A Transcendental Adventure: Pi Day Picnic On The Beach

In high school, my friend and I would take “transcendental journeys” to our English class after we studied the subject. That basically meant we took the longest, most obscure way we could to our class, typically showing up late and always landing us in a heap of trouble. We would tell our teacher that we were just applying what Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about to our every day lives, that we were experimenting with transcendentalism. Our teacher didn’t buy into it.

 Transcendentalism is a literary movement, which began in the 1830’s as a protest against the norms of society. Those involved fought against the church, education systems, and government through their writings. Despite their protests against society, transcendentalists believed in the inherent good in man and nature. According to them, things like government, the church, and the Ivy League education system corrupted the innocence and goodness in people because it brought about material means.

 To sum it up, transcendentalism is a back to basics writing style. The subject is almost always nature and tends to rely the message that man can only find peace with himself once he rejects material goods and connects to nature. Walt Whitman’s poem, The Learn’d Astronomer describes how the outdoors is more of a classroom than that of an actual classroom.

 Since I’ve been feeling the blogging blues these last few weeks, I decided that maybe a transcendental journey to the beach was in order, along with some pie since this journey took place on Pi Day. I made a rounded lunch of beer braised beef tacos in a sweet potato tortilla, Mexican red quinoa salad, mini cherry pies, and raspberry peach lemonade and headed for the beach on an overly warm March day.

 It was definitely a back to basics day at the Brigantine Beach. The beach was bare besides a few stragglers with their dogs. The only stores open were a hair salon, Chinese takeout place, and a WaWa. There were no distractions, no one texting or calling me to come into work, no mid- summer season beach tantrums from small children. It was a quiet day with some great food.

 It was so tranquil that it temporarily made me forget about a few cupcake orders that still needed assembling and the cleaning chore chart that I need to complete for work by Monday. Alas, the beach, the power of something greater than human life, can do that to a gal. And it was then, that I had my real first transcendental adventure.

 Walking a different way to class was not a transcendental adventure. I never learned anything or gained some sort of profound knowledge that Whitman or Emerson wrote about. But as I forgot my obligations for a few hours on the beach, I finally understood the Transcendentalists message: to live simply and love the things too beautiful for man to make.

 Because blogging blues have kept me away, I figured I make it up to you with five recipes in one blog post. That’s right FIVE recipes, right here, right now. First up, beer braised beef tacos in a sweet potato tortilla, then an quick recipe for a fresh veggie quinoa salad, followed by a recipe for the most adorable baby cherry pies you ever did see. All of these washed down with some raspberry-peach lemonade.

Beer Braised Beef Tacos

 Ingredients

2-2.5 Pound Eye Roast (Tri-Tip works as well)

2- 12 Oz. bottles of dark beer, I used Yeungling Porter

1- 14.5 Oz. can beer broth

1/4 Cup olive oil

1 Teaspoon salt

1 Teaspoon pepper

6 Cloves Garlic

1 Red pepper, chopped

1 White onion, chopped

2 Serrano peppers, chopped

1 Jalepeno pepper, chopped

3 Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce, plus 2 Tablespoons of the Adobe Sauce. (WARNING: Adobo chilies are incredibly spicy, if you don’t like heat, use 1 chili and 1 tablespoon of Adobo Sauce)

1 Carrot, chopped

1/4 Cup flour

3 Tablespoons butter

3 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1 Teaspoon chili powder

1 Teaspoon paprika

Directions:

  1. Allow olive oil to heat up in a pot large enough for the meat. Rub your meat with the salt and pepper, then place your meat in a hot pan and sear on all sides.
  2. Put your meat in a crock-pot and set to low. Chop all your vegetables to the same size. I did about 2 inch chunks. Add your beer, beef broth, garlic cloves, red peppers, white onions, serrano peppers, jalepeno pepper, adobe chilies and sauce, and carrots to the crock-pot.  Cook on low for 5 hours, then lower the heat to warm for at least another 6 hours. The meat will fall apart and be spicy and delicious!
  3. Once your meat is fall apart tender, shred it using two forks.
  4. To make the sauce, take 1 1/2 Cups of the beer- beer liquid from the crock pot and set aside. In a medium heat sauce pan, create a rue by melting the butter and adding flour to it. Then, whisk in the liquid. Once it begins to thicken, add in the brown sugar, chili powder and paprika and whisk until it just begins to bubble. Add this to your meat.


