Monday, August 27, 2012

Being New & an Apple Tart

Being the new kid at school was never fun. I still find it disheartening to navigate my way through events, days, and mainly my life with the distance of being new to it all. It's part of the process and in time it will fade, but it touches a soft spot that has been with me too long. The across the world move is behind me, but absorbing all the new-- town, school, people, ways, has tapped me.

Sorting and unpacking in the craft room, I found a card from an old friend along with a bag. Inside I found pieces of blue and white pottery that had been collected from the beach, washed, and wrapped in tissue paper. We had sat on the beach and talked of making things earlier in the summer. She had so thoughtfully remembered our conversation. I am sorely missing my old friends.

At church on Sunday I chatted with a few incoming freshman at the university. I had to laugh at myself a bit since I identify with them more than anyone else right now-- not quite sure of the adventure ahead, wondering about new friendships, and with only a vague idea of what I'm doing in town.

Oh to be new and shiny when I prefer to be dusty and used.

I also keep meeting women from New York City, three of them so far. One told me the story of crying from New York to Ohio. Another married a hometown boy like myself. Another, moved here, planted a garden, and got involved in her community. None of them regret it. One of them shared this lesson with me, "It's a small town. People know each other or know of each other or know someone who knows someone. It makes people gentler."

As I sat in my child's desk in front of the second grade teacher, I had a million questions. I tried to ask only three or four. The mother next to me shared that she had met my husband during his job interview. Small town.

There was no rock paper scissors game for who would be the class representatives for the parent teacher organization (PTO). The teacher instead pointed those interested in the PTO to a sign up sheet near the door. I signed up for nearly everything, a promise to myself honored. I have a big debt to pay to all the Japanese mamas who did it when I couldn't in Japan.

If I could visit my old friends in Japan or invite some new ones over, I might have a fruit tart with a cup of tea. I also have a diet theory that if you make everything from scratch, it reduces the caloric impact.

My current favorite dough recipe is from David Tanis' A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes for the apple tart. I first learned of the egg in the pie dough recipe from my grandmother, but I have not used it for a long time. This tart recipe is straightforward and simple. Tanis arranged the recipes in the book by meals and season which means that there are several menus for each season and that each menu offers a gracious pairing of food and dessert. I really like that the pairings are there even if I just keep making the desserts.

It is easy to pull together and you can sweeten the apples more or less to your taste. The original recipe calls for a cup of water and a cup of sugar to be boiled down to a syrup to brush onto the tart after you cook it. My clan likes to taste their fruit so I only used a quarter of a cup of water and sugar. Everyone was happy, even the Mule approved (and the breakfast tacos which you need to try if you haven't yet).


Apple Tart adapted from David Tanis' A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes
Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Cut 2 sticks of butter (1 cup) into the flour mix using a pastry cutter or a food processor until the flour uniformly resembles crumbs. Chill some water over ice. Mix an egg in a measuring cup and pour ice water to make it an even 1/2 cup. Gently form the dough into a ball, best by hand. Chill the dough at least 20 minutes, Tanis recommends . Peel, slice, and core about 8 (sizes vary) firm sour apples. Cut them thinly. Roll out half of the dough into a rectangle pan and form a crust. Stack the apples like dominos into the pastry, nice and tight, make rows. Bake at 375ºF/190ºC for about 40 minutes. Bring to a boil the same amount of water and sugar, I used 1/4 cup each, and then reduce to a simmer 5 to 10 minutes or until thickened. Brush the syrup onto the cooked apple tart. Cut and serve warm.

Use the remaining pastry for the Fresh Peach Pie!

Apple Tart