lightning bolts, vol. 5

It’s been a while since I did an edition of the Lightning Bolts. Let’s be honest, at the outset of this pandemic, when we reasonably assumed it would simply be a matter of weeks, it was a lot easier to be a cockeyed optimist. Then Shit Got Real, the fat babyfingered Caligulan in the White House put everything in the ditch, and now we find ourselves in a manic battle for the future of the republic, all while navigating a year of unthinkable grief and indescribable trauma. 

Well, here’s some grist for your mill, because still and all, we must continue making our fucking art and being people in this zany world. 

  • I have been enjoying Desert Oracle Radio, which airs weekly on Z107.7 FM in the high desert of California but is also highly bingeable in podcast form. 
  • Speaking of imagining you were somewhere else entirely, good news—now you can be. Window Swap allows you to click at random to a video feed of the view out somebody else’s window, somewhere else in the world.
  • Along those same lines, consider going for a virtual drive in another city, and enjoy full control of the radio, with Drive & Listen.
  • This book about the secret lives of colors is a delightful mental palate cleanser. Consider picking it up and reading one of its short entries in lieu of doomscrolling Twitter. 
  • In fact, just stop doomscrolling altogether and consider joining a get out the vote campaign. One of my faves is Postcards to Swing States. It’s data driven, which the recovering marketer in me appreciates, and it’s easy to do. They’ll send you the postcards, the mailing list, and the message, and all you have to do is supply postcard stamps. Or if you have bad handwriting, chip in to buy postcard stamps for a scribe on a budget.
  • If you like desserts but you hate the finicky precision that most baking requires, consider the humble crumble. It’s cheap to make and a good way to prevent food waste, as its jam base salvages ripe fruit especially well. You can make a crumble out of almost anything using this basic formula, which fills a lasagna dish (simply halve the fruit and reduce to a half cup of flour—but keep everything else the same—if you’d like to make a smaller one).

For the filling:

  • 6 cups of fruit 
  • juice of half a lemon
  • two to three tablespoons of corn starch, less if you like it runny and more if you like it jammy
  • half cup of sugar
  • seasonings of choice, optional 

For the crumble:

  • cup of flour
  • teaspoon of baking powder
  • cup of old fashioned oats, or nuts, whatever you like
  • half a cup of brown sugar, tightly packed
  • plenty of cinnamon
  • one stick of butter at room temperature

Mix the fruit filling in a bowl and set aside. Mix the dry crumble ingredients, then stir into the softened butter with a fork until, well, a crumble forms. It’ll look like soft granola when it’s fully mixed. Pour the fruit into a greased casserole dish and then lay the crumble on top of it. Pop it in an oven that’s been preheated to 375 and check it at thirty minutes—as soon as it’s bubbly and browned on top, pull it. Let it stand and come to room temperature. The waiting is the hardest part, but it’s the most important, as that’s when the corn starch does its magic and sets the jam. 

Some of my favorite flavor combinations are: pears and blueberries with ginger, or strawberries and peaches with basil. I like to eat my crumble with vanilla ice cream, because ice cream makes everything better, particularly in these trying times.

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