Peach Pie, Elsie and a Book Launch
by Darcie Friesen Hossack
One of the things about making a life that's centred around food, is that Chefhusband and I have almost always lived somewhere that friends and family want to visit.
In the Okanagan, sun worshippers would arrive in the summer, to haul themselves, lizard-like, onto the hot rocks. Or to escape the kinds of winters that seemed to happen just about everywhere else in the country.
With visitors in tow, we'd visit fruit stands up and down the Valley. Drive to the Shuswap for D Dutchmen Dairy Ice Cream. Try very hard not to start a forest fire by simply walking on pine needles all too ready to take a spark.
When we lived in "Sky" part of the Sea to Sky region, along and adjacent to the Pacific Coast, people came for our cloud forests, where water vapour would pull itself through the trees like reams of wool being carded into yarn.
No matter where I went, however, Elsie K. Neufeld, a fellow Mennonite writer, poet, friend, was one of the people who always found her way to where I was.
Together, Elsie and I would talk our way down to bedrock. We'd laugh until we hurt. We'd fork up the last bites and crumbs of a shared peach pie (yes, an entire pie).
Before we knew each other, Elsie was the person who gave me my first publishing credit.
Elsie convinced me to go to writing school. Elsie talked me through the months and years after the release of my first book, including the unexpected highs of reviews, and the shocking lows of being banned by the public library Northern Alberta's La Crete.
Elsie, for close to twenty years, has been with me through that, and so, so very much more.
Now, of course, that Chefhusband and I have settled ourselves at Overlander Mountain Lodge, on the edge of Jasper National Park, Elsie and I are making plans for another visit.
The thing is, though, that Overlander, including the cabins at Jasper East, isn't just a place to get together with people you've already met.
Since the start of this blog, and even before, more and more of people I've known from a distance, have either made, or are making plans to see this mountain resort I keep writing about.
And even beyond that, with the pictures and the stories that flow so naturally out of this place, an on-site launch of a literary anthology is now being discussed among the book's editors and contributors.
An idea for a Mennonite writers' retreat has been floating through the air, and somehow, I don't remember putting it there.
This, the Overlander, is like that.
Yes, it's certainly a place for loved ones to come together, a fact attested to by the weddings held, and the families that arrive here every day.
It's my belief, though, that Overlander is also a place for the arts. For writers and poets and painters. To come for the quiet, or to meet one another, whether for the first or the fiftieth time.
Right now, though, as I look out on the squirrel yard, my thoughts keep finding their way to Elsie.
And Elsie (because I know you're reading this), when you come, I want you to know that, this time, Chefhusband has promised to make the pie!
--------------- o O o ---------------
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice water
Pulse together flour and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture is coarsely crumbly.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup ice water over crumbs, pulsing until mixture just begins to hold its shape when squeezed. Add more water, 1 tbs at a time, if needed. Divide dough in half and wrap each with plastic wrap. Press each into a disk and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
7 cups fresh peaches (frozen when not in season)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbs light cream
sugar for sanding
In a large bowl, toss peaches together with sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon. (If frozen, toss together, then allow to thaw.) Set aside.
Meanwhile, on lightly floured surface, roll out pastry disk to 13-inches. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate.
Stir peaches and heap into pie shell.
Roll out second crust and fit over top. Trim and crimp edges, then cut six 3-inch vents in crust.
Beat together yolk and cream. Brush over surface and edges of pie (some will be leftover: discard). Sprinkle generously with sugar. Chill 30 minutes.
Transfer pie to a baking sheet and into oven a 400F oven. Bake 20 minutes, reduce temperature to 350F and bake 55 more.
Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.