My momma makes a nearly unbeatable classic cherry pie, delicately scented with almond extract and hugged by a pretty, pastry-crimped lattice top. Divine with a scoop of Bluebell vanilla ice cream, slices are best served sitting on the couch or porch reconnecting with family.
She says it’s a lot of trouble to make a pie, but I don’t know if I believe her. She always says it with a smile and quick-working hands that suggest it may not actually trouble her all that much (or maybe the reward just far outweighs the effort…).
It doesn’t matter whether you fill the crust with fresh-picked fruit from an orchard or canned summer fruit off the grocery shelf, cherry pie always tastes like love and laughs and joy. I think it’s because no matter what ingredients you use, pies are a bit of effort. Not too much, mind you – just enough. Like breaking a sweat hiking to reach a stunning mountain view, or digging in the garden under the summer sun to plant new flowers.
A little effort makes the reward sweeter.
As much as I love to bake, I have only a handful of dessert recipes that I rely on time and time again. I’m usually more interested in trying new recipes or experimenting with elaborate concoctions that, while fun to play with, aren’t always the most practical to whip out for an unexpected visitor or last-minute craving.
So I was much intrigued and hopeful when I ran across this classic, simple Chez Panisse Almond Torte recipe featured on Alexandra’s Kitchen. Made with pantry staples and fresh items you almost always have on hand, it was the perfect recipe – images of tender, buttery, almond-scented cake, hot out of the oven at a moment’s notice enthralled me, and I ran to the kitchen to whip up this easy masterpiece.
And it was a huge disaster.
When cooking a brisket in a household of only two people, the problem is you have meat for days. DAYS.
The initial meal can get you through at least a couple of nights. For the inaugural meal, I slow-braised the weighty side of beef in a pool of beef stock (with a healthy splash of Guinness) along with bobbing bits of onion, potato, multicolor carrots and pickling spices – classic pot roast style elevated by the substitution of savory, salty pink corned beef, you can feast on that for at least a day or two.
And then, the sandwiches begin.
It’s a hard-knock life for pugs.
Just ask our smoosh-faced, too-clever-by-half dog, Gizmo. He leads a harsh and loveless existence under our roof, or so he would lead you to believe with sorrowful, begging moon-eyes. Poor, beleaguered thing has to wait until 3 pm every day for second meal. 3 p.m.!!! Even as the humans gorge themselves thrice daily, Gizmo must endure, starving. He’s not allowed to bark incessantly at the tweeting birds all day for our own protection! and he even has to walk HIMSELF to bed at night *some nights* rather than being carried by human chauffeur as he prefers.
There are times when these cruelties weigh heavy on my soul.
This might be the most perfect fall muffin of all time.
I love me some pumpkin spice as much as anyone, and fully gorge myself on the flavor of the season as soon as the air turns chill. But real-talk time: after a few weeks of spice sensory overload, the universally adored flavor gets a little… tired? Or at least repetitive. Not bad, mind you – put the pitchforks down! Just, too much of a good thing and all. Makes me ready to experiment with something new.