Sweet Potato Tortillas

 Ingredients:

1 Large sweet potato

3 1/2 Cups flour

3 Tablespoons vegetable shortening

1 Teaspoon salt

2 Teaspoons brown sugar

1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon

3-6 Tablespoons water

1/4 Cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Chop the sweet potato into 2 inch cubes and boil in water until it is form tender. Then, mash the potato and allow to cool completely before moving on.
  2. Once it is cooled, add it to an electric mixer and mic it with the shortening. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add this to the sweet potato and mix on low. The dough should form a ball at the nose of the mixer. Gradually add 3-6 Tablespoons of water if the dough is too thick. Once it comes together, knead it briefly before allowing it to rest for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out large chunks of dough, roll it out  until 1/4 inch in thickness and cut into 8 inch rounds. Repeat this step until you have used all your dough, it should make between 14-16 rounds. 
  4. Heat up a cast iron skillet and brush it with vegetable oil. Place the tortilla round into the skillet for 1-2 minutes, until large bubbles form. Then, flip it to the other side for 1 more minute. Repeat these steps, brushing the skillet with vegetable oil before placing a new tortilla round to the skillet.
  5. Place your beer braised beef into the sweet potato tortilla for a taco twist!

Mexican Red Quinoa Salad

 Ingredients:

1 7 Oz. package of Red Qunioa

1/4 Cup diced red onion

1/2 Cup diced green pepper

1/2 Cup diced tomatoes

1/2 Cup sliced black olives

1/2 Cup Corn

1/2 Cup olive oil

1 Lemon, juiced ( about 4 Tablespoons)

1/2 Teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 Teaspoon Chili powder

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1/4 Teaspoon black pepper

1/2 Teaspoon red wine vinegar

Directions:

  1. Add the full Red Quinoa package to 2 1/4 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to simmer, cover the saucepan with a lid, and allow for cook  for 15-20 minutes. Once all the water is absorbed, fluff with a fork and allow to cool completely before moving on.
  2. Dice up the red onion, green pepper, tomato, olives and corn and add it to the cooled quinoa. To make the dressing, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, chili powder, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add this to the quinoa salad and let rest for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving.

Mini Cherry Pies

Tools and Ingredients

Parchment paper

12 mini- tart pans, which can be found at any kitchen supply store. I got mine at Bed, Bath, and Beyond

2 1/2 Cups flour

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1/2 Cup shortening, diced cold

1/2 Cup butter, diced cold

6 Tablespoons ice water

3- 14.5  Oz cans of tart red cherries, (about 4 1/2 Cups)

2 Cups + 1 Tablespoon white sugar

6 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch

3 Tablespoons butter

3/4 Teaspoon almond extract

1 Egg

Directions:

  1. For the pie crust, Sift together the flour and salt and add it to an electric mixer. Begin mixing on low. Add in the butter and shortening and continue to mix until it forms coarse crumbs. Then, add in the ice cold water. Once the dough begins to form, Remove from mixer and knead into a ball with your hands. Cover in plastic wrap and allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Cut out rounds from the parchment  paper and place it on the bottom of your mini tart pans. Grease the pans with butter. Remove the dough from fridge and roll out until 1/4 inch thick. Cut out small 4 inch rounds and place them at the bottom on the mini tart pans. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Put the remaining dough in the fridge for the top of the pies. 
  2. For the filling, heat the cherries, 2 Cups sugar, and cornstarch on medium heat until juices form and it becomes thick and starts to bubble. Then, add in butter and almond extract and mix until the butter is melted. Add this mixture the the mini tart pans. Create a lattice pattern with the remaining dough. Once all the pies are formed. Brush them with an egg wash and sprinkle with white sugar. Place in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Makes 12 mini pies. 

Raspberry Peach Lemonade

Ingredients

6 Cups water

1 Cup white sugar

1 Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, about 6-8 lemons

1-9.5 Oz. can peach juice

1 Peach

1/2 Cup Raspberries

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized pot, bring water and sugar to a boil. Then allow to cool completely before moving on. Add in the lemon juice and peach juice. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Add in sliced peaches and raspberries to juice before serving.

I hope this recipe blast makes up for my lack on internet appearances over the last few weeks. I’d start with the pie- and finish with it too.

 “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” ~ Walt Whitman

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3 Responses to A Transcendental Adventure: Pi Day Picnic On The Beach

  1. Pat and Angel says:

    The beach, the food, the writing style, this is your best work, or at least we are hungry for more! Thanks Baker

  2. janice says:

    I missed this blog! Without “poppi” around this certainly helps me stay connected to my roots – Brigatine Beach, good food, crazy aunt nancy, wild dogs etc. etc. P.S. the writing is pretty damn good too!

  3. Big Momma says:

    These tastings were perhaps your best ever. I love being a taste tester for The Baker

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