Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Okay Pie Eaters…this week’s pie was Salted Caramel Apple and it was really really good. Maybe one of my favorites so far! For real! My friend Maggie came over to help me make the pie, as she is an experienced pie maker, and she gave me some good advice. As I was running around the kitchen like a ding bat she stopped me and said, “Molly, you know what you need to do to make a good pie? RELAX! No one wants to eat your stress pie!” Point taken Maggie, I DO get really stressed out when making my pies, and it can really take all the fun out of it, and fun is truly my favorite.

As far as the pie goes, I added all the lemons the recipe called for and it made for a sweet but tart pie that was refreshing instead of syrupy and I left the skins on the apples because I like it better that way. I also left out the bitters but if you wanna make this pie and add the bitters let me know how it turns out!

I should tell you that I was going to make a peach pie this week but my plan was foiled. My mom taught me when I was younger that if you want fruit to ripen quickly you should put it in a brown bag with a piece of fruit that is already ripe. Then when I was in college botany I learned why this is. There is a plant hormone called ethylene that has lots of functions, which include bringing about the ripening of fruit, the opening of flowers and the shedding of leaves. So if you have a ripe piece of fruit, it is already giving off ethylene and if unripened fruit is exposed to it, that fruit will begin to ripen too! The fruit is communicating, people – how cool is that!?!

What you should also know is that ethylene is the highest produced organic chemical in the world. When I say organic here I mean it is a molecule with a carbon backbone, not organic in the sense of sustainable farming. This synthetic ethylene is actually used by “big-agriculture” to quicken the natural process of ripening. They will bring fruit into big “ripening rooms” and gas them with ethylene to induce ripening. I have a lot of feelings about these kinds of agricultural practices, but I won’t get into all of them here. I will say that this is the kind of thing that happens when we get farther and farther from our food source.

In the end my peaches rotted in the bag. I think they were overly communicative with their hormones due to the heat, so the peach pie will have to wait. Also, for the next two weeks I will be on vacation (biking around the Finger Lakes and then working as a camp nurse!) so another Molly has stepped up to write the next pie post. When I first met her we were both wearing pink wigs, unplanned! I think it was a sign that we would one day be the Pie-Makin’-Mollys!! I’m excited to read your posts Molly! Take it away!!

Cool as a cucumber

As you know, this week we are celebrating the birth of Ryvka, who in turn helped birth The Big Ceci.  (Yes – if you are paying attention you will be wondering exactly how long a week is with these people. The answer is: as long as it needs to be. Time is flexible and expansive around here.)

So today, I am toasting Ryvka with my recipe for a refreshing summer pitcher cocktail: The Cucumber Cooler.

Why this beverage? Because…

* Ryvka loves cucumbers – they are cool and refreshing like her.

*Ryvka loves people – this is a pitcher cocktail that serves many at a time (unlike many classic cocktail recipes that you have to make one by one, consuming the host’s attention for most of the evening).

* Ryvka loves me – she is my partner in life since the age of 11 and whenever I make something up like this she tastes things so deliberately and gushes with appreciation and pride in a way that makes me feel like a superstar.

Cucumber Cooler – a pitcher cocktail for the summertime

(Thanks to my co-pilot Naomi for lending her tendencies towards precision to the process of nailing this down. I think this is pretty close to what we decided…?)

In a cocktail shaker add:

  • 2 parts vodka
  • 1.5 parts apple juice (I used Fuji Apple Juice made by Red Jacket Orchards)
  • 1 part fresh lemon sour*
  • 2 parts cucumber puree
  • a dash of simple syrup*
  • ice

Shake vigorously then pour into a pitcher. Do this until the pitcher is full.  Stir it up and taste it. Mess around with the proportions if it isn’t sweet enough, strong enough, or cucumbery enough for your liking. Then place large ice cubes in the pitcher and a long bar spoon for stirring when people need refills. Note: larger ice cubes have less surface area so they melt slower, thus keeping the drink cool without diluting it as fast.

Place two regular ice cubes in each person’s glass and garnish with mint after the drink is poured in (mine is chocolate mint from my garden!).

* Simple syrup is aptly named. Just take 1 cup raw sugar and 1 cup water and in a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.

