Articles tagged with: apple


The Real Big Apple

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The Real Big Apple

The biggest apple ever?  I think so!  It more than fills my extended hand.  It's a doozy, anyway, and it makes me happy.

OK, of course New York City is the other big apple.  But this isn't about cities, it's about ranches and really big apples.

Where do your apples come from?  Seriously, where do they originate?  For that matter, who's tending the soil that grows any of the plants that you eat?  Where do those people live? 

My food people live all over the world.  Coffee from one place, grains from another, turkeys from somewhere else.  We all know it's pretty global when it comes to food these days.  Many of us are making an effort to pay attention to fair trade and organic and other values when we can.  I hereby acknowledge that paying attention to those things represents a level of privilege than many people do not have.

Because of the secondary costs of shipping food -- like apples -- around the world, it is worth thinking about our food choices and from whom and where they come.  We humans are connected and it does matter.  When apples come from New Zealand or blue berries come from South America, the pollution from that air or sea transport adds up and becomes a cost that the Earth bears.   

I’m no angel about all of this.  The berries I buy in winter don’t come from around here (the Southwest U.S.).  But I do make an effort to buy food grown or produced in the United States and even more locally when I can. 

That’s why I have to give a shout-out to this apple.  It came to me as a gift from a friend, Jeannie, who lives on a ranch in Northern New Mexico, a ranch that has apple trees at least 100 years old.  This apple, she promised, was perfect for pie.  There are many varieties of apples on that old ranch, names unknown, but they can be pegged for what they’re good for:  pie, fresh eating, or applesauce.   And Jeannie was right:  this apple is perfect for pie.

She gave me a whole, full bag of these apples:  what a beautiful bounty.  The actual big apple pictured above is going into my Red Hot Apple Pie this Thanksgiving.  I’m looking forward to sharing this new favorite recipe made with perfect pie apples.

In this season of thanks, my gratitude is especially for such a gift, such a reminder that the best can come from close by, that good apples made into a good pie can be the very essence of the season:  kindness, warmth, and home, shared with those we love.   

Whatever your version of a perfect big apple is this season, I hope you find it and celebrate it!  And, thanks for sharing, Jeannie!


It Is What It Is

Pie in the Andes

Jon & Don liked the blueberry pie

“It Is What It Is”

Seems like it must have been good.  Here they are, Jon & Don, licking their pie plates.

A recent trip to visit Pie Pal friends, Kristin and Jon, took us to their cabin in southern Chile.  Their friends Don and JoAnne (from Montana) are building a home nearby.  With all of us being there together, the occasion called for pie.  Three pies, in fact, in 3 weeks:  blueberry, apple, blueberry, each one adapted to fit the circumstances and ingredients available. 

That’s one of the things I’ve learned over time:  the value of being flexible and adapting.  Being a rather fixed person (my partner might kindly call me strong-willed), it’s been a challenge for me to let go of my own expectations for how things should be.  This “how things should be” framework has two sides:  caring enough to do a really good job on whatever it is, like making a perfect pie for the state fair pie contest, and knowing when to be more in the moment with what is and what is possible and what is good enough.  Sometimes, as Kristin says, “It is what it is.”

How has this change in myself – this willingness to be more in the flow – come about?  Self-compassion.  This self-compassion is about a willingness to see life through kinder eyes, to see myself through kinder eyes: to love this simply human self.  It is about accepting whatever is going on in the moment, taking time to breathe and enjoy this life as it is.

That’s the thing:  It is what it is.  In the moment, we can’t change what is, we can only see it – see the situation, see ourselves, see others – honestly, with compassion, with love, and then go on from there. Rebecca serving pie in Chile

So, 3 pies in 3 weeks: baking in unfamiliar kitchens with stoves that measured heat in Celsius rather than Fahrenheit, making do with the tools on hand [Yikes!  No pie server!], and using the ingredients that were available there, tucked way back in the Andes.  One pie (blueberry #1) was made with my preferred thickening agent brought along with me from home; the apple pie was made with fresh, local green apples piled high (it was Fall there!); and finally, the pastry dough for the last one (blueberry #2) was rolled out in Santiago with a wine bottle (in the absence of a rolling pin).  It was a wonderful feeling to be open creatively and to have the experience of going with what was there.

Here’s to making pie with what’s available, putting love into it, sharing it with new & old friends, and expanding compassion for ourselves and others.  And thank you for reminding me, Kristin!

apple pie in Chile



Top 8 Pie Recommendations for Fall

Apples, Nuts, and Maple...mmmmmm!

Dutch Apple Pie

Nothing like smashing your index finger in a car door to set back blogging and pretty much everything else you do with your primary hand.  So, Deep Dish friends, let me keep this brief!

The Fall season is upon us and it’s definitely pie time.  Here are my top 8 recommendations for pies to enjoy this season in no particular order:

Pick one or two and go!  All recipes are free at

Watch for the November “Pie Pals e-Newsletter,” coming soon, where you’ll get suggestions on how to make and freeze fruit pies for easy holiday desserts, info on the Slow Food movement, Q&A on tapioca in pies, and the recipe of the month.  Not already getting the newsletter?  Sign up here.

Here’s to cozy and sharing pie love with family and friends,


Your Pie Pal


Looking for Love at the Diner

How good is their pie?

Looking for Love at the Diner

It’s kind of like looking for love in all the wrong places.

I was on a road trip with three friends recently and, just in time for lunch, we saw this sign on a roadside diner.  The whole roadside diner idea was appealing:  comfort food, big booths with padded vinyl seating, and a waitress with her name on the back of her belt refilling coffee cups.  Perfect!

