Finding one's journey in life or why I write - a pie that is a journey of flavours in the palate

As I look at the calendar, I can't help a groan of surprise that April is already one week down. What is it with time, that seems to be speeding by so fast, these days? I entered my son's Easter school break with a hopeful mind of getting all this work done, and as I stare at a blank screen, trying to jot down a blogpost, realise I have failed my mark. I have not reached my goals. Mostly because I tend to pack up way too much into my to do lists, way more than I can honestly come round to tackle. Also because I tend to get very easily distracted when I'm revising and editing, needing a break every five seconds in order to clear my head - all excuses, because revising and editing are my least favourite things on the writing process, and I always find one or two excuses to break from it. Like finding a wonderfully written sentence or piece of dialogue that I must because I must turn into a teaser that I can use in the future to create a buzz around my books. That will force me to scour through image banks in search of the perfect image, and then I will have to actually do the graphics for the teaser, and that takes time. Time I'm robbing from my editing and revising. While telling myself I am working ahead, and this will serve me in the future. It will, I know, so not all's lost.

But the thing is, while I am doing all of that, I am not writing. As soon as I finished the first draft for the second volume on my Arthurian saga, I decided I needed to do a re-read, revision and re-edit of volume one and two, to catch any continuity fails, to tackle certain specifics (there's a few Scottish characters and I wanted to get a bit of that on their dialogues, that meant reading through all of it and changing the 'I' for 'Ah' and 'you' for 'ye', amidst other regionalities), I wanted to check dates and actually remind myself of certain little details concerning the particulars of each character before delving into volume three. Of which I already have the first paragraph written, and of which I already have countless scenes in my head. Because my writing process is so weird, I am always seeing bits and pieces, snippets of narrative in my mind's eye, and then trying to pierce them together with the rest, putting them to their place, like I'm editing a film. Because actually that is how I write. I envision every scene in my head first, a thousand times, I see them as films, and then, when I write first draft, I'm only telling what I saw on the film. The beautifying of it comes later, when I'm editing and revising. First draft is always much more descriptive, and I have been told my books would make great movies. Perhaps I should revise those particular novels...

I think this has much to do with why I write. Because I don't have one of those wonderful stories on why I started writing, what got me into it. I did not go through a life chancging experience that made me need to write. I did not read a book that inspired me into telling a story my own way. I was not overcome by a sudden blast of words I needed to put down. I didn't have a prophetic dream, nor any other dream, that, when I woke up, I knew I had the makings of a marvelous story in my head which needed to be written. It was never like that. The story of why I write is the most boring in ther world. I write because I can. No, I write because that is the only thing I can do that makes me feel human, that makes me feel like I exist. The only place where I don't feel invisible is this place in my head where I am writing a story. So I sit down and write. But it did not start there. There was not one life changing moment where I said to myself I would sit down to write, no. I have always written, since I learned how to string words into a sentence. That's how it was. Ever since I was really little, I did this one thing: I told stories in my head to put myself to sleep. I still do. Only now, I turn those stories into novels. I don't count sheep, I tell stories. I have no idea why I do this, but ever since I can remember, it has been the way I fall asleep, this telling of stories in my brain. At some point, I started putting them down on paper. Small, short little things at first, becoming increasingly larger, more words strung into them, more detail, more world weaving. That's how I got to where I am.

Throughout my life, I never thought things were leading in a certain direction, for me. Now, looking back and with the benefits of hindsight, I think I can see how everything in my path, in my growth, in my progress has led me here. How certain things that have felt like the end of the world, or lightless tunnels, bottom of pits, were actually overgrown paths in the forest I needed to thread to find my way. My way, not someone else's. My path, my journey. I went through my life trying to follow on other people's steps, travelling the same roads they did, when I was not meant to. A learning curve, it was, everytime I took the road I was told to, the one I believed I must because that was the way of the world and what people expected of me, it lead to dead ends, falls, precipices of pain and despair, frustration and unbridled unhappiness. Because those were not my paths, those were not my roads, that was not my journey. Only when life made it a point of shoving my pourney down my throat - I'm rather thick sometimes, and need to be shown things clearly so I get the message - did I begin to realise why I could never be happy, or satisfied, or certain that I even existed. Why I always felt invisible. Because I was invisble, see. My real me was being squashed in order to put up a persona that would satisfy others. A persona that was NOT me, so I was invisible, I did not exist. I didn't see it straight away, it took me about three years to even begin to realise this.

