On September 11, 2001, my friend Mari-Rae Sopper died. She and her cat Sammy were passengers on American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked by Al Qaeda terrorists and crashed into the Pentagon. Ten years; such a long time ago, and yet not long ago at all.
Mari-Rae was an extraordinary person and a faithful friend. We attended law school together at the University of Denver, and following graduation she spent a few years serving in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps and settled in Washington, D.C. On September 11, 2001, Mari-Rae was leaving her life as a D.C. lawyer to return to her true passion of gymnastics as the head coach for the women's gymnastics team at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
I know that had she made it to California that day, she would've made such an impression on that school and her athletes. It was impossible for anyone who met Mari-Rae not to be drawn to and affected by her.
One of my favorite memories of Mari-Rae involved our planning a 4th of July celebration for our friends. When running through various menu options, Mari-Rae offered to make lasagna.
I protested, arguing that lasagna was not something you served people for the 4th of July. She responded with "yes, but my mom's lasagna recipe is the best."
I don't recall what we ended up serving, but I know it wasn't lasagna. And I regret that. Years later, after attending her memorial service, I had her mom's lasagna at her parents' house. It was indeed some of the best I'd ever had.
I wish I had her mom's lasagna recipe. I would make it today and share it with you. Instead, I made an apple pie. An All-American apple pie.
God Bless you, Mari-Rae.
All-American Apple Pie
When I make apple pie, I like to use a combination of tart apples. But when I was in Whole Foods today, they had only Granny Smith apples. Something about an apple shortage until the fall harvest.
This recipe from Martha Stewart is my go-to apple pie recipe. We topped it with homemade vanilla ice cream. I think you should, too.