Realizing that many of us are trying to stay true to our New Year's resolution to lose weight, I wasn't going to publish a dessert for a few more weeks. But, because of the very disturbing news coming from Washington, D.C., I felt compelled to change my mind. I was sickened to see a mob of people storm the U.S. Capitol, and deface and destroy property while attempting to undermine the proceedings to certify Joe Biden as the next president. What an assault to our democracy.

This caused me to reflect back on my own experiences with the U.S. Congress. Between my junior and senior years in college, I had the great honor to serve as a legislative intern to Sen. Edmund Muskie, then senior senator from my birth state of Maine. It was the summer of 1975, ten months after Richard Nixon had resigned the presidency in disgrace and only a couple years after the country had been rocked by violent protests over the Vietnam War and racial inequality.

The atmosphere inside the House and Senate was quite subdued that summer. It was as if all members of Congress and their staff were taking a collective deep breath to relieve the tensions that had mounted over the preceding years. Security regulations were relaxed and we interns were permitted to freely roam the halls of Congress and to participate in myriad official and social events. Two events in particular stand out in my mind after all these years.

The first was a reception at the White House. President Gerald Ford addressed us that evening in the East Room and spoke about how America had risen to the challenges of the past decade and come through the various upheavals a stronger nation. I found both his speech and the vast assortment of gourmet appetizers very impressive. I still don't know what kind of hors d'oeuvres they served that night, but I certainly remember the wonderful flavors!

The second memorable event was a dinner at the Taiwan Embassy. Although we attended a number of embassy parties that summer, the Taiwan party stands out. That evening, the Taiwan ambassador expressed his appreciation for the relationship between his country and the United States. Further, he acknowledged that undoubtedly some of us interns would be future leaders within the U.S. He hoped that we would always remember that Taiwan is our friend and ally.

As he was speaking, I was enjoying the wonderful meal that had been served to us. In particular, I found the giant prawns outrageously delicious! To this day, they are the best I have ever eaten. His request that we remember that night and to always maintain a close relationship with Taiwan was cemented in my brain because of the sublime prawns. Even today, I can't eat prawn without thinking about Taiwan!

So what does this have to do with my 52-Week Recipe Challenge?

For me, it stresses the important role that food plays in our families and communities, and arguably our nation. When we join together to share a meal, or a special recipe, we tend to relax and lower our defenses. As a result, we're more open-minded and accepting of new people and new ideas. Guamanians are known for their hospitality, and that hospitality is almost always linked to food. I've enjoyed many wonderful conversations with guests and hosts alike at many of these gatherings. Food and goodwill go together.

So as I watched this week's horrific events unfold, I wondered if there were a special dish that could help unite us and open a more constructive dialogue on contentious issues. As I pondered this, the old saying "As American as apple pie" came to mind.

Throughout our country, apple pie may very well be the most common taste treat that links the nation. So it is with great pleasure that I post my favorite apple pie recipe this week. The recipe is by Moshasmama and entitled, "Apple Pie by Grandma Ople." (I added the vanilla). It's unique in that you don't add the spicing and sauce until after you plate the apples and cover the pie with latticework. (A solid top piecrust won't work with this recipe because the juices can't soak into the apples.)

Let's all take a deep breath, bake an apple pie, enjoy it with ice cream and engage in respectful and responsible dialogue!

Week 14: Apple Pie

Ingredients

1 recipe pastry for a 9-inch double crust pie or use a premade crust

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

8 Granny Smith apples

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and a "pinch" of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, core and slice the apples into 3/4 to 1-inch pieces.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Wisk in flour to form a paste. Add the water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer for 3 or 4 minutes.

Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with the apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a latticework crust.

Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run over the side. Brush some of the liquid over all the exposed crust.

Bake on middle rack for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

Serve with ice cream!

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