Snail Mail

IMG_1252Signs that I am getting old: I remember when I used to receive chain mail in a tangible mailbox.

I also used to have a pen pal. A girl I’d met at…circus camp. So maybe my childhood was a little unusual, but I promise you millennium babies, getting a letter in the mail used to be a normal occurrence.

When email took off in middle school, I loved getting chain emails. I loved all the pretty font colors and the suspense of scrolling through

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to get to the answer of some joke or riddle, or some ridiculous good luck charm.

Fast forward to now: I get so many emails, I sometimes dislike getting mail. One week, I went without internet except for classwork-related research, and I ended up with over 100 unchecked emails. Half of them were actually semi-important. Oops. And even the best of email filters can’t protect me from Joyce the Voice bombarding the radio station e-list with updates on her back surgery. Lady, we all hope you get better, we really do. But please, please stop emailing us an hourly status report. There’s other places on the internet (read: Twitter) for you to do that.

Receiving a letter in the mail has become a special occasion, almost as infrequent the birthday of a child born on February 29th. (No but seriously, I could count on one hand how many letters I’ve received in the past four years.)

Today, my friend JMeter sent me a beautiful piece of mail. It was so beautiful and so rare, I had to take a (crappy IPhone) picture. Scroll down to see the picture:

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(And why did I used to think these were fun and exciting? They’re freaking annoying.)

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Behold, a letter with a skull bead enclosed. It made my week.

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So beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes.

With the decline of our postal service and our cursive writing abilities (does anyone even still use cursive?), beautifully written letters on beautiful stationary are quickly disappearing from our society. What used to be a deluge of communications between distant siblings, friends, and lovers has now become a trickle of thank you letters and wedding invitations. But even as we turn to 140-character expressions of our emotions and the immediate gratifications of the internet, we still have not forgotten the joy of riffling through the mail and discovering a personal letter.

So you want to know how to make a far away friend’s day? Write them a letter. Thanks, JMeter, for making mine.

Tomato, Basil & Parmesan Quiche (adapted from BBC Good Food)

2 cups (300g) cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
1/2 cup (50g) parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup (284ml) heavy cream
Handful of basil leaves, shredded
1 1/4 cup (280g) all-purpose flour
10 tbsp (140g) butter, cubed

1. Using fingers, cut butter into the flour until completely mixed and crumbly. Add 8 tbsp cold water, then, using hands, bring everything together until just combined.

2. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until the dough extends 2in (5cm) beyond the edge of the 10in (25cm) tart pan. Drape over the pan so there is an overhang of dough on all sides, then gently press the dough into the corners of the pan. Chill in the fridge or freezer for 20 minutes. Heat oven to 390 F (200 C).

3. In a small roasting pan, drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the tomatoes on the lowest shelf of the oven.

4. Lightly prick the tart crust with a fork, line the crust with aluminum foil, then fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 20 minutes, remove the beans, then bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the crust is a light golden-brown.

5. When removing the beans, also remove the tomatoes.

6. While the tart is baking, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Slowly add in heavy cream, then stir in basil and season with salt and pepper. When the case is ready, first sprinkle half the parmesan on the crust, then tomatoes followed by heavy cream, then scatter the remaining cheese on top. (I mixed my cheese into the top layer of heavy cream so the cheese wouldn’t burn.)

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until set and golden brown. Leave to cool in case, trim the edges of the pastry, then remove from pan.

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