The height of summer always makes me slightly crazy - all the berries are on, the heat brings down early apples and I yearn to bake pies and make jams. But sometimes it's a toss up if it's hotter outside than in an oven... not the ideal time to be baking or cooking over a stove for days at a time.
This week I'm going to be making red onion jam, pesto and at least a half dozen apple pies. The onion jam simply is too good on roasts and sandwiches not to have gallons on hand for the winter when it will release its summery flavors and memories when we need them most. Pesto is one of the most addictive foods I know and yes, I use real pine nuts, cost be damned. The apple pies won't survive more than a day or so due to the sweet tooth of people who shall remain nameless but keep asking when I'm going to "do something" with the big pile of windfalls that are reddening in the sun.
I love to make creative foods, experience new cuisines and whip up things that are impossibly, insanely good together, taking vast amounts of care to make them as beautiful as they are delicious. But in the heat of the summer, the allure of a pie trumps all the dark chocolate truffles I could make. Pies are earthy, basic, and simply yummy. A rich buttery crust decorated with pastry leaves and glistening with crunchy crystals of sugar competes with the warm spices and tangy fruit.
People have been baking pies for thousands of years in one form or another and there's lots of good reasons. It's summer. It's hot. The fruit won't wait. They taste like the Earth herself has given you a gift (She has, by the way). And if you put them on your window cill to cool, as my grandmother did, they are sure to lure neighbor children from play and sweet-toothed spouses from behind computer screens. It's a tradition as old as the oven itself and it's as easy as pie.