A Different Kind of Love

Valentine's Day has always been a mixed bag filled primarily with slightly overly bedazzled expectations brewing since the My Little Pony Dream Castle days. This bag pretty much remains overstocked well after Valentine's Day passes like the unsold candy hearts Now On Sale!/Half Price! at drug stores. And to be honest, if anyone genuinely managed to 'satisfy' those expectations (except my dad's always adorably, and unknowingly, cheesy gestures or my friend's adorably, knowingly, cheesy gestures), I probably wouldn't dig them so much. I guess at the core I'm really just not a dozen red roses and heart-shaped box of ooey, gooey chocolates kind-of-girl.

This morning, while shuffling into the kitchen and wiping sleep from my eyes, still clad in my buttons-now-popping-at-the-seam-around-the-belly union suit, Fred had a song playing on the stereo while he made us coffee. It sounded familiar. I had heard it before. And I knew that voice. Then, as he looked at me and started lip syncing to it with his air mic, I realized it was the song he wrote for me, about me, and played for me the on our first Valentine's Day (also as I shuffled into the kitchen for coffee in my much cuter, and nicely fitting jammies) on our first trip away together at his family cabin in Inverness.

Wait. That is so ooey, gooey, My Little Pony Dream Castle days daydreaming material. Oh, baby.

Oh, baby. And yes, then there's that. This brand new, different kind of love happening. It's true, and I feel funny admitting it, but this morning, before I rolled over and kissed Fred, or even said good morning or Happy Valentine's Day, for that matter, I put both of my hands on my belly for a long moment. Every molecule of my being swelled with a huge, red, heart shaped love for this little girl I'm - we're - making. Just think, next year all three of us will be in the kitchen in our jammies listening to the song daddy wrote for mommy when they first met and fell in love.

Another, and also different kind of love (perhaps fondness) has been growing in me since last Valentine's Day. This is an unlikely love; kind of like King Kong and Ann Darrow (the Fay Wray version, of course). If none of you have noticed, I've been baking a lot. But have any of you noticed how much I've been baking with fruit? Well, I have. I've even been making my own smoothies for the past few weeks. Granted, I'm only brave enough for two fruits intermingling thus far – banana and orange with some yogurt and bee pollen. Baby steps!

Oh, baby. There it is again. And speaking of her. And fruit. It's a good thing I'm inching my way out of my fruit issues, because I'm likely going to be knee deep in the stuff. The ooey gooey worst kind of the stuff, too: applesauce. Oh, lord. I can't. I just can't. Not yet.

But, for this Valentine's Day, I made a baby step forward, away from my fear of cooked fruit, for our dessert tonight (after grilled lobster tails in the snow by the fire pit in the backyard!) and for our little baby girl's future nasty, sticky, messy meals that I promise I will relish every moment of making and feeding to her. When the time comes.


But today, Fred, these words are for you. 
In case you thought I didn't remember the first Valentine's Day in Inverness when you nervously stood in front of me with your guitar and sang your heart to me, I didn't. And in case you thought that that moment, and every beautiful moment with you, and from you, gets overlooked, it hasn't. I love you and I love us, all of us. Happy Valentine's Day.


Cheddar Apple Heart-in-Hand Pies

Makes 8 hand pies

Cheddar Pie Dough 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons of water
Turbinado or regular granulated sugar for dusting

Apple Filling
1 1/2 pounds (about 3) apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small cubes*
2 pounds (about 5) Opal apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small cubes*
½ cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
Zest and juice of one lemon
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

*I think you could basically use any combination of crisp-textured apples. And you will have extra apple filling here. Use the rest to fry up and put in oatmeal or on top of pancakes. Wax creative...

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pulse flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Drizzle 1/4 cup water evenly over mixture. Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together (dough should not be wet or sticky). If dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse. Add cheese; pulse until combined.

Shape dough into 2 balls, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Make the filling: Stir together apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Roll out each piece so it's big enough to to fit your heart. Cut eight hearts out of the rolled dough. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling, cutting, and chilling process with the remaining half of dough.

Put four hearts on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Spoon a couple of scoops of apple filling in the center of each heart. Using your finger, brush a little cold water on the inside of the circumference of the cutouts and top each heart with another heart. Seal the edges together with the tines of a fork.
Lightly brush with pies the egg yolk wash and poke little holes on top. Sprinkle sugar lightly over the pies, and place pies in the oven to bake.

Bake pies until golden, about 30 minutes.

Serve while hot and I strongly suggest with a scoop of rich, delicious vanilla bean ice cream (Fred makes the best).

One year ago: Mimi's Baked Broccoli
Six years ago: Yang Chow

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