Friday, June 3, 2011

Spackling and Sanding, and Old Fashioned Lime Pie

This week marked my husband's and my ninth wedding anniversary.  It's hard to believe we've been married that long, though then again, it's hard to believe that we have a four year old son and a four month old daughter.  We celebrated by getting a babysitter and slipping away right after N. went to sleep for her first "long sleep" of the night, and we were able to eat dinner -- at a nice restaurant! -- and get home before she started to stir.

I've been doing some work in the kitchen these past two weeks in preparation for new countertops (the old ones are actually mold-filled pressed wood, so we need new ones, despite the somewhat inconvenient timing that coincided with our shift to a single-income household), and I've been thinking that spackling and sanding is a lot like marriage, or really, any long-term committed relationship.  You start out with something that looks pristine, but then, over time, things change, and you create holes that you have to patch up, so you get new drywall, and you spackle and sand.  You probably spackle and sand three times--maybe you even prime it once somewhere in there, hoping that will help--before you realize that you can never smooth the rough patches over entirely; your wall has changed.  Heck, maybe your house was a little crooked to begin with, so you couldn't possibly put the new drywall in without incident.  Still, you put a whole lot of time and energy into this project, and the wall is whole again, and that's what's important, even if it's got bumps and divets.  You take the next step and prime it, and then you paint, knowing that paint will hide a lot of flaws.  And chances are you'll have to go through the whole process all over again more times than you will care to before you leave the house for good.

Part of the sanding and spackling in a good relationship is compromise.  Though it will seem like a silly example: S. loves citrusy desserts.  The more tart and tangy, the better.  I made this pie for him before we got married, knowing that the quickest way to many people's hearts is through their stomachs.  S. lovingly refers to it as "blood lime pie" because I have a tendency to grate my skin when I'm grating lime peel, and I also sliced my finger open the first time when I was slicing limes for the garnish.  It's one of the few desserts I have in my cookbook that I don't much like (I'm sure that it came from someone's church cookbook years ago), but S. likes it ... and so when I have a chance to make it and serve it to more people than our intimate little clan, I do.

Happy anniversary, S.  Here's to many more years of home maintainance.

Old Fashioned Lime Pie

36 vanilla wafer cookies (4.75 oz)
1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 t. plus 1 T. grated lime zest
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
3/4 c. fresh lime juice
2 large eggs
Lime slices or lime peel curls

Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind vanilla wafers in processor. Add melted butter and 1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel; process until moist crumbs form. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using plastic wrap as aid, press crumbs onto bottom and up sides of dish (crust will be thin). Bake just until crust begins to turn golden on edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Maintain oven temperature.

Meanwhile, whisk condensed milk, lime juice and 1 tablespoon lime peel in medium bowl to blend. Whisk in eggs.

Pour filling into warm crust. Bake until filling is set, about 20 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.) Garnish with lime slices or curls of lime peel. Cut into wedges; serve.
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  1. What a wonderful metaphor. I feel like we're trying desperately to patch up the wall of our relationship and we're so tired and run down that we're doing a pretty shoddy job of it. I worry that later these patchwork attempts will prove inadequate and everything will come tumbling down. This all takes so much more work than I expected. And I'm so tired of working.

    I hope the work on your kitchen goes quickly and without incident. Good luck!

  2. Happy Anniversary!!! I loved your analogy, so true! I hope you both enjoy many more years of home maintenance together:)

  3. Happy Anniversary! And I too like the metaphor. :)

  4. Happy Anniversary....I have been thinking about marriage lately, too (my anniversary was two weeks ago) and that with all the annoyances that come from living with someone, as you say, the worn patches, the familiar battles, there is certain beauty of the besmudged long-term marriage. Just this morning, I was thinking of my grandfather as he leaned over my grandmother on her hospital bed on the day that she died, grasping her shoulder and shouting "hello blue eyes." I couldn't help but chuckle as I thought about how much my grandmother hated that my grandfather talked so loudly because he was slightly deaf. I like the analogy that we have to maintain our marriage, that the scratches and lumps never really go away, but they get smoothed over with time. (Runningmama from More Room in My Heart)

  5. Happy Anniversary. This is a great post. My husband and I are similar about desserts. He loves them to be sweet and very creamy (cheesecake) and I love strong flavors like dark chocolate, liquor and citrus.
    This is a wonderful reminder.I think that we often go about our business, knowing that the wall is still standing. It's so important to take the time to check for cracks and fissures and then to repair them. If neglected, they could weaken the whole structure.

  6. Happy anniversary! I love lime pie and this looks wonderful.

  7. having just weathered our first major patch-up job of my own 4 year marriage, i'm glad to see that after 9 years & a few more patch-ups there's still hope & love left! & pie. bc what would life be without pie? ;)

  8. Happy anniversary! I love the analogy too. I hope the new counter tops are beautiful. Want to post a photo?!

  9. Happy anniversary lovely lady and MMMmmMMMm on the lime! Open a bakery and I promise to order at least 3 a year.

  10. Happy Anniversary and YUM: I've never seen a lime pie without the "key" in the title. I wonder why that is? Does it taste the same?

  11. Happy Anniversary and congrats on 9 years! That pie looks so good. SO GOOD.

  12. This post made my heart happy. I always love hearing metaphors for love that allude to the beautiful work involved in keeping love alive. Happy anniversary!

  13. My husband would LOVE this pie!

    Our house is 89 years old, and my husband bought it with his first wife. Despite the fact he loves the house, in the years before we met he didn't look after it very well - he let the sheds fill with junk, he didn't maintain things well, he was bewildered by the garden, the bathroom was rotting.

    It's not the house I would choose, but since I've been there I've done lots of throwing out of old things, painting, renovating the bathroom, chucking out manky old carpet and polishing floorboards, turning the garden into something that provides us with food, etc. Sometimes we don't necessarily like what we're 'given' but have to make it our own.

  14. Happy Anniversary! And thanks for sharing with us such a tasty pie. This year we have our 5th anniversary, hope to have a great idea to. :)


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