Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's been a while

Hello! I've missed you!
I've just crossed the six week mark in Chennai and have taken to skulking past my blog guiltily. I can't believe I haven't updated for this long. I've certainly been cooking, but it's mostly not particularly pretty stuff that gets eaten as soon as it's cooked. I've made bagara baingan with white brinjals driven in from Madurai and paneer bhurji with the biggest green capsicum I could find. I also baked brownies in a pressure cooker and helplessly watched my batter turn into tough-crusted fudge and then I baked an apple pie under what felt like a feeble tanning lamp. It's the pie I'm here to tell you about.
It was for my young cousin, a baking enthusiast herself who has touching faith in my limited powers. When she asked me to bake her a pie, I couldn't refuse. The pie itself was rather pretty, if I do say so myself. It had a very buttery crust with a hand-crimped edge and pale slices of apple peeked coyly from the lattice work I'd done on top. I rescued my Aunt's ancient oven from a precariously high, dusty kitchen cupboard, assured myself it was working and gently placed my pie inside.
I then sat down with a good book, congratulating myself on a job well done, smugly anticipating the praise I would receive.

 About half an hour later, when I peeked through the glass top, my pie stared back at me lugubriously, looking just like it did when I put it in. No merry bubbling of the sugars, no browning crust, no swelling raisins, nothing. I touched the oven top and it was pleasantly warm, like a handshake on a cold day. It was not, however, the warmth needed for baking a pie. The oven was old, I figured it was simply taking its time and saw no reason to get all heated up about yet another pie. I went back to my book and didn't emerge for another hour. When I did, it was because if I screwed up my face and sniffed deeply, I could detect a faint smell of butter. My pie was baking at last! Or perhaps, baking is too strong a word... Basking seemed more appropriate, when I went to peek at it and the uncooked dough looked back.
I won't bore you any more with this. Suffice to say that when I caught myself crouched on the floor beside the oven at 2 am pleading, "Bake, please bake..." I knew it was time to stop.
The next morning, after about another five more hours of gentle heat, my pie browned slightly and it was enough. The crust, once a thing of beauty, was as tough as tree bark, but the apples inside were still crisp and juicy. My cousin was delighted.
The pie itself was too homely, but in a last ditch effort to save face, I whizzed it in a blender with milk and ice cream and ice and made it into a milkshake that we all very happily chugged down. Placed strategically before the large bouquet of flowers I received for my birthday, it looked almost pretty.

Apple pie milk shake
Apple pie: 1 slice (1/8th of a 9 inch pie) I'll tell you my recipe for the pie once I get it right in a less lazy oven.
Milk: 2 glasses
Vanilla ice cream: 2 generous scoops
Sugar: 1 tbsp
Ice: lots
Simply dump everything into a blender and whiz till it's almost homogeneous. Serve immediately. Don't wait to take photographs.