The sign promised pie, so we checked out the refrigerated pie case immediately, before even being seated.  Featured there was a selection of fruit and cream options, including cherry, apple, lemon meringue and coconut cream.  The hostess reassured us that, yes, everything was made right there at the diner, just like homemade.  Oh, yum!  This was going to be fun!

The booths were full of local folks, so we settled down at a wooden table for four in the annex.  Sure enough, Betty brought lots of coffee and we ordered everything from country fried steak to enchiladas to a Chinese chicken salad.  Everything was pretty good, given that we were many miles from the nearest sources of fresh ingredients. 

Then the moment we’d been looking forward to:  sharing a piece of pie.  There was lots of talk and we finally agreed on the coconut cream, as it did look the most beautiful and all of us were in the mood for few bites of something sweet and blissful.  And if the pie was shared four ways, no great harm would come to anyone’s diet!

CococreamedShockingly awful.  I mention this not to disparage the café but just to be real with you about what commercially made pie is like these days.  Can you imagine pie so bad that four of us couldn’t finish one piece?  It’s true:  the crust was dense and tough, the filling was starchy to the point of gakky, and the topping seemed to be a cross between whipped cream and plastic.  Really!  We left most of it on the plate.

Do you find yourself looking for good pie and frequently being disappointed by what’s served?  Me, too.

So, my friends, I’m proposing that we once again commit to making pie and teaching others how to make pie and then enjoying it together.  Let’s keep good pie alive! 

And what do you think about making a list of places in the U.S. and Canada where it’s possible to buy a really good piece of pie, based on your experience and judgment?  I’d love to compile a list! 

Start thinking about where you go for good pie in your area and in the next newsletter (Sept.), we’ll set up a system for collecting your personal endorsements and posting them with pictures on a list here at Pie Pals so we can all find that good pie when we’re traveling.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll take more road trips, just for the sake of finding a good piece of pie! 

Yours in the search,


Giving Pie Away

Honoring Local Heroes

Raspberry Rhubarb Pie

Shy at first, staff slowly gathered around the conference table with three round pies in the middle.  “You made these?”  they wondered.

“Yes, for you!”  I answered with a grin.  Their eyes got bigger.

The gift of pie:  made with love, with ingredients from my own mother’s garden (rhubarb, lemons), with the intention of honoring people who do the good work of strengthening our communities.  Often unsung, or at least not thanked directly, they are the people who staff the shelter for domestic violence or rape crisis center, who run the senior center, who work day in and day out for social justice, who do the inglorious work behind the scenes at a hundred non-profit agencies everywhere. Michelle Fuller w pie 1.23.13

January 23 was National Pie Day.  What a great holiday, huh?  What a great day to celebrate pie, and so we did.

The dozen women and two men who work the day shift at the shelter got to have their fill of three kinds of pie:  raspberry rhubarb, deep red beckoning through a lattice crust; apple, overflowing with fruit; and chocolate chess pie, a lush custard that was still a touch warm.  At the ACLU, the staff got to choose between lemon chess pie, that perfect blend of sweet and sour; and cherry, bright and engaging in both color and taste.  At the senior center, the lucky folks there got to enjoy slices of coconut custard, delicate and rich [the Grand Dame of pie]; and Dutch apple, a crumb topping the perfect foil for the soft, tart apples tucked inside.

Here’s a link to the story on the local pie-friendly TV station, KRQE.

And, here’s a special shout-out to two Pie Pals who did this generous work with me:  Sandy Bryan and Havens Levitt.  Both are regular contestants and winners at the NM State Fair Pie Contest.  Both are community-minded and have hearts the size of, well, a big ol’ pie.  Thank you, Havens and Sandy!

Wouldn’t it be fun to line up a whole bunch of pie bakers next year, each with pies ready to deliver to their favorite local heroes?  What if we did that in communities all over the world?

We’ve started a new tradition.  I can hardly wait for next year.

Rebecca Dakota

Pie Advocate

Pie Pal #1


Christmas Trees & Trust

Why We Love Them So!

Christmas Trees & Trust

There is something about a beautiful Christmas tree that evokes trust.  Regardless of one’s spiritual beliefs, there is something universal and primal about the response to such a tree.

The trust almost seems to come from the tree itself.  Trust from the past, reflecting our enduring dependency on trees for oxygen.  Trust in the present because a beautiful Christmas tree’s energy provides complete feng shui* balance and makes us feel good.  Trust in the future because their beauty reminds us to be calm, to remember our own inner light as it is reflected from the tree’s ornaments and lights.  The trees seem to remind us to seek the consciousness of love and compassion, reminding us to care for one another.

We respond with trust to something that feels so right.  The sight of a beautiful Christmas tree can transform us with a sense of connection:  to our own spirits, to each other and to the Earth.  How great is that?!

Wishing you peace and connection, and apple pie,**


*Christmas Tree Feng Shui:  The ancient Chinese system for seeking harmony and the gentle flow of the life force teaches us to look for the 5 elements and a balance between yin and yang in our environments.  The triangular shape of a holiday tree and the lights represent the element of fire, the tree itself represents the element wood, the scent of pine reminds us of earth, the round ornaments represent metal, and the shiny ornaments and tinsel represent water.  The dark tree is yin and the bright ornaments and lights are yang.  Perfect!

**Apple pie for the whole party – “Slab Apple Pie,” now in the Apple Pie section of  It fills a whole 9x13” cake pan, so you can serve many people with one pie!  Special thanks to Pie Pal, Havens, for sharing her recipe.

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