Friday, October 6, 2006

The Devil Made Her Do It

The Queen had the loftiest of intentions this week. As you know, Dear Reader, autumn is well underway and apples are at their peak. I’d planned to write a scholarly treatise on the origins of apple pie (or pye, as our Elizabethan friends called it). I was eager to delve deep, infusing my scholarship with all manner of history and yes, science. As Carl Sagan once claimed, “In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”

It was going to be a long post.


Things began well. I selected the most gorgeous apples from an orchard store brimming with abundance.


I lovingly peeled the tart fruit, tossing it with just enough spice to draw out its flavors. I spooned the mixture into an all-butter crust and eased it into the oven, allowing the aromatic vapors to permeate the kitchen.

So far, so good.

The baked pie emerged full of golden promise.


A short while later, the royal family tucked into it. Still warm, fragrant with cinnamon and sweet with buttery apple juices, it was, perhaps, the best apple pie I’d ever tasted. We’d barely put down our forks before anticipating the pleasurable prospect of pie for breakfast.

Unfortunately, we weren’t alone in our anticipation. As we soon learned, another creature in the house likes apple pie, too.


Those of you familiar with life inside the realm have undoubtedly been expecting this post. Indeed, how have four long months of blogging passed without a single mention of the royal canine – Lucy, our 109-pound Labrador Retriever? Lucy, the plus-size pooch with an….um….eating disorder?

The exploits of Lucy and her appetite are legendary. A box of Krispy Kreme donuts, the entire side of a coconut cake, a wheel of Fourme d’Ambert cheese. Bagels off my breakfast plate (good morning!), candy pulled from a Christmas stocking, cat food, bird food, fish food. A paragon of open-mindedness, Lucy lives by this creed: It’s all good.

She’s a most benevolent hostess; in fact she adores it when we entertain. And while members of the royal family know enough to be on the lookout, not everyone has her number. Young children -- at eye level with dear Lucy – are especially vulnerable, liable to have their wieners snatched from their buns, their Popsicles pulled from their sticks.

Walking with Lucy has its own particular challenges. Her nose constantly twitching, she’s apt to lunge into a bush where she will emerge, triumphant, with a half slice of pizza hanging from her jaw, or sometimes, a dead squirrel. Yes, all good.

The only things Lucy doesn’t like? Wind-up mechanical toys, raw tomatoes, liver pate, and scarecrows.

So really, when it came to pie, we knew it was just a matter of time.

And while the Queen would never wish to incriminate anyone, there’s a certain ruling male figure in the household who left this week’s entry rather too close to the counter’s edge. So close in fact, that it was well within the range of Man’s Best Friend.

You know what happened next.

An intense rescue effort ensued and Lucy’s jaw was pried from the plate containing the poor pie. And though another Lucy (of Peanuts fame) would surely shriek, “Dog germs!” and hurl the remnants into the trash, I suspect that members of the royal family will instead mumble that old adage about a dog’s mouth being cleaner than a human’s -- and discreetly consume the remains of the pie.

After all it is, or was, pretty damn tasty.

But don’t take my word for it.

Just ask Lucy.


Apple Pie

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

Mixing several different varieties of apples gives a wonderful depth of flavor. I used McIntosh and two varieties that I’d never heard of: 20 Ounce (yep, they were BIG) and Fortune.

4 T. flour
1 t. cinnamon
¼ t. allspice
pinch of salt
1 t. lemon zest
¾ c. sugar + 1 T.
3 – 3 ½ pounds apples (approximately), peeled, cored, and sliced
1 T. fresh lemon juice

pastry for a double-crust pie

Place a baking sheet on the middle rack of oven and preheat to 425. Stir together flour, cinnamon, allspice, salt, lemon zest, and ¾ c. sugar. Add apples and lemon juice and toss gently.

Roll out pastry and line pie plate. Spoon filling into pastry. It’s okay if your apples form a mound; they’ll shrink during baking. Roll out remaining pastry and drape over apples. Pinch crust closed. Brush milk over surface of pie and sprinkle with 1 T. sugar. Cut several steam vents into top of pie.

Bake on hot baking sheet for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 40 minutes – or until crust is golden and pie filling is bubbly. Cool on a rack for at least an hour. Store far away from hungry hounds.



At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, funny you should mention it. Chez Currydude is actually run by two cats. They are very adept at running interference for each other... One will be loudly barfing in one of my shoes to deflect attention from the other who is licking the bleu cheese dressing from Mrs. CD's salad.

They are more finicky eaters than your Lucy. Chicken and salmon are their obvious faves. While they have not shown a strong preference for curry, they certainly haven't turned up their cute little noses at a well spiced drumstick or anything that came out of a Tandoor.

So, I am left with the two questions that humans who are owned by cats have been pondering for years:

1) You never see a (domestic cat) taking a dip in the pool or trying to join you in the shower. Cats hate to be wet. So how did they develop a taste for fish???

2) Given their real, natural first choice in entrees, why is there no mouse-flavored cat food?

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of another Carl Sagan quote: "To make damned good apple pie, you need to use biiilllions and biiiilllions of apples."

Then there's the quote from "The Dog Trainer's Guide" by Joseph Greenwald: "Never, *ever* leave pies, especially apple pies, in reach of your dog. Of course, every idiot already knows that."

At 4:16 PM, Blogger bakerymaiden said...

An off-Lucy comment. Might the queen find it in she supreme wisdom to create a jump link to her pastry recipe? I have a heck of a time finding it when I'm actually looking for it!

At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucy has struck again! Having personally experienced having had sandwich making interrupted by Lucy (how does one of such size move so quickly?)I know how determined this lady in waiting can be. This made me laugh out loud. You go girl!
SoCal Sister

At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me second the personal experience by wondering why you didn't add SHOES to the list of items of which Lucy is fond of chowing??? This posting brightened up a very sad weekend chez your lady-in-waiting. Rock on, Lucy!

At 8:12 PM, Blogger The Queen of Tarts said...

Currydude, You have posed questions for the ages -- or at least for the sages. If there are any Big Brains in this kingdom, Speak Up!

sirmarkb, Don't be too harsh on the poor king. Lucy's innocent facade masks a cunning equal to that of Karl Rove.

bakerymaiden, What a capital idea! I think an alphabetized listing of the pies would be useful, too. I'll put Tech Support right on the job.

SoCalSis, She's fond of fluffer-nutter sandwiches these days although she's partial to pastrami, too.

Anonymous, It's a proven fact that dogs can improve anyone's mood. And for a small fee, she's yours for the weekend. . .

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Queen Tart - - I think you and your friends could benefit from my web site. Pieaholics Anonymous. Yes, you people have a problem and need assistance. Please review to determine the extent of your dependency on pie. Thanking you in advance regarding this matter, I am
Sincerely yours,
Pieaholics Anonymous

At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To: Queen of Tarts,
I have really enjoyed your weekly creative concoctions. I would like to propose (for consistancy and quality assurance purposes)having a quality assurance officer to judge each creation. I am offering my services free of charge. I live in Lancaster and will make my self available on Fridays, well most Fridays.

Let me know if you are in need of my services.

Yours truely,


p.s. I have a lot of experience and excellent references.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger The Queen of Tarts said...

Stoneman, Welcome to the Kingdom! The pay is paltry and the calories corrosive, but you care only about making sure the Queen delivers a quality product, right? Thank you for your courteous offer; my henchmen will be in touch.


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