Mom went out of town. For three days. As did all kitchen defense: nobody running interference (or self injury watch) on my 2 year old dynamo-toddler, nobody helping my 5 year old, while she channels Dora the Explorer, but… yep… me. Attention turned away from lovingly, unbruisingly washing arugula, to lovlingly, unbruisingly washing the kids. And did they miss mom? Of course. And how was this manifested? Here’s one way.
She opens fridge. Pulls out loaf of wheat bread. A pint of blueberries. A lemon.
What are you doing?
You know what I’m doing, dad.
No i don’t. What are you doing?
She takes out a slice of bread. Tries to pry open pint of blueberries.
I’m making a pie for mom.
She fills a plastic kiddie bowl with water. I rinse the blueberries. Stalling.
I rifle through cookbooks: Chez Panisse Desserts. Way too complicated. Fannie Farmer. Too defeatest. Go online. Lots of prizewinning blueberry pies but nothing that screams: The Easiest Most Delicious Blueberry Pie to Make With Your Child For Mom While Mom is Out of Town.
I keep looking and find several recipes for basic pastry dough. Keep bumping into something about rubbing flour and butter together until they’re like coarse meal. now that’s a modern frame of reference. Coarse meal? I remind I’m not a baker. Why am I doing this? Because I feel guilty. Because I don’t want them to flip out that mom is gone. We are going to make a blueberry pie. Coarse meal. I’m guessing that’s like cornmeal mix, right?
Open pantry: find flour. It’s whole wheat. Crap. I’m not about to make whole wheat pie dough.
I remember: we have frozen premade pie dough from Trader Joe’s.
I thaw it.
I see a common thread in the recipes in the books, and online: blueberry filling needs the berries, sugar, lemon in juice and or zest form, butter, corn starch. Tough luck on the last. We have none.
I cut a circle of dough into four triangles.
Big sis and lil’ bro fight over but eventually each take a turn putting into each triangle, on a buttered sheet: a quarter cup blues, a pat of butter, a teaspoon of sugar, a 16th of a tea lemon zest.
They fight over but eventually accomplish folding the triangles into little triangular pies, like hostess pies, but better and not crescent shaped.
They sprinkle them with sugar, and cinammon, and I grate cinammon stick over it. He grabs a stick and bites a shard off. I go into pre-Heimlich mode.
He spits it out.
Yep. Cinammon is a spice.
I remember that my wife–a baker–has one of those silicone (silicon? I should know) baking sheets.
I slide that under the pies.
I throw them in a 420 degree oven.
In 10 minutes the house smells like home.
In 25 minutes the pies emerge: golden brown, juice oozing out of the corners, like some bakery at dawn, bubbling on the edge.
The kids are beaming. I’m beaming.
4 pies. One for me. One for D, One for Dad. And one for Mom.
Not only does it smell just like home, but finally, it is.