Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Everything Good To Eat: Apricot Pie

"Summer was everything good to eat; 
it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape." 
~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

This is the point of summer when I'm savouring every detail, every day. The way the warm breeze flows into the house at night, moving the curtains just so. I know the cool nights are coming, but I'm not quite ready for them. I'm thoroughly enjoying ice cream on the patio, as the dragonflies swoop under the trees, which are beginning to change, but I pretend I don't see the yellowing of leaves. Whenever I put on a pretty summer dress, I feel the fabric and admire the way it swirls about my hips, all the while thinking that this could be the last time I wear it this year. End of August always has me feeling a little choked up, like I'm saying goodbye to a lover, forever. I savour every moment we have together, whether it's driving out on country roads to look at the stars, or one last dip of the toes in the lake. Late August has me feeling like this Cat Stevens song and I'm not sorry.

As with every summer, there are people I wanted to see, places I wanted to go, and things I wanted to do, but alas, sometimes the stars just don't align to make it so. But, there will be no complaining about what wasn't when there was so so much. I adopted another stray cat. His name is Bobby, and he's got the softest black fur and I'm happy he's living with us, off the mean streets of Saskatoon. His favourite thing, after food, is having his little face gently rubbed. I do this about once on the hour. He's adorable, and my heart leaps every time I see his little face looking at me. When not rescuing cats, my fella and I slipped away to Toronto in early July. We ate all of the gelato and pizza in the city, went on a tall ship harbour cruise, saw my other boyfriend Dave Grohl in concert, and saw some old friends. It was glorious. It was also a nice little celebration after I found out that my cookbook was shortlisted for a Taste Canada Award in the Best Single Subject category. I'm still riding high from this! We'll be heading back in October for the swanky gala. Guess I should start looking for a dress! The summer also saw plenty of backyard hangs, cups of cold brew and good, good food.

I should mention that I'm also eating so much fruit. Like so much. Fruit will never taste as good as it tastes now. Peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, berries, watermelon, cantaloupes. You name it, I'm gorging hardcore. Whatever I can't eat fresh, I'm baking into pies and or blitzing into smoothies, or folding into pancakes. It's a glorious time to be a fruit lover. Hence, this pie. I love this pie. Apricots, I can take or leave when they are raw, but when they are baked, they get jammy, and their flavour is even more pronounced. It's a simple recipe, taken from Ruth Reichl's gorgeous book My Kitchen Year. She says to go ahead and tear the apricots apart with your hands, and I second that notion. Simply pull them apart, discard the pits and pile high in the pie shell. There's no added sugar or flour to the fruit. Just pure, straight up apricots.

Have I mentioned how easy this pie is yet? Seriously so easy. Once the apricots are in the pie shell, top with a buttery, brown sugar streusel, which is, for lack of a better word, amazeballs. Sometimes it's nice not having to worry about a top crust, and this streusel fits the bill nicely. Just melt butter and stir in brown sugar and flour, plus a dash of freshly grated nutmeg. It's so damn good. Bake the pie for about an hour, and when you've tired of waiting for it to cool, carve out a slice for you and your best people, and top with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream. The apricots will be wonderfully soft, but not mushy, and their tartness will be tempered by the sweetness of the streusel. It's a gorgeous balance, alright. And, how gorgeous is that colour? If there are any leftovers, they make a dandy breakfast - especially with a dollop of vanilla yogurt. Or you could just have ice cream again. Go ahead and live your best life.

Apricot Pie

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (you can even use frozen, in a pinch)
2 pounds fresh apricots, pitted and torn apart
1/2 cup melted salted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Fill the pie shell with the apricots. Stir the brown sugar into the butter, then stir in the flour, nutmeg and salt. Spoon the topping over the fruit and place the pie on a baking sheet. Put the pie on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350F and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until the top is deeply golden and the apricots bubbling. It should also smell pretty fantastic. Let cool for about an hour then serve. Makes 6 slices. Recipe from My Kitchen Year, by Ruth Reichl (Random House, 2015).

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