Wednesday, December 2, 2009

breathe-me-back-to-life apple pie

So.  There are Things.  Big Things.  Big Things that are going on.  Like, RIGHT NOW in my life.

Kate - as in, my Real Self - has a lot to say about Things.  Unfortunately (for y'all? maybe?), Real Kate is somewhat censored by Realistic Kate (who is totally a drag, btw).  Which means, until further notice, Things will not be discussed.

So what do red-blooded American girls do when its inappropriate to air their internal dialog?  They eat (drink?) their feelings!  Woo hoo!

And so it begins...

Apple Pie saved my life.

Well.  That's not the whole truth, entirely.  However, I am auditioning that line as the opener for my Great American Novel so just consider this post its test drive, por favor.

As I've alluded to before (mostly in order to create an air of mystique and intrigue as opposed to consciously maintaining any sense of decorum), the scale and I have not always been friendly.  Gladly, in the last four or so years, I've made a form of peace with my weight, give or take some poundage / jiggle / a jeans size.  All in all, I'm a work in progress... but more like the bureau that needs organizing rather than a house on Hoarders (yes, I drank the Hoarders Kool-Aid - I can't look away).

But the setting of this little fable takes its cue from a much bleaker time... specifically an era of leotards and homecoming mums and food therapy.  Without disclosing all the nasty details (see how mysterious and intriguing I am?), I'll start (again) thusly:

Apple Pie saved my life.

You see, I've had need, in the past, to seek the advice of a nutritionist.  I'm sure nutritionists, as an overall profession, can be very effective tools for many people.  My individual nutritionist, however, (and I'm attempting to be completely subjective here) was a utter Fuckhead.  Even at a point where my head was a bit, well, fucked, I could see that this woman was dealing with some demons of her own.  First off, she ordered up about 87% of her clientèle off the menu that was my dance company.  I mean, yes, this was probably a decently intelligent growth plan - what with the white, booty-bearing uniforms and all - but chatter gets around the locker room.  When all your friends are also being told that "cheese on toast for breakfast" is the answer to all Food Angst Issues, one starts to question the individual attention being proffered.  Second, calling your client a liar and rationalizing your characterization by claiming you were once an ED Patient who told the same stories to avoid drinking milk will get you NOWHERE.  How's about asking her mother if she's had a sip of milk since the age of 8 mo?  See how that conversation goes, you Projecting, Narcissistic Ass-Hat.


Then, one day, the Ass-Hat gave me an Assignment:

Learn How To Cook Something You Enjoy Eating... From Scratch. 

Always the Teacher's Pet, even to Ass-Hat and Fuckhead Teachers, I set my sights on Apple Pie.

Why apple, I'll never fully recall.  It wasn't a family tradition (we're more of a pumpkin, pecan, or dewberry clan).  In fact, I doubt if I'd ever even had a homemade apple pie at that time in my short existence. Its highly probably I asked The Serious Boyfriend of the Era which type of pie he preferred and ran with it... Favorite Pie Flavor is one of those factoids about significant others that seem rather, well, significant at the time and then suddenly fade into oblivion after a while, along with the exact number of instances you've been kissed and the name of your first Cabbage Patch Doll.  I do, however, recall that many of my early specimens made their way to his counter top and, inevitably, into his belly, so I suppose his pie predilections very well may have pointed towards Apple.

However it came about, Apple it was.  And much to my chagrin, Ass-Hat/Fuckhead turned out to be right.  The careful cadence of peeling of all those Granny Smiths... the heady scent of cinnamon in your nostrils... the raw physicality of rolling out floury dough... After a while, it just made sense.  Not necessarily the chewing, swallowing, consuming, enjoying part of the Apple Pie - that would come later - but the complete satisfaction of forming something from the palms of your own hands.

That part.

That part sunk in and took root.  Much deeper than I realized at the time, as I merely followed the recipe to make something delicious for (ohmygod!!!) My High School Boyfriend.  {In an effort to be witty, I'm giving this person much less credit than he deserves... Such is the destiny of Past Significant Others... and for that, I apologize}

Today, Apple Pie (adapted from my mother's battered red and white checkered Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook) remains the only pastry recipe in my repertoire which I can recall, on command, by heart.  It is still a favorite to make - during holidays, when I'm feeling festive... but, even more importantly, during times of reflection, when the cadence of my knife through crunchy, tart, fresh apple flesh and the tickle of nutmeg in my nose do, in fact, breathe me back to life.

Maybe me and my Things will make one tomorrow.

