older sister Sue who brought me her famous chicken soup yesterday. My friend Lise blessed us by bringing over two containers of  soup and a fresh pizza to bake. A few other friends and neighbors have offered to drop off food and or pick up groceries for us. It’s been wonderful to have people being thoughtful and stepping up when I’m under the weather. I won’t bother to share where i may have contracted the virus. It doesn’t matter and I don’t like placing blame and shaming anyone either.

I’m not up to sharing any recent excursions, although there have been plenty. I hope to be inspired soon and will send you a recipe or two as well. Here is my recipe for Dutch Apple Crumb Pie. I fell in love with this crumbly topping while having dessert at Esin Restaurant in Danville California. The owner is a pastry chef and makes incredible desserts. This crumble topping is similar to Esin’s crumb topping. I add whole wheat flour and flax meal to add more fiber and make it healthier. The almonds make it crunchy and irresistible. It was my niece Marie who pointed out to me the name of this pie. I had always referred to it as an apple crumble pie. She learned how to make pies from her Italian grandmother Doris since she spent Thanksgiving with her every year in Boston. Here is my take for the best pie ever.

Dutch Apple Pie

Single pie Crust Recipe From my Strawberry Pie Recipe

Apple Pie filling

Ingredients:

6-8 Large Granny Smith Apples (Gravenstein are good also. A combination of 3 different apples works well)

1 large bowl of acidulated water (2 Juiced Lemons in large bowl of water) For keeping apples from turning brown

3/4 C Granulated Sugar Plus 3 T extra for bottom of pie crust

1 t cinnamon

½ t nutmeg

¼ C tapioca flour (Can substitute AP flour)

4 T cold Unsalted Butter cut into chunks

Crumb Topping:

 Ingredients:

3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour

¼ C Flax Meal

¼ C Whole Wheat Flour

½ C Oats

1 ½ C Raw Sliced Almonds

½ C Cold Unsalted Butter cut into chunks

1 C Light Brown Sugar

1 t Cinnamon

1 t ground Ginger

1 t Maldon Salt

Instructions:

Preheat the oven 350 degrees.

Prepare pie crust dough, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge while preparing crumb topping.

Using a Cuisinart Robot Coupe Food Processor, place all topping ingredients (except the almonds )inside the bowl and blend until combined. Remove mixture from food processor and place on a parchment covered sheet pan and toss with sliced almonds.  You can use a pastry cutter to blend the dry ingredients into the butter if you don’t have a food processor.

Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes. Take out and stir and place back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes until brown and crumbly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Crumb Topping used for Dutch Apple Crumb Pie

Change the oven to 400 degrees F.

Take out pie crust dough from the fridge. Roll out pie crust into a circle. Place crust into a 9 inch Emile Henry deep pie dish. I prefer my quiche pie dish that is larger than the glass Pyrex dishes because we like pie leftovers in our house. Crimp the edges and set aside or place back in the fridge to keep cold.

Mix dry ingredients: tapioca flour, ¾ C granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside 

Peel and slice apples and place into the acidulated lemon water until ready to slice. Cut apples into equal size pieces about ¼ inch thick and make sure to remove seeds and stems. 

Toss sliced apples into dry ingredients. Take the pastry out of the fridge and sprinkle the remaining 3 T of sugar on the bottom of the crust. This helps the pastry stay sealed and keeps the crust from being soggy. Add spiced and sugared apples to the sugar coated pie crust. Dot with 4 T of butter pieces. 

Apple Pie ready for crumb topping

Sprinkle baked crumble topping onto apples covering the entire surface. Place pie onto a sheet pan and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for one hour and 15 minutes taking care to cover the pie with foil if the topping is getting too brown. Apple pie mixture should be bubbly before removing from the oven.

Baked Dutch Apple Crumb Pie at Smyth Family Farm

In case you are interested in learning more about viruses check out Vincent Rancaniello on You Tube. I especially like TWIV because the hosts Vincent Rancaniello, Dickson Despommier, Alan Dove, Rich Condit, and Brianne Barker are fun to listen to.

Might be time to get out the Scrabble game again. It’s not as much fun to play by myself, but fun nevertheless.

Ohh! And see what I found at Smyth Family Farm today in the compost pile? It’s a salamander. He was busy keeping all the slugs, mosquito larvae, spiders and worms out of my compost bin. I didn’t put him back there because one of my chickens might eat him. He was safely relocated on his cardboard box home to a damp area next to the peach tree where my old compost pile was.

Happy New Year. Stay warm, dry and enjoy what we have left of winter weather. See you again soon.

