Givin’ Thankz – November ’15 Playlist

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A hip hop and pop playlist for the holiday from my very own sister! Well… one of them.

Like herding actual cats, it only took me the majority of this month to corner my sister Kat into writing this description for her thankfulness-themed seasonal playlist. (Bossy older sister moment, not rare for me.) Yogi, vegetarian, avid hiker and bio/botany enthusiast, Kat is far and away the most gracious, positive, and real take-no-bullshit person I know. She’s been inspiring me to seize the day since she was an intrepid little toddler… well, when she wasn’t totally wrecking my Harry Potter Lego castle. Yeah, sorry Kat, still haven’t let that go. For this high holiday of pie and family there was only one person I could rely on to produce an apropos playlist, and (of course) she didn’t disappoint.

Take it away, sister Kat:

I made this playlist for two reasons. 1. Because a specific piebrarian asked me to and 2. because ’tis the season to be thankful! I like to think that being thankful is a lot of different emotions rolled up into one action. In order to be truly thankful for the wonderful things in our lives we have to celebrate the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. I chose these songs because they represent family, friends, and self love. All great things that are worth being thankful for this holiday season. So there you go. Now stick this playlist on repeat and let your new found thankfulness for J-Biebs blossom into a full on love affair. Happy Thanksgiving.
– Kat

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Shepherd’s (Crown) Pie

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A lamb, squash, broccoli, and root vegetable shepherd’s pie inspired by The Shepherd’s Crown a Tiffany Aching novel by Terry Pratchett.

Someone first recommended A Hat Full of Sky, the second novel in Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series (the YA spinoff of his long-running Discworld series), when I was a preteen myself. Even though I am aging faster than she is (she now seventeen and I twenty-five), I have grown up with Tiffany.

This was not only Terry Pratchett’s last Tiffany Aching book, but the final book in the Discworld series written before his death earlier this year. The witches of the Disc are some of my favorite characters in literature, and with that in mind I wanted to pay tribute to this most excellent author who has affected me so profoundly. Continue reading

New Gods Tart (American Gods Pie, Part 2)

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Neil Gaiman American Gods New Gods Tart The Piebrary

An ice cream tart with a potato chip, pretzel, and cracker crust inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, part two (tart two!) of a two-pie special!

You can read about my old gods pie, a beet and pork pasty, over here.

When my sister was in high school she used to make these outrageous baked goods, lining glassware baking pans with store bought cookie dough, plopping a layer of Oreos on top, and then covering it in brownie batter. Her junk food Frankenstein monsters were a huge hit at pep rallies and bake sales, but there was always an element of fear and awe, the quiet knowledge that these things were probably killing you softly. For the second half of my American Gods pie I followed her lead and created something I’ve been casually referring to as “Trash Tart” for the past few weeks. Continue reading

Piebrarian on the Road: Spain

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Mercado San Miguel Collage

So I’m transforming The Piebrary into a travel blog for this post. My college travel blog put me in the habit of writing frequently, it was an exercise that solidified experiences in my brain and helped me parse my myriad of post-adventure feelings. Plus I miss getting to the opportunity to publicly reflect on travel, or anything other than pie, really.


Madrid Day One Collage

For some reason I’ve always been a bit tentative to travel wholly alone. I’m not sure why, there’s a challenging strategical element to traveling that really tickles my intellectual fancy. But when you’re with someone else it is easy to defer rather than relying on your own wits and since I pride myself on my wit to an almost Icarian degree, solo travel seemed like something I should try.


Madrid Day Two Collage

So when the opportunity arose to see Spain after a business trip to Frankfurt, I leapt at it. Madrid for three days, Barcelona for one and a half. I ate churros and chocolate until I thought I’d be sick, saw all three big museums in Madrid (The Thyssen-Bornemisza, The Reina Sofia, and The Prado), tried Hemingway’s favorite suckling pig at the oldest restaurant in the world, and went to the Arab baths where I had my first ever massage and bobbed around drinking mint tea from a tea fountain. Plus, I met up with my friend Eliana and her family for a flamenco show, so I wasn’t alone the whole time! Although train travel and chilly weather made my first half a day in Barcelona a bit grumpy, the second day was absolutely perfect and the city probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I saw Gaudi’s Casa Batllo and the Sagrada Familia, wandered the gothic quarter watching sunlight fill verdurous cobbled streets, and walked along the beach at sunset.

