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
It turns out that returning from a sunny honeymoon to a rather rainy, dark stretch of Seattle fall hasn't been the easiest transition. Sam and I have been struggling a little to find our groove with work projects and even simple routines like cooking meals for one another and getting out of the easy daily ruts that can happen to us all. When we were traveling, we made some new vows to each other -- ways we can keep the fall and winter from feeling a bit gloomy, as tends to happen at a certain point living in the Pacific Northwest (for me, at least): from weekly wine tastings at our neighborhood wine shop to going on more lake walks. And I suppose that's one of the most energizing and invigorating parts about travel, isn't it? The opposite of the daily rut: the constant newness and discovery around every corner. One of my favorite small moments in Italy took place at a cafe in Naples when I accidentally ordered the wrong pastry and, instead, was brought this funny looking cousin of a croissant. We had a wonderfully sunny little table with strong cappuccino, and, disappointed by my lack of ordering prowess, I tried the ugly pastry only to discover my new favorite treat of all time (and the only one I can't pronounce): the sfogliatelle. I couldn't stop talking about this pastry, its thick flaky layers wrapped around a light, citrus-flecked sweet ricotta filling. It was like nothing I'd ever tried -- the perfect marriage of interesting textures and flavors. I became a woman obsessed. I began to see them displayed on every street corner; I researched their origin back at the hotel room, and started to look up recipes for how to recreate them at home. And the reason for the fascination was obviously that they were delicious. But even more: I'm so immersed in the food writing world that I rarely get a chance to discover a dish or a restaurant on my own without hearing tell of it first. And while a long way away from that Italian cafe, I had a similar feeling this week as I scanned the pages of Alice Medrich's new book, Flavor Flours, and baked up a loaf of her beautiful fall pumpkin loaf: Discovery, newness, delight!
I had every intention of starting a new tradition this year and hosting a cookie swap with some of our local friends, but somehow the season really got the best of me and it just hasn't happened. But! That hasn't stopped me from getting a head start on holiday baking; I posted a photo on Instagram the other day of some of my very favorite holiday cookbooks, and asked if there was a way we could all just take the whole week off to bake instead of work. Judging from the responses, it seems I'm not the only one who thinks this would be a really great idea. But back here in reality, cookie baking is relegated to later evenings or, I hope, this weekend we'll find some time to eek in a few batches (the recipe for Sam's mom's Nutmeg Logs is up next, and I'm set on making gingerbread men to take with us down to the Bay Area). Right now on our countertop, we've got a batch of these crumbly, chocolatey, whole grain shortbread that have proven to be a big hit. The ingredient list is small and simple, the technique foolproof, and I think they're a real standout in a sea of holiday cookies.
Hello from the other side! I realize we haven't been back here for a few weeks, and I'm sorry for dropping into a little black hole. My cookbook deadline was Monday, so I've been a writing and editing machine, stepping away from the computer to occasionally clean the house like a crazy person or throw together a most random lunch or dinner. But somehow it all came together although there was something strangely anti-climactic about sending it off: In the days when you'd print out your manuscript and have to walk to the post office and seal it up carefully to send to the publisher, I imagine it would feel much more ceremonial and important --you could stroll out of the building and do a cartwheel. Or high-five a fellow customer on your way out. Instead, I was sitting in our dining room on an incredibly rainy, dark Monday afternoon unable to hit "send." My sister Zoe told me to just close my eyes and do it. Sam gave me the thumbs up. So around 3 p.m. that's what I did. With the click of a button, just like that: it was finished.
Strolling New York City streets during the height of fall when all the leaves are changing and golden light glints off the brownstone windows. This is what I envisioned when I bought tickets to attend my cousin's September wedding earlier this month: Sam and I would extend the trip for a good day or two so we could experience a little bit of fall in the city. We'd finally eat at Prune and have scones and coffee at Buvette, as we always do. Sam wanted to take me to Russ and Daughters, and we'd try to sneak in a new bakery or ice cream shop for good measure. Well, as some of you likely know, my thinking on the weather was premature. New York City fall had yet to descend and, instead, we ambled around the city in a mix of humidity and rain. When we returned home I found myself excited about the crisp evening air, and the fact that the tree across the street had turned a rusty shade of amber. It was time to do a little baking.
We've been waking up early these days with baby Oliver. I've always been a morning person, so this isn't particularly challenging for me -- although the middle of the night feedings have proven to be really tough. There has been a lot of finessing of sleep schedules and figuring out how Sam and I can both get enough to function well the following day. And just when we think we have it down ("gosh, aren't we lucky we have a baby that sleeps?"), everything changes. When I was in the final weeks of pregnancy and would talk about how I couldn't wait for the baby to be here, all of my friends with kids would advise me to sleep as much as possible -- and now I get it. I should've napped more. I should've listened. In getting up at odd times throughout the night with Oliver, I've had the chance to occasionally see some really brilliant sunrises (although not this past week which has been a particularly dark one in Seattle); I've made up some wacky baby tunes that I'm happy no one else can hear; and I generally have a good hour in which I can put him in the sling and walk briskly around the house trying to soothe him back to sleep while also putting away a dish or two or making a quick cup of coffee. In that hour, I can usually get something productive done and this past weekend that something was pear gingerbread.