* Lemon sour is also very simple: Combine 1 cup fresh lemon juice and 1 cup simple syrup in a large jar with a lid. Cover and keep refrigerated.

So Ryvka! Here’s to you! May the deep love, radical visions, and creative comraderie you offer the rest of us be returned to you a thousand-fold. I raise my glass (or whole pitcher) to you – thank you for finding ways to enjoy this broken beautiful world completely while not being content with the way things are.

Meet Una – member of The Big Ceci family & a big fan of Ryvka.

Sweet Cherry Pie

Pie eaters, when you wake up grouchy and feel like listening to Cat Steven’s “Oh Very Young,” making a sweet cherry pie can feel like an impossible task. However, because I’m working on a deadline (and the thought of eating cold buttery crust dough made me feel like getting out of bed) I forged through. The hand pitting of the cherries felt meditative but the grouchies followed me into the process of rolling out the dough, and when it ripped halfway through I almost cried. It wasn’t until I pulled the finished pie out of the oven to cool that I remembered that pie making is a creative process, not an exercise in perfection. The pie was delicious, beautiful and a joy to share with everyone at the party I took it to.

With this pie, I made the dough the day before so it could sit in the fridge over night. I’m still having a confusing time trying to figure out how long to let the dough warm up after it’s chilled before rolling it. Anyone out there in Pieland have any suggestions? When I watch videos of Martha rolling out dough I mostly feel like punching her and then I have a hard time focusing on what she is doing (OK, I don’t really want to punch her but I would like to be the one to reveal to the world that she is actually a robot). I’m wondering if anyone out there would like to barter a crust making tutorial in exchange for some nursey skill I could offer, like assessing the functioning of your cranial nerves (actually don’t watch the link, it’s really boring).

Moving on, for this post folks, instead of discussing the hard science of botany, I would like to turn your attention to the flimsy science of the US Farm Bill. I wanted to include this because we talk a lot about food here at Pie Time, but I think it’s also really important that we talk about farmers and farmland, as without them, there would be no pie. I’m not gonna lie people, the government-agricultural complex is super complicated. As an example from my personal life, my family’s farm in Ohio is subsidized by the government through the Farm Bill. A few years ago, my younger brother and I were talking about starting a vegetable garden on a part of the farm that had not been in cultivation for 40 years. My father told us if we planted crops for human consumption on that land, we would lose our farm subsidy. The crops that grow on our 100 acres currently (corn and soybean) are for cow feed only. If we started growing food that we could eat, the government would no longer subsidize us. Am I the only one that thinks this is WAY sketchy? I found this really helpful article about the subsidy conundrum, if my story has created an itch that you would like to scratch. The article had some really good suggestions about changing farm subsidies that made me rub my hands together really fast! (Something I do when I get excited.) So, if you want a similar feeling you know where to go.

p.s. Dear Reader, this week’s Pie Time post is in honor of my good friend Ryvka. I heard through the pie-loving community that she might enjoy a cherry pie on her birthday and, though I could not share a piece with her as she is currently north of the border, this pie was made with lots of love for you, Ryvka.

p.p.s. Mondays are official Pie Time Post Days so watch out!!!!

Pop Ed Ice Cream: Part 2

A SPECIAL NOTE FROM THE BIG CECI: There is a person without whom The Big Ceci would not exist…and that person is Ryvka. Ryvka’s vision has been guiding The Big Ceci since day one. She helped come up with the idea for the blog in the first place, and since then, she has been a constant presence behind the scenes, offering inspiration, feedback, support, and guidance. She has encouraged, nurtured, motivated, and even nudged when necessary. And we’re hoping that her next contribution will be a post!

In the meantime, though, this week is a very special one on The Big Ceci, because it is the week of Ryvka’s birthday. In order to celebrate the Big Daddy of The Big Ceci, we are offering up a week of posts dedicated to her and her love of food!

So, because we love Ryvka, and because Ryvka and I are kindred spirits in our love for sweet things, we bring you…

POP ED ICE CREAM: PART 2 (the tutorial!)

In my last Pop Ed Ice Cream post, I told you why I love making ice cream. In this post, I want to tell you how to do it. But rather than just give a specific recipe, I want to offer some tools for ice cream making. I’m going to share what I’ve learned about proportions, ingredients, and basic methods…so that hopefully you can feel empowered to go off and experiment with your own flavors, liberated from recipes that limit you to the flavor they specify!

