This didn’t surprise me. Not really. The Gearhead had just returned from a business trip that, to my mind, was far too short. I agreed. Yes. The blog is boring.
But he continued, “He thinks I ought to do something…you know, rile you up so you can write something funny.”
Hmmm. Unanticipated. Okay, I’ll bite. “What your colleague doesn’t realize is that I’ve been exercising considerable restraint from writing these last weeks, to spare you public humiliation. Anything I would have written would certainly not have been kind.”
It was true. I was dangerously close to mutiny. Marriage is like this. It’s not all blogs and fairies.
“So you have something to write about then.”
I watched him struggle to pull on his coveralls in the front hall. The outer layer of one of the sleeves had been stripped away and he was forcing his arm through the gauzy stuffing. Tufts of it were wafting around in the air.
“What happened?” I said, pointing to his sleeve.
“What?!” He said.
“Oh that,” he glanced at his arm, “Well, I kinda set fire to it when I was welding last week. I had to rip it off in a hurry.”
He ducked out the front door without a backward glance, heading toward the barn.
Well, at least I can bake something sweet.
In this season of freeze and thaw, [wife edits: yes, there’s some whack-you-over-the- head symbolism] the maple trees pump the first harvest of the year, maple sap. Cooked down it becomes the most glorious syrup. Maple sugar is the dehydrated version of the same. It’s a little harder to come by but well worth seeking out. [Wife edits: surprisingly, Costco carries it]. If you do come across it, snatch it up to make this pie. The taste will surprise you—it’s not overly sweet—but it has a depth of maple flavour that is unsurpassed. There are many recipes for sugar pie, a specialty in Quebec, but to my mind, the following, traditional version is the very best. This recipe is from Regan Daley’s In The Sweet Kitchen. It bakes up perfectly every time. Quebecois tradition serves this tart warm, with chilled heavy cream poured over the top. I prefer it at room temperature with unsweetened whipped cream.
Tarte au Sucre d’Erable (Maple Sugar Pie)
1 9-inch pastry shell, partially baked (use your favourite pastry recipe)
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup table cream (18%)
¼ cup heavy or whipping cream (35%)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Sift the sugar, flour and salt together into a small bowl, then stir with a whisk to blend them thoroughly. Spread this mixture evenly over the pie shell. Combine the two creams and pour over the sugar layer. The cream will completely cover the sugar and won’t blend with it at this point, but fear not—the oven’s heat does marvelous things to sugar and cream! Run a thin-bladed knife through the filling a few times to create paths for the cream in the sugar, taking care not to puncture the crust. Dot the surface of the filling with the butter and place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any bubbling overflow.
Bake the pie for about an hour, or until the filling is just set in the centre and the surface is a rich burnished brown, speckled with dark golden patches. The filling will set further as it cools. Cool the pie on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Either way, Tarte au Sucre should be served in small slices! Makes enough for 10 small but rich servings, unless you are serving French Canadians, in which case maybe 4 or 5. [Wife edits: this is Regan’s lovely writing].