Today I got off work and the sun was actually out! A true rarity in the Pacific North West, a land of gray clouds for miles with little spats of sunshine that tease all of the locals on a daily basis. The only clouds I could see were little white ones hovering over the mountains, and unless the wind changed they wouldn’t reach my doorstep for a couple of days. I mustn’t let this day go to waste, I thought. I’d been spending far too much time inside, and despite my whole four hours of sleep the night before I denied myself the act of hiding in my room and taking a nap. So I called Lainie, one of my dearest friends, and inquired about baking a pie – she eagerly accepted. I smiled, I can always count on her for kitchen adventures.
Yes, on a bright and sunny day, I chose an indoor activity involving a hot stove – who says I don’t make great life choices? In my defense, at least I was inside with another person instead of the usual sitting on my bed watching Netflix. I’m inherently an indoor person, I’m happy looking at a pretty day through a window while I drink coffee and attempting a task of some kind. In this case the task at hand was baking a pie, ideally a fruit pie – let’s go with an apple pie. It’s classic and American.
I arrived at Lainie’s front door with one of my cookbooks. But here’s the funny thing about baking with friends, you almost never do what you set out to do. It seems once you’re in the presence of your fellow baker something clicks in both your brains and a different recipe sounds way better than the one you initially agreed on. This also means that you’ll probably have to go to the store for ingredients. And it’s guaranteed you’ll make something extra awesome, if for no other reason the sheer spontaneity of it all. So we went to the store and got our ingredients for apple crisp.
I’d nearly forgotten about the crisp until I opened the book, but it certainly is way better than pie. I’d never made it before but I’d watched my mom sit peeling apples at least a hundred times as a kid. Apple crisp was always my favorite dessert. In the way that muffins are like cake you can eat for breakfast, crisp is like pie – only better, with a crumbly topping.
There is no doubt in my mind that the key to a successful baking adventure with friends is to select good music. I suggest something upbeat. The music drives the mood, and in turn the tone of conversation. Without music baking turns into a silent endeavor with the only sound in the room being that of wooden stirring sticks and knives against a cutting board. This is dangerous territory that could bring about serious or negative conversations that may ruin the beautiful day. No one wants that, especially when people are holding knives.
And so Lainie and I began our baking. She peeled the apples, since I suck tremendously at the task, and I chopped them up into smaller pieces. I marveled at the texture of the apple. It’s so similar to potatoes in everything from the color to how it felt in my hand, and yet it tastes so much better. Gosh I love fruit. Eventually we moved on to the crumbly topping, we tossed in an assortment of cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar (among other ingredients). Lainie, in her bakery genius, was able to figure out how to make our own Allspice as well as a means to make the recipe fit the dish we were using. And lastly, we popped it in the oven.
And that was it.
Thirty-five minutes later we pulled out our delicious dessert but we didn’t eat any. It’s been six hours and we still haven’t cut it up into slices. We just wanted to bake, not necessarily eat the damn thing. That’s the quirky thing about baking with buddies, after all is said and done eating the desert is not the point. It’s cheesy, silly, and a whole mess of shit you’d see a housewife do on a 1950s sitcom. But sometimes, even on an incredibly warm sunny day, we want to grab a cookbook, turn on some music, dance, and make sugary treats that eventually we’ll share with our close friends.
I gotta say, I’m psyched to try our apple crisp.