Only now do I think I'm starting to see it more clearly, with the benefits of time and a lot of soul searching. It was always there, in front of me, but I always ran from it. My place in life and in the world was always this, I was supposed to do this. Do I wish I had seen it sooner, realised it sooner, had the clarity of mind and the courage to follow my dreams sooner? No. I didn't even understand back then that these were my goals. They were only dreams, in the realm of the 'I wish I could', things never to come to fruition, brought to life. All that time I travelled down the busy roads and destinies of others, fate was laying the ground for me, or I was laying my fate. A number of elements were conspiring in the background, and it wasn't the right time. For twenty years, it was not the right time. I do believe certain things come to the realm of possibility when they have to. I pursued other ventures because it was not yet the right time for me to stray off the beaten path and follow my own personal journey. And I am glad it wasn't. All those years that to some may sound like a waste of time, where I wasn't doing what I am meant to do, I was collecting, amassing, gathering. Kindle, tinder, experiences, nourishment, knowledge, gems that I could later turn into words, stories, characters, the bite in my books, the breath inside them. It has all served me well, in preparation for when the time was just about right and I decided to take a path that was darkened and filled with obstacles I couldn't even see. A path that was in the end, the only I could follow. That's why I write, because it is what I must do. Not for others, not for the readers, not for the fame, the success, the money and the sales, no. For me. So that I am not invisible to myself. So that I can feel alive.

What's that gotta do with pie, you ask. Absolutely nothing. Except that pies are my food journey too, I love them this much. And when I saw Nate from TermiNatetorKitchen post this pie, I knew I needed to try my hand at a version of it, with the stuff I had around the house. So here it is, my portuguese cabbage, sausage and mushroom pie. Good lord, it's as good as writing.

For the pastry (we used two times this, to make up for the covering of the pie as well):
  • 250 gr flour
  • 100 gr spelt flour
  • 100 gr butter or magerine
  • 150 to 200 ml water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • aromatics of your choice (we used chives and thyme, dried)
Mix the flour, salt and aromatics on a food processor. Add the cubed butter or margerine and pulse until you have a sand like consistency dough. Pour onto a bowl and slowly add in the water, mixing with a knife to combine everything together. Once the dough comes together and looks smooth, wrap it in baking parchement, form into a ball and let it rest in the fridge until you're ready to use it. The longer it rests, the better.

For the filling:
  • 4 medium sized good quality sausages
  • half a portuguese cabbage
  • 1 leek
  • 1 cup of mushrooms (canned, dried, frozen, fresh, you choose. Shitake works wonders here.)
  • 1 cup stock (chicken, vegetable, plain water if you prefer.)
  • olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, flour
Chop the leek and the cabbage, cut the sausages into small chunks, dice the mushrooms. On a pan, heat up a good glug of olive oil and soften the leek in it. Add the cabbage, let it cook until it has reduced to half its size. Now throw in the sausages and the mushrooms, allow to cook and wilt for about ten minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, season well, and let it simmer. On a cup mix a couple teaspoons of flour with a little water or stock and add to the pan. Let it thicken up your sauce to the consistency you prefer, turn off the heat and remove the pan. Allow it to cool for a quarter of an hour, thereabouts. While it's cooling, bring the dough off the fridge and roll it on a floured surface. Line a round tin with baking parchement and spread a little over half the dough over it, so it covers the bottom and the sides. Pour in the filling. Cut the rest of the dough into strips and weave them like a basket, cover the filling with this lid. You can use eggwash to make sure it turns golden and shiny in the oven, but you don't have to, if you don't want. Take it to a pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and sizzling. Serve warm, but it's great also if you let it cool completely. Perfect for making in advance and serving guests.


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