I’ve been neglecting you, friends. These past two months have been incredibly busy, and hard. It’s been better, though, since I ended my contract at the cafe two weeks ago. Only two months in and I was feeling on the verge of what a francophone would call burn-out, what a nutritionist would call adrenal fatigue, and what I would call desperate times. I was coming home every afternoon, too exhausted to read, or write, or make a soup, or call my best friend, or water my plants, or take a walk under moonlight, or a hike in the sunshine, or meet a friend for a mug of something warm, or really hear how Lulu’s day was–too exhausted for care, both for self and for others and that is a bleak place to be, indeed.
It wasn’t only the hours that were draining. And, without getting into too much detail, I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t doing the work that everything in me–heart, spirit, hands, mind–so badly wants to do. Work that contributes something positive to my community, something honest, creative, uplifting, nourishing, healing.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. So I left. It wasn’t an easy decision in some ways, and in other ways it was the easiest one.
Now, I’ve been focusing my energies on my nutrition practice, a few other projects that I’ll share w/ y’all soon, and on all that care I’ve been missing out on these past months.
Like baking this apple pie. This recipe comes from another blog–Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook–the first blog I ever followed. This was back in 2009, October, when I was subletting a tiny room in a light-filled apartment on 4th Street in the East Village, mending a broken heart from the passing of my grandma Stella. The apartment had a spacious (by NYC standards) kitchen and was in close proximity to a farmer’s market and one of the ways I dealt w/ my loss was through making some of Lucy’s recipes, feeling transported to a small village in France (though Lucy’s based in Lyon), a plot of land where there are green walnuts to harvest for nocino and an apple tree that yields and yields.
I’m not sure if Lucy is still blogging, but I return to her archives from time-to-time and I always leave her page feeling galvanized. These past two months, I haven’t spent much time in my kitchen and it’s been nourishing, in all the ways, to rekindle my relationship to home-cooking.
I’ve made this pie dozens of times since that Fall. The crust has an almost sablé-like texture and the addition of apple-sauce is down-right genius, making this comfort food feel even more like a big ol’ cozy sweater. It’s incredibly versatile — I’ve used spelt flour and, once, a mix of spelt and rye flours instead of the whole-wheat flour, yogurt instead of the petit suisse or cream cheese, olive oil instead of walnut oil, cardamom instead of cinnamon…in short, unlike other baked things, it seems pretty darn hard to mess this one up.
The one adjustment I’ve made that I’ve really come to love is to chop the apples into even, on the smaller-side cubes. Chopped this way, they bake evenly and take on a texture that approximates pillows, marshmallows, clouds. If you’re particular about one part of the recipe, make it this.
The other adjustment I’ve made is that I use whole cane sugar (like rapadura, sucanet, or jaggery) instead of processed ones. If you’ve never baked w/ whole cane sugar, now’s the time to start! It’s minimally processed (sun-dried instead of exposed to heat, high-pressure and bleach like white or brown sugars) and its taste has a depth & richness that other sugars lack.
I’ve never been in touch w/ Lucy, but I’ll sign off w/ a merci to her for all the work she does. And especially for this recipe for her Favorite Apple Pie.