Sometimes when I don’t know what to write, I feel lost. I stand up and sit down with the hope that the brief change of elevation will bring words to the right place in my brain. I write something and delete it. Write and delete it. I blame it on the music and change my Pandora station. I google treadmill desks and chairs made from balls. I check Facebook. I think of a question and I search for the answer. I think about how I don’t like the internet. I worry that the internet is doing to my head what too much pot did to my head when I was a teenager. I worry that it’s shortening my attention span, changing the nature of my focus. I worry that it’s leading to my dissatisfaction with stillness and silence and unanswered questions. I worry that if the words aren’t here now, maybe they’ve stopped for good. Stand up, sit down. Write and delete.
Sometimes, like now, I walk into the quiet kitchen and make pie instead of writing.
It helps. And instead of just an empty page, I have an empty page AND a pie. Sometimes if you can’t make one thing, it’s good to make something else.
Happy weekend, friends. Remember, rhubarb is totally a vegetable, so you can have pie for dinner if you want.
Rhubarb Ginger Pie
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1-inch slices
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
the juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch
2/3 cup maple syrup (this preserves the tartness of the rhubarb, but feel free to increase if you have more of a sweet tooth)
2 tablespoons butter, plus additional for the pie plate
1 recipe pie pastry for a double-crust, 9-inch pie (any will do, but I use the one from my book which is based off this one)
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Stir together the rhubarb, ginger, lemon, cinnamon, arrowroot, and maple syrup in a mixing bowl. Let it sit for at least ten minutes.
2. Meanwhile, grease a 9-inch pie plate with butter. Roll out 1/2 of the pie pastry on a floured counter and transfer to the pie plate. Roll out the second half of the pie pastry and cut into 1-inch strips.
3. Pour the rhubarb mixture along with any juice that has collected in the bowl into the pastry-lined pie plate. Weave the strips into a lattice pattern overtop the rhubarb. You can be neat about it, or you can be more improvisational. Pinch up the edges of the crust in whatever way that pleases you. Cut the butter into small pieces and dab it here in there where the fruit peeks out from between the lattice. Put the pie onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the fruit bubbles. Let cool for an hour before serving.
Elizabeth Beattie says
Yes!!!!!!!! I am so making this!!!!!!!!
Did I miss where it says how much rhubarb? I think I’ll make this over the weekend 🙂
Thank you, Cindy! I wasn’t kidding about the whole “write and delete” thing. Somehow I edited the rhubarb right out of the pie. All fixed now.
I made this pie today, and it is AWESOME!! Everyone at our potluck loved it, grownups and kids alike. Only thing to report is that it was fully cooked at 50 minutes. Might try it at 400 next time 🙂
Thank you, Cindy- I’ll make sure there’s a clear range in the recipe! I’ve found that little variations in how thick the crust is rolled/ the water content of the rhubarb, etc. all make such a difference in those last few minutes of cooking. I’m so glad the pie was a hit, too.
So well said. You’ve nailed the problems with coming up with something to write. For me, often I get ideas when the kids have me so busy that it’s impossible to write it down. Of course, it’s then long gone by the time I get to a pen and paper. Other times I sit staring at an empty screen for an unspecified amount of time. This usually this ends with several episodes of House Hunters International. However, occasionally I’m able to remember the advice of Anne Lamont in her book Bird by Bird: “I go back to trying to breathe, slowly and calmly, and I finally notice the one-inch picture frame that I put on my desk to remind me of short assignments. It reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being.”
Thanks for the Anne Lamott reminder, Rebecca. Always a help. 🙂
Lisa G. says
This sounds lovely.
Pie for dinner. Yes.
Anastasia M. says
I love your perspective!
Me? Instead of just a dirty kitchen floor, I have a dirty kitchen floor AND strawberry buttermilk ice cream!
It sounds like we should team up this weekend. An empty page, a dirty floor, a rhubarb pie, and strawberry buttermilk ice cream. Now that’s the makings for an excellent weekend right there.
I want to join this party!
Reminds me of Grace Paley’s “pie poem,” which I discovered during my first attempt at writing my Master’s thesis – an attempt derailed by too much baking!
You can read Paley’s poem here:
Funny how we are sometimes more creative with our hands than with our brains….
I’m not a writer, but a proofreader. And instead of working my way through the hundreds of pages I must proof today I found myself checking to see if you’ve posted something new. 🙂
I must say I’m honored to be a source of procrastination for someone else 🙂
Rachel @ 6512 and growing says
My writing-procrastination has skyrocketed since the internet is now at my fingertips. I’m so bad at being sneaky about checking FB, or blogs, or the Amazon reviews of every book I’ve read in the past 2 years when I should be writing, that I bust myself and do it anyway and then laugh.
We have 2 rhubarb plants in the yard that are ready and I’m making a riff on this tonight (crisp instead of crust). What’s the arrowroot for?
Just wait until you’re checking Amazon reviews of books you’ve written, too. Ugh. That’s the worst. But yes, bust yourself and laugh is a good strategy, I think.
Arrowroot thickens a bit, but you’re okay to leave it out–it will just be a little less held together. Can also totally sub in flour or cornstarch if you prefer- I just think arrowroot is the most neutral of all of those flavor-wise. Happy crisping…
I have scoured this little town in search of rhubarb. My plants are too new to use this year and I FINALLY found a savior today to give me some.
You see, my birthday is tomorrow and I am making myself lemon meringue and rhubarb pie, and there was no way I was not making THESE TWO PIES. Do you have any opinions as to how strawberries would do in this?
I can’t wait to make this!
Happy birthday, Jackie! Lemon meringue and rhubarb… that is my kind of birthday party for sure. As for strawberries, of course it’s a natural marriage, but I have to admit, I prefer rhubarb alone. I think when it’s with strawberries it becomes more of a texture than a flavor, and I just love the way it tastes. But if you have strawberries and you need somewhere to put them, certainly sub out some of the rhubarb. I hope your day is wonderful.
Megan Gordon says
I LOVE that you used rhubarb solely here instead of folding in strawberries. Goooood call. I want to plant rhubarb desperately out back but I understand that it has a 3-year “waiting period” (I know that’s not the right term!) and since we’re renting I just can’t bear to do it. But someday: rhubarb in the backyard and pie very often! Happy weekend, Alana.
Yum–I can’t wait to try this! I love the combination of ginger and rhubarb…match made in heaven…truly. This year I made rhubarb ginger jam and entered it into the county fair. I ended up winning a 2nd place. Today I’m making rhubarb juice but have plenty of rhubarb for picking…pie will be made this weekend.