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Caramelized Plums & Chocolate Pie

Not that there is ever a time of year when I DON’T like a chocolate chess pie, the official season of chess is upon us once more. As a nip fills the air my mind starts to wander to the rich, decadent pie that has such a hold on my heart. Every year I make the same pie, but sometimes I like to throw in a little twist. And since I know you all love a chocolate chess as much as I do, I hope you don’t me sharing these additions to an old favorite.

Recently we were invited over for dinner by new friends, Katie & Michael. We met Katie and Michael through our recent video work with BeerGivr, and are so glad we’ve gotten to know them over the past few months. They’re the type of friends that make us question our decision to leave Baltimore– we seem to meet more amazing people here every day. Over dinner we talked about ourselves, work, politics, religion, and everything else. This pie became the rich and slowly eaten backdrop to a wonderful evening.

Caramelized Plums & Chocolate Pie

Pie Dough:

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup ice water

Filling:

1 cup chocolate chips

1 stick melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

topping:

6-8 Italian plums

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp brown sugar

Start with your pie dough.  Sift dry ingredients.  Using your hands, work in shortening.  Cube butter and work it in.  Continue to blend until the consistency is that of course cornmeal.  Stir in the water, a little at a time until your dough forms a ball.  Divide in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Pour hot butter over chocolate chips and stir until fully incorporated.  Whisk together remaining ingredients and add to chocolate.

Remove half of the dough from the fridge.  Roll it out on a floured, non-stick surface (like a sil-pat).  Roll it out so it is 1 foot x 1 foot wide and 1/4″ thick.  Drape the crust over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie dish.  Press into the pie dish.  Scoop filling into the pie dish.

Bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes.

Halve and core plums. Toss with sugar. Melt butter in a skillet over low heat. Once butter has browned add plums & sugar. Let simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the syrup is thick and the plums are soft. Once the pie has cooled top with plums. Let settle, serve.

 

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Due South

I always thought that I would stay in North Carolina forever. But, things change, and a series of decisions led me to art magnet school, to Baltimore for more art school, to marriage, to over 8 years spent living in Maryland. All those years, though, in the back of my mind, I always knew we’d return. Dan might have not known it. In fact, we flirted with the idea of settling down all over the world. When we lived in Takoma Park I imagined pulling our kids to the farmer’s market in a wagon. When he applied to jobs in Iceland and Hong Kong I thought about a life of skyping with family. When the seals in San Diego stole my heart, I weighed proximity to loved ones over the appeal of SEALS! It was a close call. In my heart, though, I always felt the pull.

I remember the exact moment Dan agreed that one day we would return to North Carolina to settle down and raise a family. We were in Rehoboth celebrating our first wedding anniversary. We had just finished dinner and stumbled down to the beach to sit and watch the ocean. With our toes in the sand we talked about our future and I confessed, nervously, that I wanted to make our home further south. And he agreed.

When we moved back to Baltimore, our intention was to be here for a while. We love this city (that hasn’t changed) and wanted to grow ourselves in a place that felt like home. But, these past months we’ve both been itching for a change and when it came time to ask the hard question– when does our future start– we didn’t have a good reason to delay. So, this month, we are packing up and moving to Wilmington, NC.

I know, Wilmington. For a long time we planned to move to Durham. While the coast, particularly Morehead, has always had appeal, we wanted a community that was open, progressive, and that had opportunities for those in the creative arts. Durham is one of the most amazing cities I know, but the more we thought and the more we listened to what our hearts were saying, the clearer it became that we were being pulled not to the piedmont, but to the ocean.

Dan has the amazing luxury of being able to work from anywhere, and in the upcoming weeks he’ll be getting his feet wet with a new company, developing the web. My future is still up in the air. I’m actually thrilled about the possibilities, I can choose any path that seems right. So, we’ll see. It’s terrifying, but I know that moving is the best decision we could make for ourselves, our family. In a few weeks we’ll pack our belongings up in the POD, go hang out at the beach for a week, and then move in to our new house in Wilmington in the beginning of November. I’d love to hear your suggestions, the Wilmington area is new to both of us, and we’ll need advice.

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The Art of a Cheese Spread

I spent much of last week in Gettysburg for my friend Brit’s wedding. Brit and I were roommates freshman year, and she remains one of my favorite people in the world. The whirlwind week included a bridal shower, which I helped throw along with her bridesmaids Leigh, Christina, Liv, and Kellie.

Originally Brit wasn’t interested in a shower, but we talked her into something very low key. We decided to head up to Hauser Winery because Brit LOVES their cider, and throw a low key picnic with light snacks, friends, and family. Because it’s easy, affordable, and delicious we picked an array of meats, cheeses, olives, nuts, jams, spreads, and bread to compliment the local wine and cider.

The night before the shower we were talking about food and Brit (who knew nothing about the plans) exclaimed that her favorite meal EVER was meat and cheese, which sent me through the roof with happiness. All I wanted was for her to be happy and we somehow hit the nail on the perfectly round head.

Putting together a cheese spread is incredibly easy– with a little variety you can make a lot of people very happy. We chose a buttermilk blue cheese, a smoked cheddar, an aged white cheddar, pepperjack, brie, gouda, proscuitto, three types of salami, an assortment of olives, salted almonds, tomato jam, sweet pepper jam, fresh italian bread, water crackers, grapes, and apple butter. We decorated with a simple chalkboard cheese board, fresh flowers, and incredible scenery. It came together perfectly and we had a happy bride, which is all that matters.

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