How to Make a Strawberry Cheesecake Pie in Three Days (While Writing a Book Review at the Same Time)

August 10, 2022 § 42 Comments

By Victoria Lynn Smith

Photo of Victoria Lynn Smith sitting at a desk, with her laptop. The desk is at a window, with the curtains open and Victoria is looking at the camera.

Friday

Decide to make strawberry cheesecake pie. Announce this to your husband. Dig out the recipe and read the list of ingredients. You need strawberries. After he leaves for work, go paddle boarding. Walk the dogs. Finish reading the nonfiction book you’re reviewing. Start a rough draft of the review. Take a nap. Buy strawberries. Finish the rough draft.

Your husband returns home and asks about the pie, tell him, “Tomorrow.”

Saturday

Announce you’re making the pie today. After your husband leaves to golf eighteen holes, talk to a writing friend for twenty-four minutes. Walk the dogs because it’s a cool morning with a charming breeze.

Think about making the pie.

Read the book review draft. It’s too long—start revising. Wander around the house completing small chores. Work on the draft. Read a novel. Take a nap. After the nap think about making pie.

Ditch the book review. Start a blog about walking your dogs on a midsummer morning that felt like fall.

Your husband returns from golf and asks about the pie. Tell him you’ll make it this evening so it will be ready tomorrow. Offer to ride with him to the meat market because he wants to grill something.

After supper revise, edit, and post the blog about walking the dogs. Give up on the book review and pie for the day.

Your husband asks about the pie before he goes to bed. Tell him you’ll make it in the morning while he’s at the driving range.

Sunday

Your husband leaves for the driving range. Take the dogs for a walk. Keep revising your book review. Be amazed, and not in a good way, at how long it takes you to write something so short.

Read the recipe for the pie crust. You forgot to have butter at room temperature. Remove a stick from the freezer. Decide to make the pie after grocery shopping.

Return to the book review.

Your husband returns from the range and asks about the pie. Suggest you go grocery shopping first. Don’t offer up that you forgot to take butter out of the freezer.

Blend 1 cup heaping flour with ⅓ cup powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Use your fingers to mix in the butter until the ingredients bind together. Press dough into a 9-inch pie or tart pan.

Double check the recipe and realize you forgot to add the salt to the crust, which is now pressed into the tart pan. Consider taking the crust out of the pan, putting it back in the bowl, and adding the salt. This might overwork the crust, which might be worse than forgetting the salt. Use your chemistry knowledge (baking is chemistry). There’s no yeast or baking soda in the crust, so salt isn’t needed to counteract a rising agent. Skip the salt because your husband is on a low-salt diet. Give yourself kudos for being a good wife. Don’t tell him you forgot the salt. You can hear him say, “This is good, but the crust could’ve used a bit of salt.” Then he’ll laugh because he’s funny. And you’ll laugh because he is funny.

Prick the crust all over with a fork then refrigerate pie crust for 30 minutes.

Return to editing the book review. Think about words and sentences that, like the salt in the crust, are expendable.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Read the book review out loud. Continue revisions.

Bake the pie crust for 20 minutes.

You loved the nonfiction book and want to make sure that comes across without sounding cliché or sappy. Hit an editing stride. The review is leaner, more concise, nearly matching the version in your head.

It’s 2:30. You’ll be lucky to finish the pie by 3:30. It needs to chill for at least four hours.

Slink into the kitchen. Stay out of the family room because your husband will ask about the pie. But he isn’t in the family room. He comes up from the basement, into the kitchen and says, “I thought you fell asleep in there and forgot about the pie.” Because you’re laughing so hard, don’t remind him that you don’t sleep in your office. Finish laughing and tell him you hoped to avoid him because you’re embarrassed the pie isn’t done yet. Start laughing again. You’re punch drunk from writing.

Begin the pie filling. Realize the cream cheese needs to be room temperature, but it isn’t because when reading recipes, you’ve become a pantser instead of a plotter. Open the cream cheese, put it in a bowl, and smush it with a spatula to soften it.

Beat 8 oz. cream cheese with ½ cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spread the cream cheese filling on the bottom of the cooled crust.

Later while drafting this blog, realize you forgot to add the vanilla to the cream cheese filling because you were writing in your head. Don’t admit this to anyone.

Clean, hull, and dry 1½ quarts of strawberries.

While cleaning the strawberries, dash between the kitchen and your office. Write down ideas for this blog. Be thankful your husband can’t see you. He knows you’re a bit looney. He needs no more evidence.

Slice half of the strawberries and spread them on top of the cream cheese filling.

Jot down more ideas for this blog.

Mash the other half of the strawberries. Place them in a saucepan with 1 cup granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons cornstarch. Boil until clear and thick. Don’t leave unattended. Let it cool a bit.

You get this part right. Go ahead, brag.

Keep blogging.

Pour the sauce over the strawberries in the pie. Refrigerate for at least four hours.

Go to the store and buy whipped cream for your husband because you feel sorry for him. It’s not easy being married to a writer. Not because you’re temperamental, but because you can’t keep track of time when you write. He’s a good sport. And after three days, his reward is whipped cream on strawberry cheesecake pie.

To change the point of view of this recipe, use raspberries instead of strawberries.

*

Victoria Lynn Smith writes fiction and creative nonfiction. She lives by Lake Superior, a source of inspiration, happiness, and mystery. Her work has been published by Wisconsin Public RadioTwin Cities Public Television’s Moving LivesBrevity BlogBetter Than Starbucks, Hive Avenue Literary Journal, Persimmon Tree, and several regional journals. To read more: https://writingnearthelake.org/.

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