jo skates

Skating in the key of life


Pie recipes for Eva

Another adult skater has been a loyal commentator on my blog. (Her blog is called “Eva Bakes,” on which she shares all kinds of delicious recipes. On Fridays she posts entries about her skating adventures, including her recent performance in the Championship Gold Ladies event at Adult Nationals 2015.)

Eva asked for Harriet’s rhubarb pie recipe, so I thought I’d post both that one and the one for my friend Carol’s deep fudge pie.

But first, a little pie poem, dedicated to Eva and sung to the tune of “My Favorite Things.”

Lemon meringue so fluffy and downy,
I’ve got a fudge one that tastes like a brownie,
Strawberry rhubarb, I cannot deny,
These are a few of my favorite pies.

Pecan or apple, there is nothing to it,
Raspberry, blueberry, all berries will do it.
Since so much skating has trimmed down my thighs,
These are a few of my favorite pies!

Chocolate fudge pie

Chocolate fudge pie

Carol’s Deep Fudge Pie

1 9″ unbaked pie crust (1 stick [1/2 c] of butter, 1 cup of flour, salt, 1 T sugar, plus 3 T ice water)
3 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 c. butter
4 eggs
3 T light corn syrup
1-1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla

Make pie crust in a food processor by cutting a cubed stick (1/2 c) of butter into a cup of flour, salt, and a tablespoon of sugar, then adding ice water until the whole thing comes together into a ball. Refrigerate for 15 minutes and then roll out into a 9″ pie pan. Prick pie crust with fork. Bake in 400 degree oven 10 minutes or until golden.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate with butter over hot water or in microwave. Cool slightly.
Beat eggs until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in corn syrup, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat in cooled chocolate mixture; blend well. Pour into pie shell.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until top is crusty and filling is set around edges (Do not overbake; the pie should still be soft in the middle.) Cool on rack. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Harriet's rhubarb pie

Harriet’s rhubarb pie

Harriet’s Rhubarb Pie
1 cup flour
5  Tbs. confectionery sugar (1/3 cup)
1/2 cup butter or margarine (not soft)

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup flour
3-4 cups rhubarb cut to 1/4″ lengths  (I use 4)
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
3/4 TBL Cinnamon

Crust:  Mix flour and confectioner’s sugar and cut in butter/margarine with a pastry blender (or you can use the food processor to first cut in the butter and then add a few tablespoons of ice water until the mixture forms a ball). Press mixture into a 9 or 10 inch pie pan (10 if 4 cups rhubarb used). Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Pie:  Beat eggs and stir in sugar, salt and flour.  Mix in rhubarb and spoon into the hot crust.  Bake at 350 degrees 50 to 55 min. until top starts to brown lightly. Serve hot or cold.


Poem: “The Skating Day”

Hey, it’s National Poetry Month, and I’ve been reading Mary Oliver’s breathtakingly beautiful poem, “The Summer Day.” Her poem asks many questions, beginning with a hard one: “Who made the world?” and ending with this memorable query: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”

That’s an easy one. Here’s my answer, a tribute to her inspiring meditation on watching a grasshopper (lines in italics are hers).

The Skating Day

Who made this edge?
Who made this three, and these bunny ears?
Who made this pattern?
This pattern, I mean–
the one that swizzles up and down, saying there are knees bending,
heart pumping, ankles pressed against laces, then releasing.
I can see my own reflection going to and from the boards.
Now I am turning my hips against my shoulders and feeling tension deep deep down.
Now I change direction, head stays the same. Count with me–one, two, three.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to push down
into the ice’s bright and brittle surface, how to glide away
as if there was no clock and no opening of the gates
to signal us off and away, no moment when the music stops.
This is what I’ve been doing during those few hours.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


Celebrating the ice

The temperature is now above 40 degrees, and everything is melting! In honor of the arrival of warmer weather (here in Minnesota we don’t say “spring” until May), I want to share a couple of poems and a few photos about ice.

First is a haiku I wrote for a competition run by my son’s Japanese class (they encouraged parents to enter):

Skaters trace out eights,
Quiet as frozen water.
Snow dusts our circles.

