I’m currently sitting on Amtrak heading towards the mountains, my family, and Joey. I have lost count of the amount of time I’ve spent on one of these trains to see him. We have been together for over three years now and seem to always be cities, countries, and continents apart.
How do you do long distance?
I guess it was never something that we planned. It was more like- why not? We love each other, why would we break up?
And in many ways I think it has made us independent. I study abroad and Joey goes on tour without it ever being “Us vs. The Adventure”.
But the distance is not easy. There are many plane, train, and automobile rides. He stayed up to Skype me on London time and I became a regular at the Ghanaian post office.
There is a kind of language I began to learn, words like: how long, come here, don’t go, and now sometimes express more than I miss you. You lose you your breath at hello and take a deep one at goodbye.
Long distance is not for everyone. Maybe it’s not supposed to be for anyone. But as my dear friend once told me in high school:
“Just because love isn’t all that matters doesn’t mean it’s not the most important thing.”
So here I am, on the train again. I have learned a few tricks:
The expensive beer is always worth it- unless you brought your own.
Look outside- for peeling old barns and little kids waving through windows
Amtrak Guest Rewards points are cheaper to buy and use on few routes, like Fresno to Santa Barbara or Fresno to the Bay Area.
I always tend to over-plan our time together- being a chronic over-planner since I was five. However, when Joey came last weekend (I’m seeing him two weekends in a row!) I baked the frozen Portabella Potpies I had slaved over the week before and got some fresh mozzarella from Cowgirl Creamery for caprice salad with reduced balsamic. The recipe was inspired by this one.
Portabella Pot Pies with Porcini Gravy
This recipe is for a big batch- just freeze the extra pies overnight and slip into zipock bags the next day. Cook frozen pies at 350 for 45-50 minutes.
Makes 8 individual pies or 5 individual and one 9 inch
3 sticks cold unsalted butter
4 1/4 cups unbleached flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
12-14 Tbs ice water
1 beaten egg
1 oz. dried Porcini mushrooms, rinsed
2 cups. Red wine
2 carrots, cubed
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 bay leaves, torn
few sprigs fresh parsley and thyme
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs flour
Salt to taste
4 large portabella caps cut into 1” chunks
3 large peeled carrots cut into 1” chunks
2 lb young creamy potatoes (like red or fingerling) cut into 1”chunks*
1 lb asparagus cut into 1” pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
Simmer porcini mushrooms in 4 cups water over low heat for 30 minutes until tender and fragrant.
In the meantime, assemble the crust. Mix together salt and flour in large bowl and cut in cold butter. Work with a fork or pastry cutter until it is the consistency of rough cornmeal. Work in just enough water to hold pastry together and wrap and chill.
Strain out porcini mushrooms from broth and keep for your own use. Return broth to stove and add wine, carrots, celery, bay, and herbs. Simmer for another 30 minutes until everything is tender.
Strain out all solids and compost. Set broth aside and melt the butter in the stockpan. Add flour and cook the roux until it smells like pancakes and the raw flavor is gone.
Wisk in broth and cook 10 minutes or until it coats the back of a spoon. Taste and season with salt.
Heat a large pot with a drizzle of olive oil and brown portabellas. Remove and set aside. Use the same pot to cook carrots and potatoes with a drizzle of oil until tender. Add mushroom gravy, asparagus, and peas and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and Season. Remove from stove to cool.
While the filling cools, assemble the pie shells and brush all sides that touch filling with beaten egg (this is so it doesn’t get soggy).
Fill and bake fresh pies for 25 minutes at 375.
* The young potatoes are important to use because regular ones will become mealy in the freezer.