There's something about milestone anniversaries like this that makes you think back, though, to the time before ... the time of courtship, the time of first getting to know one another, the time that maybe you took a little bit less for granted.
Though he often seems reluctant to admit it, S. and I met through an online dating service. It was the early days of such services, when they were still free and still a little geeky, and I always qualify that comment by explaining that even though we met that way, we didn't actually get together as something more than friends until much later (partly because I was just too stubborn to see how right he was for me). One of the things I always loved about him, though, was that he could write; it was strangely important to me that my future spouse be able to put coherent sentences together, and make them appealing to read.
And write he did. Love letters, even. The sort of thing you'd never expect from an engineer. I was won over. (That, and he once encouraged me to order a third dessert for our table for two. I couldn't believe my ears.)
One month, while we were dating, he was away in business on Singapore. I remember thinking about how much I loved his letters, and decided to hand-write him a letter almost every day, collecting them together to give to him when he returned. I felt like I had so much to say, and that he needed to hear, though I'm sure now they weren't earth-shattering news. On the day before he was scheduled to return, I left the letters, some lego candy and Boston Baked Beans (his favorites), a loaf of banana poppy seed bread from my breadmaker, and this strawberry rhubarb pie (inspired by a comment he made about liking said pie) in the middle of the living room in his apartment. I wanted them to be the first thing he saw when he got home. I wanted him to feel like home was me.
Now there are days when I feel like we barely talk with one another, between running around tending to kids, taking care of household chores, errands and commitments on the weekends. We seem even to have lost our date nights (which consisted of watching House, M.D. together once a week) to my few hours of part-time work and late night dinner preparation for the next day and the neverending piles of laundry. I miss those luxurious days when we used to talk for hours about nothing and everything. I miss the minimalist travel to foreign countries, the long bike rides together, the dance of death in our small kitchen when we would cook in parallel. But I'm also grateful that I have this home we've created together, durable but mutable, half-baked in the best way possible.
S. mentioned to me yesterday that our neighbors will be celebrating their seventieth (yes, that's seven-zero) anniversary in October. Impressed, I said, "wow, that's commitment." He laughed, and responded, "yes ... or resignation." (Which, if you ever listened to our almost-ninety-year-old neighbor hooting for her almost-ninety-year-old husband, who is likely hiding in the garden or in the basement, is probably closer to the truth.)
Happy anniversary, S. Here's to sixty more years of rhubarb pie. Thanks for asking of me only that I be myself, certifiable--if compassionate--nut that I am. I hope you never have to hide in the garden.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
One double pie crust recipe of your choice (I use this one, which is vegan and doesn't require any refrigeration time)
1 lb. strawberries, hulled and halved
3 1/2 c. rhubarb, trimmed and sliced 1/2" thick
1/2 c. (packed) golden brown sugar1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water OR 2 T. soy milk (for brushing the crust)
Preheat oven to 400F. Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Toss to blend.
Roll out half the dough on a floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9" pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang.
Roll out remaining dough on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch-wide strips. Spoon filling into crust. Arrange half of the dough strips atop filling, spacing evenly. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction atop filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.
Brush glaze (egg or soy milk) over crust. transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.