A Little Thanks

Today’s the day I make pie crusts. I’m headed to market again this Saturday, and I’ve got about 28 pies planned for this weekend, so something has to be done ahead of time. Luckily, the pie crust I make will keep nicely in the fridge for a few days. It actually rolls out much better if it’s been chilled for a while.

 
I took a break from crust today to make two special little pies. I’ve named my six-inch pies “Bitty Birds” as a nod to the fortyandtwentyblackbirds name. Last weekend at the market, a friend told me that she loved the Bitty Bird pie, because it was just the right size for two people to eat in one sitting and not have any left on the counter to tempt you. Nice of her to pretend she was planning to share it with her husband :).

Today’s two Bitty Birds were Apple Pies I baked for the two fantastic custodians at our church. They both work incredibly hard. They don’t just clean stuff, they do ANYTHING they’re asked to do without complaining. As a master complainer, I find this to be an amazing feat. A gift, really. They set up tables and chairs, move stuff around, wipe stuff off–you name it. Like most people who really matter in a workplace, they can’t possibly get paid enough. So I baked them each a pie. I was rewarded with a hug, which made it more than worth the work.

Who cleans up after you?

Thank them today. If not with a pie, thank them with a hug, a smile, or a card. A little thanks goes a long way.

On a side note, I learned to use an interesting tool today.

This apple-peeler-corer-slicer was loaned to me by a good friend. Now, you might not be able to tell from the picture, but the first few apples didn’t peel. They only got cored and sliced. It took about four apples (my son was thrilled to eat the rejects, by the way) to figure out that I needed to move the little peeling blade. After that, AMAZING. You get this spiral of peeled apple–one knife cut and it’s ready to go into the pie. Very nice.

I realized last week that my hands are older than the rest of my body. They really hurt after peeling all those apples, so I’m very thankful to use this nifty gadget. Many thanks to Julia for the loan–looks like I need to budget for one of my own.

Gotta go now. Lots of crust to make and a couple of pre-orders to get baking on.

 

To Market, To Market

Today, my daughter and I were vendors at our county’s local Farmer’s Market. What a great day we had! I thought things went VERY well, especially considering it was our first time AND we had no idea what to expect. Our goals were to see what it was like, have fun, and maybe make a little gas money for our summer vacation to the beach in a few weeks. We accomplished them all! We only came home with two pies, which we plan to take to Memorial Day festivities with friends this weekend.

Most of you know that I’ve been baking pies for about 8 months now. I’ve enjoyed making them and have particularly enjoyed giving them away–which I’ll still do. As I’ve said many times before, sometimes, people just need a pie.

I sort of got involved in the market last-minute–didn’t turn in my application until Wednesday of this week. I was approved on the spot and then the crazy baking began. I was able to make lots of crusts Wednesday evening and refrigerate them, which really cut down on baking time yesterday.

Funny thing was, I put a post on Facebook to let folks know where I’d be on Saturday, and the orders started coming in. I sold five pies on Friday, before I ever got to the market!

There is a HUGE learning curve with this sort of thing. How long will it take? How many pies can you bake at once? How much does it cost to make them? So much to learn. The good news though–after baking 26 pies in two days, I can still say that I really enjoyed it. So satisfying to handle and roll out the dough, to carefully mix fillings, and OH the smell! My house still smells wonderful!

My number one challenge was transporting pies. They must be covered, and they can’t be cream pies or anything that would have trouble out of the fridge. They don’t quite fit in the cooler, and it turns out that the apple pies were a bit juicier than I realized. Just ask the floor of my mini-van. It was a little bit of a Three Stooges type scenario getting to the market, but we made it. 🙂

It was fantastic meeting new folks and chatting with them. Some just had questions about the pie, but some really had stories to tell. They told what their favorite pies were. They shared about pies that their grandmothers made. They asked if I knew how to make rhubarb (haven’t been brave enough yet) or cherry or peach pies. One gentleman described coming home after school to pie–fond memories for him. Another told me how to pit tart cherries.

People–young and old–have so much to offer when we listen!

If only we all spent more time listening.

I got a lot of joy out of bringing back good memories for people. I also loved spending the morning with my teenager, who bravely got up at six with me so that we could stake out a shady spot. She was great company and lots of help, and I rewarded her with some cute earrings she liked from a nearby jewelry vendor.

Right now, I’m only committed to the next two Saturdays, but we’ll see how it goes.

I’m thankful for this day. It’s kinda scary to put yourself (and your pies) out there. But it reminds me of the feeling you get after you’ve finally braved the BIG diving board at the pool–you were terrified, but when you came up out of the water and took that first breath, you knew you’d do it again and again!

 

Bruiser Pie

There’s nothing more beautiful and delicious than perfectly ripe fruit. You know your favorite kind–maybe blueberries that are just sweet enough or a peach so juicy it runs down your chin. You can tell when it’s ready.

