In honor of the 4th of July, here’s an excerpt from a new book I’m working on right now. It’s PG rated and slightly paranormal. But other than that, it’s as American as you get.
On Thursday morning, Sienna woke early and baked more apple pies in Grace’s kitchen. She normally only baked her pies once or twice a month, but her grandmother had called on Tuesday and said that she’d given most of the last apple pie to her friends at the nursing home and she was dying for another. And Sienna knew that Jaydin needed one of her pies. He’d been through a lot of stress in only a few days, and the pie, she knew, would ease his nerves and help him sleep at night. She also wanted to bake one for Avenir. He hadn’t had one of her pies yet, and she thought it would be a nice gesture.
This time she added a few extra details to the pies, too. For some reason, whenever she added these details, the healing powers of the pies intensified. She cut the apples smaller and added a hint of lemon peel. Instead of flower as a thickener, she used a special brand of tapioca that she had to go all the way to Bangor to buy. They sold it at a small gourmet shop, where they also sold other herbs and remedies for healing. The apples had to come from an orchard that was located twenty miles from town, and she had to sort through them to be sure they were all the exact same size. But the two special ingredients that made these pies have stronger healing powers than her regular pies, she thought, were the butter and pastry.
The butter for the pastry and the pie filling had to be made by hand. Not with an electric blender or a food processor. She had to stir and whip fresh cream herself, thinking positive, healing thoughts with each turn of the wire whisk. And she had to add a pinch of sea salt and fold it in gently. Table salt wouldn’t do. There was something about the sea salt that created healing energy.
When the butter was whipped, she chilled it for an hour. And when it was cold, she used her fingers to mix the flour and cold butter together until the mixture formed bit-sized rounds that resembled English peas. Then she stirred in ice cold water until the dough formed. She did this all by hand, and barely worked the dough. The more you worked it, the tougher it became. And the tougher it became the less healing powers it had.
Then she filled each pie shell with a huge mound of sweet, apple filling and topped the mounds with globs of fresh butter, and after that, she went to work on the top layer of crust. The way the pie looked had nothing to do with the healing powers it contained. But she figured that as long as she’d worked so hard on the ingredients, the outside should look fantastic, too. Sometimes she crimped the edges with her fingers, and sometimes she pressed them together with a three-pronged fork.
But on that Thursday, she decided to make the edges of the pies look like the jagged, pointy cliffs of the Maine coastline. So she cut the edges, with a scissor, into perfect points that resembled arrowheads and folded every other one back. Then she brushed the pies with iced cold cream, secured the folded points to make sure they wouldn’t rise, and put them into the oven to bake. She never used an egg wash; it made the pies look store bought and she wanted them to look homemade and simple.