Lately, I've been jamming on jams. No, not the kind you find in jars (though, let's be real, I'd never pass up a perfect triangle of toast slathered with some homemade jam or preserves). I mean the things in life that make you light up and say, "That?! Oh, that's my jam!"
I'm thankful to be part of Book Club at Buffer, where we most recently read Brene Brown's Rising Strong. (If you're not familiar with Brene's work, please go read everything by her. I'll wait here in the meantime and have pie for you when you get back!) As my teammates and I chatted about vulnerability, someone mentioned that part of being vulnerable means allowing yourself to 'feel the feels' without guilt or shame for your emotions.
I'm no stranger to going against the grain, so the idea of granting myself a permission slip really stuck with me. Lately, I've been putting a ton of pressure on myself to not waste my free time and creating mental lists of what I should be doing.
Confession time: I am a doer. To a fault. I like to go, go, go and squeeze every last drop out of my weekends if I can. Most times this involves running errands, household chores, scurrying off to farmers markets, and taking on fourteen overly ambitious kitchen projects at once. While I often feel pretty accomplished on Sunday night, being constantly on the go can get a little exhausting after a while.
Sure enough, a few weeks ago, I wore myself out a bit and caught a nasty sinus infection that knocked me out pretty hard and pretty quickly. It was a great signal from the Universe to slow down and take it easy. With that in mind, since getting better, I've vowed to take things easy and really embrace the things that I want to do, rather than the things I feel I should or could be doing. This has looked like:
- greeting the first hours of Saturday on the dance floor at a Friday night 90's dance party
- driving to the beach and leaving when I want to, not feeling like I should stay because I've driven a ways to get there
- getting hooked on The Bachelorette, a show I never thought I'd watch
- spending an entire afternoon berry picking...not once, but twice
- waking up at 6:15am on a Saturday to go running because it feels good to start my day with my blood pumping (and feeling grateful whether I run 2 miles or 3/4 of a mile because I've done something kind for my body)
- re-reading Farmer Boy because it was the first food memoir I read as a kid (thanks, Laura Ingalls Wilder!)
- eating ice cream for dinner (helloooooo Tonight Dough!)
It's been so liberating to absolve myself from ideas about how I should be spending my time and to instead embrace the attitude that my time is mind to spend...on whatever grand or trivial thing I choose!
One of my long-term "I do what I want" projects is to work my way through all of my cookbooks--one at a time. I'm currently jamming on The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, which is stunning and lovely to read through. After all that glorious berry picking, I spent a week trying to perfect the perfect all-butter crust. I'd say I'm pretty darn close at this point :)
Though I made a few different pies over the past month or so, this one might just be my favorite. You can get the pie crust recipe in the book, or here, or you can use your favorite crust recipe. For the filling, I used mostly strawberries (that I picked!), with a stalk or two of rhubarb. It's also got a spoonful or two of strawberry-balsamic jam because, well, it's my jam.
Strawberry-Balsamic Pie (adapted from Saveur)
- 3 lb. strawberries, halved
- 1⁄2 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1⁄2 cup cornstarch
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
- 2 T strawberry jam of your choosing
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg yolk + 1 T water
- 2 10" pie crusts, chilled.
1. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
2. Reserve the 1 tbsp of sugar and set aside.
3. Mix together remaining filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside to hang out while you get the pie crust ready.
2. Roll out each pie crust into a 10" diameter circle. Place one pie crust in the bottom of a 9" deep dish pie pan.
3. Add filling to pan.
4. Cut lattice strips or get funky with some cookie cutters to make your pie crust look extra swanky. Top the pie with the lattice in a weave pattern or your cut out shapes.
5. Mix together egg yolk + water to make an egg wash. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle with the 1 tbsp of sugar.
6. Bake until the crust is a lovely golden brown color and the inside of the pie is bubbling nicely. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then serve with some ice cream or whipped cream and write yourself a permission slip to enjoy a slice, or the whole damn thing. I won't judge!