This evening, I baked an Apple Pear Pie. The fruit was definitely ready. Although, it’s a matter of opinion in my household whether a pear should be squishy or crunchy. My husband says you should be able to shave off the peel and flesh with your teeth. Me–I like ’em a little crunchy. It’s a texture thing, I guess.

Funny thing about pies, though. For years, people have baked pies by “using up” fruit that was bruised–perhaps a little past ripe. Think of banana bread–everyone knows it’s the dark brown bananas that make it sweetest–not the perfectly ripened ones. Tonight, I was using up some fruit to make a pie for my daughter’s class tomorrow. They’re having a writer’s showcase and, like most events, the whole thing will be better with food, so she requested pie.

As I was peeling this really ugly fruit, I thought about peeling ripe fruit. You have to remove what seems like the prettiest part to get to what’s useful.It can be tedious, slippery, and a little dangerous with a sharp paring knife. And sometimes, even with the prettiest fruit, you get to peeling and then–a hidden bruise.

No doubt we’ve all been bruised at one time or another. Some have bruises that are deeper and darker than others.

When I was little, I never wanted to eat the bruised part of a banana. I felt kinda cheated by the deceiving yellow peel. Where did that bruise come from, anyway? My mom always said, “Gimme that bite. The bruises are the sweetest.” I thought she was nuts, and I was glad for her to get rid of the part I didn’t want. But as usual, I realized later that she was right.

I can’t count the number of delicious pies I’ve baked from bruised fruit. Fruit with no more brightly colored peel. Fruit painstakingly pared down to the most useful parts. Full of sweet bruises.

Thank goodness we are still useful when we’re bruised. The painful circumstances we go through often do end up yielding the sweetest results. It’s just that sometimes the painful peeling, the preparation, the waiting–it can deaden our taste buds for a while.

I’m telling you the truth–some of the people who have impacted my life in the sweetest ways were really bruised up. They have suffered loss, abuse, loneliness, shame, bankruptcy, death, fear, abandonment, hunger, and the list goes on. But these “bruisers” have been the ones to offer me encouragement, friendship, compassion, caring, healing, and love. Though they didn’t plan it and maybe never knew what they’d done, they helped heal my bruises.

Throughout history, folks have overcome their bruises to accomplish great things. In the Bible, God was always using bruised up loser-types to do His work. It’s still true today.

If you’re feeling bruised, wait for healing and the sweetness that will one day come.

If you know someone who’s bruised, be the healing that makes life sweet.

In closing, this Bible verse comes to mind:

“He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through His bruises we get healed.”

Isaiah 53:5–The Message

Thank goodness for those sweet bruises.

Cinderella Pie

For weeks, now, my daughter has been practicing for her school play, Cinderella.I’ve already seen the show twice, my husband and in-laws are there tonight, and I’ll get to see it again tomorrow–Mother’s Day–with some more friends and family. The picture doesn’t do justice to the pretty villager our kid played–best one in the whole show, in my only-slightly-biased opinion. So graceful and happy on the stage. We get so much joy from watching her do something she loves and seeing all her hard work pay off. I was just breathless watching her in the ballroom scene–couldn’t believe how grown up she looked. Sigh. I’m so proud of her!

So tomorrow, they’re having set strike after the final show, and then a pot luck supper for all the families. If you’ve ever been part of a production like this, you know that set strike is not fun, and it’s also not optional.Therefore, we’ll all be there with bells on…or at least with pies.

I baked two pies for the occasion. The first is Cheery Berry Pie. It includes a mixture of cherry pie filling, blueberries, and raspberries. The top crust displays a pumpkin, just waiting for a Fairy Godmother’s magic.

The second pie is Just Plain Cherry Pie. Its top crust has hearts–love going out to all the kids in the show  AND to the hard-working staff and parents who made it happen.One thing I loved watching during each performance–the parents. Sure, the kids were fantastic, but I wish I had video and still shots of those parents. Proud, beaming faces. Glassy eyes and cheeks shiny with tears. Clutching cameras and video recorders. Hands giddily clapping–maybe a little too loud sometimes–for their princess, or prince, or horse, or villager, or cheese merchant. Didn’t matter what part the child played. You could just hear their proud hearts shouting, “That is MY mouse.” “Look at MY kid–she is the best dancer!” “Wow! MY son is the best singer of all!”

I know there’s some criticism going around these days about kids.

They’re so entitled.

They don’t ALL need trophies.

They’re so LAZY.

Maybe. But you couldn’t have convinced me of any of that today. Not when those kids took their bows. Not when the audience stood up and clapped loudly and cheered. Not when moms high-fived their sons and dads hugged their daughters. Those kids worked hard. Those kids were awesome. They deserved every whoop, holler, and grocery store bouquet that was thrown their way.

I certainly believe kids need to work hard, buck up, tough it out, let someone else win, shake hands when they lose, face disappointment, and all that responsible stuff. I hope my kids will do all of it.

Sometimes, though, a kid just needs to feel like a star.

Do your part to help a kid grow up right. But, if you can, do your part to make a kid feel awesome.

I love my kids–they’ll always be our shining stars!