When faced with trying emotional times
people look all over for solace. Some turn to sex and physical
gratification. Some lose themselves in alcohol and others plug in
video games like “Need for Speed” or turn on the
television and watch reruns of old sitcoms. I turn to food and
As bombs rained down on Iraq almost exactly a year ago, I found
myself emotionally frazzled, as the 24-hour news cycle, the shock
and awe and the anti-war protests took me close to a breaking
point. Trying to maintain some stability within my own life and the
world turned chaotic and unpredictable, I looked into the kitchen
for something that I could control and I knew would turn out
alright. Though I was opposed to the war and felt decidedly
non-patriotic, I made that all-American dish: apple pie.
With the one-year anniversary of the start of the war here, and
with this edition of Weekend Magazine focusing on sex, I thought
the apple pie would be an appropriate recipe.
Sure, apples are not really in season, but thanks to the marvels
of this post-industrial age, you can still find nice McIntosh,
Cortland, Empire or other good pie apples in most stores. Cortland
are my favorite. At the store you will need five to seven apples,
sugar, brown sugar, flour, vegetable shortening (Crisco), butter,
cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch. You’ll also need to find a
pie pan and something to roll dough with.
The first step is to make the crust. In a large bowl add two and
a quarter cups of flour and blend with half a teaspoon of salt.
Using either a pastry blender (ideal), a fork or your fingers,
blend in 1/3 cup of vegetable shortening. Keep mashing until the
shortening is evenly mixed and looks like cornmeal. Add another 1/3
cup of shortening and mash in until perfectly mixed. The dough
should sort of clump together if pushed into a ball. Add cold
water, one tablespoon at a time, pausing each time to see if you
can form the dough into a good ball. Keep adding water until the
dough is shiny and holds together well — if it gets too wet
add more flour, the dough when done should not be sticky. Wrap the
dough in plastic wrap or tin foil and let it sit.
Make the filling by peeling and slicing five cups of apples and
placing them in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of brown
sugar, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and one
tablespoon cornstarch. Mix with your hands until the apples are
evenly coated. Set aside. Also turn the oven to 450 degrees.
Back to the dough. Cut it in half and keep one half covered.
Take the other half and place it on a piece of waxed paper. Use a
rolling pin, or a wine bottle, and roll out the dough into a large
thin circle that will cover the whole pie pan. If the dough sticks
to the rolling pin keep coating it in flour. Don’t rush it;
slowly roll out the dough — if you go too fast the dough will
Once that dough is rolled out, grab the waxed paper and flip the
dough into a greased pie pan, covering the whole pan — if the
crust doesn’t cover it entirely, rip and press extra bits
around it. Pour the apple filling in the pie and add some small
bits of butter on top of the filling (about two tablespoons
Roll out the other half of the dough and place it on top of the
pie. Using a fork or your fingers try to seal the top crust to the
bottom crust, pinching them together. Put some holes in the top of
the crust — be fancy, I’ve had good luck with hearts
and a block M. Brush some milk on top of the crust to make it turn
a nice brown in the oven.
Place in the oven set at 450 degrees. Bake for ten minutes, then
reduce the heat to 350 and cook for another 40 to 50 minutes, until
the pie is golden and bubbling. Take it out and let it cool before
This basic recipe works for most fruit pies. To add variety to a
basic apple pie, add dried cranberries, dried cherries, frozen
berries, pecans, walnuts or some ground ginger.
If you can find it, rhubarb makes by far the best pies —
although the greenish color may surprise some people. Get five cups
of rhubarb and chop into one inch lengths. Mix with one cup of
sugar — not half a cup like for other fillings — and
add more cornstarch. Bake the same.
After all that work, please treat yourself to the pie. Keep it
out of reach of sexually deprived boys.