Pretty typical shot of Opie, my favorite rescue dog.
Pretty typical shot of Opie, my favorite rescue dog.
I have so many notebooks - seriously. So I just don’t buy them anymore. Not since I was in college. I’ve never found one that actually “worked.” All the ones I have ever owned, I basically still have, and they are all half written in.
Last summer, when I quit teaching and went to visit my parents, I found a bunch of the abandoned ones and brought them back to Brooklyn. I felt sorry for them….I guess? I tried to use them for some other purpose, like writing lists or keeping track of my spending. But it was too strange to have pages of diary-like stories, or tid-bits from my high school French class taking up the first 50 pages, so those books just got relegated to the bookshelf in my apartment. It makes me pretty sad every day when I look at them. I can’t fit a new novel on the shelf because of those damn things.
All of that business just changed recently, thanks to my trusted friends over at Spoonbill and Sugartown. The notebook for my life, which I discovered just a few months away from 27 years old, is the Apica CD 15 – a Japanese notebook with hand-drawn lines (CD - it even has my initials). It is MY NOTEBOOK. But you can steal it.
I think part of the reason I got into a notebook conundrum early in life was because of buying those marble jobs, with way too many pages for what I ever needed them for. This one, with 60 pages, is just enough. I actually have more than one, and can color code them. This for that. That for this (red for work, yellow for a personal project). And because someone took the time to weave it together, whenever I bend the book all the way back, there’s no damage done (no staples popping, no pages sliding out). And the paper takes super well to my favorite felt-tip pen.
— Susan Orlean, writer for The New Yorker, on getting your start in journalism (via gracebello)
KODAK BROWNIE LAMP by L&B
You know how much we like to tease our products for this Summer, but every now and again we make good on the things we show and let you have a real taste. This is a handcrafted Brownie Lamp, built using a 1916 Kodak Boxer ‘120’ film camera. It features a high-copper-finish socket, threaded wire (courtesy of Craig) and a reproduction Edison bulb. He is available currently! All items purchased before our official launch come with a small gift from us here at Lyla & Blu!
Click here if you are interested! Thank you!
Like any regular American kid I grew up eating my grandmother’s apple pie. Mixed from a box of Jiffy with apples and sugar thrown in, the crust was flaky, the apples equal parts sweet and tart, and every bite accompanied by a mix of familiar spices. We’d always eat it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream at Thanksgiving, next to a sliver of my mother’s pumpkin pie. This was the American tradition of my suburban childhood, and all the perspective on pie I’d ever had. Then I moved to Brooklyn.
A few blocks away from my first apartment in South Williamsburg was a fried chicken joint, popular on the weekends for brunch and bloody marys. They also made pie, from scratch, from a Southern recipe. An obvious amateur in a city of committed foodies, I’d never had better pie in my life. There was so much I’d been missing.
Brooklyn has long appreciated a good pie. Two years ago, the New York Times declared pie the new cupcake. And the trend has been building in Brooklyn. Every August, Prospect Park hosts a Pie in the Park festival , one of many pie-related competitions throughout the borough. And the shops have proliferated around the city. Today, the pie shop that rocked my world is one of the three major shops in Brooklyn that specialize in pie, and is, in my opinion, the best of the bunch.
A TRIP TO THE PIE EXPERT
On an early, rainy morning, we set out for The Blue Stove. Though a few blocks away from the major subways, tucked on the corner of a more residential spot, at 9 o’clock, espresso machines whir, customers populate long wooden tables with their laptops, and in the back, the smell of slightly burnt sugar from pies, cookies and scones already coming out of the oven.
Rachel, who owns the Blue Stove, wipes her hands on her apron and offers us coffee. She’s going to show us the secret recipe to her great grandmother’s apple pie, just in time for Thanksgiving. “All the ingredients are in season, and I haven’t changed a thing about the recipe since it was written down.”
