This is it, the time of year in which all that is cozy and good comes out to stay a while. Autumn, fall, the holiday season, harvest, whatever. There is a real security in leaning into these comforts: food, sweaters, books, wood-burning stoves, puzzles, and Vitamin D. I have become aware that I am submitting to a rhythm that is occurring without my permission. Growing up in Southern California offered me different beautiful things, like a love for sandy beaches, white decor and a love of cache words like rad or like or right!?, all of which are way over-used. But I somehow totally neglected to create an authentic sense of nostalgia through a season, a certain time in space. I am spurred on by the shifting of light and a tide that is the saltiest I have ever tasted. It’s as if I have decided to submit to the longings for these little life-changing compulsions over time. One by one. Little by slow. For instance, what I learned the first year that I lived here: fleece is a MUST in the PNW and now as I look, I don’t even question it. I cannot help but to allow myself all the cozy excess tidings and savor all the flavors of the season.
You eat with your eyes
Living in the Pacific Northwest for the last ten years has provided an absolute playground for this need to fulfill. The bounty of the fresh and local is “better than yours.” I don’t say this to be cocky, I say this because it is true. This place, the very soil is majestic. From the world class Mt. Baker ski haunt to the salmon running, oysters off Chukanut, Orcas off the island trails, crab and a multitude of colorful aqua marine life, piles of rain coming down so slow and constant you almost forget it’s there, to a simple vegetable home garden, or an apple orchard on one of the various small and large farms in the county. All of it thrives in this wild climate. All but tomatoes and citrus anyway.
When I turn to fall, I turn to PIE
Apple pie, to be exact. In high school, I worked in a high end bakery in Los Angeles where we made pie — a lot of pie. So much pie that we had valet parking and lines around the corner of the bakery shop. And even my great-grandfather Lloyd had a pie bakery in Southern California. But never did I have more respect for apple pie, before arriving here in Bellingham, and that’s because it all happens in one place. The apples are grown, harvested, sold, prepared and eaten here. What a concept. Total game-changer. My son gets it so much that he refuses to eat an apple anywhere else, because they pale by comparison.
Put it together
So when those magical apples are combined with butter from grass-fed cows and the pastry, warm and flaky, the tart taste of apple jumps to the front of the tongue and gently slides back down to the middle of your palate to balance the silken taste and texture of a true butter crust. I have to have one. Pie cravings can come at any time and therefore I must have pie! Yet, that pie is the same pie that sits atop my Thanksgiving table and steals the whole show.
I call it Pie On the Fly. I have a friend that calls it “amends pie.” She has used pie as a peacemaker, a truce, it has brought down walls between neighbors for years. I hope that you will enjoy the recipe below and make it yours, whatever you call it.
Recipe for a butter crust (top and bottom)
- 2 cups of all purpose flour
- 1tsp kosher salt
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter (small pieces)
- 1/3 cup of ice cold water
- Combine dry ingredients into the bowl of a mixer; flour, salt cut in the butter. Butter should be cold. As cold as you can get it. Mix until butter is combined with flour and is about pea size.
- Add the water
- Mix until the dough just comes together into a ball. (Do not over mix.)
- Divide dough in half. Make into 2 small disks. Wrap them in plastic until ready to roll out.
Recipe for the apple filling
- 3 lbs of apples (about 6 apples)
- 3/4 cups of organic sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and butter your
- Peel, core and cut apples into 2 inch slices. Toss apples in a bowl add lemon juice and toss, then add sugar and cornstarch, toss again.
- Roll out both pie doughs into 10 inch circle. Then fold into pan. Cut off the excess dough around the edges or fold them in half.
- Add apple pie filling to the pie pan.
- Lay your top dough over, flute the edges or use a fork to pinch the top and bottom dough together. Then score the center by using a sharp knife to make two lines in the center.
- Brush butter over the top and sprinkle with organic sugar
- Bake for 55 minutes