weekend

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.

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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.

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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.

almost

I wish I could do this every day. I'm sitting in a sunlit, clean house with a mug of tea and a jar of water and a square of dark chocolate. The birch tree out front has almost completely turned yellow. I've already wandered the garden several times (two raspberries!), tidied up and made a nest for our elderly cat, and tossed yet more onions and tomatoes in the oven. I feel - almost - at peace. We've been enjoying a long weekend (yay!). Yesterday I spent all afternoon painting white rabbits and yellow aspen on scraps of wood while listening to a charming audiobook, fed on a pleasant diet of tea and fresh caraway raisin bread that Jeremy started the day before.

I went to a lovely friend's lovely wedding reception recently, with the best bunch of friends. The weather was stormy, but delightfully so. The whole day was one long happy moment.

It's funny how moments like these can coexist, or at least be contrasted by those reigned by the less fun feelings. I have been so exhausted lately that the lovely moments seem few and far between. Sunday I spent curled on the couch, again with tea, and read. I feel very lost and frustrated when I think of how I spend most of my time at a job I really don't enjoy. It is a perfectly decent job, I'm sure, but somehow manages to be both the most boring and most stressful job I've experienced. At the reception it was so nice hearing about how my friends are following their passions and have found or are creating meaningful work. Over here at whine central (but without the wine), I have yet to figure that out for myself.

Still, there is plenty of good to celebrate. I made this pear tarte Tatin several weeks ago, and have been meaning to post about it ever since. I'm a little late for Canadian Thanksgiving, but it's a tasty way to end most any meal.

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Pear Cardamom Tarte Tatin Recipe: Choosing and Using Spices. Pastry: Terroirs de France, un million de menus

1/4 cup (50 g) butter, softened 1/4 cup sugar seeds from 10 cardamoms 1 tsp + ground cardamom 225 g (8 oz) puff pastry or use pastry recipe below +/- 4 ripe pears (the number of pears will depend on the size of the pears and the size of your pan)

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Spread the butter over the base of an ~8" cast iron skillet (or ovenproof pan or stoveproof cake tin). Spread the sugar evenly over the butter, then sprinkle the cardamom and cardamom seeds over the sugar. On a floured surface, roll out pastry to a circle slightly larger than the pan. Prick pastry lightly and set it on a baking sheet and chill.

2. Peel the pears, cut them in half lengthwise and core them. Arrange the pears, rounded side down, on the butter and sugar. Set pan over medium heat until the sugar melts and begins to bubble with the butter and the juice from the pears. If any areas are browning more than others (you can carefully lift a pear to check), move the pan, but do not stir.

3. As soon as the sugar has caramelized, remove the pan from the heat. Place the pastry on top, carefully tucking the edges down the side of the pan. Transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is well risen (for puff) and golden.

4. Leave in the pan for 2-3 minutes until the juices have stopped bubbling. Invert the pan over a plate and shake to release the tart. (Put a large plate face-side down over the pan. Keep one hand flat on the center of the plate to hold it in place while the other hand lifts and flips the pan in one smooth motion. The hand on the plate needs to keep pressure on it and move with the pan.) It may be necessary to slide a spatula under the pears to loosen them. Serve warm.

Pastry (pâte brisée) - the high butter content of this recipe makes it a tasty substitute for puff dough 200 g flour 100 g chilled butter 50 + g ice cold water pinch salt Stir together flour and salt. Cut butter into small cubes, then cut into flour with a pastry cutter. Add enough water that you can form dough into a ball, then let it repose in the fridge for 30 minutes. This recipe makes slightly more than is needed for the tarte Tatin, so save the extra in the fridge for spontaneous weeknight baking, or something.

bright sunshine

Today: Coombs Market in the sunshine with my mum and my husband. Bright colours, strings of light, things. Beautiful and wonderful, but also kind of ridiculous. This is a place steeped in childhood memories of goats on the roof, ice cream cones and shopping for animal stamps in the special rubber stamp store. The goats are still there, along with more ice cream than ever, but the stamp store is sadly gone. It wasn't how it used to be, but then- things don't need to stay the same. It was still a fun way to pass an afternoon. Today also, a wren and a nuthatch in the garden.

I was tired when we got home, and feeling under the weather (is that possible in this gorgeous weather?). Thus, this simple soup came about, an excellent and speedy false onion soup. It involved hot water left in the kettle from when I made tea, a spoonful of mugi (barley) miso, and a larger spoonful of caramelized onions. This got stirred together and covered in a light snow of grated Parmesan and few turns of cracked black pepper. I also sprinkled it with toasted sunflower seeds because they were sitting on the counter in front of me, but a better choice would probably have been homemade croutons.

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improvements

For weeks, I've exchanged comments with coworkers, relatives, and random passers-bys on how it sure feels like summer. Today I clued in to the fact that summer is underway all around me. The garden is now a lush place where we go in the evenings to peruse the makings of dinner and to watch a hummingbird play in the tiny sprinkler. I've come home sun-reddened on several occasions. Today I stood in the ocean with sea anemones and limpets near my toes. There has been a lot of work in my life lately, so much so that my time at home has focused narrowly on washing dishes, lying on the floor and feeding the cat. Old age has been a dream come true for Heidi/Pudding cat; she's lost a lot of weight so we feed her wet food every time she yowls at us or sits in the kitchen looking expectant or follows us around looking lost.

Work this past week has been improved by the following: a USB-powered salt lamp for my desk, homemade pistachio vanilla bean ice cream from an awesome coworker, and a photo of another coworker's enormous cat. It has also improved greatly by my not having to be there today.

I must be getting older because I'm having urges to clean this house and pull weeds. Baking and painting and reading would be nice too.