Peach upside-down brown butter cornbread

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I made a peach upside down brown butter cornbread

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It’s the beginning of the college football season, I’m going to my brother’s house tonight to watch the game, so I wanted to make something good. I love peaches and I love cake but sometimes cakes are too sweet. So, I thought cornbread might be nice, because it’s sweet but not too sweet. I hacked together the following recipe by combining the Serious Eats brown-butter cornbread recipe with a sort of generic upside-down cake method.

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 large peaches, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ slices

For the caramel:

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C water
  • A little corn syrup

For the cornbread:

  • 7 Tbsp unsalted butter (one stick with one tablespoon cut off)
  • Dry:
    • 1 C yellow cornmeal
    • 1 C all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 C sugar
    • 1 t kosher salt
    • 2 t baking powder
    • 1/4 t baking soda
  • Wet:
    • 2 eggs
    • 3/4 C sour cream
    • 1/2 C buttermilk

Method

  1. Trace the bottom of your 9″ cast-iron skillet onto some parchment paper and cut out a 9″ round. Set it in the skillet to make sure it’ll fit, and trim off any stray edges.
  2. Put the butter in the skillet and put the skillet in the oven. Preheat to 425ºF; let the butter brown. This will probably take 10 minutes.
  3. Put the caramel ingredients in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium or medium-high heat. Cook together until it’s amber in color, whisking occasionally. This will probably take 10 minutes, i.e., the same amount of time as the butter.
    • You want just a splash of corn syrup because the fructose will help keep the caramel from crystalizing.
    • If the caramel is done before the butter is ready, take it off the heat. It might set, but that’s okay, just slap it back on high heat until it loosens up.
  4. In separate bowls, whisk together the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients.
  5. Arrange the peach slices on the parchment in some kind of pretty design.
  6. When the butter is browned, pour off all but maybe a tablespoon into a heat-proof vessel. Put the skillet back in the oven.
  7. Whisking constantly, drizzle the butter into the wet ingredients, then whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  8. Working quickly (so the skillet stays hot):
    • Pull the skillet out of the oven and slosh the remaining butter around to coat the sides and bottom.
    • Drop the parchment in the skillet. (This is tricky. I used my pizza peel.)
    • Pour the caramel evenly over the peaches. (Optional: Stir in a shot of whiskey or bourbon first.)
    • Pour the batter over the peaches and smooth out the top with a silicone spatula.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating once halfway through. The cornbread should be golden on top, a toothpick should come out with just a crumb or two sticking to it, and your instant-read thermometer should register around 205º.
  10. Let cool in the skillet for 10 minutes, then invert:
    • Run a butter knife around a couple of times to help release the cornbread from the sides of the skillet.
    • Put your serving plate over the top of the skillet.
    • Use two pot-holders to grab the skillet and the plate with both hands. Put your fingers on top.
    • Take a deep breath, hold on tight, and flip! (Be confident!)
    • Whap the bottom of the skillet a couple of times for good luck, then take another deep breath and lift it off.
    • Peel the parchment off the peaches.

 

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“O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” and other reactions to the new policy

Yesterday, the church announced that there is no longer any restriction on baptisms or blessings of the children of LGBT+ parents. Hooray!!!! What an exciting, “stunning”, “revelatory” change!!!

Let’s dig into this announcement a little more, shall we?

“Previously, our handbook characterized same-gender marriage by a member as apostasy.”

Yay, I’m not an apostate anymore just because the person I love and chose to share the rest of my life with happens to be the same gender as I am!!!

“While we still consider such a marriage to be a serious transgression, it will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline.”

Oh, so, nothing is really changing? Got it.

“While we cannot change the Lord’s doctrine, we want our members and our policies to be considerate of those struggling with the challenges of mortality.”

Thank you, but who I am is not a “challenge of mortality.” (Also, and I don’t really want to get into this because I frankly don’t care about theology anymore, but isn’t changing doctrine kind of the point of revelation?)

