My dear readers, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news? I got a job. The bad news? I got a job.
As some of you may know, I moved from Chicago to New York back in April and left my job there in order to do so. My educational background is in marketing research (I actually have a master's degree that I got when I was 22 years old, if I may toot my own horn for a second...okay, I'm done now) and I worked at small marketing analytics consulting firm during my time in the windy city. It was nice at first, but toward the end I was miserable, which made it that much easier for me to leave and start something new here in Brooklyn. I had been casually looking for another job in the same field, but after I started this blog, most of my time was spent here. In the six months that have passed this blog has turned into my world, a (mostly) productive way for me to channel my energies. I say "mostly" because sometimes I get down on myself for not being good enough, or for taking shit photos, or for whatever else I can nitpick about. The human ability to create stress out of an otherwise completely stress free environment never ceases to amaze me. All tangents aside, I've learned more than I thought I would in this short time, I've met some wonderful people, and I've developed a deep appreciation for what it means to be a food blogger, a recipe developer, a home chef, a photographer.
Unfortunately, what this new job means for me is that I won't have as much time for good old O&O. Believe you me, this is by no means a goodbye. I could be in a hospital bed and I'd still be updating this blog. What it does mean is that I'll be around less often. Currently I try to post once or twice a week, this might slow down to once every two weeks. Especially as the sun will be setting quite early in the coming days, I'll only have time to photograph my creations on the weekends. To give you an idea, let me walk you through how I made and shot this apple pie. I started working on it at 11:30 am: setting up all the ingredients, weighing flour, cutting in butter, grating cheese, slicing apples, accidentally huffing cinnamon, clumsily weaving a lattice crust, taking photos every step of the way, washing my hands a thousand times over (so I don't get flour stuck inside my camera). I worked until I could no longer take photos as the sun was too far gone, around 5:30 pm. And I didn't even get to cut out a slice! I ran out of time.
I won't be able to do that anymore on a wonderfully sunny Tuesday (that's on top of other days that are full of recipe testing and re-shoots, which I'll spare you the agony of reading about...). I'll have to reserve it for Saturdays or Sundays when I'd much rather sleep in and eat breakfast at 2 in the afternoon, then have my early evening bourbon at 4 and watch tv for the rest of the day. Now, instead of lazy weekends, I'll be cooking, taking notes, and taking photos. All because I've carved out a home for myself here, a little blog home in the vast wild west of the internet.
I'm emotionally torn about all of this. On one hand, I'm really excited to be starting a new job, the people seem very nice, I'm also good at what I do, I like all that data and marketing stuff. On the other hand, I'm finally hitting my stride as a blogger—this apple pie post I'm sharing with you today, I think it's my best post yet (by far), and I want to keep progressing, learning, and aspiring toward all of the bloggers who I admire and look up to. I'm afraid the decision to take on a full time job will set me back. But at the same time, I'm hopeful that having another job outside of blogging will give me some perspective and inspiration, because one thing I am sure of is when all I do is eat, sleep, and breathe this blog, I get stuck. I get stuck easily and frequently, and when I take time off is when the ideas in my head really start flowing.
Finally, since O&O Eats just turned six months old a few days ago, October 29th to be precise, now would be a good time for me to thank you. Yes you, behind that screen right there. Thank you for your support, your kind words, for reading my ramblings, looking at my photos, and being interested in my recipes. What I've discovered is such a positive community of people who love to talk about food and other random topics, and if we haven't ever met before, well:
Hi! I'm Summer, nice to meet you! Tell me about yourself. Your life, your dreams, your favorite flavor of ice cream (mine is Blue Bell banana split).
This is the home I've carved out for myself here, with all of you, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Filling loosely adapted from Fine Cooking
The key to making a good pie dough is to work quickly and keep the ingredients cold. If at any point the butter starts softening, place your mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes before proceeding.
Yields one 9 inch pie.
For the dough:
2 & 1/2 cups (313 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 227 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, packed
1/2 cup ice water, plus more as needed
For the filling:
2 & 1/2 lbs apples (8 to 9 medium, I used a mix of jonagold and honeycrisp), peeled, cored, and sliced
juice of half a lemon
1/3 to 1/2 cup light brown sugar (depending on how sweet your apples are to begin with), packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg plus 1 tsp water for egg wash
To make the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and, working quickly, cut it in with a pastry blender until you have pieces that are the size of small peas. Add cheddar and mix it in with your fingers until evenly distributed. Add 1/2 cup of ice water and quickly bring the dough together with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add more water a tablespoon at a time if the dough is too dry. Once it starts clumping and coming together, transfer dough to a floured counter and gently knead it a few times to form it into a somewhat smooth mound. Divide dough in half, wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap, and let them chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
To make the filling:
Place apples in a large mixing bowl, add lemon juice and toss the apples until evenly coated. In another small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the sugar/spice mixture to the apples and mix until everything is evenly distributed.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch pie pan. Take one of the dough halves from the fridge and transfer it to a well floured counter. Roll it out until it is wide enough to fit the bottom of the pan with an inch of overhang. Transfer dough to the pie pan and gently press it in. Take the second piece of dough from the fridge and roll it out in the same fashion until it is 10 to 11 inches in diameter. You can cut strips to make a lattice crust like I did, or just do a simple double crust (making sure to cut a few slits to let steam escape). Add the apple mixture to the pie pan, but if there is any excess liquid at the bottom of the bowl, make sure to leave that out, then dot the top of the apples with the butter cubes. Place the top crust over the apples. Trim off any excess dough and fold the edges of the bottom crust over the edges of the top crust. Pinch the two crusts together with your fingers or a floured fork. Whisk together egg and water. Evenly brush the pie crust with a thin layer of egg wash.
Place pie on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake on the lower rack of your oven for 60 to 75 minutes. After about 30 minutes, check the pie and if necessary, tent the top with a piece of aluminium foil to keep it from over browning. When the crust is a rich golden brown and the filling is bubbling slightly, remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for at least one hour before serving.