Hemingway Collage; favorite food, hotel, museum, and cocktail bar.

There were times I was very happy to be alone. I didn’t have to argue with anyone about what we were doing or when, I could change my schedule on a whim to accommodate an hour’s worth of outdoor tea drinking and indulge in the ear scratching of passing puppies. After a while I didn’t even mind dining alone, I just brought a book. I knew, logically, that very soon I would be back in New York surrounded by noise and friends and would wish for the peace, solitude, and watery sunlight of a European cafe…

But still.


Barcelona Day One Collage

In the weeks leading up to my departure, whenever I worried that I would seem pathetic traveling alone, my friends said, “you’ll meet people in bars or whatever!” For some reason this is consistently untrue for me. As much as I enjoyed seeing a chunk of Europe when I studied abroad, I spent a lot of time coming to grips with a debilitating loneliness. Nowadays I’m lucky to work in an industry (publishing) where everyone happily and easily talks about their work (books). But there is still a sensuality and a charm to meeting people in the wild that I fear eludes me.


Barcelona Day 2 Collage

The physical, accessible presence of someone familiar in an unfamiliar place can be such a comforting point of reference. You don’t have to speak at breakfast or see the same sights, you don’t need to rely on that person, but it’s nice to touch base and dissect your day over dinner and a beer. When I enter a crowded space with a friend – a bar, a museum, even a city street – I get the sense that we are orbiting one another. I can wander off and know that some invisible tether to this person provides me security. Traveling alone forces you to orient around yourself rather than another person. It’s difficult and disorienting, but I also feel centered, stronger, and more confident in the wake of my trip. Hopefully this will make me a more secure and reliable touch point for others going forward, yeah?

Gaudi Collage; The Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo

I don’t regret the distribution of my week: three days was just enough time to see all I wanted to in Madrid at a reasonable pace and (as evidenced by the fact that I started writing this as 3:30 am EST) I’m definitely going to need the weekend to recoup a bit. But, that said, I can’t wait to go back and linger in Barcelona. It is the perfect mix of sunshine, palm trees, history, art, and food. There are overgrown churches with pigeons roosting in nooks in the crumbling brick, hauntingly elegant gothic streets pocked with delicious smells and cool stores (found a jacket by glancing and a meal by sniffing), and of course the bustling market life of a port city. Combine all of this with the Mediterranean and some truly spectacular sunrises and sunsets and it’s not hard to imagine you’re in a fantasy. Like, a literal fantasy with dragons and shit. It’s easy to see how so many of Gaudi’s imaginative oceanic and naturalistic designs got their form here.


Panorama of the Sagrada Familia

The moral of the story is this: I have zero regrets, I always try and make a point of that. My time alone, while not always preferable, was immeasurably insightful. But I’m already super excited about my next trip to Barcelona. It will be for a whole week, it will be when the weather is warmer for a magical sangria-fueled urban beach vacation, and I’m definitely going to need company.
  
Barcelonetta Sunset, view west and east

   
Barcelona Cathedral


Gothic Quarter Sunshine

Roof of Casa Batllo

Monthly Playlist, October 2015

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The Piebrarian’s Practical Magic Mix, a witchy autumnal playlist to get you into the October spirit!

As you might have guessed from August’s Red Magic Pie I’m a big fan of practical magic, not just the book/movie, but the concept as well. Crystals and spells I could probably take or leave, to be quite honest, but I like the simple magic of the everyday. The heat of a warm bath and a glass of wine when I’m sore, the effect of a soft blanket when I’m tired, the peace of my twenty minute yoga ritual in the mornings, or the power of a perfect cup of tea to unlace all my anxiety. The magic of butter and water and flour when I can intuit how good that crust will be by its texture. With a little investment of willpower and thought, it is possible to drastically change your own little world almost instantaneously.

The music on this playlist is a bit folksy – sometimes raucous and fun, sometimes quiet and pensive – good for dancing in the moonlight on a dark night or quietly sipping hot coffee on a brisk morning and listening to the bright autumn leaves rustling in the wind.

