After the Fall Pie

“Don’t forget, it’s the first day of fall,” my sister Melbie tells me on the phone. As I hear her voice, I am sure she is wearing at least one sweater and knows where her boots are. After all, that’s basic survival behavior in the Great State of Maine.

I, too, know that it’s fall, even here in SoFLA: The traffic on I-95 is starting to pick up, the sidewalk cafes in the village are bustling again, and the boutiques are showing pink sweaters with fur trim. And out at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, we are on the look out for migrating birds and we’re starting to get orders for apple pie, pumpkin pie, and squash pie. One more month, and the mince-pie people will be showing up.

There are other signs of Fall, too: The ubiquitous football games on every flat screen in every bar, the faux fall leaves in the shop windows, and the Halloween decorations already up in the Winn-Dixie.

As I talk to Melbie, the idea for an “After the Fall” pie pops into my mind: It should have both apples and pomegranates to signify the mixed myths of Adam and Eve, and Persephone. No doubt at all:  Pomegranate is a powerful fruit, a particular favorite of the lords of the underworld, which would of course include Satan. I think it’s too bad for the lovely, innocuous apple to take the rap for The Fall of Humankind. Mythologists feel it was much more likely caused by Eve’s consumption of pomegranates — and possibly a whole lot of wine.

Persephone also had a pomegranate problem. If she’d never been tricked into eating those seeds, we’d have summer all year round.

Oh, wait a minute. I live in SoFLA. We do have summer all year round.

I’m still thinking about my After the Fall pie, not sure where to go with it. I take a break and listen to the Pogues singing “If I Should Fall From Grace With God,” and it is so jarring that I can’t listen to the whole song.  I’m also thinking about the movie After the Fall, in which Brad Pitt inexplicably never ages, although the rest of the cast appears to be quite gnarly by the end.

After that, I come up with the idea that Eve didn’t just eat an apple. Or a pomegranate. I don’t think it was wine either. No, I’m pretty sure she got into the applejack. Now, if you’ve never sampled applejack, this may not be the time to start. My oh my. Consumed with the right amount of gusto on a crisp fall night, possibly over on the other side of The Swing Barn where Sue Ten has those cute little hard-resin chairs with cup holders, applejack will remove the top of your head and fill your brain with autumn leaves.

So, I’ll just give you a little taste.

After the Fall Pie

First, buy a large bottle of applejack brandy, and prepare your favorite type of unbaked crust with fluted edges.  A 9″ pie plate should be just about right.

For the filling:

Peel & slice six tart apples

Soak apple slices in a cup of applejack brandy overnight, and maybe take a sip or two yourself, just to make sure it’s all right.

In the morning, cream 4oz of butter with 8oz of sugar

When the mixture is light and fluffy, strain the apples and fold them in.

A little lemon zest wouldn’t hurt.

How’s that brandy, anyway?

Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Feel free to have another drink while you wait, or go ahead and make the topping.

For the topping:

Cover the hot apple mixture with a layer of thin pomegranate slices

Whip a cup of heavy cream, then blend in 3 to 4 T of sugar and 3 egg yoks

Cover the pomegranate slices with the whipped topping and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Drizzle any remaining applejack over all.

Chances are, the applejack will have disappeared by the time you get to this step.

And just like Adam & Eve, you should probably go put some clothes on, too.

Birthday cake is good, but birthday pie might be even better

NOTE: This post has been written by Guest Pie Maker Emily Alden Foster.

When my sister turned 8 or 9 or one of those pre-teen ages, she decided she wanted a pie for her birthday. I was disappointed because she wanted cherry pie and I hate cherries. It turned out that my sister was also disappointed with her birthday pie. When it came out of the oven, in went the candles. And by “in” I mean into the pie, because they melted. Ooops.

Fast-forward to my 20ishth birthday, and my dear friend and birth-week-sharer Lauralee’s somethingth birthday, and there’s birthday pie again. In fact, we were so excited about pie at this point that we decided to have a pie party. We each made a pie or two and many of the guests also came bearing pies. It was a horrible, horrible party. Of course it was fun, but there’s something horrible about being surrounded by twelve pies and being too full (or too afraid of a diabetic coma) to eat more than the tiniest sliver of each. Everyone was very thankful when a late-arriving guest brought a savory pie: pizza. The cheese soaked up enough of the sugar that we were able to move and talk to each other again instead of curling in the fetal position moaning and waiting for our digestive systems to cope with the full pound of sugar that each of us had just consumed. For the next week my roommates and I had pie at every meal. I didn’t make a pie again for a long time.

This year I once again turned to the pie for my birthday celebration. (Also for Channing’s birthday celebration, but that’s already been posted here.) This time it was sugar-free, because I’m trying really hard not to eat sugar. I love sugar, but my body doesn’t. The best method I’ve found for making sugar free desserts involves fruit juice concentrate (although technically fruit has sugar, it’s the added processed sugar nonsense that I’m worried about) and in my experience is more delicious with pies than cakes. I take birthdays pretty seriously, and didn’t want to take a chance on having a gross cake, so I went with the peach-raspberry pie. Delicious! We went out for pizza while the pie was cooling. It’s about a half-hour walk to the pizza place, most of which I spent singing a song I made up about pie and how I was going to eat two of them. It was a good birthday. Not at all horrible or disappointing, and with plenty of pie.