Wednesday, December 09, 2015


The only kind I make...
I spent this past Sunday morning at the local yoga center. As I headed home at 1, my head was full of plans to make latkes for the first night of Chanukah that evening. It would take most of the afternoon, sure, even if I did use a mix; but that's what you have to do when you're Jewish. Oy, how we suffer...

When I got home, however, I found Larry in the kitchen, surrounded by apples. Peeled apples, chopped apples, apple peels, apple cores - there was a huge bowl of sliced apples, plus a smaller one. Larry was assiduously slicing MORE apples and placing them on a plate that was balanced on my yarn scale.

"Um..." I began, not sure where to start.

"I KNOW what I'm DOING," Larry said, as he continued to slice and weigh.

"Okay," I said. "Just, what are you making? Pie?"

"Yes!" said Larry, proudly. "Pie!"

"A lot of pie?" I couldn't help asking. Really, there were enough apples sliced up for 10 pies, at least.

"There - that recipe," Larry said, motioning to a piece of paper on the table and then returning to his apples. I looked at the recipe, something from the New York Times titled apple-cranberry slab pie. I noticed the table was covered with things - what looked like a huge mound of grated ginger, another plate with grated nutmeg, a small bowl filled with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

People, this was like leaving your toddler at home with fingerpaints and returning to find him trying to paint oils on canvas.

"Um, Larry," I said, "why are you weighing the cut-up apples?"

He took the paper from me. "Right here," he said, pointing, "it says 6 1/2 lbs apples."

I almost died of the cuteness right there.  I mean, he was so earnest, it was adorable. "Larry," I said, "listen - that is for shopping purposes. You buy that much, but they don't weigh that much once you peel them and core them. I really think you can stop now, okay?"

Larry looked at the paper, puzzled. "But they don't SAY that," he said. "Why don't they say that?"

"You're supposed to know.  Don't worry about it, just stop with the apples, all right?"

He kept shaking his head and staring at the recipe. I could have sworn I heard him mutter "Bitch set me up" under his breath, actually. "Larry, let it go. Hey, what's this?" I asked, picking up a spice bottle from the table. "Whole nutmeg? Where did you even find this? Did you grate this stuff by hand?"

"Well, it says right here," he said, pointing to the recipe again. "Grated nutmeg - what else was I supposed to do?"

"We have some already ground up in the pantry, you know."

"But it says grated," he insisted.

"Yeah, but it says ground cinnamon, too," I told him. "Did you grind the cinnamon bark, then?"

Larry grabbed the paper again and looked. "Shoot!" he said. "I just used that cinnamon powder stuff in the pantry. Do you think it matters?" He looked panicked.

Really, it's too easy to tease him. I shouldn't. But I did. "I don't know. You really messed up there," I said.

He was still staring at the paper and muttering as I left the room. Half an hour later I went to check on him. He was pulling out a rolling pin. "Did you already make the dough for the crust?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, removing some blobs of dough from the refrigerator. "They're right here. I just have to roll them out."  He plopped them on the counter next to the rolling pin and stood there for a minute, looking at them. Then he looked at me. "So, uh, what do I do here exactly?"

Again, the cuteness. "I'm pretty sure you'll figure it out," I said. "Just flour that counter really well. Do you have to do a top crust?"

He grabbed the piece of paper with the recipe on it again. "Top crust?" he asked, looking at the recipe. "I guess so. I haven't read that far ahead," he said, sounding annoyed at such an obviously irrelevant question. "It's...I don't know. Read it!" he finished, handing me the paper.

Turns out, the recipe called for using Christmas cookie cutters to cut cute shapes out of a third of the dough. Larry was supposed to arrange the shapes on top of the pie. Say what you like, that man likes to go BIG.

Really, NYT? You call that a top crust?

"Look, Larry," I said, "you have to ignore this. Just roll out that last part of the dough and cut it into strips." I found some Internet pictures of a lattice-top pie, to show him what he was aiming for. "This other thing - it's just crazy talk."

You know, he actually took my advice for once. Or maybe he couldn't find the cookie cutters - that's a possibility, too. And finally, in the late afternoon, he proudly removed a slab pie from the oven, which was great, as there was no way that we were getting any latkes for dinner at that point.

So, Chanukah - candles, dreidels, and apple-cranberry pie. Because all traditions can use a little tweaking.

Not bad for a beginner - not bad at all


  1. Aw, I love this post. Reminds me of when my 8-year old son wanted to make this weird pretzel jello salad thing we saw someone make on PBS, and he misunderstood the way the ingredients were laid out and nearly added a cup of salt to the mix. (It said a cup of sugar, then simply said "salt" and he didn't know that meant a pinch, so he thought the cup part was for both things.) I explained that no edible substance had that much salt, but he just kept pointing to the recipe and asking how I knew.

    So was the pie good?

  2. Nice work, Larry! It looks great! My only question is...who had to clean up the mess that I know had to come from that? ;)

    1. This is exactly what I was going to say!

    2. He did a lot. But he hadn't bothered having the kids empty the clean dishwasher before he started, so I made sure that got done and that another kid loaded the sinkful of dishes already there. It was a team effort, in other words.

  3. Mm...pie! Totally what's for dinner. And look- he not only supplied you with entertaining blog material, he saved you hours of work making latkes!

  4. Great story. "A" for effort! My husband wouldn't even try, but Larry gets extra points for actually making it to the successful pie ending!

  5. Oh, goodness, you had me at, "People, this was like leaving your toddler at home with fingerpaints and returning to find him trying to paint oils on canvas." What a wonderful memory you have created!

    Maybe he'll try dinner next!

  6. The painting comparison -- ha!
    The pie looks delicious, the story you've shared here is even better. (Well, I still want to eat pie now.)
    I use the cookie cutter shapes as a lattice top crust all the time. Just find a pattern you like and go for it! If you've seen pictures of my rhubarb custard pie, you know what I like to do. Weaving raw dough is beyond me.

    1. I don't think he bothered weaving it. He just laid one set of strips horizontally and put the vertical ones on top of them.

  7. What a wonderful story! You have a great husband. Mine says he will learn to cook/bake when he retires. I can't wait.

  8. LOL, great story and he did a great job. Certainly better than deciding to paint an hour before Thanksgiving Dinner. :-)

    1. And since Chanukah is several days long, you can make latkes later on.

  9. I love this! My husband is the cook in the family, so usually when one of my baking projects is about to go south, he can usually help me out.

  10. I'm charmed by ALL OF THIS. He's no half-way kind of guy, is he? That is fantastic.

  11. That looks wonderful!!!!!