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Monthly Archives: February 2017

It’s the KAF bakealong #4! Kind of. I ended up modifying it a bit.

I used to make apple pies a lot. For a while, I was known as that girl who would make pies. I still like making pies, but I just haven’t been making that many recently. Cookies are generally less work and I can make so many of them using the same amount of effort as in making one pie.

But anyway, the bakealong challenge was for that of an apple pie. So I decided to try it. Except since I was bringing this pie to a Thanksgiving dinner with family friends and I didn’t want to arrive empty handed and I wanted to bring something fitting of a giant festive dinner, I ended up making it into an apple rose pie instead.

I used the Serious Eats pie crust recipe as I’ve decided that I like this one the best in terms of payoff to effort. I had extra crust because this ended up being a one crust pie and because I used my 9.5″ round tart pan, which is shallower than my normal pie pan. Incidentally, putting pie crust into a tart pan is so much easier than pounding a shortbread crust or Oreo crust into a tart pan.

I used a bunch of granny smith apples for the filling and substituted the spices for all cinnamon (2tbsp), because I’ve mentioned before that I really like cinnamon, right? And I changed the sugar from all granulated sugar to 0.5c brown sugar and 0.25 granulated. I like the molasses-y undertone of brown sugar and I think it works really well in apple pies.

As it turns out, this is my favorite apple pie filling ever. EVAR. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, and tart, but not too tart, and spicy and still apple-y. I think the boiled cider really makes it. Also, if you’re making your own boiled cider (slow cooker FTW!), it makes a big difference of the quality of the cider you start with. I’ve had the best results with Trader Joe’s seasonal cider. Whatever it was called. I can’t remember and since it’s seasonal, I can’t get it anymore until next fall. I did end up picking up an extra gallon and making boiled cider with it so I would have some until next season.

Because this was a one crust pie, I did cover the pie for 30-40min in the beginning to bake (at 375F the whole time) and then removed the foil for the last 15-20min. If it’s not enough color for you and the pie is already nice and bubbly, you can stick it under the broiler for a few minutes.

In order for the pie to keep its shape and not leak filling everywhere, you will have to let the pie cool pretty much completely so the starches have time to gel and set properly. If you notice that the apple slices are falling forward while the pie is cooling or that you didn’t use enough apples, just take the back of a spoon and gently brush the apples back from the center to circumference.

The resulting pie is really pretty.

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Also, since it was a one crust pie and only a 9.5″ tart pan, I had extra crust and apples left over. So I made me some giant personal pies. And they were delicious.

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I made three smaller apple rose pies later on with my 4.5″ tart pans (can’t find a picture, but they’re just a smaller version of the big one) and a very sparse lattice pie with the leftover crust and apples.  Still delicious.

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You know how children will play house? Or play doctor? Or play teacher? Generally, have some form of make believe play in which they assume the role of some adult function? It’s kind of charming when you watch a 5 year old play pretend. But what if you’re watching a 40 something year old man play pretend? MUCH less charming.

So, I’ve realized recently that some people don’t grow out of this phase in which they play pretend. Some people continue playing make believe well into adulthood. Some people play project manager.

Children play house often because they have some aspiration to be in that role. They start learning social and emotional skills, probably some language and thinking skills, as they play. They definitely explore how far their imaginations can take them. They can pretend and explore what it’s like to be someone else with relatively few bad consequences.

Why do adults play project manager? I assume because they aspire to be in that position? I’m not sure how well playing project manager helps them to develop the social, emotional, language, and thinking skills required to be a good project manager though. I’m sure it’s possible. But adults aren’t as malleable as children are and in my experience, middle aged men (I work in a very male dominated field) are generally pretty set. However, humans are adaptable; maybe they get some benefit there. But, I don’t think you can play project manager and not have any bad consequences. Because…you actually are supposed to be managing a project. It’s not pretend. You’ve been given a responsibility to manage a project. If you don’t actually manage, the overwhelming likelihood is that there will be bad consequences.

I got to see this up close recently. One of the engineers at clic was assigned a PM role for a critical project that affected the core of a process. It’s been one of his aspirations to be PM, so he was happy about it. Giddy even. I didn’t think much of it until he tapped me to be one of the engineers on his team. But he didn’t actually tell me. I realized this after a few weeks where he kept asking me to do small tasks related to his project. At first, I thought he was still a bit short staffed as he was building his team, but then I realized that he had tapped me to be a part of his team. He didn’t even ask, he just assumed. He wasn’t my boss, he wasn’t someone I reported to; I didn’t have any reason to believe I would automatically work on his project.  I was also already working on a bunch of other projects assigned to me by my boss or the client lead. You would think that you would actually ask an engineer, contractor or otherwise, if they would be willing to participate in your project. Or at the very least, if you feel you have the authority to just assign people, you would tell them (formally) that they would be taking on some role in the project and not just assume they already knew. Nope. None of that. Soooo…not really learning the social skills here.

Other things that I noticed was that when he would call meetings and put together project agendas and calendars, there would be very little thought behind them and no substance to them. A meeting would be called because that’s what you’re supposed to do. He saw other PMs call for planning and status meetings, so he would call for a planning meeting. And then he would present a Gantt chart and…there wouldn’t really be anything on it. The tasks listed were very general. It was hard to figure out what the milestones actually were. It seemed like his milestone dates were arbitrary and often, they conflicted with other dependent milestones. It was just…weird. His talking points were…not always related to tasks that needed to be accomplished. They were so general. He was trying to go through all the motions of planning and not really doing anything. Where are the thinking skills?

When some of the engineers would bring up some pretty valid concerns and talk about the risks involved, it seemed like he didn’t understand. There would be some handwaving and he would just say “oh, the vendor involved will take care of that.” Um…but how do you know? Did you talk to the vendor? And what if they don’t or can’t? Is there a contingency plan? Nope, he’d just reiterate that the vendor was going to take care of everything and then get angry when we would try to tell him in another way that we needed some kind of fall back plan. He had imagined how glorious his project would be and that’s what he held to. He pretended that he was going to get that glorious ending. Never mind there was no practical path planned on how to get to there. Not learning the emotional (and thinking) skills.

His project ended up a disastrous mess. Duck (who had also been tapped to be on his team without actually being told) and I were the least surprised. That PM though…he was sooooo surprised, the surprisedest. Then we would be called to meetings on how we would try to patch things up enough to get production running again as a stopgap to a permanent fix. But whenever we would raise legitimate concerns about the steps we needed to take or even just the steps that we needed to take, he still fed us the line about how the vendor was going to take care of everything. Um…obviously they weren’t; whether through incompetence, bad planning, and/or mismanagement on their side, it doesn’t matter. They aren’t providing what was asked for and it’s affecting our production. We need to do something at least temporarily on our side to fix the problem while the vendor gets its act together. This isn’t hard to understand. But yet, apparently it is…

I wish I could say that we all learned things from this project and how it was pretty much a disaster…but I don’t think we did. I mean, Duck and I did. We learned that we need to stay as far away as possible from projects this engineer is PMing. But nothing really directly related to the project. The PM…didn’t seem to learn anything. I don’t think his playing pretend helped with learning the thinking and language skills needed as a PM, nor the social and emotional skills. And anyway, you’re an adult now. Get proper training for a job and quit playing pretend. Ugh.