Friday, June 1, 2012

A Baked Anniversary Gift: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This weekend my husband and I will celebrate our tenth anniversary.  Ten years feels like a really long time, when you think about it, and then, also like no time at all.  In ten years we've had two kids, moved and bought a house, and gotten comfortable (sort of, anyway) in our conjoined life.

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.
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  1. What a beautiful post to commemorate a beautiful commitment. You're right, ten years is a long time, and no time at all.

    My partner can also write and I love that about him too. We wrote an article together for ggmg magazine, about fatherhood and it came in the mail today. I am so much more proud of that piece than anything I ever wrote by myself. I'm so proud my partner can write, that he can think reflectively about fatherhood, that he can articulate his feelings so poignantly. I can't wait to share the piece on my blog, but I'm waiting until Father's Day... ;)

    Milestones are, well, they are milestones. And for a reason. I wonder if we'll make it ten years in any better shape than resignation. The truth is marriage takes work, hard work. It's exhausting but, like so many things that require a ton of effort, worth it. At least, I hope it is worth it. It's what I like to believe anyway.

    Happy Anniversary.

    1. I can't wait to see the piece on your blog!

      And there are ebbs and flows in any relationship ... sometimes it *is* more like resignation, sometimes it's commitment, and sometimes--though rarely--it's a breeze. I think it's all worth it, in the end, to have a partner to do this life thing with you.

  2. Happy anniversary! My husband and I also met on an online dating site. He doesn't write as well in English as he does in his native language, but we did something similar when he was out of the country for a few weeks--writing each other letters. He even sent his through the mail, which felt so old-fashioned, but I loved getting them in the mail.

    "I wanted him to feel like home was me." I loved this, and I hope you both still feel that way 60 years from now!

    1. Funny, isn't it, how letters feel old-timey? I love that, though.

      And we started out a bit late to make it to 60 years (unless we live into our 100s), but I guess you never know ... modern medicine *is* pretty remarkable! By then, though, we may need occasional separate porches for our rocking chairs. ;)

  3. what a great post! I could feel the love thru the pics of the pie. happy anniversary. :)


  4. This made me tear up a bit. So lovely and usually so true after a decade and two kids together. Sounds like love to me! the pie looks like love too.

  5. Such a sweet post. Happy Anniversary!

  6. Beautiful--the post, the pie, and the love that's shining out of it all!
    My husband tells me that he fell in love with my rhubarb pie first...and now we're coming up to our 32nd anniversary!
    Happy anniversary to you and your husband.

    1. *grin* What *is* it about rhubarb? Both tart and sweet ... ;) Congratulations on your upcoming 32nd! That *is* impressive!

  7. Oh, that's lovely! Happy anniversary, J & S.

    It's our ten year anniversary too this year. It has gone so fast! Sometimes I find it hard to remember what life was like before D; it's been so long.

    Love the pie, looks absolutely delicious.

  8. Happy anniversary! The pie looks delicious. We celebrated our 5-year anniversary yesterday, and we also met through an online dating service! The online dating scene was only slightly more cool when we met.

    You were such a sweet girlfriend to set up such a loving homecoming from Singapore!

  9. Typing through my tears... What a beautiful post and Happy, Happy Anniversary! :)

    I loved this: "I wanted him to feel like home was me."

    and this:

    "I'm also grateful that I have this home we've created together, durable but mutable, half-baked in the best way possible."

    It's true that our relationships with our husbands change, A LOT, after we have kids, but I appreciate how you are able to celebrate the beauty in your marriage over the years, even if you don't *get* to do all the special things together that you used to.

    1. :) Thanks, Kathy!

      We even got to celebrate out together, alone ... and remember appreciating each other, before having a family and keeping it together took over our lives ... I feel like IF does this perhaps even more so than would happen "normally"!

  10. Happy Anniversary, and I must say that you BOTH can write. Ryan and I just celebrated our third, and I can only imagine what the next seven years will hold. I imagine we'll have a few kids then too, and I'm sure they change so much! Thank you for sharing with me...and for brightening my day with your post. I hope you have a wonderful and cool week!

  11. Happy decade anniversary to you two! I can relate to what you say about kinda missing each other with all the chaos of a life baked together.

    70?? I'll be ollllllddd!

    I love the way you welcomed him home from Singapore.

  12. This post kind of made me a bit teary. You are a true WRITER. Happy anniversary to you! Ten years is a beautiful thing!

  13. Happy Anniversary, both of you!

    (And I loved reading about the things you left him to find after his Singapore trip.)


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