Apologies for the sugar rush this week, but ’tis the season.
There’s a sweet little pie shop in my neighborhood that boasts a bakery case full of the cutest little pies you’ll ever see. Pies in jars, lollipop pies, handheld pies. Little deep-dish pies piled impossibly high with whipped cream or meringue. Itty-bitty mini muffin bite-sized pies. And, of course, the classic larger size.
I love them all, but my special favorite is the Cutie Pie, made in a standard-size muffin tin. It’s substantial enough, but you can get away with eating one all by yourself. In fact, I recommend that you do so. Make them for your holiday table, sure, but be sure to set aside a few moments and at least one tiny pie to enjoy alone as well.
I have a book in which I record, from time to time, the big and small adventures in our family’s life. I mean to write in it every day, just a sentence or two. More often, weeks or even months go by between entries. I try to catch the important stuff, though, when I do sit down to write–milestones and anecdotes from our daughters’ lives, travels we want to remember, loving moments with our extended family. And, of course, what’s happening in the kitchen.Our family’s book begins with applesauce. It was an October when I started the family journal (abandoning, in the process, my girls’ individual baby books) and we had just turned our three trees worth of apples into a year’s worth of applesauce. So in a way, I think of making applesauce as the beginning of each new year. At this time of year I often flip back through the years contained in my book and marvel at how fast life changes. And how each chapter is even better than the last.
Applesauce, though, is a constant in our lives. Every year we lighten the groaning branches of the apple trees in the fall, piling box after box of apples into the house. We sort the apples, setting aside the unblemished best for eating and sharing. We eat and bake and dry as many apples as we can. And the rest become applesauce for the year ahead.Continue reading →
The ways of the fruit trees are mysterious to me. One year it’s a bumper crop of plums, this year just enough for one indulgent afternoon. The apple trees are staggering under the weight of their fruit, but we only got one apricot. And the pear tree, espaliered out of the way on our small city lot, produced its customary dozen pears. Which yielded, after a little bit of cleanup and a lot of simmering down, one and a half cups of chunky pear sauce.
We made the most of it with these muffins.
Let me just admit up front that they’re more cake than breakfast, unless you can see your way to combining the two–in which case, I assure you, you won’t be alone. The crumb is tender, the tops are crisp with sugar, and the muffins are fragrant with the heady scents of cardamom and vanilla. Continue reading →
Watermelon juice, for example, is a breeze to make: just pile chunks of watermelon (either seedless or with any black seeds removed) into the blender and give it a quick whirl. Here we went one step further and strained the resulting puree. And that took care of a pound and a half of our thirty-pound melon just like that. Only twenty-eight to go.You can stop right there at the watermelon juice and have a perfectly lovely drink, dressed up if you like with a splash of simple syrup or soda water or lime or all three. But of course we didn’t stop right there. Continue reading →