So, without further ado…


All ice cream relies on a pretty basic ratio (or set of proportions) of ingredients that you can tweak based on what you’re doing. Here it is (this will make 1 quart of ice cream):

3 cups milk, cream, or non-dairy equivalent
3-8 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
flavoring of your choice (vanilla extract, chocolate chips, peanut butter, liquor, goat cheese, etc…the possibilities are literally endless)

Now you’ve got the ratio. All that’s missing for you to grab the reins of your own ice cream destiny is some knowledge of what each ingredient does – so that you can tweak it to your heart’s content. So let’s talk specifics.


Milk/cream/liquid: Traditional ice cream uses cream here – either 2 cups of heavy cream and 1 cup of milk, or even, for rich stuff like you get at that shonde Coldstone Creamery, 3 cups of heavy cream. It’s a simple equation – fat doesn’t freeze, so the higher the fat content of your liquid, the richer, creamier, and smoother your ice cream will be. Beyond that, though, it’s up to you. Experiment with what you like. You can use heavy cream, half and half, milk, or any combination. For non-dairy ice cream, I highly recommend coconut milk for the incredibly rich texture it provides – but you can play with other non-dairy milks too. Just remember the golden rule of making ice cream – the less fat, the less creamy.

By the way – people often wonder about the difference between gelato and ice cream. What defines gelato is that it has a lower butterfat percentage than regular ice cream. So gelato is traditionally made with fewer egg yolks and more milk than cream – if there’s any cream involved at all. Interestingly, the lower fat content allows the actual flavor of the ice cream to come through more strongly, which is why people often think of gelato as richer and more decadent.

Egg yolks: The fat in the egg yolks functions similarly to the fat in the milk/cream – it makes your ice cream richer, creamier, and smoother. Gelato tends to have fewer egg yolks (or even, in Sicilian gelato, cornstarch instead of egg yolks). If you make your ice cream with no egg yolks, then you’re making Philadelphia-style ice cream, which is all the rage these days for its simplicity and relative lightness.

Sugar: You can reduce this a LITTLE if your flavoring is super sweet, but be careful – sugar also doesn’t freeze! It is one of the ingredients, along with fat, that contributes to the softness of the ice cream. So if you reduce the sugar drastically, you may find that you end up with hard, icy, unappetizing ice cream.

Salt: Makes almost everything better. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to taste it.

Alcohol: Alcohol can add a lovely depth to your ice cream, and it has the added bonus of making it softer/creamier (because alcohol doesn’t freeze, as anyone who went to a Big Ten school knows). You can reliably add about 3 tablespoons of liquor to a quart of ice cream (which is what this tutorial makes)…any more, and you risk the ice cream failing to freeze.


At this point I’m going to lay out the basic steps to making any type of ice cream. Obviously these steps will vary a little bit depending on what you’re adding in, but the important thing to remember is that the methodology of making and chilling the custard is pretty much always the same.

To help you experiment, I’ve tried to indicate where/how you would modify these steps when adding flavors/ingredients. And as an example, I’ve added notes and photos from the ice cream I made last weekend – a honey vanilla goat milk ice cream* for a friend who’s not eating cow’s milk or refined sugar right now.

1. Stir together your milk/dairy-like liquid, sugar/sweetener, and salt, and warm them in a saucepan over a low flame. If you are using spices, vanilla beans, herbs, or anything else that can dissolve/infuse into liquid, add those now too (but not alcohol – we’ll talk about that later).

Honey vanilla goat milk ice cream notes: I used 1 vanilla bean, sliced open and with the seeds scraped out (those are the specks in the above photo), and about 2/3 cup of honey, because honey tends to be a bit more intense than regular sugar.

2. While your milk is warming: in a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.

Honey vanilla goat milk ice cream notes: I used 4 egg yolks for this ice cream. I think it was the perfect amount of richness – creamy but not heavy.

3. Once the milk mixture is warm, pour about half of it slowly into the egg yolks, stirring the yolks constantly as you pour. The idea is to warm the egg yolks gently so that you don’t get scrambled eggs when you heat them up in the next step.

