The last 5 weeks have been an exercise in understanding the relativity of time. Any duration of time can feel extremely long or short and it all depends on how you’re spending it. An interesting pattern that I came across while thinking of what to write for this recipe was, 6 days. There have been a lot of things of great importance that took me 6 days to complete and in the recent past its this amount of time that I’ve taken to make big decisions. Last year, (around this time funnily enough) it took my family 6 days to decide on the path of treatment for my /nani’s/ (maternal grandmother) cancer which went really well; 6 days is how long it took me to compile my 45 page biology senior thesis (once I had all the pieces put together); 6 days is also the time it usually takes me to return any item that I buy online because I absolutely hate going through that process (this came to mind since I spent almost an hour today returning a dog collar for Besan that would have fit him a month ago but the little fur ball had another growth spurt).
Recently, it took me 6 days to get to know someone really well. From meeting her for the first time to seeing her leave for year, with fond memories, a full stomach, and tokens of appreciation. As is true for millennials world over, I found her over Instagram where I would frequently comment on her hilarious stories until one finally caught her eye — I critiqued her recipe for aglio e olio and told her to add some lemon. This sparked a genuine back and forth of story appreciation and general happiness for the things we were doing in life until she decided to invite herself over two weeks ago for a lunch. Excited as I was to actually meet someone who from the outset, shines positivity confetti with their every action on social media, I embarked on thinking of a whole meal for us to devour. She of course, helped with choosing the menu and acknowledging her sole reason to come was to meet Besan. Even though she helped in the menu, I knew what I wanted to serve her from the very beginning. Aglio e olio because that was how this friendship started, a tiramisu being the only dessert I truly think I have perfected, and mulled wine because its warm and immediately makes you feel at home.
What was supposed to be a quick 7 ingredient pasta turned into a 7 hour long event that began with making fresh pasta and ended with her leaving me to the grocery store where I had to buy mayonnaise for my dad. That first meeting was like no other because in 7 hours I could see what could have been. It made me realise that there are people outside of the realm that I was consumed by and the people that have kept me… tethered to a certain template. All this in 7 hours and a whole head of garlic (the warm spiked wine might have helped too). I felt a surge of want, need, and reciprocation that while still reserved from perhaps conventional standards, was still more than what I got while anchored by my past.
I met her 4 times in 6 days and each was unique in their own way. We both grew up in Delhi and for those 4 days I felt as though I was finally living like an adult in the city that I call home. We had dosas on our second meet at a famous South Indian store that we have both gone in the past but were now creating new memories. We got lost walking through a metro station and then found our way to Lodhi Gardens to catch some rays while she listened and I practiced the art of vulnerability (and PDA). Meeting three was fleeting but ever so memorable as I got to meet her inner circle of friends as they quizzed me about my life while sitting on a frigid balcony in the East of Kailash at midnight — followed by amazing conversations on a car ride back to Gurgaon. We decided to not meet on New Years Eve but somehow 1 AM on Jan 1 was kosher. With frozen butts but warm insides thanks to homemade hot chocolate, we met for the last time not realising it being the finale.
Those 6 days were very adult, very new, and most importantly made me value time. I have said this to her may times, but we spent more hours than days but I wasn’t sad that it was ending. I was just happy that when she asked me what day to meet for the first time, I chose to play hooky from work to be with her than have just 7 hours on one random later day.
This was supposed to be a short story, but clearly words got away from me. Six days is usually the time it takes me to create a new recipe. With a full-time job and other aspects of my life taking hours, a new and challenging recipe such a pecan pie from scratch takes a lot of ground work. I begin by finding the right recipes that help me understand techniques and isolate equipment that I might need. Then I create a rough recipe in the form of a detailed grocery list. Once I know that I can source everything, I spend time thinking of how to shoot, and plate a recipe. On Friday, I get all the ingredients and spend time prepping things that I can do the night before. I make a first batch on Saturday which usually is the test batch and then a final batch the same day. I then reserve the first half of Sunday to actually shoot it to maximise all the natural light I can get which also allows to move to different locations of my house and get the prefect shot. I am not going to lie, this is a tough recipe with a lot of moving pieces and stress that seeps through every step. It took me all six days to make the recipe right from sourcing the ingredients to finally carving my first slice, but just like my untethered new friend, this too was a slice apart.
Also! A quick update on the blog: I finally got hired to make food and that felt really amazing! I will post a list of them with recipes soon but in fact this pecan pie recipe was one of them! See you soon!
Glimpses from the week
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Upon reflection for my tiny family and I, 2018 was a year that started with no resolutions but ended with many outcomes. We lost members of family, a car (thanks to flawed state-wide regulation), and a double chin. We gained a mid-life crisis motorcycle, a new job, we saw new cities, and deepened connections with friends both old and new. Our greatest gift was Besan who taught us how to be excited to come back home (and how to live with a brother that’s far more cuter than you could ever be). Aimless and floating were the themes of last year. I wonder what it would be in 2019.
Maple Pecan Pie
Buttery Flaky pie crust. My recipe makes two crusts (use one and store the other in the freezer)
250 grams of shelled pecans
100 grams chopped and the rest left whole
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon of salt
3 large eggs
½ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup from Canada
sea salt for garnish
Prepare the crust or use store bought puff pastry
Preheat oven to 175 Celsius
Roll out the chilled pie dough and blind bake: On a floured work surface, roll out one of the discs of chilled dough (you can freeze the 2nd for later use, see note). Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish.* Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. Flute or crimp the edges of the crust. Chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator or freezer. (Crust will shrink otherwise!) Line the chilled pie crust with parchment paper or aluminium foil. Fill with 2 sets of pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie from the oven and carefully lift the parchment paper/aluminium foil (with the weights) out of the pie.
The filling: Carefully spread pecans evenly inside warm pie crust. Set aside. Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and flour together in a large bowl until combined and thick. Whisk in the vanilla extract, salt, eggs, and pure maple syrup until combined. Pour evenly over pecans.
Bake the pie for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. After the first 20 minutes of bake time, place a pie crust shield on top of the pie to prevent the edges from browning too quickly. You can also tent a piece of aluminium foil over the whole pie if the top is browning too quickly. Remove finished pie from the oven and sprinkle sea salt on top. Place on a wire rack to cool completely. The pie filling will set as it cools
Serve after cooling for a good hour.