god and apple pie

Here I go, looking for religion again.
I don’t know why–maybe it’s Sadie who sends me that way, asking her questions. I want someone else to write the answers and to tell me the rules. I want us to sit and take a moment before dinner to thank someone, anyone! for what’s in front of us. Sometimes I’m envious of my neighbor (see? that would make me a bad Christian already) because God intervenes in her parenting so often. Her children are so polite–they have been raised to be good Christians and they are! And then my girls run around them in a little two-girl swarm, telling fart jokes and asking questions about evolution. They say, “we’re Jewish! like Anne Frank!”

We’re working on it, always working on it.
We haven’t yet found the book that gives us the answers. Unless you count this one.

Last year it was pear pie, but this year it had to be apple. We have a a tree that gave us thirteen apples, and they were just holy (and holey) enough for our equinox pie. We don’t seem to be able to find our place with the Jews or the Christians or the Muslims or the Hindus or the Buddhists, but we keep coming back to pie and and the 14 Forest mice when the season turns.

This year it was warm and we ate outside. It rained on our table just enough to cool the pie, misting in the way that my grandmother used to call “God’s spit” and then the sun set with oranges and pinks. It was a real true Harvest moon, and we hopped in the little car and drove around the block twice with our necks craned out the easterly window, searching for the glow of the moon through the hill. Unlike the mice in the book, we didn’t find it. The clouds and hills were working against us. Only Joey ended up seeing the moon rise a few hours later- he perched on the crest of the roof and me grumpy at the window, ashamedly afraid of heights.
And what are we celebrating? Well, this one shouldn’t be too hard. There is the sunset and the spitty rain, and the one year older. There is the now Kindergarten and 2nd graders, the now real writer, the new kids in Joey’s classroom who squeeze his leg. There is the little car, and neighbors, and health, and the house almost finished with all its building. There are friends, and there are things we try to do and do well, and there is town, and all of the world lit up with orange leaves. I could go on, but I’ll cut to it. What are we celebrating? Well, of course there is the pie itself.

This is our apple pie. It usually made in haste, and it won’t win any beauty contests. But on these days when the white pie dish comes out of the cupboard, we are celebrating everything.

I don’t go for a sticky apple pie- I want all fruit and lemon and cinnamon. The balance has continued to change over the years and I assume that it will continue to do so. That’s the thing about balance–it continues to change. I think these front yard apples made the best pie pie yet though If you have those, use them, but otherwise find someone else’s front yard apples. Those will work too. But the celebrating’s good for the flavor too–that and vanilla ice cream.

This Year’s Apple Pie

1 recipe pie crust
3 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 tablespoon rum
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out your pie crust and place one half of it in a buttered and floured 9-inch pie dish. Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss until thoroughly combined. Pour mixture into pie shell. Roll out the other half of the crust recipe and place it on top of the filling. Cut four vents in the top. Bake for 15 minutes- then turn down the heat to 375 degrees and bake for another hour, or until filling is bubbly and the crust is beginning to brown.

I feel like I’ve been waiting for apple week forever, and here we are. This week’s apples can be found bubbling a crunching and spreading joy all over the interne
t. Here’s a start, from the fall fest family:


  1. Alicea says

    Lovely post. We have no idea how we will answer those questions when they start flowing out of our kids. Recently Ben has asked about death but is easily comforted by telling him that it is something that won't happen for a long time. We have lots of books about what other people celebrate and other peoples religions but we don't seem to have our own. I'm not sure that it matters but I think our society wants everything to be neatly tied down with a nice little label. In raising our son I'm learning that there are no labels, no one word descriptors…and I feel the same way about our belief system. I'm not sure if there is a God or a force behind all of this… Sometimes I wonder why it can't just BE…I think that teaching mindfulness is a good place to start…but trust me, your kids are way more enlightened then you think. I saw pure angel in that pic of Rosie with the butterfly.:)

  2. Anonymous says

    Sweet , sweet post, and I'm not talking about the pie. Sorry I didn't get a taste of this one, but your words moved me and made me laugh…thanks, Jamie

  3. Leah says

    We used to take our kids up to the Santa Ynez Valley when they were younger to pick apples. Now that they’re older and busy with other activities, it’s more difficult to find the time. It’s unfortunate, because we really enjoyed doing it. The apples from that region are some of the best I’ve ever tasted (right on par with the wines). I can’t think of a better way to spend an autumn weekend than to go wine tasting and apple picking with the family!

    I haven’t had the time yet this year to write an apple post, but here are a few from the past with recipes that are sure to please every apple lover out there.

    Apple Gouda Quesadillas with Spicy (Spiked) Cider: http://www.wineimbiber.com/index.php/2008/10/trader-joes-tuesday4/

    Chipotle Apple Pecan Cake with the most sublime Spicy Caramel Glaze:

    Apple-Almond Upside Down Cake:

  4. bookjunky says

    That was heartwarming. My family needs more celebrations and rituals like equinox apple pie. I like it a lot. I'm sure you won't mind if I copy cat you. :)

    Re: fitting in; try the humanists, if you can find a group in your area. We're not big on rules, though. They may make it easier but don't you feel kind of sorry for those kids?

  5. Alyssa says

    I don’t know if you’ll see this, Alana, after all this time (and I’m sure you have lots of new thoughts on the subject), but I have been thinking a lot about religion lately, too, in addition to lots of the food-related issues you discuss here.

    Good news: The rules are the easy part. We know them–Muslims, Christians, Jews, Bhuddists, Pantheists, unlabeled human beings–we all know them. Love your neighbor; love the thing that’s greater than your neighbor (call it what you will).
    Bad news: we know they’ve been broken, and that we can’t fix them, in spite of our best efforts. That’s why we’re looking around; if we can’t fix this, who CAN?

    GOOD NEWS! A while back, someone lived who didn’t break the rules. He loved his God and his neighbors. He loved them to the point of death. He loves us still, because he pleased God so much that he was raised to life. He pleased God so much that when God looks at us — the ones who are broken — he sees only the one in whom he is pleased. And EVERYTHING IS FIXED.

    This is not to say that everything is easy. This world is still a work in progress, and we still break the rules. Most of the time we don’t even know how to begin to love, but no answers come thundering from the heavens to relieve our confusion. So, we forget that Christianity isn’t about brushing frightening things under the rug of myth and religion, or being good or perfect; it’s about knowing the one who gave us everything, right down to his goodness and perfection. With knowing comes love, and then we love him with all we’ve got. And all the while, we know that EVERYTHING WAS FIXED on that day a while back when Jesus went to the cross.

    When you wrote this post four years ago, maybe you were looking for an easy out, a success-in-5-easy-steps! guide to guarantee happiness and well-behaved children. But (though I’ve never met you) after reading your cookbook and following this blog, I don’t think so; you seek –for you, your family, and your dear ones–the deeper nourishment and peace of which a good meal is only a part. If that’s the case, than Christ offers this: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29) He has written the answers we seek, though maybe they’re harder than we’d like. “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved!” (Hebrews 10:39)

    And what better way to celebrate than apple pie???!
    With love,


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