October 12, 2011

Sweet Suprises and Apple Pie

There is much to be said for what discomforts a change of scenery can ease. And because I have been nursing a cold with a sore throat that only tom yum soup, apple cider, and hot tea could make feel better, we went apple picking.

It was 80 degrees, and the pumpkins and hay bales looked completely out of place in the hot sun. Sebastian and I piled into a wagon filled with children and their parents and rode into an orchard where rows and rows of Piñata apples were––literally!––ripe for the picking. It was so pretty there, with tiny apple blossoms and lush, glossy leaves on the trees, dark green grass below our feet and a big blue sky above. We wandered between trees to the Empires, then the Golden Delicious, and finally the Suncrisps. Later, with our modest five-pound haul, we walked back to the orchard entrance and bought some cider donuts, still hot in their white paper bag. We shared a cold bottle of cider and sat in a shady spot in the grass. I wondered what had taken me so long to do what has long been on my fall fun list.

Colds lead to thick, murky thoughts and minutes lost to staring off into the distance. And so Sebastian had to figure out what to make with all those apples. Wouldn’t you know that the rookie would come out of the gates with a grand slam? My mom makes the simplest of apple pies: just peeled wedges, sugar, cinnamon, and dots of butter. What Sebastian baked was ultra-rich, and bubbled over with a caramel-like sauce. It might have been the best slice of apple pie I’ve ever had. We shared a single slice hot from the oven late last night and pronounced it a victory. (But I’m still partial to tarte tatin.)

I didn’t intend for this post to be about Sebastian’s triumph in the kitchen or to tell you about the killer apple pie recipe he found. Both were just serendipity! I set out just to recount this kind of magic moment in the weekend where even with an aching throat there was something so sweet about wandering, foggy-headed, through an orchard in the sunshine. Why did something so simple feel so utterly divine?

We play this game in our house from time to time, “what was your favorite moment?” And the surprising thing is that it’s never the fancy dinners or big to-dos we planned for, spent money on. It’s always something unassuming and random, like a nice walk, or seeing some hilarious dog, or reaching up into an apple tree, grabbing a piece of ripe fruit, and biting right into it.

Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie (now known in our house as Sebastian’s Apple Pie)
from AllRecipes

1 recipe pastry for a 9-inch double crust pie
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
8 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and sliced

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add white sugar, brown sugar and water; bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, and simmer 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.

Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes.

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  • Margaret: I hereby join you in praising the apple cider doughnut! I had my first experience of the things two weekends ago when I was road-tripping from DC to VT and back, through NY state. And wow, I mean, WOW, is New York State beautiful.3 years ago

  • Margaret, It was my first one! Aren’t they terrific :) Also, what an amazing, gorgeous road trip that must have been!3 years ago

  • Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams: Mmmm. That pie looks amazing. I’m going apple picking this weekend, so pie is in my future!

    And yes – my favorite moments, too, are always the little, bright, unexpected ones. (Which is why I love your blog, Sarah – you’re so good at celebrating those.)3 years ago

  • Sara Rose: I love apple orchards, cider donuts, and this post! I’ve never been partial to apple pie (it’s a texture thing) but I could be convinced to make it for the family- just by sheer power of this post alone. Hugs.3 years ago

  • Cadi: Brown sugar in fruit pies is a well-guarded secret that I stumbled on this summer (in a peach pie, of all things, when I was out of regular sugar. Can you say heavenly?). Changed my whole outlook on pie.

    Those little moments are the best, aren’t they? Skipping rocks in a river with a pal, watching the cat beat up a mini pumpkin on the dining room floor, a lazy afternoon in a pumpkin patch with your favorite kiddo. All things I’ve fallen in love with lately. You always capture these moments so graciously and beautifully. Thanks for taking all of us there.

    Glad you’re feeling better!3 years ago

  • Sarah in DC: That’s it, I’m adding “bake an apple pie” to MY fall list. Beautifully written, Sarah. And would you believe I’ve never had an apple cider donut?3 years ago

  • brie.: goodness i miss those trips to the orchard, will promptly see if i can scout one out near-ish to london? hmmm.3 years ago

  • Liza in A2: Ahhh…the fall cider mill tradition. I’ve not made it yet to ours and I’m starting to get annoyed. Might try this yummy looking pie once I do!3 years ago

  • Katie, Enjoy your time in the orchard!

    Sara Rose, I hear you on apple pie. But every once in awhile I can get over those feelings and have a slice. There are certainly worse things in the world than warm baked goods! 😉

    Cadi, I literally LOL-d at your suggestion of a cat in battle with a mini-pumpkin. Oh, how I wish there were a youtube video of that!

    Oh, Sarah, I hope you can find yourself an apple cider donut. They really are marvelous.

    brie, or maybe there’s something uniquely “fall in london” you could do? hmm…

    Liza, Now that I’ve been, I think this might become an annual tradition in our house!3 years ago

  • Trina: I am with you that brown sugar is great in pie (and with the invention of brown sugar splenda, even more amazing!). Since I have Type 2 diabetes, it is tough to enjoy treats like these most days. I love though how your recipe is simple without too many ingredients – all of which I can substitute with healthier options!

    http://www.thediabetesscoop.com/type-2-diabetes.php3 years ago

  • molly: isn’t tom yum the BEST for a sore throat? that a tom ka gai are favorites, in our parts.

    hope you’re feeling back in the pink, soon. and good for you for getting out into that orchard. i must always push double-hard, also, and then am so surprised by the satisfaction.

    m.3 years ago

  • Inga Elle: Oh my word, I love your blog so much! I stumbled upon it by accident, and I’m glad I did. :)3 years ago

  • Karen: I hope you are feeling better now! Some tea with honey helps soothe the throat.
    I made a dutch apple pie yesterday. My son likes the crunchy sweet topping on this pie. It was delicious and smelled so good while baking.
    Cider donuts are favorite around here too. We have a local farm stand that has the best. Such a treat.3 years ago

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