Last week a blogger, Beth Howard, contacted me via Facebook to say that she'd posted a story I wrote a decade ago on her Facebook page. A New York-based editor, she said, had read my story back then, hung onto it, and sent it to this blogger, because her thing is pie, and that was the subject of my story: pie, and making pie. It was a nice thrill, to think that this editor (who I know by name and respect) had hung onto it, and to have my story resurrected in that way. But reading a story, particularly a personal essay, that you wrote long ago—in this case, long before I was required to take my shoes off at the airport!—is a bit like stumbling upon an old box of photos in terms of the mix of nostalgia and cringe that it induces. The most alarming thing about reading this particular story was seeing that I had made the pie crust with—yikes!—margarine. The reason I did this was very simple: this is how I was taught to make pies the summer before, when I worked as the pie baker at Loaves ...

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Meet the Spitzenbergs. Dear Margaret-- (Can I call you Maggie?) I'd wanted the pie challenge to be between Howard and me. And, oh, okay... you. But me and my big mouth... I went and mentioned it to The Foodinista in a casual chat on Larchmont Blvd. earlier this week. She went and had lunch that day with the editor of LA Weekly. And the rest, well, the rest is just plain Out of My Hands. It is going to be an event. Not to be competitive here, but there are going to be winners and losers, and I hate to lose. (Ask H. I'm sure he knows how I feel.) I started on my apple research at the Santa Monica farmers market last weekend. I had to fight with Gjilena for four pounds of Spitzenbergs and I don't even know what they are or how to spell that stupid restaurant's name. (Who has money for extra consonants these days? That's what I want to know!). Next I have to turn my attention to crust. (Lard almighty! How I love crust!) In the meantime, let's eat. xoxo ...

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I had dinner with my friend Margaret and her husband, Howard, the other night--fried chicken at Farmshop since I know you want to know. And the chicken was good--so good, in fact, that I didn't do what I normally do with fried chicken, which is eat the fried and leave the chicken. Dessert, however, a summer berry pudding, which is stale white bread drenched in macerated berries, was just okay: the bread wasn't drenched enough, so you actually knew you were eating bread and let's face it, nobody really wants to know they're eating bread for dessert; plus, the berries weren't strained so it was just Seed City. "Did you like the dessert?" I asked Howard. "It was fine," he said. He's nicer than I am, at least when it comes to pudding. "But it's not really my thing." "So what's your thing?" I asked. "Apple pie?" I pride myself on being a little bit psychic or intuitive, or maybe just a good guesser, so I was proud when Howard said, "Yes. That's exactly right." And then he said something ...

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Today my friend the Foodinista asked me what I was cooking for Thanksgiving because somewhere during our ten year friendship she picked up the idea that around this time of year, I have something inspiring up my sleeve. My family is having a pseudo Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow afternoon. I'm bringing dessert, and since I have been elbow-deep in olive oil and grated Parm testing recipes for the Mozza cookbook all week long, I didn't think about what I would bring until five o'clock this evening at which time I decided to take a Why Argue with Success approach and make a Sourmash Apple Cobbler that I have been making since 1991. I was given the recipe as a going away present from the chef at a restaurant where I worked after college to save money to move to New York City, and I have relied on it countless times since--even after my rustic baked fruit repertoire became much more, er... sophisticated (can I that word in the context of a rustic baked fruit dessert?).  The apples are cooked ...

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