New Emoji…

and “Bifur’s Raspberry Jam and Apple-Tart”

In general, I 🙂 the new Facebook emoji. 

My newspaper ran this cartoon, however, and I think it really does represent what perhaps many of us would 🙂 to see as emoji:

From the Albuquerque Journal; March 23, 2016

For years, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Lately, it’s been mostly frustration. It seems it has become the place where relatively interesting people go to become boring. I have a fairly wide range of friend-types, and each subset represents itself in the most relentlessly repetitive ways possible. Here are a few examples:

I get it; you’re Christian, but you’ve already told me six times today about the glory of Christ.

I get it; you’re Jewish; please tell me more about Israel.

You’re Wiccan; please tell me more about herbal remedies and Gaia.

You’re Conservative—guns, Jeeps, and Ted Cruz are your favorite shares.

You’re feeling the Bern.

You’ve got a terrific recipe to share. Again.

Oh, here’s another photo of alcohol.

Now, I bet if I went to lunch with any of these people, they wouldn’t talk about these particular things. But Facebook seems to compel people to spend about 99% of their social media presence sharing things that other people have memed (yes, I know that’s not a real word, but it should be). Barely 1% is personal. It got to the point where I simply could not handle my timeline.

Don’t misunderstand me—I love the occasional puppy/monkey/Bernie meme. One of my daughters considers Facebook a trashy tabloid. She tries to limit herself to about 30 minutes per day. I can certainly understand looking at it that way. I finally took a radical step and unfollowed every person, every group, and every page. I only follow my kids and my sister and our respective business pages. This means I follow three people (who hardly ever post anything) and three pages, one of which is my own, Astrid Tuttle Winegar (please like and share! Groan…). 

I categorized friends into about 12 specific groups. Now, I have to make an effort to check on friend groups, or group groups, or pages. You might think this would be a pain in the ass, but it has saved me so much time and frustration. I check in on my friend groups occasionally. What I have found is that even though I haven’t heard anything about someone, it doesn’t matter, because when I do check in, inevitably they are posting the same old stuff they’ve been posting on a daily basis. I can always drop in on my pages feed to see what’s up on my favorite TV shows, or whatever else I’m following. Again, however, as with people, most pages are usually filled with the SOSDD. 

The only problem is people who really don’t post anything much at all, but assuming you’ve assigned them to some sort of group, you’ll eventually catch up with their updates. And let’s face it—if somebody is really THAT important to you, aren’t you keeping in touch OUTSIDE of Facebook? I do receive notifications from a few of my group groups mostly, and that’s not a problem. I mean, I’m in those groups for a reason, so I do want to hear what’s going on. I don’t receive notifications from other groups, however. I’m in the memorial group for my high school, but I definitely don’t want notifications from them. Why am I in that group, then…?

See what I mean? Remember a time when Facebook didn’t exist? Weren’t we all somewhat happier in our isolation back then?

From “The Hobbit”—Bilbo’s Pantry

Well, Gandalf finally arrives and calls the dwarf invasion of Bag-End “Quite a merry gathering!” I’m sure the annoyed Bilbo would disagree with Gandalf’s assessment. The serious ordering of foodstuffs and beverages begins. The dwarf Bifur asks for “raspberry jam and apple-tart.” So, does that mean he wants raspberry jam AND a separate apple tart? Or does he want them together? Wouldn’t he have asked for some toast or an English Muffin on which to spread his jam? Or will he merely spread the jam on the tart? Does he just want a spoon with this jar of jam, with a slice of tart on the side as a jam chaser? Tolkien’s language here is severely testing the limits of literary interpretation. I decided just to combine them into one item for simplicity’s sake.

“Bifur’s Raspberry Jam and Apple-Tart”

  • 4 ounces walnut halves, lightly toasted and cooled
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup sugar
  • ÂĽ teaspoon salt
  • ÂĽ cup soft salted butter
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, peeled and cored, cut into ÂĽ” slices (any variety)
  • ½ cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large food processor, pulse the walnuts, flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt until the nuts are ground. Add and pulse the butter until thoroughly mixed. Coat a 9½” tart pan (1″ deep) with removable sides with cooking spray or grease well. Scrape nut mixture into pan (don’t bother washing bowl and blade); press evenly up the sides, then press evenly onto the bottom of pan. Bake 15 minutes. Put on a rack; maintain oven temperature. Be sure to handle pan on the sides only, so you don’t shift the bottom.

Meanwhile, process the ½ cup sugar, cream cheese, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Spread evenly over shell. Decoratively arrange the apple slices over the egg mixture, but don’t overload. Bake at 350° for 36-40 minutes. While tart is baking, melt jam in a 1-quart saucepan, whisking just until smooth. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered.

When done, carefully place tart on a rack and spread the jam over all, using a spoon or bent spatula. Cool on rack for one hour. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Remove pan sides and place on a serving plate. After cutting, store covered in refrigerator—you can bring it to room temperature before serving again or enjoy cold. Serves 6-8.

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