“These policy changes come after an extended period of counseling with our brethren in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles”

And, let’s just all stipulate, an extended period of zero discussion of any kind with actual LGBT+ people. Because, here’s the thing about this new reversal of the policy, about which all of us LGBT+ people are supposed to be so happy, and that will supposedly allow us to feel good about everything and reunite with the church — here’s just the real crux of the matter:

This policy is not about us

This policy is about our children — you know, those hypothetical children that very many of us do not have and will never have. And, to me, that’s why it feels like such a slap in the face when it’s sold to us as something that is for us and about us. The church’s view on LGBT+ people has not changed one iota. We are still in the grip of Satan himself when we choose to live openly and honestly as who we are. We are still putting our immortal souls in mortal danger when we choose to love who we love. We are still committing a sin most grievous when we have sex — even within the bonds of a loving marriage. Nothing has changed here, and I’m not holding my breath that anything ever will.

It’s a double slap in the face precisely because many of us probably will never have children — at least not without going to great and expensive lengths to have them. Adoption is expensive. IVF is expensive. Surrogacy is problematic at best. To those of us who will never have children, it feels like this new policy is once more throwing that painful fact directly in our face. “We’ll never fully accept you, you serious transgressors, you deviant sinners, but your kids are sure welcome!! 🌟🎊🎇🎁🎆💫🎉✨ Oh, you don’t have any and never will? Well they’re welcome anyway, yay!!!!”

So, no. This policy is not about us, and so you’ll forgive us for not celebrating. What’s more:

This policy is not for us

This is because the church itself is not for us. The church was built by straight people for themselves. The most foundational doctrines of the church deny our existence. Our continued inclusion in it, and the degree to which we are ever welcomed, are tenuous at best, as they’ve made abundantly clear multiple times. Our status has not changed here, and it probably never will, because if it did, the church would have to admit that they were wrong and have been wrong for a long damn time, and that’s not something that the church is built to do.

That’s why I’m not celebrating this reversal of policy, three whole years after it was first announced. That’s why I’m not celebrating this “positive and inspiring instruction,” because it is not all that positive, and it feels neither inspiring nor inspired. That’s why I’m not celebrating the church’s progress:

This is not progress

Here, let Malcolm X tell you something about progress.

If there is ever going to be progress, the church is going to have to own up to the hurt it has caused. In fact, the church is going to have to own up to the suicides it has caused. There’s a reason why Utah’s teen suicide rate is so high that literally the governor had to do something about it. There’s a reason why the rate of LGBT+ teen homelessness in Utah is double the national average. There’s a party line in this church, people toe it, and then other people die.

I want to be clear: progress is possible. Adopting inclusive policies reduces suicidal ideation among LGBT+ youth. There are some very specific laws and policies that would greatly increase the well-being of LGBT+ youth and adults in the state. If the church flexed its substantial legislative muscle to get these laws passed, things could legitimately be a lot better for us LGBT+ people. The church could be such a force for good — for tolerance, for acceptance, for love — for all those things the Jesus of the New Testament talked about. It could be doing so much.

But instead, here’s what the church did: its lobbyists released a lukewarm message that it is “not opposed” to a stronger hate-crimes bill. It announced “positive and inspiring instruction” that demonstrates that it cares more about the hypothetical, probably-straight children of LGBT+ people than about LGBT+ people themselves. It has does nothing to change the ecclesiastical status or cultural perception of LGBT+ people. It has done nothing else. The church has done so little, yet has expected so much in the way of celebratory back-patting. I won’t participate.

Don’t expect me to celebrate your ~*~*~”progress”~*~*~ when people are dying because of the policies and doctrines that you are choosing to leave in place.

Now what?

I don’t know. I keep thinking I’m done being hurt by the church, but then every time they blunder their probably-well-intentioned way into yet another hurtful announcement, old wounds get reopened. Maybe someday I’ll heal. I just know better, at this point, than to think that the church will ever help.

