It was late the Friday before Thanksgiving; the sun was setting, the milking crew heading out the door. We had planned to practice the offerings we’d be bringing on Thursday, but oh the rush of Friday. Supper hadn’t exactly been decided on yet, our usual kefir smoothies were low on ingredients, and, of course, everyone was hungry.
“Can I hewp you make pie, Mama?” little Annie asks.
Unless we are surrounded by fire or blood or a screaming baby, I simply do not know how to say no to this. Take a deep breath and forget the chaos; pie it is.
I throw some gluten-free flours into a bowl and get out the fat. I mix the flours, she cuts in the fat, and we add a few tablespoons of water. It’s all a guessing game at this point but really, when you cut fat into flour and fill it with something sweet and rich and spicy, you can’t get too far off course.
I quick wipe out the 12″ cast-iron skillet and plop the dough in the pan. This is where it starts – where big grins and little dresses and double braids park a chair next to Mama and I say go for it. She pats the crust down “Wit aww my might!” just after she gives me a kiss and flashes her gap-toothed grin.
She is fun, through and through, her presence in the kitchen like a collision of sunshine and chaos and rainbows.
Ruthie is taking everything out of the cabinets and licking random spoons, leaving her trail of destruction as she goes. I am pouring a pot of hot water into the sink, trying to find one foot of counter space so that I can chuck anything plus kefir and egg yolks into the blender, and asking Elijah if he could please check for the fourth time to find the cans of pumpkin. What would I do without this boy?
The sink and blender are both filled. The (case of!) pumpkin is found and taking up way too much table space. Annie is showing the pie crust who is boss and Ruthie is… wait, where’s Ruthie?! We look around, check that she hasn’t run out the front door, and then begin the search. I finally find her where the clean bowl I had been searching for presents itself. She yells “Hide!”, throws her head back, and exudes maniacal laughter. Oh, this one is trouble.
We frantically leave the last of the fingerprints in the pie crust and throw it in the oven. And then everything goes into the bowl – maple syrup, coconut shortening, pumpkin, coconut cream, egg yolks, salt, spices. Uh, raw pumpkin pie filling tonight, folks. Homegrown egg yolks are good for you, right? This has nothing to do with the fact that I’m completely running out of time and there’s no way that pie will be done in time for supper. Ahem.
Annie whisks it together like a mad woman and the blender heads out the door to find some solar power. The milk pail is back now, waiting to be strained, and Ruthie is sitting in the high chair in the middle of the kitchen because there are no things to rip from their place there. Also, that thing has seat belts.
Tomorrow is the Sabbath, I tell myself, as I survey the counter tops full of dishes. We clear the table of debris, plunk down smoothies and (completely store-bought) rice cakes, dates, and peanut butter. The pie crust is just out of the oven but everyone has already filled up. And then we realize the greatest outcome possible is upon us…
We will be eating Annie’s pie for breakfast on Sabbath morning.
When she was born – the first girl to join her big brothers – becoming a pie-maker seemed a foregone conclusion. She’d help with animals, dig holes for blackberry bushes, and run barefoot down the dirt road with her brothers. And when all of that is done, she washes the dirt from her hands before standing beside me in the kitchen, slapping pie crust into a cast-iron skillet.
As beautiful as it is for me to watch (and then tell), I can’t convey how good her pies are… or how sweet it is to see the look between her and Daddy when he lets her take the first bite and waits for her reaction. And then she waits for his.
And now, I tell myself, when at all possible – and most especially when in a hurry – say yes to pie.
Browse Expert Advice by Topic: