As I ran my same jogging course on Monday morning, I received a much-needed out-of-the-ordinary gem from NPR’s Allison Aubrey. Aubrey hosted a segment on pie-making. And although I do not have fond memories of my grandmother or my mom making homemade pies, it brought up a rush of good emotions as I continued down my jogging path. Aubrey’s description of getting the pie crust just right – not kneading it and keeping little balls throughout it – made me yearn to travel to New York and take a class. I appreciated the way that she intertwined her mother with her story of making a perfect pie.
Like Aubrey, I don’t have memories of my mom slaving in the kitchen over a magnificent pie (she did make a heck of a peanut butter coconut ball though!). But I do have memories of my father’s cherry pies. I don’t remember him slaving away in the kitchen, however; I just have memories of eating delicious homemade cherry pie with him and my mom. I remember helping pick cherries from our cherry tree out back, and suffering a nasty bee sting when I decided not to wear shoes one day. But those pies were well worth it – dripping in cherry goo and always having a slight burnt edge around them. Perfect crispiness.
Food creates memories, and I associate my dad’s cherry pies with childhood summers full of running around outside and hanging with friends and walking the neighborhood. Coincidentally, my husband likely associates his grandmother’s homemade pumpkin pies with exciting summers in Marietta. His grandma made a mean pumpkin pie back in the day that Jon always raves about when we buy pumpkin pie during Fall. “Nothing beats my grandma’s pumpkin pie” he always tells me. My mother-in-law also bakes a stupendous homemade pumpkin pie, and it is by far the best I have ever tasted (I didn’t get to meet Jon’s grandma before she passed). Patty learned how to make her pie from her mother. Indeed, so many of the recipes that Patty has she received from her mom, and you can feel the love in the room when Patty talks about her mom and her cooking.
When the segment wrapped up with Aubrey’s daughter and mother in the kitchen tasting Aubrey’s blueberry pie, I resolved that I would begin a baking tradition with Maria and Mario. I love how those resolutions wash over me so quickly and resolutely while I am out in the open air free from all constraints and time lines and chores. “Maybe I will even sign up for a class with M&M and Jon or my mom or dad or stepmom or mother-in-law. The ideas were flowing.
Then I got home and realized I was late for a meeting. I ran upstairs to shower and get dressed. Mario had Maria in a head lock and Maria was smacking his head. When I came downstairs to leave, milk laid all over the table and cereal remnants were across the floor. A pack of goldfish were torn apart and chocolate sauce stuck to the counter. I asked them why everything was a mess.
“We wanted to make breakfast ourselves, mom, so you didn’t need to be bothered.” And then I looked down and saw a bowl with a bright beaming yellow glob laying in it. Maria surprised me with microwaved eggs. She had broken two eggs into a bowl and stuck them in the microwave for a minute and a half. She fed me a bite and asked how they were.
And so, my cooking ventures may start out slow and different than planned, but we will get there…eventually!