And now a humorous one by a friend (who wrote it in response to another poem about winter):

“About Those Icicles”

by Laura Gurak

When I read your poem
about icicles from roof to ground,
I thought “Hey, you need a roof rake.”
Those icicles are dangerous!
They will pull your rain gutters down!
Shiny and bright on the surface,
but underneath the glow
they are letting frosty cold water,
melted by mid-day sun,
creep underneath
and up behind your roof shingles.
Next thing you know, it’s raining in the kitchen!
Or in the bathroom!
It takes a hearty soul indeed to endure
the endless northern winters.
Whether New England or the Midwest, someone is bound
to have the worst one that year.
Snow, even when too much, gives us trails and animal tracks
to follow, often with the dog, nose to ground.
But icicles—they are not our friends.
Get a roof rake and make them vanish, and soon!
Then, we can welcome the March weather,
return of the sun, all melting all around us,

But to prove that we do love our winters (at least for a while), here are some pictures from earlier this year: an annual cross-country ski race that always involves decorating a frozen lake with ice sculptures and lights. Enjoy!


Ode to the European Waltz

At my lesson this week, Ari had me doing the side pattern from the European Waltz. We’ve been working on the man’s part for so long that it took me a few tries to get back into the woman’s steps. And then I realized how much repressed trauma can be buried under my smooth mask of skating joy and calm.

OMG, not the European Waltz! The dance that shall not be named! It was the first compulsory ice dance that I ever failed. I passed it on the fourth try, only because (a) I took enough cold medicine (for a bad cold, I swear) to put myself into a kind of altered state, and (b) I watched Torvill and Dean’s legendary Paso Doble OSP on television (yes, it was that long ago) right before the test.

The European Waltz is pretty much three-turn city. The pattern goes something like this: left three turn, back outside right, back outside left, step forward to right three turn, back outside left, back outside right, repeat the whole thing, then do three repetitions of a three-turn-to-back-outside-edge. The test requires three patterns, not short and definitely not sweet. It goes round and round the rink for what feels like forever.

Oomph pah pah, oomph pah pah, threatening imminent doom with every pulse of 3/4 time.

After I passed, I thought with relief that I’d never have to work on it again. But oooohhh nooo. . . . to progress further on the pre-gold dances I am faced with the brutal reality of the Starlight Waltz end pattern, which has two of those end pattern Euro-threes capped off by the oh-so-delightful foxtrot mohawk.

Had I passed my pre-golds soon after my silvers, I might have been spared testing the Starlight Waltz, which some years ago was made into a pre-gold dance (when I started ice dancing, it was tested at the international level, after the gold-level dances). But I took a set of breaks from skating, and a long long break from testing after doing the silvers. I actually do like the Starlight, aside from those wicked three turns. The repetitive three turns make European Waltz harder, because for me it’s like repeating the same mistake again and again and again. And again.

Both my three turns and back outside edges are problematic. Luckily, it’s the same basic challenge with both: not using the inside edge to lower myself down on the knee, and not placing the new foot on the ice. Unluckily, this causes the same problems: instead of lowering on the inside edge, I’ve been falling into the circle on my three turns (not lifting my heel), not lowering down but falling from the inside edge onto the back outside edge. I’ve also been sliding my feet from outside to outside on the transitions, missing those loveable “rockover” inside edges at the end of each outside edge. I need to work on controlling those inside edges in order to create a genuine, bona fide (really, truly, madly, deeply) push from one edge to another.

Some days I find myself watching those how-to videos (boy, can Maya Usova ever lower herself down on that inside edge!)

and thinking to myself, yeah, right.

I’m not sure I am conveying the proper tone of optimism about this process. So in the spirit of a modern dance teacher I once had who said “Your weaknesses become your strengths,” I am trying to stay upbeat and just keep at it.

So I tell myself that the European Waltz is a great dance with which to develop proper technique. It’s not fussy, there are no special features; it’s just rise and fall, three turns and back edges–and lots of controlled inside-edge pushes. Just my kind of thing, no? I even wrote a little poetic tribute to the European waltz in the style of Emily Dickinson. Here’s her original poem:

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,

One clover, and a bee.

And revery.

The revery itself will do,

If bees are few.

And here’s my version:

To do the European you need a back edge and one three,

One back edge, and a three.

And melody.

The melody itself will do,

If threes are few.


Skating wishes for 2015

My wishlist for all of you!

Fast dynamic edges

All blisters quickly healed

Patience for those days when

Those moves are far afield

Growth in every lesson

Alignment and soft knees

Hips that stay beneath you

Twizzles, choctaws, threes

Lots of flying stuffies

A cheering crowd above

Joy in all your skating

And skating edged with love.