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It’s all about apples these days. And fortunately or unfortunately, it will be for some time…at least if you head to a farmer’s market in the Northeast in the next 6 months. If you get sick of just munching on them in their unadulterated form, may I suggest one of these two baked goods? Neither of these recipes requires the quantity of apples that, say, an actual apple pie requires. So if you’ve got a bumper crop or have gone apple picking, you might want to look elsewhere.

But, if you like subtly apple-flavored, perfect-for-fall recipes, look no further. The challah is definitely a bit more involved, but totally worth it. Actually, if you’re working from home like I am these days, you may want to think twice about this bread….I have been tearing off hunks every time I walk by the plate and it’s getting kind of embarrassing how much I’ve eaten in the last day. Therefore, I recommend making these for parties — I made the apple cider donut cake for a potluck and mercifully I did not take any home with me.

The Apple Cider Doughnut Cake recipe can be found here, at Serious Eats. My only modifications were to use 1/2 t. maple extract and 1/2 t. vanilla instead of all vanilla. Maple is just such a perfect complement to the other flavors. But it’s not essential. I also tried doing a glaze instead of the sugar coating and I’d say it was a solid “meh” so follow the recipe on that one. You win some, you lose some.

The Apple Honey Challah is from, where else, Smitten Kitchen. I didn’t modify anything in the recipe, but I think my braids were too fat, resulting in a shape that got a bit funky as it rose in the oven. But it didn’t affect the flavor so I wouldn’t stress about it if I were you.

Fall is here people, and there’s no turning back!

I don’t really know if this is the forum for this, but I found out yesterday that a friend, someone I had worked closely with on many projects at my last job, passed away. At one point in the middle of the night, I was laying awake, thinking about writing this in my mind. Of course it was much more eloquent then than now, but most half-awake thoughts seem that way in retrospect.

Yesterday Cat called again with some freebies from the photo studio — vases full of flowers. As Mark and I were walking back home, arms full, he said, isn’t it so funny that there’s an entire industry built around selling something that is already dead? That will literally rot in your house? And it does seem like a silly thing, to treasure something that lasts so fleetingly. But it’s all relative, isn’t it? Eventually, we all go the way of the flowers.

A clunky metaphor to be sure, but an apt thought for the day. The one thing I wish for the most is to be able to tell Don what a wonderful person and presence he was. Even though he lived in San Francisco and I saw him infrequently, Don was a bright spot during sometimes very stressful moments. He would call, we would chat about work, and then we’d ramble on about something or other for awhile, usually laughing jovially or conspiratorially along the way. He was humble, and self-deprecating, and just one of those people you feel lucky to know.

When I first heard he had passed away, I wanted to write him an email immediately. Isn’t that so odd? I wanted to tell him I was sorry to hear what had happened, and that everyone who worked with him would miss him. Maybe because I don’t know his family, I didn’t know who else to tell.

I’ve been very fortunate not to have dealt with much death in my life. And so it’s that much more surreal and upsetting to lose someone unexpectedly. Someone who may not be family, or part of my inner circle, but who mattered to me and many, many others nonetheless.



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