Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chicago will win the 2016 Olympics, and a pie to remember

President Obama's last minute decision to fly to Copenhagen this week to try to tip the scales in Chicago's favor as site of the 2016 Olympics was a good call but a bad precedent. I think it will work, and the president's appearance will make the difference, because of the nature of the International Olympic Committee. But it's a lousy way to determine on the venue of the Olympic Games.
....Obama didn't start this. Great Britain's Tony Blair did, traveling to Singapore in 2005 for a last-ditch effort on behalf of London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics. It worked, and London upset heavily favored Paris by a 54-50 vote. Russia's Vladimir Putin was next, appearing before the IOC on the eve of the vote and successfully landing the 2014 Winter Games for unheralded Sochi. Before Blair and Putin, it was unheard of for a major world leader to lobby IOC delegates in person before they voted, and the truth of the matter is the delegates like the attention. They revel in it. That's because IOC members are largely self-aggrandizing, un-idealistic, leeches who travel in style, dine sumptuously, and luxuriate in their power and influence and all manner of pomp and circumstance. They are the Mr. Toads of amateur sport. Obama is an international rock star, whose popularity extends across Europe, through Africa, and even to the Arab states. That' a lot of votes that the U.S. usually doesn't get when the IOC congress meets. So even though the heads of state from Japan (Tokyo), Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), and Spain (Madrid) will also be in Copenhagen lobbying for votes, Obama's presence trumps them. He's the Leader of the Free World, and he isn't Bush (who would have been a negative). Never mind that the U.S. Federal Government has absolutely nothing to do with financing the Games and that his appearance is strictly for show. Most of what the IOC does is for show. It's a perfect match. If Obama stays home, the Games would go to Rio. They should go to Rio, for heaven's sake, since the Olympics have never been hosted in South America. But they won't.
...So from an American perspective, and for the city of Chicago, Obama's doing the right thing. He'll undoubtedly be criticized for it in some quarters, and the trip's not without risk, since a defeat in Copenhagen will be seen as a personal defeat for Obama. But he'd be criticized more for not going. As Michele Obama said, "You're darned if you do and you're darned if you don't. I'd rather be on the side of doing it, and I think that's how the president feels."
....One wonders, though, how the IOC will ever get off this merry-go-round of dueling heads of state. Somebody's going to be embarrassed when they return home. How silly to allow these world leaders to be there in the first place. As Richard Pound, the longtime IOC representative from Canada, observes, "It might be getting out of hand when the president of the free world has to drop everything to be there."

Late September is apple harvest time at Breakwind Farm, as it is throughout most of the northeast and upper midwest. I picked mine on Saturday, and I always make a few pies before going on to the more arduous tasks of making cider and applesause and chutney. This year I happened on a easy, delicious recipe that is not something you will find in any store. And I stumbled on it because, with all the rain, this has also been a banner year for raspberries, and my three-year-old raspberry bushes are, for the first time, in full harvest mode.

So for the last couple of weeks I've always had a half-pint of fresh raspberries around. They spoil pretty quickly, so it's been a challenge to keep up. (Having made blackberry jam, apple-mint jelly, and grape-rosemary jelly, I am jammed and jellied out.) Anyway, it's generally a good idea to squeeze some lemon juice on an apple pie to add some tartness, and this year I thought I'd try adding raspberries instead. They're pretty tart. It turned out to be a good idea. Fresh apples and raspberries go brilliantly together.

Before a share the recipe, a word about piecrusts. Make that four words. I can't make them. I CANNOT MAKE A PIE CRUST. I've tried, and they tear, or glop, or dry, or fall on the floor. If you can make a pie crust that's flaky and light, go wild. Knock yourself out. Me, I buy frozen crusts. I am not Julia Child, despite the many recipes in this blog. And if I can buy a better pie crust than I can make, I'll swallow my pride and buy it. By far the best brand I've found comes from Oronoque Orchards. 9-inch, Deep Dish, flaky homestyle pie crusts. Found in your grocer's frozen food section.

Breakwind Farm's Apple-Raspberry Pie

6-8 apples, cored, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
about 20 fresh raspberries and/or blueberries
drizzle of honey

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Lay apple slices in the pie crust, piling high in the center.
Scatter raspberries/blueberries on top evenly
Mix sugar and spices together. Sprinkle over the fruit.
Drizzle with honey.
Put a second pie crust over the top; prick with a fork.
Place on cookie sheet. Bake 15 mins. at 425 degrees. Turn oven down to 375 degrees and bake another 30 mins., or until crust is golden brown.

Let cool. Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or plain.
Autumn will explode in your mouth!