Wednesday, October 15, 2014

sweeter than pie

As kids get older, the life lessons they learn tend to get a little more complicated, tasting more sour than sweet. More than ever, it becomes increasingly difficult to stand aside as our children work out their own inner turmoil and unravel the mysteries of life without parental interference. As parents, we spend so much time building our children's wings that we forget to let them try on their own to fly.

Amongst Thanksgiving and birthday celebrations, our son has eagerly anticipated two significant sporting events: a cross country running race and his first swim meet this week. Along with honour band rehearsals, reading assignments, running and swim practices, on top of his regular school work and social life, he's had a lot to manage.

On the morning of his cross country race, our son was extremely anxious and worried that the increased distance he had to run this year (an extra kilometre!) would dampen his chances of doing well and earning a place at the next regional race (only the top 15 get to go). As scenarios began to run in his mind, he started to question his decision to enter the race to begin with, and my witty sweet boy became extremely silent, as if he was transported elsewhere.

We persevered with the morning routine and like a true athlete he became laser focused once we arrived at the running track. Before his race, very few words were spoken as he walked off on his own and collected his thoughts around the track. Although he was able to see and catch up with his friends from other schools, for the most part, he walked to clear his mind and get ready for the event.  Then it was time to gather at the starting line. As tempting as it was to give him one big hug before the race, I stayed behind, standing at the bleachers to give him the space he needed.

When his category began their race, in the distance I could see him run amongst the pack of about fifty kids-with-much-longer-legs-than-him. He held back and for the longest time was in 12th place.  My heart started to sink as it was now my turn to run scenarios in my mind about what he was thinking. Did he lose his motivation?  Is he tired?  Did I feed him too much/too little this morning?

The group was out of sight on the other side of the tracks, and for about what felt like forever ten minutes I didn't know where he was in the race. Did he fall behind? Did he go ahead? Did he stop?

Then I saw the lead runner cross the finish line. Then another. Then a group of five boys appeared around the corner, one of which was my son. As his running coach came to stand beside me with a smile and a "where-did-he-come-from" look, we watched as my son crossed the finish line in the top five! His face lit up like the sun.

On the drive home, he was still quite silent. His body was in pain from over-exertion and he closed his eyes to rest. Once we got home, I could tell he was replaying the race in his mind and with a big sleepy smile proclaimed "It was the best race I've ever ran. I really had to work hard and I'm proud that I was able to still finish strong. I'm totally pumped for my swim race this weekend".

It was at that very moment when I saw a different kind of maturity in him.  His accomplishment at the race taught him that all his hard work paid off because he stayed determined, focused on pushing through the jitters, trusted his own abilities then put his best foot forward.

This young gentleman is learning to fly on his own...

..and learning that lesson is so much sweeter than any possible gold medal or dessert he'll ever have.

Sweet Apple Galette
(makes two galettes, serves approximately 6-8 people).


Like apple pies, you can make this (without baking it), and FREEZE this. You can also make this a day ahead if kept in a container and refrigerated.  If baked from frozen, then bake for about 10 minutes longer, and make sure you use an egg wash on the crust to prevent burning (I also use the pie crust edge shield for this). The caramel filling makes this galette fairly sweet.

  • 8-10 medium sized apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour
  • ½  cup butter
  • 2 ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup of ice cold water
Caramel Filling
  • 3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • 1 ½  cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of nuteg
  • ½ tsp. allspice
Whipped cream, if desired


Make the crust first.
  • Whisk the flour and salt together.
  • With a pastry blender, cut the butter and shortening until the mixture looks like pea sized crumbs.
  • Drizzle the water slowly over the flour until mixed.
  • Form the dough into a ball and refrigerate (for at least 30 can do the apples and caramel in the meantime.)
Peel and slice the apples and set aside.

Make the caramel.
  • Melt the butter in a large sauce pan
  • Stir in flour to form a paste.
  • Add sugar, then water and bring to a boil
  • Remove from heat and add the spices, continually stirring.
  • Toss the apples into pan of caramel sauce, until evenly coated.
  • Roll out the crust dough into two round discs onto parchment paper, approximately 1" thick (and approximately 12" in diameter).  
  • Place the rolled out dough into two pie dishes.
  • Put half of the apple mixture into the centre of each of the pie crusts, leaving a one inch edge.
  • Fold the edges towards the centre.  You don't have to be looks more rustic if it's not perfect!  Or tuck the edges in for a more neater presentation.
  • At this point, you can wrap with the parchment paper, and refrigerate (or freeze).
  • When ready to bake, remove the galettes off the parchment paper and back into the pie dishes.  (You can place on a silpat and then on a baking pan, but this way if there is any spillage from the apples, it the crust will remain it's form.
  • Brush a little milk onto the crust.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes (or 45 minutes if frozen), until golden brown
Serve warm or room temperature, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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