My eldest step-daughter has been staying with us since early July. We had initially asked her to come to help her recover from sudden heartbreak. I had suggested to her as well that if she came, we would cook together. I believe I mentioned gumbo at the time, but what we have officially made together is pie.
The whole thing started with a rather spontaneous Thelma and Louise style visit to a local produce stand. What we found and purchased while giggling, ransacking produce, and carrying on were the following: two heavy, crimson Carolina tomatoes; a sack of hard, green maters for frying; a jar of honey-apple butter from Maryland, which came with the promise of outdoing any we’d had previously; sweet, white corn from a nearby field; an eggplant that appeared to be growing a nose; a dozen freshly laid eggs (rainbow eggs from rainbow chickens, says the proprietor); a two pound roll of salty Amish butter; and lastly, a large carton of tart, juicy blackberries. We leaned over the counter at the glistening berries and I turned the carton slowly in my hands. I tasted one.
“Pie,” I said.
“Yes,” heartily agreed my sidekick, “let’s make a pie!”
We rounded up our purchases, reluctantly pulled ourselves from a tall cart of breads, and loaded the car with our booty. At home, the first thing we did was to fry the green tomatoes. We toasted French bread with little pools of Amish butter, and sautéed slices of North Carolina livermush, something my husband adores and trucks out of there whenever we pass through. We talked about our food and admired how it lay upon the plates. Meanwhile, from a brown paper bag in the kitchen, the blackberries beckoned.
So later, inspired by Waitress, a film where the protagonist outlandishly names her pies as she flounders in her relationships, we made what my step-daughter calls I-Hope-My-Ex-Boyfriend-Gets-Hit-by-a-Truck Pie. It started out looking like a good relationship. We had buttered ourselves up with a pat-in-the-pan butter crust. The berries looked beautiful, too, but truthfully, needed sweetening (Honey, don’t they all need a little work?). We sugared, tasted, added more, and finally even more. We sprinkled corn starch into the berries and squeezed lime in there (Doesn’t every relationship need a bit of zing?), lined the top with sliced apples (think Eve) and a heart-shaped crust remnant. We baked hopefully. Yes, the pie was delicious, but like every relationship that we hope to make grow beyond its foundation to do so, it fell apart in the end. I think our buttery crust even dissolved at the bottom of the pie. We stood over the pie post first-slice in a state of morning-after semi-bliss and confusion as the pie began to drown in its own berry juice. Hands on hips, we chattered and analyzed the situation. We discussed how we could have changed the pie, made it better, that what we noticed in the beginning that was a red flag for the final product. I considered the parallels and renamed it: I-Hate-My-Ex Pie.
Last night, we sat on the porch laughing about all the pies we could make and how we could make this work as a business one day. I even have an idea for a plain cheesecake called I-Dreamt-I-Was-Naked-Again Cheesecake. I think we have a start.
Oh, by the way--that expression--easy as pie. Pie ain't easy and neither are we.