Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Of Public Policy, Road-trips and Pies

post courtesy DH
And here we don't mean pie charts depicting income distribution or mix of fuels for energy. We really mean an actual, honest-to-God dessert - a walnut-cranberry torte to be precise - whose name itself conjures up deliciousness.

So what does public policy have to do with dessert one might wonder - quite a bit, as was the case here. Sometimes a foodie arduously pursues his objective - a feast of the senses - by direct action, while at other times, the hand of fate guides him to it. 

We contend that it was fate which made us enroll for a course in Energy Policy, because the real reward for all the toils wasn't a grade, nor even the knowledge of BTUs or Regulatory Federalism, but a rather fine recipe for the pie - which didn't get revealed until the very end of the course.

The recipe was easy enough. Ingredients easy enough to obtain ... or were they?! 
But we're getting ahead of ourselves, so here goes:

- 2 eggs
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 3/4 cups brown sugar
- 2 tbsp softened butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt (see the precision?)
- 1 pie crust
- 1 cup chopped cranberries
- Lastly 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts. NOW do you see the hand of fate? No? Well you will, before we're through.

Long before enrolling for this course, we had embarked upon a whirlwind road-trip all the way to Oregon. On our way back, we did the 'fruit & wine loop' in the Columbia River Gorge where we sampled delicious wine, fruits and nuts direct from farmers and wine-makers. And it was there that we had picked up among other things - a bag of WALNUTS!! 
Getting goosebumps yet?

But fate wasn't quite done with us yet. So, even though we got this secret recipe only after thanksgiving when every available cranberry in North America had already been sauced and ingested, we weren't denied our crucial ingredient, courtesy ... you got it - Fate! 

On thanksgiving, my better half had felt a sudden surge of compassion for cranberries. 
"Nobody thinks of the billions of little things that get sacrificed for this holiday." So she set about rescuing at least some of them by eschewing sauce in favor of "jeweled cranberries" - an avatar in which the berries get to keep their individuality, figure and as a bonus acquire a radiance. 

Putting it all together:
Spread the pie crust in a glass pie dish.
Mix the sugar with the eggs and beat for a little bit. Whisk in the syrup, butter, salt and vanilla. Add the cranberries - fresh & chopped or jeweled and the coarsely chopped walnuts. (and yes, Columbia River Gorge walnuts do taste way better than Walmart aisle 13 ones)

Pour the mix into the pie dish with the crust.

Preheat oven to 350 deg F and bake for 35 min using a few thousand BTUs.

Let it cool for a couple hours so that it sets well. And voila! you have your own slice of heaven.

If after all this you still don't believe in fate - you're free not to - but please don't go cracking any fortune cookies!!

p.s. The biggest proof of fate is in the idiot-proof-ness of this recipe. It is so idiot-proof that I managed to not screw it up - TWICE!

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