4. Pour the egg yolks + milk mixture back into the saucepan. Now you have the beginnings of a custard – the foundation of your ice cream. You’re going to want to cook this custard gently, over a low flame, stirring and scraping the bottom constantly with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. By cooking the custard, you are doing two things: a) killing any harmful bacteria in the eggs, and b) bringing out their thickening potential. If you heat the custard too aggressively, the eggs will solidify and you will have, as I mentioned, scrambled eggs. Not good (unless you are making scrambled egg ice cream, I guess?), so be vigilant with your stirring (don’t forget to scrape the bottom), and fight the urge to turn the heat up too high – it’s easy to get impatient in this step, but try to give the eggs time to do their thing.

5. When the custard is thick enough that it coats the back of your spoon/spatula, remove it from the heat. This can be a tough thing to judge, so a little advice: dip your spoon/spatula in the custard and run your (clean!) finger down the back of the spoon/spatula. If your finger leaves a clear and distinct trail behind, it’s thick enough.

6. Pour the custard through a sieve/strainer (in order to catch any hardened bits of egg) into a bowl, and set the bowl over an ice bath (the easiest way is just to set it on top of a slightly larger bowl filled with ice). The idea is to cool down the custard as quickly as possible, so you may want to give it a few stirs to get some extra air in there.

This is also the moment when you should stir in any alcohol or other ingredients with which you want to flavor the ice cream (think bourbon, melted chocolate, etc). But…be advised that anything you add at this stage will be completely and homogeneously incorporated. Don’t add anything yet that you would like to “swirl” / “chunk” / remain distinct within the ice cream – we’ll get to those later.

7. When the custard has cooled, stick the bowl in the fridge for a few hours, or preferably, overnight. We do this because when it has time to chill, the fats emulsify and your ice cream gets creamier, smoother, and more delicious. So, overnight chilling is best, but at the very least, go for a few hours.

8. When the custard has chilled, churn it in your ice cream maker according to instructions, freeze it for 3-4 hours, or overnight…and eat it as quickly as possible! Fresh ice cream is the best.

Honey vanilla goat milk ice cream notes: When I took the ice cream out of the ice cream maker and transferred it into a container to freeze it, I drizzled in additional spoonfuls of honey. I did this after I churned it because of this: pretty much anything you pour in during the churning process will become 100% incorporated/dissolved into the ice cream. So if you’re adding an ingredient for variation in flavor/texture (peanut butter swirl, for example), you’ll want to add that ingredient after you churn but before you freeze, when the ice cream is still pretty soft.

With regards to churning time: the more you churn it, the more air that you’ll whip into it – but also, the icier it will get! For a lighter, airier, more icy ice cream, err on the side of longer churning. For a denser, creamier, more gelato-esque ice cream, err on the side of minimal churning. (By the way, true gelato is churned with a special machine that incorporates very little air into the ice cream, again leaving us with the dense richness that many of us associate with gelato.)


And that concludes the Pop Ed Ice Cream Tutorial! So now I turn the floor over to you…do you make ice cream? What are your favorite techniques and flavors? Got a tip or some pictures to share? Or, if you’ve never made ice cream – what’s a flavor you’d love to try? What’s the best ice cream you’ve ever had?

*Technically, since my goat milk was cultured, I made frozen yogurt – but for the purposes of this post, we’re going with “ice cream”!

Salty Honey Pie

People!!! Salty Honey Pie, it’s bangin’!! I took it to a pot-luck and it sure was a crowd-pleaser. But people, I need to be honest and tell you that making a custard pie can be anxiety inducing. This was my first attempt, and I learned a lot.

The baking part is what feels most stressful to me. It’s a little easier to know when a fruit pie is done because the fruit starts to bubble. However, with this pie, the recipe says, “The filling will puff up like a marshmallow and the center will be just slightly wobbly.” Sometimes, when instructions are too vague for me, I flash back to how I felt when taking physics exams in college (i.e. like barfing). Puff up like WHAT KIND of marshmallow? One that looks burnt or one that is white and soft? Like a cooked marshmallow or one fresh from the bag? Also, the center of what is wobbly?