Breathe Me Back to Life Apple Pie

  • 6-8 Granny Smith Apples, depending on size - peeled, cored, and sliced thinly, but not transparent
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. sugar 
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp. Mexican Vanilla extract 
  • Double this BHG recipe for homemade pie crust or just cheat and use Pillsbury from the refrigerated section in the grocery store (I won't tell!).  
Preheat oven at 375.  Press one pie crust into pie pan, leaving edges of crust overhanging pan.  Combine dry ingredients, then stir in vanilla. With apple slices in a separate mixing bowl, pour dry (+ vanilla) mixture over apple slices and toss until slices are coated in mixture.**  Pour entire mixture into pie pan - the apples should be "heaping," forming a dome atop the pan.  Centering over the pie pan, layer the second pie crust over the apple mixture.  Pinch edges of first and second crusts together into fluted pattern.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, covering entire pie with tin foil to prevent burnt crusts at about 25 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly.  Serve warm, with Vanilla Bean or Cinnamon ice cream.

** do not screw with destiny and try to add pecans, as I did last week. Trust me. Please.


  1. Pecans and apple pie never mix. Neither does a cheddar cheese crust. Yuck.

  2. yum. and if that's what breathed you back to life, then i love that apple pie.

  3. I love me some apple pie. I hope Things get better. I'm here for you if ya need anything--an apple pie eating partner, perhaps? Just sayin'.

  4. Everyone needs that one recipe that centers them between who they were and where they're going all at once. That yours is apple pie (of all iconic desserts) seems especially fitting.

    ps: Apple pie served with Bad Apple cocktails soon?

  5. Love how you wrote this post out and everything about it. So perfect! I hope things get better soon!

    My recipe like this is a chocolate meringue pie. It's the one recipe I know by heart and the one I love the make. I just might have to do that this weekend. Sounds very therapeutic!

  6. Yum- now I am craving apple pie- such an evocative post.

    I am not a big baker, but I do find it to be very stress relieving. It's so exact, yet the kneading and rolling are very therapeutic.

  7. I do hope Things get better. And, meanwhile, enjoy that apple pie! Oh, and for the record, I think you're a brilliant writer. I look forward to your Great American Novel.

  8. you need to give your pecans some credit. it was DELICIOUS!!!

    On another note, I love you friend and I'm here for you!

    thinking we need to have a girls night with apple pie and champagne involved ASAP?

  9. love apple pie! on another note, these shoes that we were all lusting over a few weeks ago post ann taylor ad campaign are on sale in black:

  10. I have to make this. I'm not even the hugest fan of apple pie, but you've sold me on it...

  11. So, I almost cried. This post is so perfect and sweet - much like the pie, I am sure. I hope Things get better soon, like, so soon that they are better by the time I post this.

  12. thanks for this post- i always forget how cathartic cooking/baking can be in bad times, stressful times, oh, any time! i hope you enjoyed your pie.

  13. Sorry to hear about your job. Things will work out.


  14. I firmly believe in the powers of apple pie. Hope things get better!

  15. It's been a terrible year chez Magnolia. I've learned that, often, little indulgences like our favorite desserts, warm-from-the-dryer blankets, or roaring fires are the key to maintaining our sanity.

    This was a beautifully-written post, quite evocative of the comfort that our favorite foods provide. I hope things get better for you soon!

  16. I'll bring the gluten free from a box brownies (they're good, I swear). I um, HATE apple pie. But love this post.

  17. i love this post and breathe me back to life apple pie sounds like something olive would have made right after ned broke her ...again!(oh how i miss you pushing daisies)

  18. pie is the best. I bake my mom's apple pie, its so comforting and feels like home.
    also the hubster and i are super obsessed with pie as is my mother (she baked thirty something for our wedding!)

  19. Here I am wishing/hoping big things aren't bad things for someone I've never met but who I read all the time....happy apple pie thoughts headed south!

  20. So I happen to make this awesome cinnamon ice cream to go with my Things, and I'm pretty sure my cinnamon ice cream & Things goes very well with your apple pie & Things.

    Yup. Sure of it.

    This is a great post, and just remember- everything is okay in the end. If it isn't okay, well then? It's not the end. ;)

  21. I love this post. I used to have a friend who made bread from scratch for this very reason - it centered her. I love that you chose apple pie too. And I hope that the pie did help with all the Things. Hugs.

  22. sounds wonderful! best to you with the things...

  23. More people need to gain appreciation for the beauty that is Mexican vanilla extract. Madagascar bourbon pales in comparison. :)


happy little comments!