Last week at my favorite yoga class, the instructor started talking about the concept of Remembering Forward. It’d been a long tough class and my mind was wandering over to latte land, but as I half listened, the concept grabbed me. It goes something like this: Imagine one year from today. So it’d be November 17, 2011. Now imagine one area in your life that you want to work on or make a change in. This could be your relationship, a friendship, work. Anything. Think about one specific change that you’d like to see happen in that area, and then you turn to a friend or your partner and you play the ‘Remembering Forward’ game. You’re now in November 2011 and that change you wanted to see happen? It did. Your dialogue with your friend or partner makes it come alive.
For example, when I was listening to the instructor talk about the concept I started running through what mine would look like:
Friend: Gosh, remember the opening of your bakeshop and you had those little pies for everyone to take home?
Me: Oh my god, that seems like so long ago. Yes, of course I remember! Remember how packed it was? Janet was there. And Allison and Denise, Anne and Kasey. Danielle drove over, and picked up Tracy on the way. Kristin and even Nate came.
Friend: Oh yeah, I thought you were going to run out of pies. That apple was a hit.
Me: Phew, me too. And remember how we were painting the walls up until that very day and I was all stressed out about getting the perfect yellow color?
Friend: Numerous phone counseling sessions on that one; how could I forget? And then remember how the newspaper was there and they did that little profile on the shop?
Me: That was my fifteen minutes…
Friend: God, I feel like you’ve been baking forever and now you’ve got all these new neighborhood friends and local vendors who stop in all the time.
Me: I know! I love the ‘hood.
Friend: I’m not gonna lie though, I miss those days when we had so much free time that we could meet up in the city for lunch in the middle of the day.
Me: I know, I know. But now I bring you lots of treats whenever I see you. So that counts for something.
So the idea of Remembering Forward is that instead of kind of passively hoping that something will happen or working towards something and crossing your fingers that it may come to fruition someday–you’re declaring that it will. In one year, actually. You’re bravely making a definitive statement to yourself that at this time next year, that little (or big) something will have happened and you’ll look back on it and smile. There’s something pretty powerful about envisioning it’s already happened. Try it.
So think ahead and then allow yourself to play it back. For me, that thought involves hope and faith and pie. A double-crust apple pie, to be exact.
I’ve tweaked the spices and the amount of apples in this recipe to perfection. I favor using flour as a thickener here rather than cornstarch or tapioca–it lends a nice creaminess that’s perfect for an apple pie. And don’t skip the macerating step: if you let the apples sit with the sugar for at least a half an hour, they’ll really settle in and you can fit far more apples in your pie. Always a good thing.
Roll out first disk of pie dough to a 12” round with 1/8” thickness. Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush and fit into a 9” pie pan. Trim to ½” overhang. Roll other disk out in a similar fashion and lay flat on a piece of parchment paper or baking sheet. Refrigerate both for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and cream and set aside to use later for egg wash.
In a large bowl, toss together the apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Once the pie shell is chilled, remove from the refrigerator and fill with the apples. Dot with butter. Brush the rim of the pie shell with egg wash and place the second piece of dough on top, gently pressing over the apples and on the top and bottom of each piece to seal.
Using kitchen scissors, trim the top piece of dough to about a 1” overhand and tuck dough under. Crimp however you like. Brush entire surface with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Cut three vents in the top to allow steam to escape when baked. Freeze until firm, about 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F.
Place pie on baking sheet and bake until crust turns golden, 15-20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 F and continue baking until crust is a deep golden brown, 40-50 minutes more. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool.
Pie can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered for up to 2 days
Winter Soups and Stews
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
Last weekend it was so windy – apocalyptically stormy, you could say – that our tent at the farmers market was uprooted by gusts of wind that were not messing around. I wasn't there, but apparently despite being heavily weighted down and with four customers holding onto each corner, it quite literally blew down the block. Sam, from across town, was reporting trees falling on every block and traffic lights out across the city. The next morning on a walk with Oliver around Green Lake, we were met with that same biting wind and ended up retreating for a hot chocolate instead. 'Tis the season in Seattle: we all get a little giddy and ahead of ourselves when we spot the cherry blossoms and daffodils, and I always trick myself into thinking that with the start of daylight savings time, summer must be right around the corner. In truth, before we had Oliver, we'd often travel somewhere sunny for a little mood boost around this time of year. When I moved from California, many friends – other (empathetic) 'expats' now living in the Pacific Northwest – recommended this: if you know what's good for you, they'd all say, go find the sun in February or March, and we would follow that advice faaaaaithfully. But with a baby, this just isn't where our priorities are this year, and I've found myself relying on other antics like buying out of season strawberries, drinking white wine with dinner, buying a new pair of sandals that likely will not see the light of day for the next two months, and making big, colorful pots of feel good, springy soup. Let's not kid ourselves: Cherry blossoms or not, Seattle's no Palm Springs when it gets down to bathing in the sunlight. But if you step outside onto your little porch, smell the honeysuckle blooming, take notice of the longer, lighter days and think about how you simply can't wait to see your baby crawling around on the sand when it's warm enough to stroll down to the beach, it starts looking better in its own light.
We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine). Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).
One of the things I wanted to accomplish before really returning to work in earnest was to print some of our honeymoon photos and get them into an album. This project has taken far longer than expected as I find myself daydreaming about the craggy streets of Naples and meeting up with our friends Mataio and Jessica for a late night slice of pizza which we ate sitting on the sidewalk before embarking on an aimless but wonderful stroll of the city. There are photos of our balcony by the sea, most with tanned limbs, sandy sandals and a Campari and soda gracing the periphery of the frame. There was the little grocery store up the hill from our apartment on the Amalfi Coast that had the sweetest, tiniest strawberries and the best yogurt in little glass jars. Tomatoes drying in the sun, Aperol spritzes and salty peanuts before dinner at the bar across from the church square where all the neighborhood kids played kickball. As I sit here typing this now, photos remain scattered on my desk and it's likely they may not make it into the proper slots in the album anytime soon. Of course, they have me dreaming of sunshine and long days with little agenda, but they also have me thinking about the simplicity of our meals in Italy and how truly easy it was to eat well. Coincidentally, a few days ago Rachel Roddy's lusty new cookbook (can we call it lusty?!), My Kitchen in Rome, arrived at our doorstep. Clearly it was time to set the photos aside and get into the kitchen.
And suddenly, it's fall. I find that realization always comes not so much with the dates on the calendar as it does the leaves on the ground, the first crank of the heat in the morning, the dusky light on the way home from an evening run. Because we were gone on the train for nearly a week, I feel like fall happened here in Seattle during that very time. I left town eating tomatoes and corn and returned to find squashes and pumpkins in the market. It was that quick. And so, it only seemed fitting that I make this soup, one that has graced the fall table of each and every apartment (and now house) I've ever lived. In fact, I'm surprised that I hadn't yet made it for you here, and delighted to share it with you today.