When I was 7, I got my first pair of glasses. My brother cried because he said I didn’t look the same. We haven’t spoken in three years.
When I was 17, I moved out. Went to college, rode the train. When I was 17, I had my first boyfriend; the string of inconsistencies that have allowed me to know who I am through a process of elimination. When I was 17, I got lost in downtown Pittsburgh, throwing up in alleyways and walking back to campus. The next day, I got my lip pierced. I think to show others I could be tough, even if I couldn’t grow facial hair or hold my liquor.
At 18, I stayed in Italy. I worked at a gas station to pay for my ticket. My mom kept the apron for when she cleans the house. I didn’t keep in touch with those I lived with abroad. I didn’t see a point. They saw me as a child who shaved his head and smoked short cigarettes. I think I spent that time convincing myself I didn’t need anyone. I moved back to Pennsylvania December 16th. I started dating my boyfriend on January 1.
In May, he went to China and I got my first tattoo. I didn’t need him for anything. A small act of rebellion, small needles and antiseptic smell mixed with the blood-rust under the cottonball.
I tanned before moving to California, still wore a lot of black, still smoked a lot of cigarettes. I drank juice and coffee; I ate candy during law school finals.
Got more tattoos, lost a job.
Moved to Texas, put to roses on my arm.
Moved back to California, fell in and out of love. Fell in and out of a understanding of what I wanted, but I know I wanted out.
This time I got the word “eleven” tattooed on my arm for my dad. It was his baseball number. They retired it when he graduated from South Ripley County, Indiana.
And last week I got a nose ring. I’m 24 and still changing things. Still speaking through layers of performance, latent cues and failed attempts at seeming aloof. That’s the beauty of being so young still—I have grown accustomed to being someone else and somehow all the iterations of that person are all still me.
And today I was someone who created photo backgrounds, who propped the board up with an old coffee mug from my week in Belgium. I was someone who made poptarts, handpies, whatever you want to call it—like I used to when I was six and the world was blurry and my skin unblemished.
Cherry and Beer Poptarts
Ingredients for the crust:
- 8 TB unsalted butter, very cold
- 6 TB shortening, very cold
- 2 cup AP flour
- 1 cup almond meal
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 TB pure vanilla extract
- ¼ to ½ cup ice water
Ingredients for the filling:
- 2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
- ½ cup brown sugar, dark
- ¼ cup beer, any variety (can sub red wine if you’d like)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 TB lemon or orange zest
- Juice from half a lemon or ¼ of an orange
- A slurry of cornstarch (1 TB cornstarch whisked in 1 TB water) – do not make until cherries are reduced by hal
Directions for crust:
- In a food processor, pulse together butter, shortening, flour, almond meal, and white sugar until fats are pea-sized
- Add vanilla extract and pulse once or twice
- With motor running, pour ¼ cup of water into feeding tube in a gradual stream until a dough forms. You may need an additional couple teaspoons of ice water until dough clumps and begins to pull away from edges of the bowl
- Turn out onto a floured work surface and divide into two discs
- Wrap both discs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to res
Directions for filling:
- In a medium sauce pan, combine cherries, sugar, beer, salt, and lemon, stir with a spoon to ensure liquid is covering everything
- On medium heat, allow for cherries to release their juices and for sugar to dissolve
- Continue heating until juices simmer and reduce by half (during this time, whisk together your slurry)
- Reduce heat to low and vigorously whisk in the slurry
- Mixture will begin to thicken and continue thickening as it cool
- Preheat your oven to 400*F
- Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper
- Take one disc of dough out of the fridge and roll out onto a heavily-floured work surface into a rough rectangle that is about 12” by 10” (this will vary slightly, so don’t stress it too much)
- Using a sharp knife, cut your dough into rectangles. For a guide, I actually used a 3”x4” index card, but you can measure with a ruler if you so choose
- With each rectangle, carefully place onto your prepared baking sheets. You should have 9 rectangles total (if using the very scientific Index Card Method)
- Now, re-flour your board and roll out your second disc of dough
- Measure and cut your rectangles out again, but do not immediately place on your sheets
- At this point, you will have to do three things in succession: make an egg wash to brush edges of the dough, spoon in some of your cherry filling onto each rectangle (I’d say about 2 TB per pie, but this is based on preference mostly), and place second top dough layer on top
- Do this for each pie
- Crimp the edges of each pie with a fork, pressing slightly to seal
- Brush tops of pies with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with a little sugar
- Using a paring knife, cut a couple small nicks in the top crust to vent dough
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown on the edges and tops
- Allow to cool completely before adding your topping (my glaze was ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, 4 TB half and half, and 1 TB vanilla extract, then topped with almond slices and sprinkles)
- Can be kept for up to 3 days in an airtight container, but I like them served warm.