Looking back, I seem to have spent the entire last week stoveside. My husband’s birthday came and went in a steamy, starchy flurry of brisket, mashed potatoes, peas and apple pie (it wasn’t chokingly dry this time!). I made peanut butter cookies (after school snack), chocolate chip cookies (after ice-skating snack), raisin scones (because returning to school after a long weekend is difficult) and salads (we needed them after all the cookies). It’s all so much water under the kitchen bridge and I have little to say about it, but much to sigh about it.
Our household has been a sad and tense place the last couple of days due to what I will just call “some setbacks.” Our crests have fallen, or are at least sagging significantly. We are all learning to face unmet expectations, sweet dreams that fizzle. Sadly, as I have not been able to bring myself to tell my oldest daughter (aka Our Lady of [hopefully not] Perpetual Disappointment) that life offers you copious opportunities to hone this skill.
Once dismay settled onto our household like so much dust, I found myself squirting whipped cream onto everything. I have a whipper canister now and can do that whenever I feel like it and I am drunk on the power. “Want whipped cream on your already super-fattening dutch baby?” “Want some on your pancakes?” “Your cheddar bunnies?” ” That apple?” “Hold out your hand.” I just want everyone to feel better. But my daughter doesn’t have much of an appetite.
When the road gets rocky, I like to eat. I don’t overeat, not typically anyway, but some nice food seems like a comforting, orderly ritual when things are not going, shall we say, according to plan. It’s also advisable, under less than ideal circumstances, to talk with a sensible friend. I spoke with my wise friend Dallas at the running store (he’s actually my running guru, a position that holds great honor but no monetary reward) about the mood in my house, and he reminded me that we can’t take anyone’s pain away, we can only witness it and give the gift of presence (if you give that, along with actual presents, you will make a friend for life). Then my SIL, the fancytastic baker, informed me that it’s National Pie Day – in all the morosity, I had forgotten. She texted me while she waited at the bus stop in the freezing dark with her son. This is why texting was invented, to remind me to bake more. And then I thought: if I can bear witness then I can bear witness with a hand-held pie. Misery loves company, but especially company that bakes.
My friend Colleen (see how many useful, brilliant people I know?) loaned me the most ingenious little device for making individual pies. You must cook the filling yourself first, this happiness machine will bake your crust but only warm up your pie innards. I cooked up some blueberries with sugar, lemon, a few grains of salt and some tapioca to absorb the moisture. I made the cream cheese dough from the recipe I used for jam tartlets since my husband bought me three pounds of cream cheese, either because he loves me or because he is trying to kill me. And then:
Go be present for someone, with or without pie.
P.S. This pie is really good with whipped cream.
P.P.S. The husband is mad for these now and has demanded that all his meals be served in pie form. That seems entirely reasonable.