Further light and knowledge

  • The blog post I wrote in November 2015 when this policy became widely known and decided to officially leave
  • The second blog post I wrote about how the policy didn’t even internally make sense
  • Kate Kelly on why these changes are too little, too late — especially for Berta Marquez

I made cookies

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Hell yeah HELL YEAH

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They are cakey and extremely chocolaty, being constructed with both cocoa powder and melted chocolate, and they have some of that good good Mexican hot chocolate flavor. I modified this recipe. I’m not going to tell you a long story about them because you just want to see the recipe. Yields 3 dozen.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 oz bar unsweetened chocolate
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar

Brown your butter. (I mean, always.) While the butter is browning, chop the chocolate. Once the butter is browned, take it off the heat and throw the chocolate in. Stir until all the chocolate is melted, then add the sugars and stir until mostly dissolved. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 t cornstarch
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • Hefty pinch cayenne

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Sift the cocoa powder when you add it, because it’s always so lumpy. The chocolate mixture is probably cool by now.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Whisk these into the chocolate mixture until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold until everything is nicely combined. Last ingredient:

  • One 3.5 or 4 oz bar of good-quality dark chocolate

You want something you’d eat on its own. I used a Trader Joe’s dark chocolate truffle bar. Chop this roughly into chunks, and mash it into the dough with your hands until well-distributed. Put the dough in the refrigerator for half an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment, then smash them down a little with the heel of your hand. They won’t spread much after this, so you don’t have to space them very far apart. Bake 15-16 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. You’re looking for the tops to crack and the edges to just set.

Yields 3 dozen.

 

Okay, let’s talk about Jussie Smollett

Of course I believed it, even though it didn’t all add up. Like:

  1. What were two randos doing wandering around at 2am or whatever,
  2. with a thing of bleach,
  3. and also a white noose,
  4. when apparently it was cold as shit that night?

But of course I believed it. Hate crimes are on the rise. We do live in a country with a racist and homophobic president and vice president. This is what happens. And so of course I believed it: the whole narrative fit so perfectly into my cognitive priors. I fell victim to precisely the same flavor of confirmation bias that we Enlightened Liberals are always accusing our Benighted Conservative Friends of. We all did. Let’s own that.

So now I’m mad. I’m so mad. This whole thing just plays right into every stereotype about The Libs With Their Fake Victim Complexes and I just know we’re going to be hit with dumbfuck arguments about False Flag Operations for the next billionty years. I’m so mad at Jussie Smollett for shoving us all into this, the most stupidest timeline. I’m so mad at Jussie Smollet for lying to us.

And now we’re doing the dumbest shit in response to the revelations that Jussie Smollett made it up. For instance: We’re engaging in stupid whataboutism with the whole Christopher Hasson thing. It’s precisely the same flavor of dumb whataboutism that we Enlightened Liberals are always accusing Trump of. Let’s not do that.

We claim to be more logical. Let’s act like it.

David Matheson, complicity, and walking away

How can I tell you. How can I convince you, brother, sister that your life is in danger: That everyday you wake up alive, relatively happy, and a functioning human being, you are committing a rebellious act. You as an alive and functioning queer are a revolutionary. There is nothing on this planet that validates, protects or encourages your existence. It is a miracle you are standing here reading these words. You should by all rights be dead.

Queer Nation Manifesto

Today I read in the newspaper that David Matheson came out as gay. You don’t know who David Matheson is, unless you know exactly who David Matheson is, and in that case you know a whole lot more. If you know who David Matheson is, then you know what Evergreen International was, and you know what North Star is, and you know Josh and Lolly Weed, and you’ve read James O. Mason, and you’ve read Douglas L. Callister, over and over, clinging to the faint hope their words bring you that maybe, maybe, you can just be “normal” some day.

I know who David Matheson is. One time when I lived in San Diego, I made my profile picture a Torrey pine, because it’s an evergreen tree, hah hah, get it, as some kind of bat-signal, I guess, or maybe a cry for help. I navigated the extensive archipelago of blogs written by similarly miserable people (shoutout to (Gay) Mormon Guy). I rejected Affirmation for being too affirming. I fasted and prayed and wore masks and lied to myself and fought against myself and hated myself. It was not good for me.