Don’t worry. I found my mental safe space and calmed down. I waited until the filling puffed up and resembled a perfectly roasted marshmallow which was about 65 minutes in the oven. When I pulled it out the entire filling was slightly wobbly, not just the center of the filling. I let it cool for an hour and sprinkled with finishing salt. I found the kind the recipe suggested at a little market near my house, but any flaky finishing salt will do. Mine didn’t look as pretty as the one in the recipe but it was truly off-the-charts delicious, even if it wasn’t much of a looker.

Finally, geeky science fact time. This week, in honor of the ladies and gentlemen that worked so hard to make this pie possible, I would like to talk about bees! Did you know that a bee colony will visit around 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey? The term “busy bee” isn’t just alliteration, people – it’s honest to god fact. They also have this bonkers way of reproducing called a haplodiploid sex-determination system. It’s complicated, but basically means that the girl bees come from fertilized eggs and the boy bees come from unfertilized eggs. I’m going to leave you with this quote:

“This haplodiploid sex-determination system produces a number of peculiarities; chief among these is that a male has no father and cannot have sons, but he has a grandfather and can have grandsons.” (Haplodiploid sex-determination system,” Wikipedia)

Dear reader, welcome to galaxy brain.

Probiotic Superfoods: How to NOT Destroy All of Society

In my family, we always say that failing to take a full course of antibiotics once you’ve taken the first pill has the potential impact of destroying all of society.  There’s truth in this; taking a partial course of penicillin encourages infectious bacteria to develop resistant strains that will eventually be untreatable, and then we all might get scarlet fever and die.

But there’s an even bigger truth: not taking that first pill, and instead letting our bodies fight infections and develop antibodies, and constantly eating foods that encourage them to do so, actually makes the world a better place.  In addition to potentially creating resistant bacteria strains, antibiotics like penicillin wipe out all the good bacteria in our bodies with the bacterial equivalent of a cropdusting treatment.  And these days, antibiotics are showing up not only in our pharmacies, but sometimes in our milk and meat. So when we buy a corporate-big-farm-produced ice cream cone, we might actually be KILLING EVERYONE IN THE WORLD SLOWLY.

Oh dear.

Of course, the antidote to this glut of antibiotics is the magical, wonderful PRO-biotic.  Probiotics are living microorganisms that make our bodies (aka the “host organism”) better, strengthening our immune system and our digestive system, and keeping all our other systems clean of toxins and functioning well.

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria are the most common types of probiotics, and are in fermented foods with live cultures, like yogurt or (or kefir), miso, and the original probiotic superfood: saurkraut.

Saurkraut (and Kimchi, which has the same deal going for it) is what happens to cabbage (or daikon) when it gets old.  Fresh cabbage is already pre-populated with the bacteria required to lactoferment itself.  And, as all things, it really does get better with age- cabbage in its raw form contains substances called ‘goitrogens’ that can block the production of thyroid hormone, but goitrogens are reduced or eliminated through the fermentation process.

My friend Michaela of the awesome local Crock & Jar is a master-fermenter, and she gives great workshops on how to make your own krauts and fill the world with probiotics.  (She’s giving one tomorrow on Governor’s Island at Cook Out NYC , which is also benefitting Just Foods Farm School).  I got my hands on a few jars of her spicy kraut and pickle kraut, and when I’m not just standing in the kitchen eating them by the forkful, I use them to make probiotic-y awesome meals like these:

Pickle Kraut Tempeh Reuben*


  • 5-6 slices of Tempeh
  • a few slices of your favorite whole-grain bread (all I had was sourdough, which is also good, but I think the seedier the better)
  • a handful of Crock & Jar Pickle Kraut or your favorite (or your own homemade!) Kraut
  • 1 teaspoon organic ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon ground horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon mayonaise or nayonaise or whatever you use
  • a dash of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole seed mustard or some toasted crushed mustard seeds
  • a little soy sauce
  • a handful of fresh spinach or collards or other greens- bitter is fine!- steamed, strained, and seasoned (I used kale because I had it in the garden)
  • a few sliced and sauteed mushrooms- creminis or shitakes are the best
  • some cheese if you want it (mine was pepper jack, but you can use anything! really!
  • a little butter or oil


