Collapse. Breakdown. A harrowing experience one wishes not to live twice, but alas, in these modern times of technological necessity and dependence, one must always be prepared, expect the unexpected, embrace the unwelcome. Computer meltdown. One day we are insouciant, nonchalantly logging on, casually logging off, pulling up documents at will, loading photos without restraint and baring our soul, exposing every intimate detail of our private life on a plethora of social media platforms morning, noon and night. Connected. The next day…nothing. Blackness greets us when we sit down at our desk in the early hours of the morning, steaming mug of café au lait within easy reach, dishwasher humming smoothly in the background. Complete and horrid meltdown. And it happened to me.
Monday Monday, you gave me no warning. Smooth, white plastic lid lifted, tiny button pressed, a flash of light, a hint of that funny image of pink flamingos stalking across the bottom of my desktop and then utter blackness. And sheer, blessed panic. I feared his reaction, although I must approach him. I braced myself for his accusations of how I misuse my machine, how I do not think of the necessary upkeep, maintenance and care of my little box. How I treat it with the disdain of one who takes too much for granted. Yet, yet…at the same time I knew this would be a challenge for him, a distraction. He calmly suggested I call the Mac Shop and I did. Once they opened (this is, after all, France, and one can never make the assumption that a shop is ever open), he accompanied me down there and, after explaining the problem, we were led to believe that all hope was lost. Or at the very least cost us an arm and a leg (or, as the French so elegantly put it: “Les yeux de la tête, the eyes from our head.”)
Husband has never been one to accept anything at face value or to give in and give up. And with the cost of a new laptop hovering menacingly over our heads, he was determined to solve the mystery and figure out what the true problem was. I, on the other hand, had a mounting feeling of impending disaster. Disappearing from social media, not able to blog, my projects left hanging in midair and being reduced to the miniscule keyboard on my iphone for answering emails. He pushed me out of the way, plugged in my laptop onto what looked like life support and I wandered off and slumped into the armchair, fingers desperately clutching my iphone, in front of the tv.
And don’t the darnedest things just happen at the darnedest times? I felt the vibration of a text coming through, glanced at the tiny screen and saw it was from son. His friend had just contacted him letting him know that she was selling her Macbook. Coincidence? Providence? Divine intervention? Laptop was soon in our hands and hooked up to my own. Enough cords to look like Frankenstein’s experiment flooded the tabletop and the surrounding floor and all we were praying for was a lightening storm. The mystical operation of transferring life – all of my files – from one machine to the other commenced! I know when I should simply walk away, leave well enough alone and let him at it. From the kitchen I heard the banging start. Banging and pounding on my laptop with the shrieks of Yes! Yes! I see it! Yes! There it is! I got it! He had magically made my screen reappear long enough to connect and begin the transfer of data and files by simply pounding on the keyboard with all of his might. Humph to technology. The cavemen had it right all along. A good solid pounding solves so many problems.
But you know nothing is ever that simple, don’t you? He worked at it all day, all afternoon and well into the evening. Once or twice he toyed with the idea of throwing in the towel and just giving up – which, if you know him as well as I do then you can understand and appreciate the intensity and near-impossibility, the desperation of the situation if he of all people was on the edge of giving up. These robotic little beasties have a life of their own, teasing, mocking, threatening, sending messages like “Access forbidden” or “You have no authorization to open this screen” or “Stay away from this damn computer it ain’t yours”. Lots more screaming ensued. Yelling, cursing, jumping around à la Rumpelstiltskin…
All’s well that ends well. One solid day, fierce determination, relentless doggedness and an intense stick-to-it-ness and he finally succeeded. Arms raised, fists punching the air to the glorious sounds of “Yessssss!” and there was distinct cause for celebration. The laptop is not yet officially mine, my own laptop has not yet gone to the shop, but – heaving a heavy sigh of relief - I am now functional once again. And I may have even scored Photoshop.
I haven’t baked for several days but JP certainly deserved a reward. As I was recounting the tale to my friend Renee, she suggested that maybe JP needed an apple pie or….galette. And I knew she was right. Nothing is homier, more calming and comforting after such a trying, stressful day, nothing says I love you more than a fruit pie warm from the oven, redolent of cinnamon. And a galette is even better. Not to forget that apple is his favorite filling in any baked good. I mentioned to JP, now stretched out on the sofa, wallowing in self-satisfaction, that I wanted to make an apple galette for him and he responded: “Only if you don’t say it is for me. Make an apple galette for all of us!”
I made some alterations to my favorite Sweet Pastry Pie Crust by adding a handful of finely ground almonds (a wonderful companion to apple) and replaced the egg with water for a firmer texture. I piled on the apples, as I know they have a tendency to shrink a bit – and who doesn’t want a mouthful of sweet apples in every bite? - tossed them in a bit of flour to thicken the juices, added just enough cinnamon and nutmeg and Bob’s your uncle. It flew together effortlessly, baked up a dream. The crust held the apples and juices in while remaining so tender. And the filling is perfection in every way. A perfect reward, a perfect treat.
For the Sweet Almond Pastry Crust:
1 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
½ cup finely ground almonds
7 Tbs unsalted butter, cool
3 – 5 Tbs cold water
For the Apple Galette Filling:
3 apples, peeled, cored and cubed (I actually used 3 ½ a mix of Royal Gala & Golden)
1 ½ Tbs flour
2 - 3 Tbs sugar
Scant ½ tsp ground cinnamon
Dash ground nutmeg
Cream for brushing the pastry; sugar (I used granulated brown) for dusting crust
Prepare the Pastry Crust:
Place the flour, sugar and ground almonds in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the butter in cubes; toss to coat the cubes. Using only your thumbs and fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the consistency of damp sand and all of the butter has been incorporated. Using a fork, vigorously stir in 3 tablespoons of the cold water; adding the remaining water a tablespoon at a time until all of the dry ingredients are damp and pull together into a ball. Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead briefly and gently, adding a bit of flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill while preparing the filling.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.
Prepare the Apple Filling:
Peel and core the apples and cut into cubes. Place the apple cubes in a bowl and toss with the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Prepare the Galette:
Remove the Sweet Pastry Crust from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Place the ball of dough on a floured work surface and gently roll out into a 12-inch diameter circle. Carefully roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pile the prepared apple cubes in the center of the pastry circle and spread out to distribute evenly, leaving about 2 - 3 inches of dough free all around the outside edge of the circle, enough to lift up as a border to hold the apples in place.
Begin lifting the edge of the circle of dough up and place against the apples. Lifting the dough up about 3 inches at a time and moving around the galette, the dough “flaps” will overlap. Brush the folds of dough where they overlap with a little of the cream and “glue” down, pressing in place gently. Continue all around the galette. Brush the crust all over with cream and dust with sugar.
Bake the galette in the preheated oven for about an hour or until the crust is a nice golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing and serving.
This is a fabulous treat as is for breakfast, brunch or snack. Add ice cream, a good Salted Butter Caramel Sauce or whipped cream for a wonderful dessert.