Sunday, October 08, 2006

piping-bag dreams

Yesterday, since it was an absolutely perfect fall day just about at the height of leaf season, Jim and I decided to go apple-picking.

There are a zillion and one pick-your-own (or not) orchards in Maine -- many of which are members of the American Pomological Society (which: hee) -- and they grow just about any type of apple you could want. However, we had it on good authority from the culinarily omniscient Mr. Freed that the Macoun apple is well-nigh unmatched for all apple-y services rendered. Therefore, we set out on a search for the mighty Macoun.

Luckily, the orchard, which we chose almost entirely at random, not only seems to specialize in Macouns, but also seems to have planted them so that they were at the height of ripeness yesterday. We filled two half-bushel bags, and while we did diversify a little bit so as not to be unfair to the McIntoshes and Golden Deliciouses looking longingly at us from their own branches, we definitely brought home quite a haul of Macouns.

We also picked up a half-gallon of fresh sweet cider and a few bite-sized steaming hot cider doughnuts to bring home. The cider made it; two of the doughtnuts, though, did not last long in their happy paper bag. However, it was much needed sustenance for the next phase of the day, which involved a prolonged and exciting stop at Williams-Sonoma on the way home.

Through some crafty gift-card-swapping, I wound up with a couple of hundred dollars in Sonoma gift cards. It's not as though there was anything there I really, oh, needed, per se; but I did want many things. Some new mixing bowls, for example, and fancy dipping oil and balsamic vinegar. Jim actually needed a new meat thermometer. And -- since the backseat of the car was filled with apples -- the pièces de resistance: new pie pans, of course.

I did almost -- almost! -- throw frugality to the wind and run off with a roasting pan and rack, which item I do not have. However, I didn't feel like exhausting all of my gift cards on one item, and so I refrained. (But damn they were pretty.)

Today dawned also crisp and clear, and my mission, as I chose to accept it, was to bake a Macoun apple pie from scratch and then make an enormous batch of five-alarm turkey chili to share with friends in the evening.

Looking around right now while my pie is in the oven, I can see that the mission included a hidden directive as well, which goes as follows: Dirty every utensil and item of cookware/bakeware in the kitchen, some more than once, before the day is out. This message will self-destruct when the dishwasher cycle is complete.

In any case -- who cares about dishes! -- the pie smells fantastic. I've never been overly fond of double-crust apple pie, so mine has a single shell and an oat-walnut-streusel topping. Once it's out of the oven and cooling, I will start the chili, so that by the time Laura and Don come over, everyone will be able to dive right in. I hope the pie is enough for them tonight. Next on the list (probably tomorrow) I think I shall make an apple crostata, or perhaps a modified tarte Tatin. We have so many apples! What an excuse to bake!

I'm starting to think that even Donna Reed would find my concept of the perfect day frightening. I actually considered buying the mechanized pastry bag at Sonoma, although I couldn't for the life of me figure out why one would need such a thing. Instead, I filled out an application for part-time and seasonal sales associate.

Because, dude. I would so kick ass in that little green apron.

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