It’s been a while since I’ve done a FTWL post so I figured that with the fleeting peach season I had better get on it. I feel like I should also apologize for the abundance of pie-like recipes. Thom says I fixate on them. I do. I go on pie binges and although it seems excessive, too much pie is never a bad thing so I’m not going to offer up an apology. Instead I offer a recipe for Thom’s favorite pie. Prefaced with 667 words and a shitload of pictures, and for that I am a little bit sorry.
I had an epiphany of sorts after we did away with the original wedding plan. Prior to doing so, I can’t tell you how bad I didn’t want to get married and how much that feeling ate away at me. I started getting cold feet. Questioning the empire of love that we built and have worked so hard to maintain. I lost my shit. He lost his shit. We had a tumultuous spring. We screamed. I cried. And then we came to our senses like people usually do when they stop trying to cram a square peg into a round hole. Or something like that.
Have you ever tried imagining your life without the person you love most? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a significant other. It could be your mom or your bother or your best friend. Try it. Close your eyes and try to picture your life without them. Your eyes will probably get wet. You might also laugh. But no matter how you get there – to that place where your favorite person no longer exists – you’re going to realize something: Your life would not be nearly as full and you, my friend, would undoubtedly be worse off. Life would – for lack of better words – kinda fucking suck.
My life without Thom would likely have eight fewer months of foreign travel. Less chocolate hidden in my half of the closet. I’d probably still be attending Catholic mass, trying hard to beat monotheistic ideals into my brain even though, as a very young child, I never subscribed to the beliefs of organized religion. (Especially not those of the Catholic church, although I am quite fond of Mother Teresa, PJP II, and Papa Francesco.) If not for Thom, chances are I’d still have that crippling psychological illness that lasted damn-near a decade. The one I have yet to talk about here because, I don’t know, maybe there’s a part of me that doesn’t feel comfortable putting that on the table just yet. Or ever. Sometimes I think the only reason I’m alive and well (finally, well) is because of him. I was sick. So sick. Then he came into my life and for the first time I found something that made me want to get better. It took a long time; a lot of love and encouragement, and countless nights confined to our bright blue sofa, him rubbing my back while I writhed in pain and tried my damnedest not to cry in front of the man I hadn’t yet told I loved. Maybe because I didn’t think I deserved him. Probably because I didn’t think I deserved him. He promised me there would come a time when I would wake up and the struggle would be over. I will have come out on the other side. I will have won.
He was right.
I wake up now a much better version of myself, partly because of Thom. Sometimes I’ll roll over, stare at him like a total creep, and think about how fortunate I am that we both found ourselves in shitty life positions in the fall of 2007. We were lost and, for one reason or another, our paths crossed and look at us now: Seven years later we are stronger, happier, and so enamored with one another it’s almost vomit-inducing. It is completely mind boggling and OH MY GOD terrifying to love another human with such intensity. Some of you know what I’m talking about. Congratulations. Those of you who don’t, just wait, it will happen. And when it does, like me, you may question whether you are worthy of another person who loves you more than the sun and the moon and all the stars in the sky. A person who carries you through the worst of the worst, and sees you out on the other end. No pressure, no judgment, just unparalleled love.
So the answer: Are you worth it? I think you know that by now.
For Thom, with love.
Notes: Coconut oil pie crust is a real bitch, so follow the recipe exactly. Most recipes will tell you to freeze the oil before cutting it into the flour, but I’ve found this step to be both frustrating and unnecessary and yield a pretty shitty pie crust. I don’t like shitty pie crust. Thankfully I’ve tested this recipe over a dozen times so I promise you won’t be left with an inedible pie. Peach pie is inherently juicy, so if you prefer a pie that holds its shape (Thom does) (I do, too) get peaches that are still a bit firm but a day or two away from being fully ripened. If your peaches are super ripe you’ll want to use 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of starch in the filling, but your pie will still be a bit juicy – that’s just the nature of peach pie. If your peaches are firm, 3 tablespoons will suffice. Try a slice of each peach before using them, as you may want to increase the sugar to 1/2 cup if using peaches that haven’t fully ripened. If you want to make an 8-9″ pie with lattice, you can double the recipe but I recommend just making it in two batches. The recipe below will make enough for an 8-9″ pie without lattice.
PS – If you guys have trouble with the crust, I’ll do a How To post for coconut oil pie crust with more photos and a super detailed description. And options for whole grain, spelt, gluten free (!?!??) etc.
PEACH CARDAMOM PIE WITH COCONUT OIL CRUST
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour (170 grams)
1 tablespoon cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted
5-6 tablespoons water, ice cold
2 Palisade peaches, sliced 1/4″ thick (12-14 ounces total)
1/3 cup cane sugar
3-4 tablespoons potato starch (see notes above)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 teaspoons soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Sprinkle a 6″ pie plate or cast iron skillet with flour; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Slowly drizzle in the coconut oil, one tablespoon at a time, while using your thumb pressed against your fingers to swirl it around/press it into the flour. Once you’ve added all the oil, continue mixing with your fingers (15-20 seconds) until the mixture resembles coarse meal with larger clumps (see third photo above). Transfer bowl to the freezer for 15 minutes then remove and use your fingers to squeeze the crumbs and break down the hard clumps of coconut oil. Drizzle in the water, one tablespoon at a time, and mix with your fingers until combined (the same way you were mixing in the oil, but in a more gentle fashion). Repeat until five tablespoons of water have been added. Pinch a piece of the dough together; if it sticks and forms a solid dough, you’re good. If it crumbles, add the remaining tablespoon of water and gently mix until incorporated. Just barely knead the dough (10-15 seconds) (do not overwork the dough) then flatten it into disk, place back in bowl, and set aside for 10-15 minutes. Feel free to wrap it in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for up to 24 hours or frozen for up to two weeks. You will need to let the dough thaw/soften before proceeding.
While the dough is resting, whisk the cane sugar, potato starch, cardamom, and vanilla bean seeds in a large mixing bowl. Add the sliced peached and toss until evenly coated; set aside.
Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll out the dough into a large circle about 1/4″ thick. Transfer to prepared pie pan and trim the edges, leaving about 1/2″ overhang. Fill with peach filling, but do not add the juice that’s at the bottom of the bowl – you can, however, spoon up to two tablespoons over top of the peaches. Press the remaining dough into a ball and roll it out until it’s 1/8-1/4″ thick. Cut into even strips (or use a cookie cutter to cut out tiny hearts) and lay over pie to create a lattice. Fold the edge of the pie crust over itself then crimp with your fingers or a fork. Brush with soy milk then sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake at 400˚F for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and cover edges with foil and continue baking for an additional 7-9 minutes.
Allow pie to cool for 6-8 hours, then serve. Pie is best eaten within 24 hours, but will keep for up to three days. Cover loosely with plastic and store in the refrigerator. Reheat as needed.
If you’d prefer to freeze the pie, don’t put it back in the oven after the initial 15 minutes of baking. Instead let it cool completely then wrap in three layers of cling wrap and freeze for up to one month (it may keep longer, but I only kept mine for just over four weeks). Baking time will vary, but will be 15-25 minutes at 400˚F.
Yield: 5 small slices