It's nearly Christmas and the 40th birthday of someone I love, so I made a pie. I'd never even made a pie with a pre-made crust, but I wanted to make one from scratch so I read about making pies for a bit. When the same tips came up multiple times I remembered them. I made a mental Pie Best Practices one-sheet. Then I found a recipe online for apple pie, one that had been reviewed by home-cooking testers over a thousand times. I wanted a recipe with the fewest possible ingredients and steps -- the fewest number of ways to fuck this pie up.
Then I just went all in. Bought a pie plate and a pastry cutter and very carefully followed the instructions. I made sure each measurement was as precise as possible. And then, two hours later, after making a giant mess, I had a glorious, flaky, made-from-tiny-parts pie.
Peeling and coring and slicing the apples and leveling off the flour with my fingers and rolling the dough just so left me thrumming inside. I was out of my head and in my body and creating something. Even if it had turned into a pile of inedible slop, making that slop would have made me happy that night. That the pie was a success became the icing on the cake, so to speak.
Baking that night brought me joy. It was as much about concentrating on a single task and not being distracted by pings or other things. The peace came from being present in that kitchen with flour on my forearms, no streams of information fluttering past my face, no meant-to-dos hovering nearby. Just "make the pie, make it good."
And it was.
I can easily fall victim to obsessive thoughts and anxiety. I don't get depressed, I get nervous. But baking takes me out of that instantly. Since the other night a lot of what I've been thinking about is what kind of pie I will make next.