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End : Start

You might’ve heard that the year ended. It did! I wasn’t there, but I hear the end went well.

I like New Year’s Eve/Day, for pretty much the same reasons everyone else does: new start, etc. I like having a holiday that aligns with the universe, too, because it reminds me how insignificant humans are. I like the idea of stocking up the house and getting yourself ready to finish the year on a tidy note. Like how if you really stuff up your mat routine in Li’l Gym, you might still come out with a sticker if you nail the landing and really flick those wrists up.

We were going to finish with apricot pie but we eated it.

End of year pie featuring end of year apricots!

The best thing about cooking is the ability to manifest destiny. I had a bag of recently-harvested apricots; I love apricot pie; you don’t have to do the math to see how we ended up at nom. (Quick and dirty sort-of-recipe below.)

My preparations for New Year’s Eve involved baking a mean focaccia (studded with olives, feta and rosemary: more on this matter at a later date), roasting coffee and setting a couple of jars of yoghurt. And, with the last of this year’s cherries, this baby:

EXTREME ANGLE FOR EXTRA DELICIOUS

So even if it wasn’t an apricot pie, it was a damn fine pie to have at the cusp of the years. It’s a simple yoghurt cheesecake, but in the last ten minutes of cooking, I spread it with cherry compote (ingredients: pitted cherries, water, sugar; simmer until thick). Very tasty.

I’ve got a lot of ideas for the new year: I always do. I have things I want to learn to cook, and things I want to knit; I’ve got well beyond a sensible number of books to read (oh staff library borrowing conditions, how I love you) and albums to listen to; I’ve got more amazing things to write and taste and try than a body knows what to do with — and that’s a pretty good way to start the year.

Bring it, 2013!


The quick-and-dirty guide to a pie

  • Take a huge bag of apricots: wash them, if you’re feeling special, and smoosh them with a knife to get the pits out. Aim for the ones that are bruised (but not rotten) first. For pies, bruised fruit doesn’t matter, as long as the bruises haven’t progressed to rotting. Chop everything roughly, add a generous dash of sugar, and some spices to taste — for this one, vanilla and cinnamon and nutmeg (easy on the nutmeg, heavy on the cinnamon).
  • Microwave your fruit until it’s thick and pulpy. Probably not more than ten minutes, but stir it every two minutes to keep an eye on it.
  • Meanwhile, make pastry. I got M to do it. Take a couple of cups of flour and a pinch of salt, add some melted butter and mix it all into breadcrumbs (generally, you want a ratio of two parts flour to one part butter, by weight), then add enough cold water to bring it together into a dough. Chill for half an hour or so, then roll out and make it into a pie bottom.
  • Cook the pie bottom (about 180°C) for however long it takes: get it fairly well-cooked, because you’re about to fill it with soggy apricot filling.
  • Once your pie bottom is brown, fill it with your apricots: add some strips of pastry for decorating if you’re keen. Otherwise, you’ve got yourself a tart and there’s no shame in that.
  • Bake for around an hour (still at 180°C), which will give you enough time to reflect on the wisdom of having the oven on and baking for around an hour in the middle of the summer.
  • For God’s sake don’t eat the pie as soon as it’s out of the oven or you’ll have horrible mouth burns. And it’ll melt the ice cream. Show some restraint, for crying out loud.

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