At some point in our young lives, my sister made a cake. This stands out because my sister doesn’t bake. Food is a necessity to her, lucky woman, unless we’re talking about salsa or hot sauce. Okay, apples, popcorn…she’s a grazer. She’s petite and lean — fit. And she’s more beautiful than she’s ever been. Don’t misunderstand. She’s always been a lovely woman (outside of her cranky junior high phase), but at this point in her life she is truly lovely. Is it the recent empty nest? Perhaps the East Coast climate? Or is it that she is blissfully free of those of us on the West Coast where she truly belongs?
It’s officially summer. The calendar says so, and when I look out my window, I can say that our weather is even cooperating — if not with warmer temperatures, then surely beautiful sun and light that makes me want to grab a chair and book, maybe a glass of something tinkling when it’s picked up to sip.
I also think of brightly colored veggies in all kinds of combinations brushed with oil, tossed with garlic and salt and grilled. Fruit as well. Lots of fruit. Sometimes I’m carried away and bring home too much — well, too much as far as eating it plain and simple goes. One can have too many smoothies as well.
When faced with this particular predicament, it’s time to make pie. Pie that isn’t on the diet I say I’m not on. The non-diet I’ve been on since January and have been very good about until the lead-up to summer and all our goings on have inserted themselves into my carefully crafted snacks and meals.
I had pie for breakfast this morning. We all did. And I laughed as the hubster carried his piece out the door along with the oatmeal he routinely eats in the car on the way to work each morning. It’s a wonder he makes it to work without being pasted with food each day.
I spent the afternoon yesterday making this pie, enjoying every moment of it. It’s relaxing, and as much as I know the of the country is sweltering in temperatures approaching 100 degrees, as usual, we’re barely hitting 70. Outside of having to prebake the pie crust, this pie requires very little heat — instead refrigeration once it’s cooled then put together.
Summer has to have a pie — and this one is perfect to celebrate today.
It’s June 29th, and it’s Pie Day!
When I created sass & veracity more than four years ago, it was to give myself a space to write about my life as it relates to food — with just the hint of a smirk on my face. The chances of my being completely serious about it never occurred to me at the time even though I’ve always been someone who is passionate about food. I wanted to be light-hearted about it all, never expecting that I would be writing precise directions for recipes or searching for just the right light to shoot photos of the food we ate on a day-to-day basis.
What I did expect was stories — stories connected to life’s often pivotal moments and weaving it all together. Stories about pregnancy and Monday night post Lamaze class burritos. Sunday morning hamburgers and Charlie Chan. Or stories about why cold yams and spilled milk will always remind me of one of my grandmothers. Biscuits and old boyfriends, raw shrimp cocktails and romantic dinners at home, and an old, dear doggo who loved tortilla chips. Stories just like that. And in the process, I thought perhaps I’d keep myself (and my best friend) focused on a diet we’d promised ourselves we’d go on, thinking if it’s written down, then we’ll stick to it.
Right. When pigs fly.
I also thought that considering the number of cookbooks I own and food magazines subscribed to, trying new recipes and talking frankly about them would be a fun diversion. After all, it’s what I’d done for years minus a food blog. With my youngest son just beginning high school at the time, and mulling over a stay-at-home-mom status for the first time in my life, I knew I’d look forward to that diversion. There was no real hustle bustle in our small family of three, no school lunches for little kids to pack, and nary a picky eater in residence to cater to. Instead, my life-long affection for cooking would continue to grow, fueled by new found time to experiment with flavors I’d not tried before, and techniques I’d been too busy to find time to learn. So I rolled up my sleeves and got busy.
I can’t remember the first time I had carrot cake, but I’m sure it wasn’t until I was well into my adult years. It’s strange now that I think about it because my mother used to make a mean carrot salad. The basic ingredients aren’t all that different except for the mayonnaise she’d dollop in the huge bowl of grated carrots and raisins before stirring in some sugar, and I’ll bet I can find more than one recipe for carrot cake that calls for mayo, too. Mind you, this would be much to the complete horror of my husband who steers clear of anything that suggests mayo is an ingredient.
I’ve tried to remember the first time I saw a macaron, but honestly, I can’t. It surely wasn’t until I started writing here, more and more frequently crossing paths with amazing people who bake amazing desserts at home with little or no formal training. I’d not heard of Pierre Herme, either. No, I was caught up in the the world of savory dishes with only an occasional dessert made for a special occasion coming from my kitchen rather than the circular, often brightly colored sweet sandwiches that comically remind me of tiny hamburgers — or perhaps moon pies.
Even after I’d begun to realize that macarons were a fascination for many and saw them in every imaginable color and flavor, it wasn’t until a year ago that I tasted my first: antique rose in color, delicately crisp, and oh so sweet, it tasted of rose as well. For someone used to sinking her teeth into a nice bran muffin, I was a bit perplexed and beginning to understand what all the fuss was about. There didn’t appear to be much to the tiny thing, and yet I knew it was quite the opposite. A paradox.
I’ve wanted to make macarons for quite a while now, and yet I’ve procrastinated. Instead of delving into the endless recipe variations, comparing quantities of ingredients, and analyzing techinque, I’ve gazed at the beautiful the colors and admired perfect the shapes. Finally, I was forced to consider not only how a macaron is made, but to make them along with countless other bakers this month. The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
After a few days of reading everything I could find about macarons and sifting through the forum comments and advice at The Daring Kitchen, I decided to devote a Sunday to the task. Not a frilly person by nature, I skipped the gorgeous pinks and bright greens and headed straight for the sturdy, practical flavors of chocolate and peanut butter.
In a house full of men, what would you expect?