On Giving Thanks And Praying

>> Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I am thankful that Obama won. I would not have much hope if he were not the one sitting in the white house for the next four years. In my heart I know that he is the change this country so desperately needs.

I am thankful that I live in a state where I can finally marry my partner of thirteen years. I pray for a day when minorities no longer have to fight to have the same rights as everybody else. I pray for a day when voting on other peoples rights is no longer an option. I pray that someday we will all be considered equal.

I am thankful for the friendship we had with our dear friend Tisha who bravely lost her battle with an illness that took her from us way to soon. If there is one thing I have learned from losing somebody so close, it is to not take our loved ones for granted. It is to appreciate and celebrate and love one another each and everyday that we get to be together.

Tish and I appreciated a lot of the same things. Good food, good music, and good shoes were a few of the things we loved to share. We marveled at each other when one of us was sporting a brand new pair of Keens (the shoe of choice for both of us) or when we found an amazing recipe in the latest issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. One time I remember complaining to her about my dull knifes and the next time she came to my house she brought me my very own steel. That steel has now become priceless to me, and I will never sharpen my knifes again without thinking of her.

She would often refer to me as Sarah Martha, telling everyone Martha Stewart had nothing on me. She was one of my inspirations for writing this blog, always reminding me that its been a while since my last post and didn't I think I should do something about that. In fact, she is the reason my last post is marked September 22 nd. I just couldn't find it in myself, until now, to write about my love of food when I could no longer share it with my friend.

These last few months have been full of highs and lows, ups and downs. Its amazing how life can give and take, yet still leave you feeling thankful for it all.

Here is a recipe I wanted to share just in time for Thanksgiving. Its a wonderful excuse to sit down with those you love and let them know just how much you are truly greatful that they are in your life.

Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake
by Dorie Greenspan

For the Crust:
30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

For the Apples:
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar

For the Filling:
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp apple cider
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream

To Make the Crust:
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 or 10-inch spring form pan. Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whirl until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you're using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the spring form pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they'll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

To Make the Apples:
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

Getting Ready to Bake:
Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the spring form pan at hand. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

To Make the Filling:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the spring form pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the spring form pan.Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes , covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center--if the center shimmies, that's just fine. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan's latch and release and remove the sides.


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