If you don’t know who David Matheson is: David Matheson used to be the executive director of Evergreen International, which used to be an organization that sold Mormon gays the hope of becoming “ex-gay.” Evergreen touted the salutary benefits of fasting, prayer, repentance, taking the sacrament, wholesome social interaction with other diligently-striving men, eschewing the word “gay” in favor of the church-approved arm’s-length euphemism “a person who experiences same-gender attraction,” and, most impactfully, the now thoroughly-debunked practice of conversion therapy.

If you don’t know what conversion therapy is: Conversion therapy is a purported psychological treatment designed to make gay people no longer be gay. In fewer words, conversion therapy is a dangerous lie. It is violence and self-hatred and bigotry masquerading as science and hope. It has killed more people than we will ever know. Young men and young women who find themselves “struggling with same-gender attraction” turn to conversion therapy in the desperate hope to be “normal,” or else they’re given the ultimatum by their parents to participate in conversion therapy or be turned out onto the streets. It does not work, and then they commit suicide, to free themselves of the mortal body they have been carefully taught to hate, that they have been carefully taught has betrayed their eternal nature. Conversion therapy is a bloody weapon invented by straight people to subjugate and dehumanize everyone else.

It is easier to fight when you know who your enemy is. Straight people are your enemy. They are your enemy when they don’t acknowledge your invisibility and continue to live in and contribute to a culture that kills you.

– Queer Nation Manifesto

David Matheson, in revealing himself to be gay, reveals himself to be some kind of discount Chaim Rumkowski: someone who acquiesced to a regime that would rather he was dead; someone who made a living from enforcing rules that would lead to his and his own people’s misery; someone who asked his people to get on a train that was going nowhere good.

This is to say that he’s complicated, and that I have no idea what to do with him now. In those actions, was he a bad man? Or was he a flawed man doing his best in troubled times, acting in good faith at the behest of his religion? Or something in between? I don’t know.

I don’t know where his path leads now. People can change, as he spent so many years preaching. He freely admits that he is “a person of many contradictions,” as are we all, I guess. He will need to find a way to resolve the contradictions between his past and present selves, as will I, I guess. I wish him the best, but I don’t know what his solution will be.

I do know that he was complicit. I do know that religions in general, and this religion in particular, have remarkable power to make people complicit in their own misery.

Being queer is not about a right to privacy; it is about the freedom to be public, to just be who we are. It means everyday fighting oppression; homophobia, racism, misogyny, the bigotry of religious hypocrites and our own self-hatred. (We have been carefully taught to hate ourselves.)

– Queer Nation Manifesto

How can I tell you, my brother, my sister, my non-binary sibling? How can I convince you? You must leave, or you are complicit too. Straight people built the church for themselves, not for you, and straight people do not have your best interests at heart. How can I show you that if you stay there it might kill you?

Listen: You can leave. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You can be happy if you walk away.

The straight people who built the church for themselves will tell you that this is not true, that their way is the only way to true happiness. They will tell you that whatever happiness you may find elsewhere is illusory, that “wickedness never was happiness.” They are telling you, though they are too polite to ever say it out loud, that there is something wrong with you, that you are wicked at your core. They are lying to you, as they must if they are to retain power over you. They are selling you a cure to a disease they fabricated. They are keeping you lost in a maze of their own design, in a dark and dreary wilderness, fenced in with rods of iron. They have no power over you except the power that you give them.

My brothers, my sisters, my beautiful non-binary siblings: Leave. Take one step. Maybe try Affirmation; they’re good people, I promise. Take your power back. Reject the church’s insidious power to make you complicit in your own subjugation. Stop throwing your life away; it’s the only one you have. Listen to your heart; admit to yourself that you’ve always known this is true. Trust yourself. Love yourself, as you know you deserve to be loved.

