Monday, September 21, 2009

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover (or What I Learned From an Apple)

Yesterday I noticed apples lying on the ground under one of my neighbor's trees. The apples were larger than crab apples, but they were a funky shade of yellow and mottled with black spots. They were not the shiny, pretty apples you find at the grocery store. In fact, they were down right scary looking. Imagine Snow White's apple before the evil stepmother casts her magic spell on it; something ugly and gnarled.

"Are they edible?" I asked my neighbor.

"Yes, as long as you peel them. This is the best year we've ever had. I have tons. Would you like some?"

"," I answered hesitantly.

I picked about a dozen off the tree waiting for the tree to smack my hand like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I'm telling you these apples were creepy. When my girls caught their first glimpse of the apples, they both cringed, turned up their noses and shouted, "EEEWWW!" 

I decided to make a pie out of them. Isn't that what you do with ugly apples? I turned to my good friend, Google, typed in BSD's answer to cooking..."Best (insert name of food) recipe", and discovered Grandma Ople's Apple Pie. I had all the ingredients so it was an easy choice.

Here are all the ingredients needed except for the apples. 

Oh, but I did add cinnamon which was not part of the original recipe.

Do you notice anything wrong with any of the ingredients in this picture? Look closely. Very closely. I'm guessing only another woman will figure it out. Are there even any men reading this besides BSD?

Still nothing? Ok...maybe this will help...

Yes, I know. I cheated. I used refrigerator pie crust. Martha Stewart will definitely not be knocking on my door offering me a job in her test kitchen. I'll cross that career off my list. 

That, however, is not what I wanted you to notice. Look at that bright pink label over the picture of the pie. The one that reads, SAVE $1.00 in big bold letters. That's a coupon! What is it still doing on the box, you ask? That is what happens when BSD goes to the store for me. He doesn't use coupons even when I tape them to his forehead before he leaves the house. If he had his way, he'd buy everything we need at 7-11 paying 3000% more than it's worth. 

Maybe there is a career for me in teaching people about shopping after all. I just have to change my target audience to men rather than women. 

Ok, back to the pie. My youngest ballerina was very excited to help me bake. She wanted a job so I taught her how to peel the apples. Yes, she is 5 and is just now learning to use a vegetable peeler. I know you Super Moms out there already have your toddlers yielding the blow torch to caramelize sugar on a creme brulee, but in our house if it involves a sharp edge or fire you need to pass the American Red Cross First Aid exam before you're allowed to touch them.

She peeled and peeled until she had every last apple as naked as she was. I wanted so badly to jump in and peel a few of them to get moving, but I restrained myself. Instead I hung out with her, talked to her, studied her and took pictures of her. I stayed in the moment. Something that is very hard for me to do. 

You see, I'm originally from New York City. We don't stop to smell the roses. We push and shove to get where we're going faster. So, the oven preheated for over an hour. Her sense of pride and accomplishment as she handed over the last apple far outweighed the extra pennies it cost to keep the oven on.

In the end, the pie baked up beautifully. Thank you, Grandma Ople. The apples turned out to be perfect for baking. They were firm and crisp like a Granny Smith, but with a milder flavor. After the initial hesitation to try a bite, we almost didn't have enough apples for the pie. We were eating them faster than we were peeling them. I don't know what kind they are, but they may just be apple nirvana. Move over HoneyCrisps with your $3/lb pricetag and 'special limited edition' availability.

From the simple task of baking a pie, I learned more than how to weave a lattice crust. Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't pick a tasty apple by its skin. Slowing down can get you farther than racing, and the things you discover along the way make the journey worthwhile. Making memories is just as important as making money. 

I still want to do something more, but internalizing these simple life lessons should help me figure out just what the right fit looks like.

Here are the updates I've made to my career possibilities list recently:
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Debate coach
  • Martha Stewart Test Kitchen Baker 
  • Teaching people men how to shop smart

There's still plenty of pie leftover. If you leave a comment, I'll warm up a big ole piece and scoop a honkin' pile of vanilla ice cream on top for you. Enjoy...


Corey Schwartz said...

Aw, that picture of her peeling apples is so sweet!

storyqueen said...

Oh my goodness! That pie looks so good!
(and in answer to your question on my blog, nope, the peppers aren't part of the recipe and the meats not that spicy. Just use a mild salsa!)

Nice blog you have here!


Kim said...

Thank you for stopping by...and for the kind words, Corey and Shelley. I love both of your blogs (and books) so it's exciting to see you here. Come by anytime.

It would be great to have you both over for pie at the same time. I'll even make the "meat" for dinner. What time is good for the two of you? :)


Anonymous said...

Love the pic of the ballerina peeling apples. Does pillsbury really make a latice-top pie crust? That's fancy.

Jenn Bennett said...

That pie looks so good! And as far as I'm concerned, you cut the pie crust into strips and made it into a lattice design, which means home made. Nice job!

Kim said...

Jenn - I like the way you think! Do you think Martha will take me after all? I bet the lucky recipients of your play kitchens will be whipping up tons of homemade goodies!