Tag Archives: pie


The last two years have been the hardest years of my life. Hard because I made them that way; hard because I looked at my life and realized that I wasn’t all the way in it, and I wanted to get all the way in it. I woke up and looked around and knew that I had to change a lot of things. So I set about changing them.

Here’s the thing about saying yes: once you start, it becomes an incredible betrayal of what you’ve already done to stop saying yes. No one warned me about that. It would not have stopped me, in any case. But when I started making changes in my life, I think I believed that was a finite process. Change this thing about my habits, check. Change this thing about my body, check. Change this thing about where I live, what I want, what I do, check, check, check. But as I made these changes and my life opened up before me and I began to know myself, my real self, the way I want to be, the light that poured into my life showed a thousand little cracks and fissures and flaws. All things that needed more yes.

So I’ve gone on saying yes, and making changes and growing and reshaping and learning. And it has been rough and glorious. It’s still rough, and I don’t really expect it to stop being rough any time soon. But the glorious is so big, and I’m incredibly grateful for this life that I’m all the way in.

Here’s why.

My friends, both here and in Chicago, have cheered me on, have dried my tears, have given me their homes and their helping hands and their loving support. They have literally fed and clothed me, before, during and after the move. I would not be sitting here calm and happy and typing without them. No, seriously, they gave me the laptop, too. My friends, all of them, are tough, tender, smart and daring people, and everything important that I know about being a person, I learned from them.

I love a good man, an amazing man, and he loves me. He delights in my good days, and he lightens my hard days; he tells me his triumphs and struggles, and lets me share in them, too. He makes me think, he makes me laugh, and he never lets me forget that I’m beautiful.

My family, immediate and extended, are more present in my life than ever before. My brother and his wife have been life-savers to me this year, and seeing my niece and nephew every week is a sweet and hilarious joy beyond compare. My parents have brought all of us together through the time they’re spending with my grandparents in Virginia. One of my cousins set up a family email list a couple of years ago, and I’ve been so happy to get to know my (very far-flung) family and their lives through the easy grace of email.

This apartment is warm and light and comfortable and all my own. In an age of want, I’m truly grateful for my home. I know I’m lucky to have it, and the peace and solitude and comfort that it gives me.

I have good work, that I enjoy and that I do well. It connects me to myself, and to other people; it brings me satisfaction and curiosity and new things to think about all the time.

I could keep going indefinitely. There are books to be thankful for, and tools to be grateful for, and Donkey Kong and Sonic the Hedgehog and the gym and my growing love for shrieky metal music. There is the postal service, and Trimet and Netflix and street art and the beautiful bridges of Portland. There is the magic of Google and the stuff they made that pretty much runs my life. But there are also kids to be cuddled, and wine to be poured and pie to be eaten, and you’ve probably got a turkey in the oven. So I’m going to stop here.

Today is Thanksgiving. I wish you a happy one, and I say thank you. I say yes.

pie every day, by pat willard

I have a lot of cookbooks, and I use and enjoy most of them, but the ones I love the most are the ones that are all about a single food or technique. I love to hear people talk about discovering and mastering something that changed their life. Pie Every Day is one of my favorite finds ever, and my copy is covered in butter splotches and fruit juices and the tracks of my tears over failed crusts. I treasure it. This book has been out of print for years, which is a travesty, but it’s readily available used online.

Pat Willard started making pies in order to establish something for herself in a new environment where she wasn’t quite sure of herself. So she set about making lots and lots and lots of pies and the making of pies knit its way into her life and her pie-filled life found its way into this charming collection in hilarious stories. Sometimes they’re specific to one pie, sometimes they’re specific to eating, and sometimes they’re just really funny and it doesn’t matter where they fit in. For instance, pie as a way to soothe a frazzled neighbor:

“The only person I could entice at first was Fran, the mother of [my son’s] best friend. She was about to have her third child and was working part-time. On the day I called her for the first time with an offer of cherry pie and tea, her middle son had just washed her car keys down the drain-pipe in the backyard. ‘I’ll be right over,’ she said, and appeared five minutes later, carrying the defendant sideways across her swollen belly…When Fran looked out the window to see where the children were going, what she saw was [my son] stark naked, balancing on the top rung of an old plastic jungle gym, pretending to be Indiana Jones (his whip a strip of insulation he’d pulled from the doorjamb). ‘You see what he’s doing?’ she asked. ‘You want sugar or honey?’ I replied, gently coaxing her to the table.”

I’m not saying it’s anything I want happening to me, but it’s fun to read about in between recipes for Onion-Apple Tartlets, Red Grape Pie, and Blueberry-Whipped Cream Pie. My copy opens automatically to the page for Bittersweet Lemon Tart, a tried and true favorite and a real pleasure if you like your pie sour.

Bittersweet Lemon Tart

1 single 11-inch dessert tart crust, unbaked
2 medium lemons, ends cut off
1/3 cup white rum
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 8 pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the slicing disk, process the lemons (peels and all) until finely cut. Transfer to a medium bowl and throw out all the seeds you can find. (a blender also works fine for this, as long as you slice the lemons first)

Pour the rum over the lemons, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight. The longer the lemon mixture sits, the more heady (and potent) the flavor.

Return the lemons to the food processor and process the soaked lemons until finely chopped. Add the sugar, eggs, and butter and process until the butter is completely incorporated (the mixture will look curdled).

Place the prepared tart pan on a baking sheet and pour in the filling.

Bake for 30 minutes in the center of the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 10 minutes more or until the crust is golden.

Call your friends and sit down for a slice of flaky, golden, rum-soaked lemony joy.

saturday’s child is full of pie

I spent the better part of the day yesterday engaged in a labor of love that resulted, eventually, in a Pear Gruyere Pie. The recipe doesn’t belong to me, so it’s not posted here, but I’ve linked to it if you want to try it. The lovely and pie-centric Pushing Daisies aired its final episode two weeks ago, and Shana and I decided to save it until we had time to bake pies and celebrate/mourn properly. Yesterday was the day, so I made my pie and Shana made a sensational cherry pie and homemade vanilla ice cream. We had a simple dinner of cheese, bread and grapes, accompanied by a strictly necessary quantity of wine, and feasted ourselves on pieapalooza and grief as only true TV fans can do.

The weather in Chicago this week is pie-unfriendly, so I had the air conditioner on high and a couple of times I had to throw the dough in the freezer while I was working to keep it from absorbing too much moisture. There were a few places where the crust was too thick and didn’t quite crisp all the way through, and the filling could use some extra pow; next time I make it I think I’ll try adding some citrus to the poaching syrup. Still, all things considered, I think my pear pie turned out beautifully and I’m going to enjoy having both pear and cherry leftovers this week.

Au revoir, Pieman. Goodbye, Chuck and Olive. Kisses to Digby and Pigby and Aunts Lily and Vivian (I bought an eyepatch because of you). Emerson Cod, I hope to see you around. I’ll miss you.