Project Pie: Tomato Pie

Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something scrumptious and gooey!

I was in 9th grade, with braces and acne and unfortunate bangs, and I couldn't believe this 10th grade boy liked me. Wanted to play songs for me on his guitar over the phone while I fell asleep. Sent me flowers and wrote me love notes and waited for me outside classes. Liked me liked me. 

He was on the tennis team, a funny quirk in his otherwise alternative grunge persona, I always thought. We headed out to some neighborhood courts so he could teach me how to play. And so we could have our first fight. 

Sporty was a word no one would ever have used to describe me. I played the flute and the piano, got good grades, and sang in the church choir. In the hand-eye coordination department, I fell into the zero to none category. 

Walking out onto that tennis court, I could feel my middle school gym class anxiety rising up. For reasons I could not understand, this boy thought I was special and, though I blushed at the mere thought, sexy. I was not about to show him just how uncoordinated and ridiculous I could be. 

So instead of trying to hit the ball, I planted my feet on the ground and swung my arm out half-heartedly, watching as the green fuzzy sphere flew past me. Again and again, I wouldn't run for it. My boyfriend became more and more frustrated and eventually refused to send anything over the net. We'd try serving instead. When he told me it helped to grunt as I hit the ball, I knew things wouldn't go any better. There was no way I'd be making any un-ladylike sounds in front of him. Absolutely not. 

About 30 minutes after we'd arrived, he stormed off the court and we made the trip back to my house in silence.

I feel sad for both of them. The boy who couldn't understand why on earth his girlfriend would agree to go learn to play tennis and then appear to become catatonic on the court. And the girl who would rather stand motionless and get into a fight than try something difficult and risk failing. 

And what does this have to do with tomato pie?

Oh yes. The pie. 

I thought of that moment out on the tennis court as I picked up my pie crust and watched it tear into three and then four large pieces on its way into the pie pan. My shoulders slumped, and I looked at the dough and thought for a moment that I wouldn't be able to put this pie up on the blog. 

And then I remembered that I'm not fourteen years old, that I have two decades on that girl, that one of the blessings of getting older is worrying less about looking silly, about failing. 

So I slapped that pie crust into the pan and squished all the torn edges together and made myself a pie. 

And then the blasted thing happened all over again when I pulled it out of the oven and realized I totally overlooked the part about how you're supposed to remove the tomato seeds so the whole thing isn't a SOPPING MESS. Whoops. 

Folks, I swung hard at that ball, and it just sailed right. on. by. 

But thankfully I've gained a few other things in the last 20 years - a little stick-to-it-iveness and a deep hatred of wasting food. I'll be damned if I was going to let a little slushiness stand in the way of eating those beautiful tomatoes and a healthy serving of cheddar cheese. No ma'am. 

I spooned out liquid that was pooling around the crust, put that sucker back in the oven, spooned out liquid, back in the oven, spooned out liquid... You get the point. 

And it turned out quite pretty and, I'll be honest, awfully tasty in spite of the soggy crust and tomato juices leaking all over my plate. 

I wish I had taken photos of the messy parts, but I was so focused on remedying the situation that I completely forgot to document. You'll have to take my word for it. 

This whole project pie thing feels like a do-over for all those times I chose standing still over trying. And there were so many. There still are. But in this one tiny spot, on these Sundays in my kitchen, I'm going for it. I'm risking failure. I'm practicing swinging and missing and swinging again.

I wonder what's next. 

p.s. I'm not writing out my own recipe for this one because things didn't go as planned, but here's where you can go to make your own: I used this olive oil crust - not sure what went wrong. I used whole wheat pastry flour, and it's very tasty even though it didn't hold together. And I used this tomato tart recipe, but I used a mix of sour cream (1/4 cup) and shredded parmesan cheese (1/4 cup) in place of the gruyere, and cheddar cheese in place of the camembert. And I used heirloom tomatoes from our farm share - don't forget to take out the seeds!

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