Anyway, the story seemed filet - o - fishy to me when I heard it (I'm so sorry, I had to do it. And I cringed, too - trust me). But what's really unsettling is that I actually started to get nostalgic. Before you scoff, be assured I have already scoffed at myself while writing this, but allow me to spin a yarn in an attempt to explain my sentiments.
When I was a junior in college, my roommate was an artist named Tadashi Koizumi. At the time, I was an undergraduate sculpture major and he was a graduate student studying metal smithing. To this day, even though I haven't seen him in six years, just the thought of him makes me smile and fills me with joy. He is one of the most talented, humble and hilarious people I have ever met. I have so many good memories of Tadashi, but I will only share this one with you today.
Tadashi lived in the studio. Everyday, no matter if it was a weekday, weekend, holiday or hail storm, he was up, dressed and in the studio working by at least 6 am. He would remain there until sometimes 10 or 11 o'clock at night. In fact, even though we roomed together, I think I saw him more in the studio than I did in our apartment. Late one evening, I was at the kitchen table working on my computer. Tadashi came home with a giant smile and a Macdonald's bag. He had bought Macdonald's apple pies for us to share. We sat on the floor in our living room and ate and talked until the wee hours of morning about everything and anything. Two strange creatures from two very different worlds, unsure about the future to come, finding solace in a makeshift meal and each other's company. I will never forget that.
The fear of losing something or someone can be abated by recalling those memories. Making food is an essential exercise in keeping connections alive. I often forget that maintaining friendships and relationships is a practice, just like cooking is. And to be honest, it's a practice I have never been very good at. What I have noticed is that I don't reminisce with the same yearning that I once did. I don't particularly want to return to any past time, even if it was joyful. I want to move forward and I am content with letting certain things go. The most meaningful connections are never truly broken, they just fade.
Honey Crisp Hand Pies
Makes 10 - 3 x 5" pies
1 recipe for pie dough, or 1 package of storebought pie dough
For the filling
1 tbsp (1/2 oz, 14 g) unsalted butter
4-5 (16 oz) honey crisp apples, peeled, cored, 1/2 in dice
1/3 cup (2 3/8 oz, 66 g) granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp instant tapioca
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
For the assembly
flour, for rolling out the dough
1 egg, beaten with a bit of water or cream
Sugar, for sprinkling
For the filling
Toss the diced apples, sugar, tapioca pearls, spices and salt together in a bowl.
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over low heat. Add the apple mixture to the butter and cook gently over low heat until the apples are just soft - about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature. You can also store the filling the fridge for up to 1 week.
For the assembly
Remove one portion of the cold pie dough from the fridge. Lightly flour your work surface and begin rolling it out to about 1/8" thick. Cut it into 3 x 5" rectangles. Re-roll the scraps and continue this process with the remaining dough until you have 20 rectangles. Divide 10 rectangles between two sheet trays lined with parchment paper.
Spoon no more than a a tablespoon of the apple filling into the center of 10 of the rectangles. Don't be tempted to overfill them. Brush the edges with egg wash and then top the filling with the remaining rectangles of dough. Seal the edges with either your finger or a fork and then poke a couple of holes or cut a few small slits into the top of the pies so air can escape. Continue this process until you have 10 pies assembled.
Chill the pies in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. Remove one oven rack and position the remaining rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat to 400 F.
Before baking, brush each pie lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake the pies at 400 F for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 375 F. Bake for 15-20 minutes more in the center rack until they are well-browned and the filling is bubbly.
Let the pies cool slightly, then enjoy!