Sunday, October 14, 2007

I could have stayed home and baked cookies...**

Most people know who uttered those piercing words, renewing the debate about the role of woman at home versus woman in the workplace. My reaction, at the time, was one of simple confusion. Fifteen years ago, when my children were babies I was very focused on my career. I loved my work, I loved my children and I loved to cook. Why couldn't I do it all?

Over the years my children had lots of home baked cookies and lots of store bought ones too. It doesn't matter if you're a "full time, at home" Mom or a "work outside the home" Mom... you are still going to get that short notice announcement, from your child, that they need to show up at school, tomorrow, with 34 cupcakes. Time, in the end, will dictate the result...if the supermarket is closed, you bake until midnight.

My children have learned, over the years, to give more notice. Now that they are older, they take more responsibility for ensuring that the right food, in the right form is available at home. Either they put it on the shopping list, buy it themselves or learn to cook something to their liking from the ingredients available.

What has changed from 1992, is the workplace. It moved. I used to go into the office everyday. Dinner preparation started when I got home. Now, I may not even leave the house. To support this new global economy, my conference calls can start at 7:00 am. It can be noon before I know it and I still haven't made it to the door, to get in the car, and drive to the office. With today's technology, one can work from almost office building, a plane, a train, your own kitchen table or the local coffee shop.

So one of those days, when I found myself still at home at noon and debating the feasibility of a trip to the office. The phone rang. Daughter #2 had a break in her school day and was calling to tell me some good news about the results of a very difficult test she recently took. After the animated chatter came the real reason for the call. She asked if I would bake her an apple pie to be ready for when she came home from school.

She had hit my weak point. I absolutely love baking pies. But, I rarely do anymore because, oddly enough, my family does not like eating pies. So, unless I can give them away, they go to waste. Why, I asked, did she want a pie? I knew she wouldn't eat it. Because she wanted to come home to a house that smelled like apple pies baking.

Did this request fall under the category of last minute demands? If I dashed out and bought an apple scented candle, would that suffice? I really didn't have the time to make an honest to goodness, something I would be proud of, pie.

What I came up with was an Apple Tart. Very fast, very easy, and makes the house smell like apple pies are baking.

Apple Tarts

3 firm apples (Cortlands, Granny Smiths, etc.) peeled and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Puff Pastry (1 package, prepared, thaw if frozen)
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Sprinkle the apple slices with the lemon juice. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out the puff pastry to 1/4 inch or less thickness. Cut the pastry into circles, almost as large as the dish you plan to serve it on (about 8 inches in diameter.

Place circles on cookie sheet. Arrange apples around pastry, leaving about 1/2 inch outer rim. Dot each pastry with 1 tablespoon of butter and sprinkle each one with a tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and dot with the rest of the butter and sugar. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Bake the pastries for 10 minutes more.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Even Hillary adapted and went on to create her own Chocolate Chip oatmeal cookie recipe.

** "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life." (Hillary Clinton, March 26, 1992)


Lydia said...

Years ago a friend taught me this same method of making simple apple tarts. I'm still not much of a baker, but this is one dessert that I do make that never fails to please.

T.W. Barritt said...

Ha! The tart is beautiful, as is your ability to balance business, family and culinary demands!

Daniela said...

Ooo I have a bushel of apples and this is what I'm making with them. Of note, I'm also making your leek and potato pie this afternoon.

Diane said...

Lydia, this is incredibly easy. But I suspect you're a pretty good baker too.

t.w., thanks for the encouragement. Balance is a state of mind!!!

Daniela, hope you enjoyed the leek and potato pie...its a great recipe.