I started making pie baking plans. Easy ones, like cream cheese and ice cream pies. Standards, like apple and pumpkin. Cream pies and fruit pies. Pies with meringue topping and those with whipped cream topping. Perhaps a tart or two. Old family recipes and new experiments. 20 pies was my goal.
Two years ago, my busy, anxious baking dervish had gone crazy making all kinds of cakes, breads and cookies. It was productive, fun even (in a challenging, adrenaline rush way) but flavored throughout by the ongoing theme song of anxiety. Would we have enough? Would they like any of my American desserts, breads and cookies? Would they be offended by the lack of "real" food (no meat or rice or beans), or by my horrible Spanish, or by our home, or by a gringo serving the congregation? Would they see the places I hadn't scrubbed? Would we have enough chairs? All these things keeping me in an mild (to not so mild) state of distress while I prepare to supposedly open my heart and home to new people.
As I started rolling out my first pie crusts this year, I felt those familiar feelings creeping in. This needed to be cleaned, that needed to be baked, this needed to be bought, that needed to be prepared, etc. etc. etc. And the what if's. Then I stopped.
I like making pies. I reminded myself again. I like this. When do I get to spend two whole days making pies??? And so I decided to enjoy it.
I started humming Patty Griffin. I thought of all the memories I have of making pies with my dad and my sister. I thought of how many pies we used to make together at Thanksgiving. I let myself try new recipes. I stopped to play a rocking drum solo or two with my honey on his new toy. I enjoyed eating out on Friday night at a favorite greasy spoon burger place, rather than rushing home to bake some more. I let myself go to bed when it was time.
I didn't make 20 pies.
And all of it? It was lovely. The pies. Time baking. New recipes. The feeling between me and my husband. Time with friends. Doing something I love. Holding cute babies. Laughing at the boy who hid out under the table, emerging only for another slice of apple pie. Meeting a couple recently baptized. Being invited to a guest's house for dinner this week. Listening to a five-year old's reading of "Where the Wild Things Are".
It felt good to truly open my heart, relax and just enjoy.
How do you find contentment?
Sour Cream Apple Crumb Pie
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cold
6-8 apples (preferably Mutsu/Crispin, Ida Reds or Granny Smith)
1 cup sugar (or less if you like a bit of tartness in your pie!)
2 Tbls flour
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 Tbls butter
Prepare crust: Mix flour and salt. Cut in butter to make course crumbs. Gradually add just enough water to form larger clumps of dough, while stirring with a fork. You want the dough to stick together when clumped by hand, but not be overly wet. The drier the dough, the flakier your crust. Form into large disk with your hands and then roll out on a well floured cutting board, making repairs to the edges as you go. Transfer to pie plate, flute edges as desired and trim off excess dough.
Prepare filling: Peel, core and slice apples. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir 'til evenly coated. Add sourcream. Stir thoroughly. Pour apples into crust.
Prepare topping: Mix flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter to make course crumbs. Stir in pecans. Pour evenly on top of apples.
Cover edges of crust with foil. (Next time I think I'll try covering the entire crumb topping with foil for part of the baking time or chop my pecans smaller. The exposed edges of my pecans burned!)
Bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes. Let cool before serving for the filling to set. Enjoy, preferably with ice cream!