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Read & Feed: Pair 'Being Wrong' by Kathryn Schulz with Humble Pie recipe

The book

We love to be right, but we're often wrong, and that's okay, according to Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong. Being right, she says, is "a second-order pleasure at best," unconnected to the pleasure centers in the brain that make chocolate, kissing and other delightful experiences so much fun. "And yet, the thrill of being right is undeniable, universal, and (perhaps most oddly) almost entirely undiscriminating," she adds. "We can't enjoy kissing just anyone, but we can relish being right about almost anything." We also have great difficulty recognizing when we're wrong, she says, because being wrong usually feels exactly like being right. Until the moment we recognize we're wrong, we're like Wile E. Coyote after he has run off the cliff chasing the Road Runner, but before he has looked down and realized the ground has disappeared beneath him. "Call it the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Error," Schulz suggests. "We can be wrong, or we can know it, but we can't do both at the same time."

Why read?

This witty and provocative book applies to absolutely everyone, since we're all wrong once in a while, whether we're willing to admit it or not. In fact, one of the greatest joys of this book is watching Schulz expose the contortions of logic and self-justification we employ to convince ourselves we're right despite all evidence to the contrary. And yet, Schulz displays a type of respect that verges on affection for being wrong because it is such a powerful teacher. In a recent interview in the New York Times Books section, Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard University, said that Being Wrong is the book she would most like incoming freshmen to read because it "advocates doubt as a skill and praises error as the foundation of wisdom." A willingness to be wrong (which may indeed bring humiliation, pain, and dejection), in other words, also cultivates the capacity for risk and perseverance that success requires.

Make it

A person who admits to being wrong is said to eat humble pie, a crude and unappetizing concoction of offal — heart, kidneys, and other organ meats, usually from a deer or wild boar — baked in a crust. But humble pie can have class too, according to Emily Bauer. On her blog,, she posted a version of humble pie she devised that is certainly palatable, and rather cute too.

Drink it

A person who admits to being wrong is also sometimes said to eat crow, so an appropriate drink for discussing Being Wrong might be Grant's Union Maker, offered by Old Crow Bourbon. As the website explains, the drink is named for Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War general who saved the Union, and was allegedly a friend of Dr. Crow himself. Whoever claims that's true might be wrong of course, but the drink still sounds like a pretty good (and simple) accompaniment to Being Wrong: Fill glasses with ice, add Old Crow to taste, and toast to reconciliation.

Book inspired muffins

A recent Read & Feed suggested Brazilian nut shortbread during a discussion of Ann Patchett's recent novel, State of Wonder, set in the Brazilian rain forest. When her book club read State of Wonder last fall, Jan Anderson of Tampa served orange marmalade mini muffins, and provided the recipe.

Tom Valeo, Special to the Times

Read & Feed is a monthly column in Taste that matches popular book club selections with food to serve at meetings. If you have suggestions or would like to share what your book club is cooking up, send an email to [email protected].com. Put BOOK FOOD in the subject line.


Humble Pie

1 to 1 ½ cups assorted organ meats (or just liver), chopped into small pieces

Butter, oil for sauteeing

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces

2 handfuls currants

Zest of one lemon

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon dried sage

1 scant teaspoon cinnamon

teaspoon ground clove

teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons brandy

3 boxes of store-bought pie crusts (unless you'd rather make your own)

2 tablespoons flour

Butter for dotting filling, room temperature

Egg and water for brushing tops of pies

Make the filling the day before. Saute chopped organ meats in butter and oil in a very hot pan. Using slotted spoon, remove to a mixing bowl. (Don't worry if some juice accumulates at the bottom.) Add apple, currants, zest, salt, and spices to the bowl and stir to combine. Stir in the brandy, cover and refrigerate.

Before making the pie, allow filling to reach room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Flatten store-bought pie crusts on floured surface. Using a 6-inch plate as a template, cut out 6 circles of dough. Gather scraps into ball and save. Invert six straight-sided jars, such as 1-cup Mason jars, on a cookie sheet, and drape dough circles over. Press each dough circle against jar to form a neat cup. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Cut six strips of parchment long enough to wrap around the frozen pie crusts, along with six lengths of string, each long enough to tie around one of the cups. Remove the pastry cups from the freezer and gently free the pastry from the jars, but keep each draped over its jar while you wrap and tie parchment around each one. Then remove dough from jars and place upright on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Return cups to freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Mix 1 or 2 tablespoons of flour into filling to absorb excess juice.

Roll out the ball of dough scraps on a floured surface and cut out six tops with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Fill the pies, but not all the way to the top. Dot each pie with a bit of butter. Place a circular top on each pie and seal the edges, using a little water for adhesion if necessary. Crimp the edges. Poke a vent hole in the top of each pie.

Brush tops with egg/water mixture. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbling.

Serve warm or room temperature with port, beer, cheese or pickles.

Source: Emily Reedy,


Orange Marmalade Mini Muffins

2 ½ cups of flour

cup sugar

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 12-ounce jar orange marmalade

1 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease whatever combination of pans you want to use.

Combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the marmalade, orange juice, oil, and egg. Stir wet ingredients into dry until just moistened. Do not overmix.

Pour batter into greased muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. (Larger muffins will need a little longer.) Cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then invert pan and cool muffins on wire cooling racks.

Makes makes 24 mini muffins with enough batter left over for about four regular-size muffins.

Note: For cranberry muffins, substitute 1 cup of cranberry sauce for the orange marmalade.

Source: Jan Anderson of Tampa

Read & Feed: Pair 'Being Wrong' by Kathryn Schulz with Humble Pie recipe 08/07/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 4:30am]
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