Home is where the hearth is. Downtown Nevada City, California.
The boyfriend and I have recently returned from frolicsome fun in my hometown of Nevada City, California. This year my most shiny of celebrations was neither Christmas nor New Years, but my sister Jacquie’s 50th birthday (for which I provided the cake, subsequently learning that Christmas day is a lousy time to buy baked goods).
Some highlights of the trip were…
Teaching my mother how to prepare absinthe. Who doesn’t love this quintessential Christmas pastime*? Equipped with a curvaceous reservoir glass and ornate, slotted spoon I enthusiastically gave a demonstration on how to prepare absinthe in both the traditional French method and the more dramatic (and efficient) Bohemian method. Both methods were merely informative, not practical, as my Mammy and me prefer our green fairy sans sucre.
My Mom, enjoying her beverage
Armed with our booze and one clove cigarette each, we sat in her English garden and contentedly sinned with some of Satan’s most pleasingly perfumed indulgences. Once we felt sweetly weak-in-the-knees it was time to make some pie. (Drinking and driving is a bad idea, but drinking and pie making is a sign of advanced evolution in a species. Word.)
Mom has a recipe for Oregon Chess Pie – an heirloom handed down for generations which I’d never had the pleasure to consume. With the help of one of my best friends, Carrie, and her toddler daughter, Major, we set about to baking six slices of history. Here’s the recipe:
Oregon Chess Pie Recipe
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup English walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 eggs, separated
● Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg yolks and beat well. Stir in raisins and nuts.
● In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold egg whites into the raisin/nut mixture.
● Pour into single, unbaked pie crust.
● Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes, or until top is a crusty, golden brown and a knife can be inserted into the middle of pie and come out clean.
The proportions above reflect the original recipe, but most find this pie too sweet; the sugar could probably be cut in half. It’s was also suggested that soaking the raisins in rum overnight before assembling the pie may be a hella rad alternative.
It isn’t mentioned in the recipe, but we found that having a rambunctious toddler racing around the kitchen, stabbing pens into legs, tossing soil out of planted pots by the handfuls, and frequently yelling “No! No! No!” to a very sad and lost looking toy bunny-rabbit made the entire cooking process more complicated, so you may want to avoid that variation (although I’m pretty sure the chaos made the pie taste finer).
Another highlight of my trip was hanging out with Thom Moore of The Moore Brothers. I’ve been a fan of their music since I first heard them about a year ago, so it was swell to geek out with Thom over our mutual appreciation for British pop divas of the 1960s, most notably Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw, Lulu, and Cilla Black. I knew I was forgetting someone and I didn’t remember until driving back to Los Angeles, but hey Thom – the gal I was trying to recall was Clodagh Rodgers! I love me some Clodagh Rodgers.
Thom impressed me with his collection of newsletters from the Jackie DeShannon Fan Club, and I admonished him for liking Jackie Trent’s voice. It was a frenzy of niche nerdiness not enjoyed often enough by the likes of me.
I recommend the music made by the Moores. You can check out their website by clicking on this seductive link, which you now read. You may recognize them from their performance with Joanna Newsom on her most recent Jimmy Kimmel appearance.
Nevada City knows how to bring in the New Year with warmth, humor, love, and ruggedly inventive fashion. For those of you who weren’t lucky enough to usher in 2012 in the Sierra Nevada foothills my heart aches for you, for you are surely doomed to a year of misery.
Happy Holidays, dear readers! Go clean the pine needles out of your house!
* A sordid minority of you will balk at my claiming that teaching one's parents how to mix absinthe is a "traditional Christmas pastime", but most people, like me, were raised in a pauper's orphanage in Paris during the 1800s and frankly we don't appreciate you trying to minimize our tradition just so you can have your damned "all-inclusive holiday". NO THANK YOU, OBAMA'S AMERICA.
BUY NOUNS FEATURED IN THIS ARTICLE
➡ Open your heart and your turntable and enjoy some LPs from British pop icon, Petula Clark.
➡ Instead of boring ol' Prozac, try a prescription of energizing Cilla Black. Use as directed.
➡ Lulu starred in the crushable film To Sir, With Love and got a hit single out of it, too.
➡ Plus much, much, so much more available at any one of our three retail stores!