By Isa Covo
November is here. The festive season is here, and there are signs that this year there is hope for celebration.
Indeed, the restaurants are open and doing good business, so are the cinemas, but with some restrictions, and now many theaters are open and almost all sold out. On the streets of New York, shoppers, some carrying several store bags, look satisfied. In general, all pedestrians seem happy. Even those who scrutinize their phones do not appear to read anything unpleasant.
Are these the first steps to normalcy? Not quite: everyday, although mostly declining, there are still a great number of new COVID cases, and even though many of the patients recover, there are still deaths.
Businesses are doing well, especially in the hospitality area, as more tourists, although still mostly Americans, visit the city. I was thrilled to see the return of tour buses, when before the pandemic I barely noticed them as they were so ubiquitous.
It has been eleven months that Mr. Biden, a compassionate man, had in mind a program that would ease the lives of Americans in financial need, reduce poverty, clear our environment, rebuild our failing infrastructure, and restore moral conscience. It is distressing to see that our lawmakers, the people whom we elected, think and act otherwise, and manage to become pied pipers of a good chunk of the population.
On October 17 of this year, the statue of Thomas Jefferson was removed from the city council chamber because he owned slaves in his plantation in Virginia, and had had, it is assumed, several children with a slave woman he also owned. The ownership of slaves cannot be excused, but Jefferson also struggled with this idea and included a paragraph in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, condemning the practice. This paragraph was removed at the insistence of the Southern members who refused to sign the Declaration if that paragraph remained. Slavery started when the United States was a colony.
Here is the paragraph as written in the first draft.
“He [King George] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither, this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britni determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibitor restrain this execrable commerce and this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us; and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them, thus paying off for crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.’
November is here and it is time to bake a great apple pie. Although I have several I like, this one, the Tarte Tatin, has been a favorite of many of my guests.
Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin
- Pie crust (preferably made with butter) for an eight- or nine-inch pie
- 2 lbs. of firm apples (Macintosh or Honey Crisp work well)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 8 tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
- Juice of 1 lemon (optional)
- Using a tablespoon of the butter, coat the inside of an eight- or nine-inch pie dish (should be at least two and a half to three inches deep, and preferably glass or ceramic) thickly on all its inside surface.
- Prepare the caramel: Remove 4 tablespoons of the sugar and set aside. Add a tablespoon of the butter in a deep saucepan, preferably non-stick, and set it on low heat until melted. Then add the remaining sugar, making sure it is in one layer. Let it melt without disturbing until it liquefies and turns medium brown in color.
- While the sugar caramelizes, peel the apples, cut them in half, core them and cut each half into six or eight slices, according to their size. There is no need for the slices to be of equal size. Coat with lemon juice, if used.
- Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
- As soon as the caramel has reached the desired color, pour it on the prepared pie pan, and shake the pan around lightly to cover the bottom of the pan as much as possible. Do not worry if the bottom is not completely covered.
- Add the apple slices in layers on top of the caramel and sprinkle each layer with some of the reserved sugar and the some of the rest of the butter cut into small cubes. Sprinkle any leftover sugar and butter over the last layer and press the filling down with hands or a plate to make it stick together as much as possible in an even layer.
- Roll out the dough into a circle sightly larger than the pan, Cover the filling with the dough and tuck the sides in.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes, or until brown sugar bubbles appear on the sides of the pie.
- Let the pie cool to warm and unmold on a serving plate.
Yield an 8 to 9 inch pie.
Note: Traditionally this pie is served plain, but whipped cream or ice cream are acceptable accompaniments