Happy season of the witch, everyone!

Old Gods Pie (American Gods Pie, Part 1)

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  Neil Gaiman American Gods Pie

A pork and beet pasty inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, part one (or pie one) of a two-pie special!

American Gods is probably one of my favorite books of all time, one that needs little to no introduction due to its immense popularity and ravenous cult following. When I met Neil Gaiman on the train about a year ago, I mentioned wanting to do this as a pie one day. If memory serves, he seemed a little bit dubious (and very rightly so) that a single pie would be enough. So I’m making two. Continue reading

Firebug Pie

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A s’more pie with graham cracker crust, chocolate filling, and toasted marshmallow fluff, inspired by David Oppegaard’s The Firebug of Balrog County.

One of my favorite things about young adult literature is that, when it’s done right, it can be so much more than angsty romance and sparkly stalker vampires. The best YA isn’t just black and white, love and hate melodrama, it’s full of confusing grey areas and conflicting impulses and emotions. Temper that with a bit of dry teenage wit and a bit of dark humor and you have some formative literature on your hands. This is the effect of David Oppegaard’s new book, The Firebug of Balrog County. Continue reading

Monthly Playlist, September 2015

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Agent Ballard Makes It Rain, a literary agent’s playlist by Noah Ballard

This is probably the most eclectic mix we’ve had to date. Noah Ballard is a movie podcaster on “Be Reel, Guys”, a driven literary agent, and a dedicated piebrary guinea pig. I asked him if he would make a playlist inspired by the hustle and sweat that goes into being young and hungry in the publishing industry, and this is the result. Although it does start out with about 7 minutes of sensual piano music, this playlist has some highs and lows that I think a lot of young professionals in New York will recognize.

Here’s what Agent Ballard has to say:

“No one wants you to be there. No one wants you in their way trying to fight for a position on the subway. No one wants you on the street smoking cigarettes in their face. No one wants you to be in front of them in the Starbucks line. No one wants you to call them at their office and try to sell them something. No one cares if you want more wasabi with your sushi lunch. No one gives a shit that it’s the afternoon already and you’re tired, and you kind of want to go home, but you still have a huge pile of things to do. No one cares what you’re wearing. No one needs you to small talk with them. No one is going to help you sweat any less, drink any more, eat any better, get laid more frequently.

Except for motherfucking Yanni. Yanni wants you to make love to a beautiful person on a piano. And Kendrick Lamar wants you to step that hustle up and blow up that pile of papers. And Brian Wilson thinks it’s cool if you just want to dream big from your bed. And Tim Carr wants you to smoke more cigs and drink more beer. So does Heems. Tim Kasher will goddamn small talk with you. About girls who ruined his life. Those Canadian hipsters from Broken Social Scene care what you’re wearing. They think you look nice. Stephen Malkmus probably doesn’t have an office, but he gets what you’re doing. Conor Oberst and Drake get that you’re a grown-ass person with grown-ass emotions. Elliott Smith is dead—but he’ll totally give you a spot on the subway, even if it only goes one way. And Bob Dylan? That dude is off to get you another wasabi ball.”

Red Magic Pie

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A strawberry rhubarb pie inspired by Alice Hoffman’s The Red Garden and Practical Magic.

I’ve been reading Alice Hoffman’s work since I was a preteen, starting with her YA novel Aquamarine when I was about twelve. From there I’ve grown with her heroines whispering in my ear. Because of her subject matter and the high volume, I think some people write Hoffman’s work off as upmarket women’s fiction. If that’s the case, I would like to see more of that genre with her bravery, literary craft, and flair, please. Continue reading

Boxcar Chili Pie

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A chili con-carne savory pie with cornbread crust inspired by The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner

I think everyone read at least one serialized chapter book series as a kid. If you say you’ve never read a Goosebumps, Nancy Drew, Magic Treehouse, or Sweet Valley High book you are just lyin’ like a rug. One of the series I devoured as a kid was the boxcar children. It’s probably not the most well known middle grade series ever, but for some reason I thought it was the shit. So obviously, I decided to go back and read it again. Because rereading stuff you loved as kid as an adult is never disappointing at all. Continue reading