  1. Mix the ketchup, mayo, paprika, mustard and horseradish together.  Feel free to mess with the ratios to get it to the perfect zing and zang for your taste.
  2. Splash a little soy sauce in a pan with some oil and fry up your tempeh until it’s a bit browned.
  3. Remove your tempeh and assemble it with all the other ingredients between two slices of bread.  Make sure your cheese is against one slice and your sauce against the other to keep the whole thing messy and delicious.  Throw the greens, shrooms, tempeh, and kraut in the middle.
  4. Heat a little oil or butter in your pan on medium and toss the sandwich on it, pressing it down with the spatula to brown the bread and melt the cheese.  Flip it over to do the same to the other side.
  5. Eat it with some of the delicious local berries from the farmers’ market. Feel healthier immediately.

*Bonus! Tempeh is ALSO a probiotic food, so this recipe gets pro-pro points.

sandwich heaven

I can eat my weight in this stuffSpicy Kraut Lettuce Wraps


  • A cup or so of day-old rice (see Tony’s Plastic Bag Rice Recipe)
  • A cup or so of Spicy Kraut or Kimchi, roughly chopped
  • Fresh, carefully washed, lettuce leaves – I like green leaf or butter lettuce, but anything will do
  • 1 egg
  • A little soy sauce OR a smear of miso paste mixed with water (full of probiotics!)
  • A few shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • Fresh chopped scallions to taste
  • A little bit of olive or sesame oil


  1. Heat a little oil in the pan and throw in the mushrooms, scallions, and miso/soy.  Saute for a minute or so.
  2. Throw the rice in the pan with everything else and mix it around.
  3. Beat the egg with 2 tablespoons of water.  Drizzle it over the rice, stirring it in as you do.
  4. Remove all this from the heat and put it in a glass or ceramic bowl.  Add in the kraut and toss.
  5. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the rice mixture into a leaf of lettuce and roll it up like a burrito.  Eat immediately!

Pop Ed Ice Cream: Part 1

I never used to think I could make ice cream. It seemed complicated and, honestly, uninteresting.

But then, during the summer of 2010, 3 things happened:

1. I got David Lebovitz‘s book Ready for Dessert for my birthday.
2. My friend Ethan Frisch started a really cool business called Guerrilla Ice Cream, where he made and sold ridiculously delicious (and interesting!) ice cream and donated 100% of the profits to important organizations like the Street Vendors Project.
3. My neighbors moved to Portland and I inherited their ice cream maker (so yes, this ice cream maker is very local!).

So, armed with my hand-me-down ice cream maker and the good advice of Ethan Frisch and David Lebovitz, in the summer of 2010, I started making ice cream. And what I discovered is that making ice cream is awesome.

Ingredients for bourbon chocolate gelato

See, here’s the thing: I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so baking has been a natural path for me. But as anyone who bakes will tell you, the difference between a hard, dry cake and a moist, fluffy one is precision and chemistry…so, if you don’t know a lot of baking science, it can be tough to improvise and add your own spin. On the other hand, I love cooking for the experimentation and freedom it offers – but it’s never satisfied my obsession with dessert.

Which is why, when I discovered ice cream making, I fell in love. Here’s the thing: there are some basic ratios and structures you need to follow when you make ice cream, but if you get them down, you can experiment to your heart’s content! Ice cream making: it’s a sugar fiend’s playground.

When Ora and I started The Big Ceci, I knew right away that I wanted to write an ice cream tutorial, and here’s why: anyone can make ice cream from a recipe. But if you understand how each ingredient functions in the ice cream, and how to manipulate those ingredients – how to make ice cream sweeter or less sweet, more dense or more airy, more rich or more light – then you don’t need a recipe. You can invent your own flavors, play with your own combinations, and improvise. In short, once you understand the basics, you can make (and make damn well) any ice cream you can dream up – not just any ice cream you can find a recipe for on the internet. And I think that’s pretty cool.

So now you have the backstory. Come back for Part 2 next week, where I’ll talk about the fundamental ice cream recipe and how to make it your own. And in the meantime, start brainstorming for the crazy fantasy flavor you’re gonna be making! I’m thinking about balsamic black pepper* myself…

* Damn. Just googled it and found out that someone already did that. Guess I’ll be doing some brainstorming, too!