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Giving Thanks (and Apple Galette)

[Pacific Ocean near Bodega Head, July 2009.]

Today, Thanksgiving, is one of my one of my very favorite days of the year, mainly because it combines two things very close to my heart: food (and the cooking of it) of course, as well as the giving of thanks — or, really, the feeling grateful-for. Is there a better feeling in the world than gratitude? (OK maybe love, but that’s something better suited to February ruminations and anyway I sort of think the two are closely related.)

Some days I swear I wake up simply grateful to be, cozy and quiet tucked up in my comfortable bed with the morning grey-light filtering through the windows, knowing I have good food to eat for breakfast, and, if I’m particularly lucky, a Sunday morning New York Times waiting for me downstairs. I mean, of course there are many (err, many) days I rise on the wrong side of the bed and burn my toast or drink green tea because I’m out of milk and there is just no way I can drink my coffee without milk or cream. Of course there are those days. But in general I know I have it pretty good and I try not to take it for granted.

Each year on Thanksgiving I can’t help but reflect on the things for which I’m particularly grateful. Today, I feel especially thankful for

– My family and friends near and far, always
– This beautiful place in which I live — in all its bright sun and crashing ocean, redwood forests and bay trees that sweeten the air
– The 6 miles I just ran along the sun-swept back roads — and the 10 (!) miles I ran last Sunday — and every run I am able to do
– (The probability of rain tomorrow)
– My mom’s mushroom galette and my dad’s dolmades
– My two wonderful San Francisco farmers’ markets, both within walking distance of my house
– Taylor Maid coffee
– Yoga, oh true deliciousness
– The food we’ll eat today, and that we are fortunate enough to have such a bountiful table. To be able to eat enough every day to feel full.
– The hope of peace
– A soon-to-be
– Possibility
– Laphroaig single malt bought at the duty free
– Maine in winter
– Dogs

– All the I’ve made in the past year

– Red wine
– Point Reyes in sun and wind, and , too

I shall leave you this morning with a few words from the ever lovely Mary Oliver — and a recipe for an apple galette. Now, I’m sure you’ve already baked your pumpkin pies (or your apple, or cherry, or mince meat, or even a pumpkin ‘moose’, which I hear is on the menu for a big gathering in Vermont I awfully wish I could attend), but if a vegan or uber health-conscious guest makes an unexpected appearance (or, you know, your dad requests it), this quick and easy (and delicious) dessert will do quite nicely. While I’ll be cutting myself an enormous slice of my favorite pumpkin pie — and no doubt going back for seconds and thirds; hey, all that running has to be good for something! — I’ll surely be sneaking little tastes of this apple-y goodness when my dad isn’t looking. I mean …

Wishing you lots of good food, friends, and family today and every day.

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~ Mary Oliver, from Dream Work

Apple Galette

I also use this crust recipe for apple pies; I love the lighter taste that comes from the olive oil, and actually now prefer it to a butter pie crust.

Serves 6

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Mix the flour, sugar and salt. Drizzle the olive oil over the flour and cut in with a fork, combining lightly until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle water over the flour, a tablespoon at a time, and mix lightly with a fork. With your hands, press the pastry lightly into a ball, wrap in waxed paper, and let rest in the fridge at least 20 minutes.

For the filling:
2 apples, peeled, cored and coarsely sliced
1 pear, peeled, cored, and coarsely sliced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix together the cinnamon, ginger, flour, sugar and salt. In a large bowl, toss the apple and pear slices with the dry mixture. Drizzle lemon juice over the top.

On a wide surface, roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper until it becomes a 1/4-inch-thick circle. Arrange the fruit mixture in the middle of the dough, and loosely gather the dough around the fruit, leaving an opening at the top (the dough won’t close completely). Place the galette on the parchment paper and bake in the middle of the oven until filling is bubbly and crust is lightly browned, about 35 to 40 minutes.


  1. Definitely this is one of the best occasions in the entire year, showing you appreciation to other people and giving thanks, as well as the good foods.

    Thanks for sharing that recipe, look so delicious, I’ll try to make one of that this coming next few days.

  2. Hi Nicole!

    I must admit I’ve been reading your site for some time and I quite like it. You write beautifully. Thanks for the lovely Thanksgiving post, and also for the Mary Oliver poem, which finally spurred me to comment (so beautiful!).

    All the best…

  3. Happy Thanksgiving Nicole! What a great article you wrote for NPR about cooking for one! And then this post with a delicious looking apple gallette…. I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes. I am without a proper kitchen for the next month (military duty), so your articles and posts keep me dreaming of my kitchen, mixer, oven, favorite gadgets, farmer’s markets etc. etc. etc. Take care and I hope you have a happy holiday season filled with lots of friends, family and good food.

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