I have been seriously over running in Maine for about three months now. Winter just won’t go away and even though we are in the low 60’s finally, there is still a strange chill in the air that keeps everything feeling just shy of Spring to me. I made it through Winter in one piece, running the whole way through, feeling strong but now that things are beginning to change, I need it to just be hot. I need to feel the strong sunshine on my skin. I need heat. My body is just craving it right now. Also, the terrain up here is killing me. I feel like all of my routes are just filled with some sort of hell, there is always a place I dread immensely, that sometimes keeps me from going out the door completely. Maine is just really hilly and I suppose I never realized how good I had it back home. I know that hills make me strong and I do feel the advantage when I show up in flat places but every once in a while it would be nice if I could just go and tune out, and enjoy. The roads up here keep me on a certain edge where I always have to be on point, reciting to myself a certain “mantra” if you will that keeps me running even when I hate the moment I am trapped in. So, with all that being said it was really nice to visit home this weekend and run in a place I absolutely love. Massachusetts isn’t completely flat by any means but it has a great mix. The route I chose for my long run this weekend was the perfect combination of tough stuff and nice breaks. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom, as was everything else, and it just felt so right, running through the old familiar places, smelling every flowering tree as it allowed my legs to pass. The run was only 7 miles, not quite where I should be with a half marathon in four weeks but I don’t care because it was good. I needed to end a run on a high note so badly. My last few runs have been so shitty, part of me, just wanted to hang my shoes up for good. I took the run low and slow, coming in 9’39” pace, I wasn’t worried about time, I just wanted to finish strong and feel delighted to be outside. The run left me feeling renewed, refreshed, I felt love for running once again. My “mantra” that day was just “release and take it in” and it worked because I allowed myself to just relax and move forward.
Running mantras are a must when on a difficult path. It’s a phrase that should mean something to you, and just you, it should be intimate and deeply meaningful and it should hit your heart in just the right way when you feel like giving up. Mine once was: “Endurance is when your body gives up but your heart takes over” I always relied on my passion for running to pull me through and it usually did, these days it’s a series of phrases which shifts depending on my particular challenge that day. I suggest every runner have a mantra. It will help you in the most trying of moments on the road.
Anyways, after multiple miles, a nice recipe is always in order, right? I don’t know about you but a nice warm apple pie always brings me to new heights. But an apple pie with bourbon, crumble and brown butter, phssssshhh, that’s just about the best thing ever. One day while having little work to do in the office, I spent way to much time on my favorite blog: Butter me up, Brooklyn and found about a million recipes I would love to create for myself. The bourbon apple pie however, was a standout and I made it within days of it’s discovery. It was easy to make. I mean really easy but the finished product looked and tasted like a professional deal. The company I shared it with were amazed and I have to admit, I gave myself a proverbial high five as I devoured the last bite. It’s not the prettiest of desserts but that’s alright, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, correct?
BROWN BUTTER BOURBON APPLE PIE WITH ALMOND CRUMBLE (adapted slightly from Butter me up, Brooklyn!)
For the pie crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks unsalted, cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4-1/2 cups of ice water
For the crumble:
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted, cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup slivered almonds
For the filling:
4 tablespoons butter, browned and cooled slightly
4 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
juice from one lemon
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons bourbon
Make the crust: In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup more water, 1 tablespoon at a time). To help ensure a flaky crust, do not over process.
Transfer half of dough (still crumbly) onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
Roll out your pie dough, press it into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim the edges. Fold over the extra dough, crimp to make a pretty edge, and prick all over with the tines of a fork. Freeze the prepared pie crust for at least 30 minutes or several hours. When you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 425 and line the frozen crust with lightly buttered foil. Really press the foil flush with the crust and add your pie weights.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until the crust is light golden brown. Remove foil and set aside. If you are going to bake the pie right away then increase the oven to 450.
Prepare the crumble: In the bowl of a food prosessor, pluse together all the crumble ingredients except for the butter and the almonds. Scatter over the butter and the almonds and process until large clumps form and it begins to hold together. Chill the mixture in the fridge while you make the filling.
Make the filling: Combine the apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, and bourbon in a large bowl. Stir until the apples are well coated. Add the brown butter and mix well.
Assemble the pie: Layer the apples in concentric circles into the pre-baked pie crust. If any of the brown-butter-brown-sugar-bourbon syrup is still hangin’ out in the bowl – pour it over the apples. Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the pie. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake in a 450 oven for 10 minutes. Lower the oven tempature to 350, and bake for another 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes or until the juices set.