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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Turning the "Blahs" into Ideas

Carol Herder

You can’t expect good weather in Pittsburgh in April. Just doesn’t happen. We’ve had some awesome downpours this month, probably necessary. Still, I can’t help hoping it’ll soon end. With all the rain I’ve been unable to prepare my herb beds for planting. The plus side is I’ve had more time for writing.

A lot of people are affected by dreary weather. As a writer with a big bay window in her study I had to push through that, and quick. At first it was too gloomy for, well, words. But then I noticed the grass getting greener. And greener. Finally, tiny blossoms appeared on the apple tree outside my window.

One day I noticed the chives on the porch had sprouted in a plush green bunch. Things were looking up.

Last week I had a great idea for the rewrite I’d been working on. A few days later my son helped me with a plot conundrum.

I spent a day at WQED answering pledge telephones for Chris Fennimore’s cooking show, and promoting Sisters in Crime, a writing organization for women. Have you ever found that one breakthrough idea leads to another? As well, just getting out and meeting with other writers generates creativity. Suddenly ideas were pouring!

As I sit finishing this blog I can see the sky darkening at only 4:30pm. Gray clouds are once again gathering for another “Pittsburgh Downpour”. But I’m happy. I’ve been nudged out of my gloomy winter cycle into a productive spring cycle. Now, if only mother nature would get with the program!

At WQED I promised to find my pistachio bread recipe. To promote warmer weather maybe we should all bake a loaf?

Summery Pistachio Tea Bread

1 ½ cups flour ½ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar 1 ½ cups grated zucchini, squeezed dry
2 large eggs 1 ½ cups toasted shelled pistachio nuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon.
3. In another bowl, whisk tighter the sugar, eggs, vegetable oil,
vanilla, and salt. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until
4. Fold in the zucchini and nuts
5. Transfer the batter to a well-buttered 5 x 9-inch loaf pan and
bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the
center comes out clean.
6. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto the
rack and cool completely.

To make frosting:

1 large egg white 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup sugar ¾ teaspoon light corn syrup
2 ½ tablespoons cold water ½ teaspoon vanilla

1. In a double boiler set over simmering water, combine all the
ingredients except the vanilla. Using a hand mixer, beat the
mixture for 7 min or until thick and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.
2. Frost top of cake and allow frosting to set before serving.

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