This might be one of my last pies for a little while. I’ve got one to make for a party next week and I’ve promised my family one for Christmas (my dad and grandmother actually fought over the last slice of that three berry pie from last week!), but I’ve got an injury that makes standing in the kitchen for hours a week a bit much at the moment, so apart from those two I will be taking a break until next year.
Still, this is week eleven and technically pie thirteen, so that’s something! I’m more than a quarter of the way to fifty pies. I certainly feel like I’ve more or less mastered the art of the fruit pie in that time, and can now play around with them without relying on recipes too much. I can’t link to the recipe for this peach maple pie because I decided to wing it. I winged it? Wung it??
Both the crust and the filling have maple syrup in them, and the filling also has peaches and brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and a bit of cornflour to thicken it up. There is a LOT of maple syrup involved, but it doesn’t taste particularly mapley, mostly it just tastes like peaches. Which is still great, because peaches are fantastic. I do love summer stone fruit season!
A few weeks ago I came across a post on Tumblr about lilac syrup. I had no idea people made syrup from lilacs but it sounded amazing. The opportunity to bottle up one of the greatest smells ever known to humankind was one I could not pass up.
All of the recipes are the same:
dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup of water on the stove.
add 1 cup lilac blossoms and simmer for 10 minutes.
add a few blueberries or other rich red/purple/blue berry for color
let cool and store in the refrigerator
I cut back on the sugar just a bit and I would cut back even more in the future. It’s technically supposed to be a simple syrup but I don’t like sugary drinks. I used a few raspberries for color (I didn’t have any blueberries which is what the recipe called for) and it only enhanced the flavor. I also threw in a few extra lilac blossoms because I’m quite sure you can never have enough lilac blossoms.
The smell of this syrup is enough, even if I never drank it, but of course I have had some! Tonight I made a sparkling lilac lemonade:
2 oz lilac syrup 2 slices of lemon squeezed, rinds left in the glass fill glass with sparkling water garnish with two sprigs of fresh mint
This syrup would of course go quite nicely in a white wine spritzer. somehow lilac syrup just makes summer seems so much more summery.
You could freeze the lilac syrup into ice cube trays and have lilacs at your finger tips all year long. Lilacs all year long! Just think of it!
The tail-end of summer. Brushstrokes of light coat the clouds
in violet and gold, a frescoed sky at dusk, stubbornly beautiful like Earth’s
last act of defiance in the face of death.
In the distance, a rogue planet looms closer.
News flash across the TV screen: grim-looking NASA
scientists talking about an irreversible collision course, world leaders
scrambling to urge for order on the streets, helicopter images of a
civilization in ruins. On another channel, a cameraman is chasing after an old
woman. Why are you still filming? There
is no news. She swats at the camera. In
24 hours, we’re all going to die.
Jemma turns her TV off and watches the deepening sunset
Evening descends, but there are only a few windows with the
lights on. Looting is always worse in the city, and when all the aisles are empty
is when people leave. She almost misses it, the syncopation of life amidst all
that chaos, how utterly human it is to want to survive with such savagery. Now
it’s just her and Fitz and an entire block devoid of people.
Dinner is beef jerky and canned peaches, the last of their
supplies. They sit at their breakfast nook, her feet on his lap, passing the
can back and forth, and for a while everything feels close to normal, until
Fitz looks out the window and says maybe the cosmos wants them to be apart,
“It’s sending a planet
to kill us, Jemma,” he concludes, his shoulders sagged. Silhouetted against the
streetlamp outside, he looks twice as forlorn.
“Could have been worse.” She sits up and nudges him. “If it
was really against us, we wouldn’t have met in the first place.”
He raises an eyebrow. “Are you saying that you believe the
cosmos owns our luck?”
She shoves his face away playfully. “What I’m saying is,
there are worse universes to be in, ones where I’m waiting for an apocalypse
He laughs, kisses her with lips syrup-stained like summer. There
are only so many parallel universes that concern them. In this one, they fought
their way to each other, teeth bared and claws sharp, and they won. That kind
of victory, however short-lived, is enough for her.
Electricity goes out sometime before midnight. She lights a
candle and draws back the curtains. Without the light pollution, they are free
to trace constellations only ever seen in textbooks. From where they stand,
Pegasus seems to gallop over the Milky Way just beyond their reach. A thousand shimmering
stars they’ll never get to hold.
Afterwards, they sit on the frayed carpet to trade items on
their bucket list. Discover a new star,
get drunk in Vegas, recreate dinosaurs, she counts them off on her fingers,
see the Aurora Borealis.
“I was going to do it, you know?” he interjects. “Take you
to see the Aurora. Had my speech ready and everything.”
“Hold on, what speech?”
“My –” he trails off. “Look, it doesn’t matter now, yeah? Do
you want to hear my list? It has just one item.”
Her expression softens. She thinks she knows what it is. “What
is it, Fitz?”
“Grow old with you.” He looks down, unable to meet her gaze.
“Sounds silly now, I know, what with the whole dying thing tomorrow.”
She surreptitiously breathes him in, his tender features,
his hair in disarray. By candlelight he looks resplendent, and it suits him.
Resplendence suits him. Her hand settles against his heart to feel it beat on. There’s a planet barreling at a thousand miles a second towards Earth, and
still, it’s beating on.
“Tomorrow we die,” she answers quietly, “but first we live.”
In the morning she wakes to two wine glasses on the kitchen
island. He has saved this for last, a bottle of pinot noir salvaged from their landlord’s abandoned cellar. They
play music on her phone with the volume turned up and drain the bottle on empty
stomachs. She drags him with her, and then they’re dancing, drunk and clumsy
and in love, in the middle of their sunlit living room.
“I’d say yes,” she murmurs against the skin of his neck.
He pulls back a little. “What?”
“I don’t need the Aurora.” She holds his gaze. “Even when we
can’t grow old together, even when we die today, you know I’d say yes.”
Outside, they can hear the roar of the planet as it tears
apart Earth’s atmosphere, darkness pressing in, eclipsing the watercolor sunset.
Silently, he pulls out a velvet box and puts a ring on her
She holds up her hand, the tiny diamond gleaming in the last
of light, and rests it against his heart. Listens.