Here’s an update on my health after taking Paxlovid. I’m better, but not completely. I still sound like I have a cold and it’s been two weeks since I came down with Covid symptoms. I have a tiny cough, but it’s barely noticeable. I have plenty of energy, but I am sleeping more every night. I’m not sure I can recommend Paxlovid, unless you really think you are sick. The side effects are horrible. I didn’t like feeling nauseous, nor did I like the metallic taste in my mouth. It was gross and I would continue to eat to try to make it taste better. I’m hoping I don’t end up with long covid and that by taking the Paxlovid, it might help my case. I will let you know if I get any worse or if the heaviness in my chest doesn’t go away.

Thanks for reading and go make a pie!

Teri

 

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Hello 2022 and a Tiramisu Recipe

Hello 2022 and a Tiramisu Recipe

It’s a new year, so let’s get it off to a good start by writing again. Truthfully, I’ve gotten out of my groove for some time. Covid hasn’t helped things, nor has farming and raising 8 chickens for the past year.

My niece Michelle and her boyfriend Nitin

I’ve loved being in my garden. It has brought me peace and a great deal of exercise which I love. For a 50 something lady, I’m doing pretty good health wise. About 80% of my family got Covid during the holidays. That includes my husband, whom I live with. It hasn’t been easy staying away from him since he works from home and has for the past almost two years. We get along great, but not having time to myself to write has been an issue. 

My Sister Julie, Me, Sister Susan and Brother Rick on Christmas Eve

I also gave up my gym membership two years ago and that’s where I wrote each and every blog post. I would order a beer and an appetizer after a workout and get to writing. I miss that space, but am happy to spend more time in my garden and with my chickens.

My “girlfriends” Babe, Arthur, Mabel, Burtha, Mary Kate, Caramel Corn, Dolly and Bee Bee have been a huge blessing in my life. They bring me joy each and every day. I spend time talking to them, feeding them, cuddling them and driving to local grocery stores to pick up fresh greens and almost spoiled fruit and veggies. If the chickens aren’t interested in celery, or peppers, or whatever, I compost it. Nothing gets wasted here. Sometimes the tomatoes or corn are good enough to eat for us. In which case, it becomes a bit of work and a time commitment for me to separate everything, refrigerate it and feed it or compost it, etc… I love to juice celery, turmeric, beets, ginger, carrots, apples, kale and spinach for Ken and me and then give the pulp to the chickens. They basically get to have any leftovers that we can’t eat. Spoiled girls for sure.

Back to Covid. Right now the Delta and Omicron variants are here in the Bay Area. No one knew they were ill on Christmas eve. Maybe they were asymptomatic, but it was a superpreader event like no other. So far, everyone has survived. Everyone was vaccinated. Not all of us were boosted, which means their cases will be more severe.

I listen to podcasts at night when I can’t sleep and one of them is from Vincent Racaniello called MicrobeTV. He is known as the Earth’s Virology Professor and he has guests that chat with him and answer questions. It is very interesting to me. Probably not something I should be listening to in the middle of the night, but whatever. I learn a lot about Covid-19 and what’s going on.

Sometimes I listen to the Live Twitter feed of theCovid-19:Updates for the US. My favorite is listening to Governor Murphy in New Jersey who speaks every Monday or Wednesday about the numbers of deaths, whether schools are open, stories about the people who have passed away, etc… Last year, I listened to Governor Cuomo in New York, but he has since lost his job. I love learning. It’s a passion of mine.

I haven’t baked as much recently. My friend Marie and I got together last October and baked tiramisu together. I have a few recipes that I use and I promised her that I would post the recipe. I know. I’m a little late. Oh well…

 Ohh. And I’ve been quilting too. I also attended a 5th birthday party for a special little girl in my life. The BEST day ever. I’ve made marajuana pound cake, apple cake with cannabis leaves which is GREAT for sleep, and cannabis butter from plants I grew last summer. Recipe coming soon.

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Billie’s 5th Birthday at a park in Walnut Creek

I attended a Holiday concert with Blackhawk Chorus that my son Andrew and good friend Denise Clark performed in which was a blast. 

From the Back left Sue, Nintin, Laura, Curtis, Andrew, Dan, Second row: Hanson, Michelle, Shannon, Nancy, and Terri Ann. And Me in front
Blueberry Pie

I spent Christmas day with my 2 boys, my hubby, my older sister Susan and my dad Ron which was unexpected, but so much fun. We made a ham, scalloped potatoes au gratin, and a blueberry pie with a heart shaped crust and Marion Berry ice cream.

