Reflections from Making an Apple Pie

We are back from summer holiday
and kickin' it here.

This week's post resumes
the summer theme:  change.
(And this time, while baking (and eating)
delicious apple pie.)

Happy last days of summer
and with anticipation for fall,


I grew up watching
Jonathan apples grow and fall
from my parents' apple tree.

They were usually gross,
half-eaten by critters, worms, and insects.

My parents never sprayed them,
and we never picked them.

Until recently.

I decided many had ripened enough
to be picked for an apple pie.

And because I continued to be on an extended visit at their place
(my childhood home in rural Illinois),
and had been eagerly watching them grow
from my mother's kitchen window,
why not now?

So, I headed to the local farm store
to purchase an apple picker.

Armed with that and my copy of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook
from my beloved Zuni Cafe in San Francisco,
I set out to make an apple tart.

I continually learn from this resource that
cooking is a true dialogue with the ingredients. 

One must know the qualities and properties
of their ingredients so that the larger relationship
 of those to the food creation
will come alive through the right structure and methods
into one beautiful whole.

This is not about measuring properly and following recipes strictly,
but rather being able to be agile with intuition, expanding its influence,
because reality is known and understood.

I had planned on creating an open-faced tart, but soon learned that
"Open-faced tarts allow the fruit to dry out as it bakes. 
The surface sugars caramelize the edges of the fruit
making them pleasantly chewy and delicious.

A lattice top traps some of the fruit's
moisture as the tart bakes,
but lets enough escape to keep
the filling from being soupy.

A double crust generally traps
the most moisture and perfume
--but you can fine-tune that
by making more and
wider slashes in the top crust..."

Because I had a vague memory
that these Jonathan apples were tart and dry,
I decided to switch gears and create a top crust.

As I did this and put the two together,
I was aware that the cosmetics of the pie
had holes in it,
that the crust wouldn't be smooshed
the way I liked it
but I was loving accepting this reality.

Through it, I couldn't help but
reflect on a greater creation
taking place:
just as the ingredients were amalgamating into a greater whole,
so my reflections were gelling into a larger existence.

Beauty is not found in what I desire,
but in the honesty of a situation,
in the acknowledgment and relinquishment of it,
which allows for acceptance and appreciation of what is right in front of you:
flaws and all.

In this case, my tart was barely coming together
(at least it felt this way);
the apples were small and large,
resulting in various sizes,
the structure of the tart
was a little thin due to
the pie pan being larger than
what was originally called for
(and even though I had accounted for this),
and the crust was gluten-free and nightshade-free,
when the original recipe's was gluten-ous.

But I was grateful and
truly appreciating this grander dialogue
between me and the pie.

I just needed to keep at it.

Sure enough,
the Jonathan apples
the gluten-free, nightshade-free double crust
the oven
a marvelous whole pie.

What "apples" are in your life, waiting to be picked and handled with care?