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
Healthy Comfort Food
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall.
I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good.
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.
Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)