My Daddio and Me with our #Smythfamilyfarmwc hats from my cute husband Ken
Here are the four of us on Christmas Day . Starting in Back: My Husband Ken , son Andrew. Second row: Son Curtis and Me
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Back to the recipe.

Tiramisu Recipe

You can purchase 30 small Savoiardi cookies instead of making ladyfingers. Or make a Chiffon Cake and use that instead.

Lady Fingers: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

 Butter a 12X16 inch baking tray. Line with Parchment paper and brush again with butter.

In a mixing bowl, whip the egg yolks with ¼ C sugar until ribbon stage and light in color. Reserve. In another mixing bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining ¼ C sugar and continue to whip to medium peaks. Sift the flour again. With a rubber spatula, fold half of the flour mixture into the yolk mixture.. Fold in ½ of the egg whites. Then fold in ½ of the remaining flour mixture. Lastly, fold in the remaining ½ egg white mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, and with an offset spatula, carefully spread the batter evenly. Bake for 12-15 minutes until done and golden in color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. This can be made up to two weeks in advance, wrapped in plastic wrap and foil and stored in the freezer. 

Mascarpone Cream:

Ingredients: 

6 Egg Yolks

6 Egg Whites

1 C Sugar

¼ C Marsala

¼ C Italian Brandy

2 Lbs mascarpone cheese

2 sheets gelatin or 2 Oz unflavored Knox gelatin

¼ C cold water

2 ½ C Heavy Cream

Espresso Syrup:

1 C hot espresso or use 1 T dry espresso powder with water

3 T brown sugar

1 T sugar

1 teas lemon juice

1 teas vanilla extract

¼ C Kahlua

½ C grated Bittersweet chocolate (preferably Guittard or Ghirardelli) 

½ C Cocoa Powder Dutch Processed

Mascarpone Cream:

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the Marsala and brandy. Place over a ban marie/double boiler and cook until mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Continue to cook mixture for another 5 minutes, until the mixture resembles a thick paste,( called sabayon). Remove from the double boiler and cool mixture over an ice bath or until room temperature. Whip the mascarpone cheese to soft peaks. Fold the cooled sabayon into the mascarpone until well incorporated. Place gelatin sheets in ¼ C cold water. After 5 minutes, pour mixture into a small pot and melt on medium heat. Cool. Fold melted gelatin into mascarpone sabayon mixture. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into mascarpone mixture ¼ at a time. Place heavy Cream in a cold bowl and mix until whipped or “chantilly” stage.Fold into sabayon mixture.Mixture should be smooth and light. Use as layers in the tiramisu or as needed. Can be made up to four hours ahead.

Espresso Syrup:

Brew fresh espresso. (or go to Peet’s Coffee or Starbucks and buy 1 Cup). To one cup of espresso, add the brown sugar, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Stir until dissolved.

Assembly of Tiramisu:

Divide the sheet of ladyfingers into 2 (8X10Inch) sheets. Divide espresso syrup into 2 portions. Divide the mascarpone cream into 3 portions. To assemble, spread the first portion of the mascarpone cream at the bottom of a deep (8X10-inch) deep dish topped with 1 sheet of ladyfingers. (Or for fun use wine goblets) Pour one portion of espresso syrup on to the layer of ladyfingers until soaked using a brush. Repeat process. Sprinkle grated chocolate and cocoa powder on top of mascarpone. Lastly, top with remaining mascarpone cream, and cover with grated chocolate. Cover pan and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Note: If not serving right away, keep in freezer wrapped tight with plastic wrap and foil. (I’ve kept mine in freezer up to 3 months!) When ready to serve, transfer to fridge to defrost or take out of freezer and leave on the counter to defrost.Then top with whipped cream and chopped chocolate and a sprinkling of cocoa powder when serving.

Recipe was developed by combining Sullivan’s Sweets and Savories cookbook, Diablo Valley College’s Pastry Baking class tiramisu recipe, Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa and celebrity Italian chef Mario Batali’s recipe. You can double or triple the recipe to make a large amount to share with friends and family. 

I had to stop and take a break to bring treats to my chickens “girlfriends.” Ken stopped by Lunardy’s on his way home from soccer and picked up a box of sprouts, broccoli, butternut squash and seeds, spinach, carrot tops, celery and lettuce. They were thrilled. Brought out the garbages, transferred the laundry to the dryer, texted a few friends, replied to Instagram posts and here I am.

And it goes without saying that we miss my Mother in Law Nilda Smyth who died last October a week before she turned 90. We love you Grandma Nilda.

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Me and my husband Ken Christmas 2021

Happy New Year everyone and hope to be writing again soon.

Teri

 

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