Rachel’s pies are well known in the neighborhood. Aside from the staples such as pumpkin, apple and pecan, she often bakes something like the cheddar bacon apple pie that makes people who never really considered themselves pie people convert on the spot. But she wasn’t always a baker. Like most makers we discover in these parts, she had another job out of school, and found her way into her craft by a series of circumstances. For her, it was while working in a restaurant that she started actually baking. “The pastry chef left at one point, and I said, “could I maybe try the job?”
Eventually she started selling her pies at a Vermont farmer’s market to see if there was something to it. “I wanted to make sure my friends weren’t just being nice.” This led to venturing around the city to take orders at her friend’s offices, baking pies out of her apartment. Meanwhile, she started looking for a space.
MAKING GOOD PIE IS NOT ABOUT BAKING
The really interesting thing about pie is that no two ever taste alike, and even after you find the recipe you love, it takes intuition. “Making pie is a lot more like cooking than baking,” Rachel says. “You have to react.”
Though Rachel’s apple pie recipe has been passed down for generations, she’s made hundreds, thousands of pies, and has a few tricks up her sleeve. Here’s what she told us about making the best apple pie you’ve ever tasted:
She makes a simple crust, sifting flour and salt in a bowl, and adding 1 c. Crisco in two batches, the first one to make a sand-like texture, the second so the dough becomes more pea-sized. Using a pastry cutter, she mixes the dough, adding a ½ cup of cold water as she goes. Then she wraps the dough in wax paper until she’s ready to roll.
The next step is all about the apples. My grandmother used to use the most tart, sour apples around, adding enough sugar to make you think they had macerated for a week. Rachel uses a variety of whatever’s in season. She says the mix of sweeter and tart apples keeps flavors interesting. For each pie, she peels, cores and dices 6-8 apples into ½ inch slices, then sprinkles them with fresh lemon juice to keep them from browning and to aid the maceration process.
Rolling the dough is next. I told Rachel I always spend three days cleaning up after I make a pie. She doesn’t clean up at all. She cuts off two sheets of waxed paper and presses the quarter of dough into a flat pancake between the two sheets. Then she uses a large wooden rolling pin with the handles removed to roll the dough out while it’s still between the wax paper. After rolling flat, she fits it into the pie pan and stabs the bottoms with a fork, replacing the pre-baking process with a quick flick of the wrist. And it serves the same purpose, giving the bottom layer of crust room to breathe and an excuse not to puff up. Sayonara pie weights.
Instead of pouring the apples in, she first sprinkles the bottom layer of the pie with about a half cup of sugar. This, she says, to caramelize the bottom layer as it cooks. Then she follows that up with about ¼ a cup of flour.
In a bowl, she stirs up the diced apples and dumps them right into the pan on top of the crust. Pulling jars of whole spices from the shelf, she grates fresh whole nutmeg over the tops of the apples, making sure to get some on the crust too. “This gives the crust some of the spice and flavor of the rest of the pie, so it’s something people can enjoy too.” She follows that up with cloves, then cinnamon, which she puts all over the top of the apples. “I don’t like it to be too spiced, because you don’t want to take away from the apples.”
For the top, she reverses the process of the bottom layer, sprinkling the ¼ cup of flour first, followed by about ¼ cup of sugar. Strategically, she places four pads of butter evenly around the top of the apple dome, the idea being for it to melt, mix with and intensify all the other flavors. “The pie becomes its own crock pot,” she says. Cinching the top layer and slicing four even slits in the center, she brushes the top crust with milk and sprinkles it with a very thin layer of sugar. The pie bakes for one hour exactly, and comes out with a glazed, crispy crust.
YOUR SLICE IS PART OF A BIGGER PYE
In 1713, English poet William King wrote a poem titled “Apple Pye” which explains how the dessert became so iconic: OF all the delicates which Britons try To please the palate of delight the eye, Of all the sev’ral kinds of sumptuous far, there is none that can with applepie compare.
Pies replaced cupcakes in just a matter of years, but American pie is not a trend.
Pie Image by Sharokh Mirzai
scenes from the weekend. last week to camp. 2012.14.10.