Let me tell you about love. Let me tell you how great it is to kiss someone who you’re actually attracted to, how your heart pounds in your chest. Let me tell you how great sex is — real sex, the sex that you want, with the person you want. Let me tell you about falling asleep next to someone you love — really love, love with eros and not just agape. Let me tell you about building a life with someone you really love, buying a home with them, buying groceries with them, and at the core of everything there is truth about who you are and what you want. The fruit of this tree is most sweet, above all you’ve ever tasted before, and it will make you happy.

The straight people who built the church for themselves know this, somewhere deep down inside themselves, though they will never admit it to you. They must keep you away from true love, because they know that if you ever taste it, you, like me, will be desirous that everyone like you should taste it too. You, like me, will never stop fighting for it, and we will win, because an army of lovers cannot lose.

Everyone of us is a world of infinite possibility. We are an army because we have to be. We are an army because we are so powerful. (We have so much to fight for; we are the most precious of endangered species.) And we are an army of lovers because it is we who know what love is.

– Queer Nation Manifesto

Butternut squash soup not-quite-a-recipe

I’m transferring this recipe from Facebook to somewhere less annoying to get to it. There are two different entry points for this recipe, depending on whether your squash is raw or already cooked and pureed. Either way, you’re looking to caramelize the squash.

Starting from raw:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F and put a baking pan in there.
  2. Peel, halve, and cube the squash. Save the peels for…
  3. … making broth: Put the peels in a good-size saucepan with some onion skins, garlic skins, salt and pepper to taste, and maybe a bay leaf, and add water to cover by a couple of inches. (You want at least 4 C of broth.) Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  4. Toss about half the squash in good olive oil with a little salt and pepper and dump it on the pan. Roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing halfway through, until the squash is fork-tender and brown on the corners.

Starting from puree:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400° and put a baking pan in there — one with a good rim if you’ve got one. Get your enamel-cast-iron dutch oven good and hot, then add a little olive oil. (If you don’t have an enamel-cast-iron dutch oven, you can use a stockpot, but you deserve to spend the $50 it’ll cost you to get one of the nice Lodge ones.)
  2. Take about 3 C of puree and spread it on the bottom of the dutch oven. You’re looking to make fond.
  3. Once you have a good layer of fond, scoop the squash puree out and put it on the baking pan. Smear it pretty thin, but try to leave some corners (they’ll brown). Throw it back in the oven and switch to broil. Keep an eye on it and stir it up once the top starts browning.

Okay, so your squash is cooking. Let’s make soup:

  1. Brown 2 T butter in the dutch oven. Add 1 yellow onion, sliced thin, a couple cloves of garlic, minced, and some salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and caramelize the onion. Plan on this taking 20 minutes.
  2. Take the onions out of the pot and get your scrapiest spatula out. Off heat, dump a shot of bourbon in the pot and scrape up all the fond you can.
  3. Back on the heat, put the onion back in, add the squash (deglaze the baking sheet if you started with puree), a bay leaf, some thyme (fresh if you have it), salt and pepper, and then add 4 C of the broth you just made. Simmer for 10 or 20 minutes.
  4. Off heat, remove the bay leaf and scrape up anything that’s stuck to the bottom. Add 1 C of heavy cream and hit it with your stick blender. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Accoutrements:

  • Sour cream + cinnamon + nutmeg + clove + allspice?
  • Harissa?
  • Garlic croutons?
  • Toasted butternut squash seeds?
  • Fried sage leaves?
  • Crumbled bacon?

Yes; so good; luscious; autumn in a bowl; I would eat it any time of year though

a poem I guess

Hello, my friend Raven;
it’s so good to hear you
up on the balcony, croaking your song.

Such a strong voice you have,
gravel and leather,
the tongue of the desert I feel I must know.

How handsome your feathers,
so carefully preened,
the rainbow-slick sheen from the light of the sun.

What a fine figure you cut
taking flight,
obsidian wings on the sapphire sky.