Friday, December 4, 2009

Contentment in a Pie Plate

When hubster was first called to serve in the Spanish-speaking congregation 2 years ago, we had an open house the weekend after Thanksgiving to get to know people. This year, we decided to do a repeat to socialize with the same people, who are now our friends.

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 & Dad's Famous Apple Pie)

If you'd like to enjoy my new favorite pie (an experiment that worked, yeah!), here's the recipe:

Sour Cream Apple Crumb Pie

For crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cold
Ice-cold water

For filling:
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

Crumb topping:
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!



today for example, picking B up and taking a long walk home to pass the Macy's windows, and lord and Taylor windows... Having a nice dinner with my family and talking about our day...Taking time to meet up with my friends...Calling the ones who are far away, cooking, sewing, gardening....driving. all these tings put me in a a quiet happy place.

J.B. said...

Um, calling my sister when I'm anxiety-filled, that brings me peace. And baking cookies late into the night after being anxiety-filled, so Wonderman will have fresh cookies when he finishes studying. I want pie now. I want to see you and eat your pie. Just so you know.

word verification: emphoble - v: to fill will unreasonable fear. After being emphobled at a young age, Sally's fear of paper clips became quite crippling.

May! said...

"Making Pies" is one of my favorite Patty Griffin songs. Patty Griffin is one my favorite artists. Pie is one of my favorite foods. (Cookies always come first.) And you are one of my favorite people.

The pies look incredible.

Nina Lewis said...

A great pie maker!! And a fabulous quilt maker! My inferiority complex just got bigger thanks to you ... But that's okay because you are such a wonderful person! (Do tell, when will I be invited to your house to play with your hubby's toy?)

(And I need to tell that J.B. person thank you for that wonderful word! I'm often emphobled -- but not by paper clips. Semi colons, yes, but not paper clips.

rosemeg said...

This is so lovely. My momma puts on Patty Griffin on Thanksgiving, even though there's usually just me making one pie (small family) in between all the other cookery. Kitchen projects bring me lots of contentment, too. Also long walks, good friends, my incredibly warm and peaceful boyfriend, babies and kids all sizes (I suppose that is more joy than contentment, but all good).

Thanks for visiting my blog. I look forward to keeping up on your projects and journeys!

Jessica said...

Sour cream apple crumb pie sounds like absolute bliss! This year I'm taking it easy in the kitchen this holiday time but I will try this pie!