What’s on the Chairs

Here’s a great image drawn by my favorite American artist, Mary Engelbreit. I’ve got a little collection of her artwork, magazines, and other cute stuff. I love the everyday “regularness” of her work. The people look like people we might know–doing things we might do. To me, she is sort of a modern-day female Norman Rockwell. Besides, I love her colorful patterns and the meaningful sayings that she finds to accompany her artwork. This one really rings true. Sure, they’re eating pie, but it’s clear that it doesn’t matter at all what’s on the plates. There’s nothing like spending time with the ones we love.

I got to do just that today with my son, Max. Indeed, he was “on the chair,” because otherwise he’s too short to help me bake anything.Today’s pie was a repeat performance–a Reese’s Peanut Butter Pie. Max requested this one just for him, and actually, he didn’t know that I’d already made one. One cool thing about this photo is that you can see our new mixer. It’s a Black & Decker, and it came with a case and everything! It works great, and those beaters came out right when we asked them to. Max had fun mixing up all that peanut butter, cream cheese, sugar and whipped cream. He also had fun licking the spatula when we were done.

I think his favorite job, though, was unwrapping all those peanut butter cups. He practiced amazing restraint by not eating a single one and saving them all for the pie. We chopped them up and put some between the layers of filling and the rest on top.

It didn’t take us too long to make the pie, but we both enjoyed it, and we’re looking forward to having a big slice after supper.

I’m kind of a freak in the kitchen. It’s hard for me to share the space, because I’m a control freak. I admit it. My family is fully aware of this fact. But I was glad to share today. Maybe Max will be able to remember us baking together when he grows up. Hope so.

I remember my Mom being in the kitchen A LOT growing up at 1818 Leslie Lane, and it was a small kitchen for anyone feeding seven people on a daily basis. My favorite thing in that kitchen was the wooden table and benches that my Dad made. It fit all seven of us somehow, and it was really sturdy. Dad made that table when he quit smoking so that he would have something else to do with his hands. I remember being almost small enough to walk under it when he was building it.He never though much of it (Sadly, Dad never realized what a great craftsman and artist he really was–but we all knew), but my Mom loved it, and she insisted on having it in her new house when they moved some years ago. It’s there today, and it serves as the kids table at holiday gatherings.

Because of the small kitchen, Mom prepared some stuff–especially cakes or stuff that took up lots of space–in the dining room. I have a vivid memory of watching her create candy bats out of some black melty candy substance. She would pipe it onto wax paper in the shape of bats. After it cooled/dried, it would peel off and look so cool. I don’t remember how old I was, but it must’ve been near Halloween. I’ll refrain from any “batty” comments here. 🙂

I also remember Mom making what seemed like hundreds of tiny sugar daisies on that dining room table to place on my wedding cake. Now, I have to tell a story here–if you came to our wedding, you’ll just have to forgive me. It has to be done. On the day of our wedding–best day ever, by the way–my Mom was working very hard to attach all of those beautiful daisies to my wedding cake. It was the hottest day of the year, but for some reason, the windows were open. I don’t know if there had been smoke from something or what, but they were open. Mom was carefully placing each daisy with a sharp knife when, suddenly, a swarm of gnats flew in. I’m not kidding. There was swatting and shooing and all manner of unpleasant words flying about. When the dust (and icing) settled, there were a few unfortunate gnats that had landed on the cake. Mom sighed and carefully began to extract them from the cake. My Dad, who was always a little more concerned about stuff like that, said in an exasperated voice, “You CAN’T serve that cake now!” Mom turned toward him–real slow-like, and with eyes that you would only recognize if you’d ever seen them from the choir loft when you were talking or playing in church, held up that knife to my Dad and said these two words, “WATCH ME.”

Man, she was sweaty and kinda scary–looking. So he let out one small huff and beat it out of there. Probably wise at that point. Turns out the cake was wonderful (They all were–Mom made all five of our wedding cakes), and the day was great, so as far as I know, nobody ate gnats. If you’re grossed out, sorry, but life is what it is, isn’t it?

I have another picture to share. I forgot to include the finished Chocolate Cherry Pie photo. I really liked how it turned out and I may have to make this one again so that I can have a taste.

By the way, did I mention how grateful I am to have a self-cleaning oven? I set it the other night (after lemon chess pie) and it takes four hours to clean, but when it’s done–amazing! It’s like that sticky blueberry stuff was never there! So when I cooked the next pie, no fire! Thank goodness. Don’t think for one minute that I take that oven for granted.

All righty, then. 25 days to go. Happy Sunday to all you pie-eaters out there.

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