“Do you want to make a pie?”
We have a number of fruit trees in our backyard. Most of them are of the citrus variety, appropriate to the terrain. But we also have an apple tree.
A lot of our fruit gets picked over by birds before we get to it. We have a large fig tree beside our driveway, but almost all the figs get eaten up by the flyover avian traffic, who later, figs being digestion enhancers, drop numerous unwanted deposits on our outdoor furniture.
The ten or so apples that our recently planted apple tree produced, some normal sized, some smaller, had so far been left untouched by the non-human inhabitants which whom we share the neighborhood though not always compatibly. At Dr. M’s suggestion, we determined that, this time, we should beat them to the punch, extract the apples from the tree…
And make a pie.
Which I have never made or helped make, though I have observed pies being made in the past, and have most happily eaten the results.
At this point, let me inject a word about me and cooking. Knowing I am in trouble here, whatever I say.
In other writings, I have described myself as a member of an identifiable cohort that I have labeled, “The Men Who Lost Dinner.” It’s a generational thing, by which I mean that in every generation throughout history – except mine – the women prepared dinner, and the men ate it.
It’s different now.
And to be honest, though that “change” is no longer recent, the consequent disorientation has not entirely worn off. (It takes time when there’s a behavioral alteration dating back to when Eve cooked for Adam.)
You know, bigots – I like to bring in bigots to make me sound less disgusting by comparison – not meaning to be any kind of an apologist and certainly not for the “Implacables”, but some people were once bigots of one sort or another, they eventually saw the light, or had “the light” shone very powerfully in their eyes, and they changed.
But not overnight.
Just because something is right does not mean the relocation to that position is immediate and automatic. There’s a necessary “adjustment period” required. And then, hopefully, you move on.
That is, more or less, me and cooking. I am gradually (some might say too gradually) getting the picture.
So when I’m invited to join in the baking of a pie, I am skeptical, but unscoffing.
“Let’s do it”, I reply. (Almost entirely sincerely.)
And so we do. Me, donning a protective apron with a Passover motif – it’s a matzo-designed print – and off we go.
Acknowledging an imbalance in our experience, I am inevitably the sous-chef, hauling out ingredients, leveling the measurements with the flat side of a knife (to insure accuracy), rinsing off utensils that will be needed again, and, my most challenging responsibility – peeling the apples.
Although we have a specific apple peeling apparatus, neither of us knows how to use it. So I employ a carrot scraper instead. It works acceptably well on the larger apples, but on the smaller ones…
INJURY REPORT I slice the underside of my left, middle finger, which I immediately self-medicate with Neosporin and a Band-Aid.
INJURY UPDATE: I will not miss any games. And, in fact, I returned courageously to this one. Though reassigned to less dangerous activities. (Turning on the oven.)
In the meantime, the chef, consulting two cookbooks, did all the fancy work. Which included preparing the crust. (Recently Learned Cooking Tip: Hardened butter is recommended to hold ingredients together and avoid “crust crackage.”)
We work easily as a team – efficient, cooperative, productive and cheerful. The entire effort (not counting the baking) takes an hour-an-a-half. But to be honest, it felt like… I won’t lie to you. It felt like an hour-and-a-half.
There was something special about the collaboration. I don’t know, it’s like there’s this natural, age-adjusted progression created for couples:
You start out – you produce children. When you're done with that, you remodel your house. When your house is finished, you take extended vacations. And now…
A new pleasure of its own kind.
And in the end…