different, with pie

We had music playing for much of the weekend, but right now as I write this the various rhythms and patters of the rain fill the house. It sounds different on the tin roof of the shed than on our shingled roof, and different still where it touches the trees and pours down the gutters. I realize that it's Wednesday and the weekend is a distant dream, but I spent yesterday at home painting and baking and walking where wind and ravens move through tall Douglas-firs. I make no apologies for my love of the rain; I don't even own an umbrella. I walked through this softest of statics into the city this morning. The droplets sizzled as they met the ocean and hundreds of tiny songbirds were hidden in hedges and shrubberies, trying to drown out the rain with their chattering. For two weekends in a row now there have been pies. I feel like we've reached another level of settling in, here, and have relaxed into spending our days pleasurably. The first two pies we ate all to ourselves, but the next batch made it over to join a glorious feast with friends one night and a low-key dessert party the next.

IMG_1988 IMG_1992 IMG_1996 IMG_2001 IMG_2004 IMG_2006

Apple Vanilla Custard Pie My own creation, inspired by Terroirs de France: Un million de menus. I found it best eaten cold, but it's still perfectly tasty when warm.

3 apples 2 eggs 3/4 cup table cream (10 % cream) 1/3 cup vanilla sugar 1/2 tsp lemon zest 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp cardamom 1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder 1/2 tsp vanilla extract Pastry to line shallow 8 or 9" pie dish

  1. Roll out pastry into a disc, place in pie dish and trim edges. Decorate if desired. Place in fridge for about 20 minutes (prepare filling during this time).
  2. Preheat oven to 425°. Wash apples, but don't peel them. Quarter the apples, remove cores, and slice into medium-thin slices.
  3. Prepare custard. Whisk eggs, then add all other ingredients and whisk until incorporated.
  4. Arrange apples in pie shell with the skin sides facing up. Pour custard on top.
  5. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until custard is set. It should not slosh or appear liquidy when given a gentle shake, and a skewer inserted in the custard should come out clean.

IMG_2021 IMG_2019

Pumpkin Pie adapted from my mother's recipe, adapted from a can of pumpkin puree

1 sugar pie pumpkin (Split in half, seeds scooped out, and roasted cut-side down in a shallow baking dish with just enough water to cover the bottom of the dish. When pumpkin is soft, remove from the oven, let cool, then scoop out flesh and puree it. The pumpkins we grew yield about 567g/ 20oz puree. )

1/2 cup brown sugar 1 1/2 tsp salt 2 tsp cinnamon 1 1/2 tsp ginger pinch cloves 1/4 tsp garam masala 1/4 tsp allspice 3 eggs 3/4 cup 10% cream

1 deep 8 or 9" pie dish lined with pastry (Do this first, and let pastry-lined pie dish chill in the fridge for 20 minutes or so until you are ready for it.)

Preheat oven to 425°. Stir together pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices. Whisk eggs and cream, then add to pumpkin and whisk gently until mixture is homogeneous. Pour into pie shell and bake. After 10 minutes, lower heat to 350° or 375° and bake for 40 or so minutes until filling is set.

Pastry adapted from Alana Chernila's excellent The Homemade Pantry. Makes enough for 3 open-face pies.

1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour 1 cup all-purpose white flour 1 tbsp sugar 1 tsp salt 1 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes 2 tsp apple cider vinegar 2/3 cup ice cold water* (I find I usually need more water than recipes call for- you may only need 1/3 cup)

Stir together dry ingredients with a sturdy fork. Cut in butter. Add the apple cider vinegar to 1/3 cup of the ice water, then pour it into flour and gently stir/toss with fork. Add more water as needed until you can form the dough into a ball with your hands. Let rest for at least 20 minutes in the fridge before rolling out.

in the midst

I'm sitting in a sunbeam, herbal tea in my hand and on the stove, a pot of earl grey waiting shyly beside the espresso machine. This morning, I watered the garden and watched swallows and starlings dive through endless blue. Yesterday I got the laundry dry and hauled in just as another rainstorm blew in. There is a great satisfaction in sitting on the bed with a pile of sun-warmed clothes and a sleepy cat as rain pounds the grass flat outside the darkened window. I made an accidental discovery that I'll share with you because it was glorious. I like to heat milk for my coffee in a steel measuring cup on the stove. Sometimes I leave it too long and it boils over in a stinky mess. Yesterday I caught it just as the foam was rising, and voila, hot frothed milk for a latte. This is delicate business though, and must be watched.

IMG_0877 IMG_0881 IMG_0884

I have some catching up to do. Here is Friday:

I think it's alright to feel a little bit sad on mornings when the sun doesn't come out. The sky feels heavy today. It is the sort of day that I want to keep for myself, to drink tea and make art and bake pie.

This evening, a spontaneous sandwich dinner on a rainy walk. We walked down to the ocean, into which sky and mountains dissolve in this kind of weather, under the droplets. The water was slate and churned turquoise blue-green, the setting sun somewhere giving the rocks a golden glow. Walking through sheets of rain, water all around, the light faded as we followed the path and bridges over into the Garry oak meadow on the point, blue-violet camas flowers in long grass and the lights of the city across the water. Darker now, the water still shone blue, a deep almost-iridescence. Streetlights illuminated pale old Garry oak trunks and the pathway, and caught on a circle of raindrops like tiny meteors. Lit-up forest and tall grass, deep blue water, rain falling illuminated all around us, and us in the midst of this.

I was playing with a recipe for rhubarb custard pie. It still needs some tweaking but since you might have rhubarb now (?!), I'm including it as a starting point.

IMG_0891 IMG_0894 IMG_0896

Experimental Pastry 1/2 c each of almond meal, kamut flour and AP flour 1/2 c butter, chilled and cut into cubes (I tend to cube this before doing the dry ingredients and stick it in the freezer for a few minutes until needed.) 1/2 tsp each of salt and cardamom 1/4 tsp each of vanilla and almond extracts 2 tbsp vanilla sugar (or just nice natural cane sugar) 2 tsp to 1 tbsp lemon juice (I used 1 tbsp and the dough tasted kind of sour but once baked it was good, however I might use less next time.) 1/4 cup ice-cold water (I put my water- usually more than called for, just in case- in the freezer before I assemble my other ingredients so that it's nice and cold by the time I'm ready for it.) Mix dry ingredients with a fork. Cut in butter. Add wet ingredients all at once and mix with a fork just until it comes together. Chill dough in fridge for an hour before rolling it out.

Rhubarb Custard Pie a generous 1 1/2 quarts rhubarb, cut up (just use however much fits nicely in your pie dish) 1 1/2 cups table cream (I also made this successfully with 1 can of full-fat coconut milk) 1 1/2 cups sugar (if making this with something less tart than rhubarb definitely reduce the sugar) 2/3 cup flour a solid pinch of nice quality salt (Vanilla extract or the contents of a split and scraped vanilla bean would be a nice addition too) Stir together sugar, flour and salt with a whisk. Add cream and beat until smooth. Put rhubarb into an unbaked pie shell. Pour sugar mixture over the rhubarb. Bake at 400º for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350º and continue baking until custard is set (thickened, glossy, skewer comes out clean), about 40 minutes to an hour or so.